Dave strolled, as nonchalant as possible, down to the curb, where he found his taxi waiting. The incongruity of his appearance with the grandeur of the residence, which had been a concern to him, seemed to make no impression on the cab driver. The man behind the wheel, in fact, did not even look at him as Dave climbed into the back seat.
“Where you headed?” the driver asked.
“How far are you willing to take me?” Dave asked.
The driver arched an eyebrow at Dave’s reflection in the rearview mirror. “For real? Where is it you need to be?”
“New Mexico,” Dave said.
“Huh. Well, the county line is my limit. But it won’t be cheap.”
“I assume there will be some stores or gas stations at the county line,” Dave said. “Just drop me off at one of those. Someplace with a phone, so I can call another cab.”
The driver shook his head. “Whatever you say, buddy.”
As they pulled out into traffic, Dave patted the lump underneath his jacket. Julian’s jacket, to be more precise. Several sizes too large, like the pants and the shirt. A bum in an Armani, Dave mused. Julian’s suit, with Julian’s money inside.
It had taken a day and a half for Dave to locate the wall safe, another four hours for him to crack the combination. All the while, the Golem had offered no attempt to subdue him. Julian, as nice a guy as he might be, as knowledgeable, had underestimated by degrees his reluctant houseguest. Now Dave would be crossing the state by taxi, and Julian would be footing the bill. He hoped Julian would understand.
Dave regarded his fingernails, caked with mud. It had only been a matter of remembering his Hebrew, scratching away the right characters to change the word LIFE on the Golem’s forehead to the word for DEAD, thus rendering the homunculus quite useless as a sentry. Another of the ways in which Julian had underestimated him.
“So what’s in New Mexico?” the cabbie said, an attempt at conversation.
“A place of power,” Dave answered.
“I have a job waiting on me there,” Dave said. “A very important job.”