Chapter Six: My Word Is My Bond
Jesse sat in the front seat of the Lincoln alongside Saul's guy. Walt sat in the back, looking out the window at the ramshackle den his partner's urgent call had directed them to.
"I don't recommend it," Saul's guy warned. "APD's been known to sit on this place, keep an eye on the comings and goings."
"Are they here now?" Walt asked.
"Came by this morning; part of why it took longer than I expected to track her down," he explained. "Police could be the least of it. You could just get mugged or shot. Why don't you both wait out here? Let me handle this."
Before Jesse could respond, Walt got out of the backseat, moved to the passenger window and motioned for him to roll it down.
"You shouldn't go in there," he advised.
"Screw that, I'm coming with you." Jesse reached for the door handle.
"You're still not sober. I can smell that marijuana."
"Hey, it's not mine, it was Badger's. I was just there in the room, alright?" came the oldest excuse ever.
"Jesse, this place will be full of addicts."
"What do you think I'm gonna do? Shoot up and pass out in between her and the money?" He opened the door and pushed his way out. "I said I'm coming in. I'm not gonna argue about it; she needs me now."
Walt sighed and shut the door behind him. They both proceeded through an opening in the chain link fence onto the derelict property.
A vacant-eyed inhabitant met them at the door, gazing as if he couldn't register them as holding, a threat, or cops. Walt simply pushed past him, Jesse inched around him, and he just watched the two proceed with an uncomprehending stare.
The house's floors were cluttered, its walls plastered with graffiti. Further search confirmed that every square inch of the first room was crawling with denizens like the one at the door. They paid little mind to their visitors as they burned their lives away shooting up, staring off into space in a drugged stupor, or entangling with each other. Truth be told, they weren't the only reason Walt had wanted Jesse to stay outside.
"Holy shit, man," Jesse observed under his breath. "These could be our customers."
That was the other reason.
"Stay focused," Walt ordered quietly. "Don't make eye contact with any of them. We don't want any trouble here."
"We do this to people. Our product does this, Mr. White."
"Our product is the best in the Southwest. In all of the United States," Walt insisted. "Forget about these people; they're not our problem."
Letting Jesse come inside was a grossly inefficient mistake. By himself, Walt could have just got in, got the bag, and got out. With as much money as Jesse's junkie girlfriend had taken, with as much heroin as she could have streaming in her veins, well…that issue very well could have sorted itself out by now. Having Jesse here in his emotional state just complicated the matter. Especially if they were too late for her.
Jesse knelt down over an open, ransacked yellow suitcase and pick up a short gray dress he obviously recognized. His eyes closed as he held it against his face.
"She must be in here somewhere," Walt stated, if only to keep his partner on track. There was no time for this sentimentality. "Check the next room."
"Right…" Jesse complied, dropping the dress back in the pilfered suitcase and proceeding through the next doorway, Walt close behind.
The following room was lined along the walls with sofas and old mattresses that must have been salvaged from dumpsters and street curbs. Upon each of them were two, three, even four occupants in varying states of unconsciousness. The way some of them were arranged on their bedding made them difficult to identify at a glance, and Walt didn't relish the idea of inspecting each of them one by one. Instead, he scanned the room for a brown duffle bag.
Luckily, he wouldn't have long to search.
"Jane!" Jesse breathed, and immediately rushed towards a threadbare loveseat across the room. A hand adorned in familiar bracelets hung over the edge of the armrest, from underneath an unconscious male figure covered in tribal tattoos. Jesse pulled the tattooed man onto the floor—with no small measure of scorn—to reach the figure underneath.
It was Jane, and she was out cold.
Jesse shook her by the shoulders gently. "Jane, c'mon. Wake up, baby. C'mon, wake up," he coaxed.
In the meantime, Walt looked around for any sign of the money. Not on the loveseat. Not behind it. Nobody else in the room appeared to have it.
While Jesse continued to try to rouse Jane, Walt noticed a lever on the side of the loveseat. A recliner. He triggered the lever, releasing the footrest. He squatted down to check under the loveseat.
The sudden jolt in the mechanisms under the seat must have helped to bring Jane around. Her eyes squeezed shut tighter, then opened slightly. She gave a glazed, listless look at her rescuer, then closed her eyes again.
It was amazing the lengths a junkie could go to just to get a fix. Walt found the duffle bag, considerably lighter and rolled up, expertly hidden between the bottom of the cushion and the inside gears of the footrest.
Meanwhile, Jesse lifted Jane into a sitting position and cradled her in his arms, rocking back and forth. "It's alright, I'm here. I got you. It'll be okay," he assured her in a whisper.
While pulling the bag free and checking to see how much money was left, it was all Walt could do not to shake his head. Had Jesse forgotten that it was because of this woman's treachery they were in this predicament in the first place? Next thing you know, he'd be starting to—
Jesse sniffled loudly. "You'll be fine, sweetie. I'll get you out of here and take you someplace safe." His voice was muffled as he buried his face in her shoulder and rubbed her back. "You'll be just fine."
Of course. How like him. Walt unzipped the bag to estimate the contents. Though he wasn't about to take it out and count it in these surroundings, it looked like at least half was gone. Even she couldn't have spent a quarter of a million dollars in just one day, so where was the rest?
The pilfered suitcase in the doorway. Walt closed the duffle bag and went to examine the mess. The suitcase had been packed pretty tight. (New Zealand, he recalled with a huff. What a joke.) The clothes were now scattered all over the floor…but he doubted that's what the other junkies in the house had been looking for. He noticed one pair of jeans still folded in the suitcase, with a definite lump in the side pocket. He reached inside to find an ounce of Blue Sky.
So, she must have hidden her reserve in the couch, and tried to hide some spending money along with her purchases in the suitcase. A lot of good that did her.
Walt put the meth in the duffle bag, and while repacking the suitcase he checked every garment to see if there was any money or drugs left. Junkies, it turned out, were fairly thorough thieves.
"Can you hear me, Jane?" he heard Jesse asking in the back of the room.
"Don't bother. She wouldn't know you from Nikola Tesla in her current condition," Walt remarked.
"Forget it. Just pick her up. Let's go."
Before too much longer, they found themselves standing outside the death trap. Walt carried the duffle bag, Jesse carried Jane and her suitcase.
"Well…thank God we got here when we did. Things could have turned out much worse," Walt stated in a detached way. "Now all that's left is to get both of you clean. I'm sure after an experience like this, she'll agree once she comes around. Don't you think?"
Jesse was busy searching Jane's belongings for something.
"Needless to say, I think it's best that I continue holding onto your share in the meantime. Or what's left, that is," Walt continued. "If she's smart, she won't threaten us with going to the police again. Enough people have seen her with the bag by now. The cab driver, surely some dealers. Technically, she could be considered an accomplice, and just as culpable as you or me."
He looked Jesse in the eye, hoping he was getting the hint.
"So, it would be in our mutual best interest if I keep—"
"Whatever, Mr. White, just take it. It's fine."
Walt paused. "…Alright, then. I'm glad you can see my reasoning."
Jesse found what he was looking for: Jane's phone. There were several missed calls and two voicemails on it. "Do you mind going on ahead? There's something I gotta do here."
"And what might that be?"
Jesse didn't reply. He simply found a number under "D" in Jane's contacts, and dialed. It barely rang once before there was an answer.
"Jane?!" A definite hopeful tone echoed in the voice at the other end of the line.
"Yo, Mr. Margolis, this…no, this is Jesse."
"Jesse? Why in God's name do you have my daughter's phone?" the older man demanded.
"I gave my word. When I saw her, you'd be the first to know."
Donald soared well over the speed limit as he drove through the bad part of town, screeching to a halt in front of the revolting dive described to him in the phone call.
A crackhouse. Of all places for his Jane to turn up…a godforsaken den full of drug-addicted street trash. Getting out of the driver's side, he had a good mind to throttle Jesse on the spot and insist to know if he had been the one to introduce her to this place to begin with. How else would he have just happened to run into her there?
He approached the front stoop, and those intentions all dissipated when he saw the two of them.
Jesse sat on the front step, the yellow suitcase beside him. Jane was strewn, unconscious, over his lap, and he was absentmindedly stroking her arm. Without a word, he cast a pleading gaze up to her father, like an orphaned waif.
Donald jogged forward to the pair. From the sight of Jane, she didn't need just a stern talking-to and a stay in rehab. First she needed a hospital.
Without a word, he knelt down to scoop his daughter up. Jesse stood to help, and Donald made no objection. Together, they transported her to the car and laid her down in the backseat. Jesse, in turn, tucked her suitcase in place in the floorboards. Donald walked around to the driver's side and got in.
He hesitated for a moment, then conceded and stretched across the car to open the passenger door. Jesse, though initially surprised by the gesture, accepted the invitation and climbed in. They rolled away.