Vinnie nodded to a short, thin man wearing thick diamond and gold rings on his slim fingers as he passed through the front of the party car to the next. There were two bathrooms in the hall, just before the connecting doors, and Vinnie glanced behind him to make sure no one noticed he took neither. There was no badge reader or guard here, and Vinnie was about to say something about the door being locked. But with a simple touch of the handle the door slid open easily. Vinnie was in the connecting pass-through, and then he was in the next car.
Vinnie took another sip of his ginger ale and prayed to the train god that the ride would smooth out. “How do we get them back there?” he asked, his lips still on his glass. It was a murmur, so quiet without the tin ears Verna never would have heard even as she stood half a foot away.
The earpiece fit so snugly into Vinnie’s ear canal you couldn’t see it. At least, he hadn’t been able to see it no matter how he moved his head around in front of the mirror. Of course, there was still something jammed in his ear. It was like he had a particularly big piece of wax stuck and it was making his hearing lopsided.
Could this lovely old factory, so full of character and charm, really be the same squat, ugly thing Vinnie had walked into for the first time only weeks before? Back then it had loomed above him, like it might fall over and eat him. Today, covered in sunshine and floating in summer heat, it had become a welcoming gentle place, advertising good things. Gentle clouds drifted by above, and birds swooped around the roof. Yes, they were scrawing seagulls instead of chirping blue birds. Yes, one of them almost shit on him. But Vinnie still took them as a good omen.