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Mockingbird's new nest
Continued from Ciudad

To the locals, crisp morning air greeted Dane when he stepped out of the taxicab. Having come from Moscow by way of London, the air was stifling, and a heavy sun was clouded by smog despite the hour.

He'd made arrangements for living conditions prior to the decision to stay in Mexico City. As such, last minute accomodations were organized on the ride from the airport. He paid little attention to the surroundings as they went, caring more about the the destination than the journey.

What remained was the destintion he'd arranged on such short notice. The area of the city was known as Lomas de Chapultepec. Lomas meant hills apparently, and compared to Moscow, Dane found the description apt. There were several areas known as the Lomas, but this one, Chapultepec was the original upon which all the others were duplicated. It was the oldest and most affluent residential area of Mexico City. Despite the age it was also very well organized. The streets were laid along formations of the hills to preserve the natural beauty. Trees were planted appropriately or otherwise undisturbed.

From the sidewalk, Dane peered up the height of a six-story building wedged between two others. Glass balconies were built off the front. The architecture was modern and sleek. Although the curb in front was stained with black and decorated by a pathetic garden, the interior lobby of the long-term suites was acceptable.

The location of the building, Las Suites, would also suffice. He was on the border of the Lomas area, adjacent to the affluent colonia of Polanco, which was otherwise home to government, business, and the rich entertainment district of the city.

The driver traded Dane's luggage off with the valet after barking shared communication in Spanish. Not understanding, Dane frowned and vowed to download a translation application to his Wallet as soon as possible.

He tipped both men with CCD dollars which was as good as gold here. Besides, Dane has little interest in bothering with conversions to pesos.

The place he would be renting for now was only vacated yesterday and had yet to be cleaned. Dane refused to so much as tour it until it was adequately cleansed of its former inhabitant. A virtual tour sufficed for now. It was an oversized loft-style studio. Upon entering the front door, a high ceiling stretched a level overhead, amplifying the appearance of space. Beneath a cable-suspended staircase to the bed overhead was nestled a kitchen outfitted with surprising amount of current technology for the present Mexico City. The furnishings were likewise stylish and modern. They felt hollow to Dane, who grew up surrounded by antiques in the french boarding school and the heavy, solid finery of his family's English-country estate.

His luggage was deposited upstairs and the rent paid for several weeks, Dane aimed to seek breakfast and shopping. He was told about the Avenida Presidente Masaryk, a thoroughfare through the nearby affluent Polanco neighborhood. Masaryk as it was commonly called was also one of the most expensive shopping districts in the world: or else it used to be.

Dane held high hopes for the avenue, but upon closer inspection found it to be a joke. London, Paris, Milan, and gods imagined, Moscow were shining beacons of fashion and prestige while Mexico City's equivalent wallowed in squalor. There was perhaps three blocks of acceptable designers, but the shops were worn down, in need of paint, and overseen by guards at the front doors. The experience was hardly welcoming. Of those three blocks only one was worth his time.

Following a strange breakfast of cuisine inspired by local flavors, Dane was forced into the shops for attire befitting the heat of the days. An array of cool, crisp button down shirts were the first to be purchased that he would wear with the sleeves rolled and the top-most buttons undone. As were a pair of round, designer sunglasses. Neutral colored chinos in white, navy and khaki were purchased as well in varying lengths: long, cuffed and to the knee. His fine leather belts were sufficient to transfer to the Mexican arena, therefore he spent time accessorizing his outfits with beautifully printed pocket squares and airy scarves. Some basic tees and polos were necessary, as were suede slip-on loafers and leather sandals.

Finally and perhaps most important was the selection of black driving gloves. He purchased many pairs, far too many for someone who did not intend to drive himself through the tangled jungles that constituted Mexican roads. They were snug and fit his slender hands well.

A goodly amount of money was loosened that day. Enough that his family's bankers called to confirm the purchases were legitimate. On the way out, however, he added a strangely inexpensive rounded straw fedora with a lovely silk band tied around it. He smiled when he put it on and saw himself in the mirror. He was an altogether new man in Mexico City. Having traded the heavy wool of Moscow for the floating classic lines of Mexico, he was finally at ease. After slipping the sunglasses on his face, he was fully satisfied with himself not even minding the thin scruffiness darkening a jawline in need of a shave. He left the shop in decision to walk the streets of Polanco to see what adoration he could glean from those he passed.

Sure. He passed men in pinstripe suits smoking cigars. They carried briefcases or swiped data back and forth from portable holoscreens. But Dane was their better. He smiled a smug dismissal when such men glanced at him.

He spent the next few days wandering the government district. He strolled along the sidewalks, wandered parks, and even tried his own cigar, but the acrid scent to the streets and smog-addled horizon were swaths of filth against a dingy canvas.

Every day he showered he scrubbed his skin raw. Sweat pooled between his toes in his shoes. His hair was painted to his scalp. The sticky, dirty feeling would never fully leave, even when he climbed into the cool comfort of crisp sheets at night.

He hated Polanco almost as much as he liked it. The grit that rubbed his skin raw between the toes were wrapped in expensive loafers, much as the filth of the city was covered by a thin veil of luxury. Dane could see through the curtain, though, having known both sides of the world. He lived the life of a gentleman yet was trapped in the mind of a monster. While men leered at curvaceous, flowering women, Dane thought of stabbing them to death and running his hand beneath their skirt. When BMW's were permitted behind the looming fences of the U.S. embassy, Dane thought only of tripping the engines with explosives and burning the valets alive in their steel cages.

He was seated across from the U.S. embassy one morning, flipping through a book he took from the lobby of Las Suites. It was about ornithology: the study of birds. He'd taken to identifying the species singing their song in the branches above his bench. On his right was a sketchpad filled with elegant graphite sketches of some such creatures. Some were winged for flight; others perched on a branch; others pecking the ground for worms; while yet some were seated on little twiggy nests.

An unrelieved breeze ruffled the collar of his partly unbuttoned polo. With it was carried gossip of the recent cartel's warring from two nearby benchmates seated with their coffees and exchanging news of the day. Dane's translator app was tucked away in a pocket, but by now enough people had spoken the word for murder that Dane recognized it by now.

He sneered at himself and began a new sketch on a fresh piece of the paper that he would rip from one corner and tuck in the bench when he left it behind.

One of the secrets to Mockingbird's exclusivity was his ability to rig explosions by countdown. It gave him a safe perimeter by which to separate himself from the event, debris and association. He always watched in fascination as fire licked the bottom of the sky, but not so close as to actually endanger himself. Fortunately, if he continued to lean upon the power that swirled within, he could hear the screams of the trapped from a block away.

The U.S. embassy was Mockingbird's target this morning. Behind those black spires of a fence the ugly, outdated manila architecture of the building went up in smoke. BMW's were flipped high in the air. Guards with rifles rushed. Curvaceous women and dignified men fled for their lives. While Mockingbird strolled casually away, truly enjoying himself for the first time since the night he lost his virginity.

When he returned to Las Suites, the clerks were unperturbed by his arrival, glued to the screens projected around them.

He joined them, standing behind and watching with the others, although they did not acknowledge his presence. Investigators had found his calling card, it seemed. When the image of his hand-sketched Mockingbird filled the screen, the corner's of Dane's lips quirked into a thrill he constantly chased. Mexico City knew he was here.

He left the clerks with only one of them having finally noticed his presence: a young woman with full lips and smokey eyes... and long, luxurious black hair. Dane smiled back as the elevator doors cut him off.


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