Sunday, August 15, 2010

Day Fourteen

Day 14: 15 Aug 2010

Woke up this morning with a bit of a hangover in Darren's tiny guest room. Forgot where I was for a minute. I'd been having the dream -- dimming the sun and walking into a tamed sea -- right before I woke up, so I thought I was at the coast. It took my brain a few seconds to catch up and realize that I was three hours inland, running from the police and guys with guns.

I smelled coffee coming from downstairs -- Darren lived in a narrow townhouse -- so I walked down to his kitchen. I looked like crap. I'd fallen asleep in my clothes, and I must've looked like I slept in a cardboard box.

"Wow. Rough night?" Darren said, grinning.

"Didn't sleep too well. Coffee should fix it," I said.

He poured me a cup, and I sat down.

"So, Travis," he started.

"I don't want to get too personal, but are you in some kinda trouble? Like, drugs or something? Not that I don't like seeing you --"

"-- but it's a little odd when a friend you haven't seen in two years calls you up out of the blue and asks to crash with you. I dig," I said. "No, no trouble. Just needed to get away from work and life for a while, been getting close to a nervous breakdown."

I didn't really lie much in my life, but man, I was becoming too good at it. Seemed to mollify Darren, anyway. He nodded.

"That's cool, man. Hey, I have to go into the office today. We've got some software to ship and we're not going to make it," he said. "Of course, me being low man on the pole means I get volunteered for the extra hours. You gonna be all right here on your own?"

"Yeah, man. I'll probably just poke around the city today and head back to Wilmington tonight or tomorrow morning," I said.

"Cool. There's a spare key on the coffee table if I'm not back when you get in. Maybe I'll be free for lunch, and we can hang out," he said.

"Totally, man. Do your thing. I'm good. And thanks again for letting me crash."

"No worries," he said, smiling and standing.

As soon as he was out the door, I had the netbook out and the microSD card in the adapter.

* * *

There was a lot of data. This card was the same size as the previous one -- 1GB -- but it was almost full of files where the other only had the one image. I saw Word documents, spreadsheets, text files, images, video files -- it was going to take me a while to make sense of them all. I double-clicked a random Word document and settled in with a cup of coffee.

The document didn't make a whole lot of sense. Not that I didn't know what it was -- it was a shipping manifest. I'd seen tons of them before. It just didn't make sense here. In stuff that Kevin needed me to see. It was from a Chinese freighter to the Port of Long Beach about six and a half years ago. The cargo was listed as "biological, one," and was cleared through customs by someone named Eric Hawkins. It seemed pretty normal.

So I tried another one, this one a picture. This is what came up:

Then, this:

I kept flipping through documents for a long time, getting more and more confused -- I stopped when Darren got home at eight p.m. I called it a day at that point -- but the day wasn't yet ready to be called.

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