Companion Trilogy: Companionless
by Mike Buckley
Two weeks after I found Ott, my old partner, bareheaded and totally rogue in an apartment and killed him, I looked out my window and saw I was being watched. It was a simple white van a half block down. They weren't trying to hide themselves; or not very well, anyway. A man sat in the driver's seat, his companion clinging to his face and arranging its needles so he had to look around its small black body to see.
I knew him. His name was Varner.
I picked up the phone and called the station. Tarifa answered right away.
"Marlon," she said. "Better not be calling in sick."
I weighed my response, watching Varner from a crack in the blinds. I was pretty sure he knew I was watching; his companion had crawled almost all the way down his face and was looking up, dangling from the needle it had implanted in his forehead.
I weighed my response.
"Sick?" I said. "Hell no. I'm on my way in."
Tarifa was silent, no doubt trying to figure out what I meant. I hung up, looked for another moment at Varner's companion crawling across his face--it had an unseemly, jerky movement that my own companion would never use--and then walked downstairs.
When I got out onto the street he was gone.
What would Varner want with me, I wondered.
I had met him about five years ago. The department rented out Shon's every month or so, and the drinks were on them, and cops from all over the city jammed in the place. I had been standing with Ott at the bar talking. He stopped talking and pointed.