McCain looked around and blinked his eyes several times to take in the scene. What looked like a newly renovated apartment building, sat surrounded by crumbling, dilapidated structures on their last leg.
None of the homeless who lived in the area were anywhere near this particular building, and he could see on the far side that what had once been blocked roads were cleared, with several nice SUVs parked in freshly painted parking spots.
“What the hell?” He said out loud to himself.
“Weird shit going on over there my man.” Someone said from behind him.
McCain turned around to see an old man with heavy limp making his way to the other side of the road, carrying a clinking bag of gathered refuse. McCain followed him.
“Sir, what do you mean? What's going on over there?”
“Weird shit, 5-0. This block ain't safe no more.” The old man said and increased his pace away from the officer.
McCain jogged up to catch the old man and stopped him. The old man flinched, fear clearly on his dirty and lined face.
“Not here to bust you. Just tell me what’s going on.”
The old man looked around, hesitated, and then whispered “not here,” and motioned for the detective to follow him.
McCain followed the old man for several blocks, watching him closely as he continued to look over his shoulder. The old man refused to say anything until the building was out of sight.
“God damn boy.” the man said, looking the detective up and down. “You trying to get me killed?”
McCain apologized and said “Just following up on a lead. What’s got you spooked? And who has spent all that money on that apartment?”
He laughed and pointed at the officer.
“You askin’ a couple of the right questions now,” he said and struck his thigh.
“You ain't gonna believe this shit. I was living there not two months ago. Then one day most of my friends was gone and there was all these smiling dead eye fucks cleaning the place. All of a sudden everyone started keeping a pet rat, and they all seemed to care about that one boy, but he wasn’t never nothing special. Just another kid living on the street drinking and doing shit to get dead quick.”
“Wait. You mean this guy? “ McCain said and pulled out the picture of the gaming executive he had taken from the magazine.
“Yeah that's him!” the man said. “He was as homeless as me two months ago!”
McCain did not know what to say. Finally he asked, “What else has been going on in the neighborhood?”
The man told him of the local boys who had disappeared from the street. He also cleared up what kind of rats all the residents of his old apartment complex.
Big white ones.