Black Heart
corridors of the hospital, but when I get to the parking lot, I’m done. The guy hates me. There’s no way I’m letting him take me back to the old house. I don’t want him talking to my grandfather again.
    “I’m going to take off,” I tell him. “See you around.”
    Agent Jones looks at me incredulously, then snorts. “You planning on walking?”
    “I’ll call a friend.”
    “Get in the car,” he growls, switching from amused to impatient in a single breath. There is something in his face that makes me even more certain that going with him is a bad idea.
    “Make me,” I say. “I dare you.”
    When he doesn’t actually lunge at me, I take out my cell phone and call Barron.
    “Little brother,” he drawls, picking up on the first ring. “You need to leave school and join up with the Feds. Last night we raided a worker strip club, and I was knee-deep in naughty gloves. Did you know no one uses Velcro on tear-away gloves anymore? The new kind are held together by magnets so they just slide right off the hand—”
    “That’s, uh, interesting,” I say. “But what I really need right now is a ride.”
    “Where are you?” he asks.
    I tell him the name of the hospital while Agent Jones watches me with a cold, furious look in his eyes. We don’t like each other. He should be relieved that he isn’t getting forced to spend any more time with me, but he’s obviously brimming with rage instead. The more I study his expression, the more unnerved I am. He’s not looking at me the way an adult looks at an obnoxious kid. He’s studying me the way a man studies his opponent.
     
    I sit on the cold stoop and wait, letting the chill seep into my skin. It takes a while for Barron to show—long enough that I start wondering if I should call someone else. But just as I decide that I’m going to have to go inside and get something warm to drink or con a blanket from one of the nurses, Barron pulls up in a red Ferrari. He rolls down a dark tinted window and flashes me a grin.
    “You stole that,” I say.
    “Even better. This beautiful car was seized during a raid. Can you believe it? There’s a whole warehouse of stuff that gets confiscated and then just sits around until the paperwork is sorted out. Best warehouse ever. Come on, get in.”
    I don’t need to be told twice.
    Barron is looking very pleased with himself. “Not only did I manage to get myself some new wheels, but I filled up the trunk with a bunch of tins of caviar and bottles of Krug that were just sitting around. Oh, and some cell phones I am pretty sure I can resell. Altogether a pretty good Saturday. How about yourself?”
    I roll my eyes, but I’m already relaxing in the warmth of the heater, leaning back against the seat. “I’ve got to tell you some stuff. Can we go somewhere?”
    “Anywhere you like, kid,” Barron says.
    Despite his extravagant offer, we wind up getting take-out Chinese and heading to his place in Trenton. He’s fixed it up some, replacing the broken windows he’d previously just covered in cardboard. He even bought some furniture. We sit on his new black leather sofa and put our feet up on the trunk he’s using for a coffee table. He passes me the tub of lo mein.
    On the surface his place looks more normal than it used to, but when I go to the cabinet to get a glass, I see the familiar pattern of sticky notes on the fridge, reminding him of his phone number, his address, his name. Whenever he changes someone’s memories, blowback strips out some of his—and he can’t be sure which ones will go. He could lose something small, like his memory of eating dinnerthe night before, or something big, like the memory of our father’s funeral.
    It makes you a different person, to not have a past. It eats away at who you are, until what’s left is all construct, all artifice.
    I’d like to believe that Barron has stopped working people, the way he promised he would, that all these little reminders are here because of

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