“What do you think you’re doing?” Joseph balled his fists so he wouldn’t just yank the laptop away from Sean and fling it across the room. He could see it now, fancy silver case skidding through artsy-fartsy, hand-made junk. The longer they crashed in this stranger’s apartment, the uglier the primitive little figurines ranging from Hindu gods to tikki heads looked to him.
Maybe they’d convalesced here long enough. There was no guarantee the woman who rented the efficiency wouldn’t come back early from her vacation.
No, that was an excuse to move on before either he or Sean healed all the way. The truth was he couldn’t stand one more minute locked up here with his brother.
“What does it look like I’m doing?” Sean didn’t even bother to glance away from the screen.
“It LOOKS like you are back to the same old tricks that got us into this fix in the first place. Is that Crash Site? Are you pretending to be the Smash Master again?”
“There’s no pretense about it, Joe. I AM the Smash Master.” Sean’s finger’s clacked over the keyboard in a blur, spewing out more trouble for Joseph to deal with.
“Not anymore, you aren’t.” Joseph yanked the laptop out of his brother’s hands.
“Hey!” Sean rose from his chair like Poseidon rising from the sea, looking as menacing with his shaggy, red hair tumbling into his face like seaweed. He brushed it out of the way with the back of his hand. “Give that back.”
“No more Smash Master. No more Taxi Derby. No more Smash Point. It’s over Sean. Give it up.”
“It is NOT over.” He made a grab for the computer, but Joseph was quicker. After a couple of tries, he rocked back on his heels. “Sure, my page views are down since I was too sick even to get myself to the hospital.” His voice filled with bitterness, no doubt thinking of how Joseph refused to get either of their bullet wounds tended by someone sure to report them. “But I can get them back up again fast. You wait and see.”
“After everything we have both been through because of it, you would still do this thing. You’ve a sickness, Sean. It’s taken you over like an evil spirit.”
“It hasn’t. Besides, Joe, you’ve been living on the money from the site, same as me. Ad revenue, you know. You can’t say you don’t see the point in that.”
“Can’t you make money doing something legal?”
Joseph looked away. Sean had a point. He’d spent a while as a dishwasher, and a while longer as a line cook, but that was nothing he could be proud of. Then again, there wasn’t much call for people with his kinds of expertise. Not since the Irish Liberation Activists gave up.
He shook his head. Violently. The point was they couldn’t go on the way they were.
“Start up a web site that won’t have the cops breathing down our necks.”
“Phff! It isn’t as easy as it sounds. What do you expect me to do? Sell Tupperware?”
“I don’t know! I don’t care! All I know is that they are after us because of the sodden web site, and they found us through it. With you tapping away again, they could be at the door right now!”
“Hardly.” Sean fainted right, then snagged the laptop from the left, grinning as he took it back.
Joseph would have gone to the mat for it, but right then he heard a soft thump from the hall. He went still, tense, listening hard. There it was again. A thump right by the door to the apartment.
“Did you just hear something?” Sean looked up from his laptop. He hadn’t sat yet. His eyes went to the door, where the metallic clink and grind of a key going into the lock could be heard.
“Oh God. It’s her. She’s home.” Joseph scanned the apartment wildly. Sign of their habitation was everywhere – empty booze bottles, bloody rags, food cartons and old pizza boxes. They’d brought in a couple of changes of clothes each, and Sean had obviously sneaked in his laptop. Except for the incriminating laptop, there was nothing here they couldn’t afford to loose.
Would she go to the police? Would they test the rags for DNA? There wasn’t time to do anything about it. Joseph grabbed Sean’s’ arm and dragged him toward the window over the fire escape.
“No her. The woman who lives here. I thought you said she was in Thailand.”
“That’s what her correspondence said, but plans change. Quick. We’ve got to get out of here.”