Amal woke up to a knock on the door. He stirred, and then arched his back. Amal once practiced his fire-starting routine on this couch, in partial hope that the ratty thing would die a deserved death. Amal sat up and stretched his arms, reaching towards a slightly damp ceiling. His back felt like it had slept on 20 books.
Someone knocked on the door again, harder this time. Amal jolted, but he remained sitting down. Henry could answer the door. In the meantime, Amal counted all the fan memorabilia in the room. Henry had collected a pride parade flag, some X-Men action figures, a bound series of young adult novels, and a signed photograph from Mot Thal. There was also a katana, taped to a mantle above the bathroom door, for reasons that Henry could never properly articulate to Amal. Each of these items sat in the room with no organization.
Three knocks on the door, each louder than the last. Amal sprung up and walked to the entrance hallway. In the next room over was the high-end, sleek black computer that Henry and Amal spent the early morning at. Amal checked his watch. 13:18, and Henry wasn’t visible in any of the apartment’s rooms.
Amal opened the door.
Outside the apartment stood the short woman with the cap. It was the same cap she wore last night. Amal stepped back in recognition: even in an office-casual blouse, Cap Lady didn’t look that different than she did at Chandler Comedy Club. Any giddiness she possessed at Chandler Comedy Club, however, had vanished.
Before Amal blurted out anything, the woman stated, “Hey. Is Mister Henry Cockburn here?”
“Just a sec,” said Amal. Careful not to lift his armpits, Amal walked over to the room with the big computer. He scanned the place. Then, he kicked the beanbag.
The beanbag lurched. Henry rolled out from underneath it. Henry groaned and winced. “I heard the knocks… I didn’t need the battering ram…”