“You seem to have a lot on your mind. How about some tobacco?” The female lizard demihuman extended her hand.
“Mr. Chameleon, this is not good. You do not like to drink alcohol, touch women, and smoke tobacco… For a murderer, you are extremely strange.”
“I will pay you the money you are owed,” he pulled up his hood and rolled his eyes at her quietly.
“There is more to this world than just money. You have rescued me from the casino, that is why I have worked with until this day. Sometimes, relationships are established because of the absence of money. Have you ever thought about that? Maybe this ought to change your bigoted personality.”
“No, for me, human feelings and money are both quantifiable.” He looked up at the flowing clouds from the narrow street. “But I did think about this: Had I not paid you today, would you come out with me next time?”
She gave him a mysterious smile. “If there is a next time, I hope that it is when I leave the casino for good.”
“You mentioned that lizard traffickers number people,” he said indifferently. “Do you have one?”
She was stunned by his remark and looked startled in the mist.
“Looks like you do.” He smirked under his hood.
She looked away in surprise, trying to suppress the sorrow that flashed in her eyes. She then turned back to face him again, showing a perfectly elegant smile, as if this was her last line of defense.
“Yes, I have a number. Actually, more than one. On the prison car, they number you in the order that they catch you. In the black market, they renumber you based on your skin quality, physical appearance, and age. Even in casinos, you are numbered in the register. But do you know that there are places where people are not numbered? There… they are as good as dead.”
“I am sorry to hear that,” he shrugged.
“Save your social rhetoric. To be honest, I envy those broken eggs. They do not know the unpleasant lives they have escaped,” she spoke in a cold tone that she did not even notice herself. “But this is the sad part about life. Once you are alive, you want to stay alive. There is no going back.”
She stared at him.
He spoke uncomfortably under the stare, “About that child who survived, I was thinking…”
“The child will survive, just like everyone else in these streets,” she glanced at the vagrants around. “You will make yourself feel alive no matter how pathetic your methods are.”
“So, is it possible… to find out what the child’s true name is?”
“Is it possible to take your cards back after you have shown them?”
He sighed softly.
“I am really leaving this time.” She put the tobacco out. “Are there any other ‘truths’ you want to hear?”
“You can save them for our next meeting.”
She snorted, turned around, and hooked him gently with her ringing tail before heading back to the casino gracefully. He knew that she would never leave the casino; not in her lifetime. Most living beings are the same way; they are used to doing the things they are good at in the same place that they find relatively safe, and are destined to live a life of hardship.
Perhaps this was why No. 3 was so loyal to the Juan family.
Perhaps living means more than just staying alive; maybe it means to live for a purpose. Just like how he lived for No. 3… Maybe No. 3 was living for a purpose?
He would like to respect her decision; that was why he endured it. Nevertheless, at this rate, her immaturity would get her killed. By then, such respect would have meant nothing.
He sniffed the remaining smell of the tobacco and began to waver once more…