Ah, there it was, a half empty--- no, not a pessimist, just a realist--- bottle of Ol' Loudmouth. I found a half-clean glass, and was just pouring a slug, when she walked in. Living proof that angels do walk.
But, what was she doing walking into my dingy office on the wrong side of town? I'd find out soon enough, but right now my eyes were conducting inventory. Billowy, blonde hair? Check. Carolina blue eyes? Check. Getaway sticks, from hip to heel? Check. Rack? To there, and back? Check.
"Mr Hanner. Mr Hanner!" She interrupted me in mid gape.
I managed to close my mouth like a rusty hinge, and stammered out, "Yesss, can I help you out of something?... I, I mean, can I help you out, *or* something?"
She smiled, and my heart felt like the half of a popsicle that falls on a sidewalk in August. All drippy and melty.
"Yes, I hope you can. I'm looking for a dear friend that I have only seen once in the last three years. Oh, my name is Victoria. Victoria Lane, and I'm looking for a guy who just quit coming around."
'This guy better get his pulse checked', is what I was thinking, but, what I said was, "If anyone can find a deadbeat, it's me."
She smiled again, "Oh, he's no deadbeat. He's very popular with the ladies, and the guys."
"Well if he's that popular he shouldn't be hard to find," I murmered. "This cat got a name?"
"Yes. Dale. Dale Jr," she breathed.
"Oh, heck yeah, I've heard of him. He shouldn't be too hard to find."
"I didn't say that he was hard to find, just that he doesn't visit me anymore," she pouted.
"Let me tell you up front that I can find him, but I can't make him come see you, Miss Lane. That will be up to him."
I immediately saw that this is not what she wanted to hear, as her bottom lip started to tremble, and she blurted out, "It's all because of that damn cousin of his! He's the one who's keeping us apart! I wish he would just disappear!"
Oh great, here come the waterworks. Why am I such a sucker for a beautiful dame that can cry on cue? "OK, now don't cry. I have an associate that may know some people, that know some people that may be able to make the cousin disappear."
She sniffled, "Really? Who?"
"Shaft. Cam Shaft. He's a bad mo..."
"Shut yo mouth"
"Just talkin' 'bout Shaft."
She was smiling again, and it lit up my world like a state trooper's spotlight reflecting off the rearview mirror at midnight.
So, I finally got her turned around, and as I saw her walk out of the office I couldn't help thinking, 'I hate to see her go, but I love to watch her leave.'
Now where to find Jr? Maybe I should start by crossing off the places where I know he won't be at. Like the gym, a team meeting, testing, or asking his fellow company drivers for advice. That narrows it down some.
to be continued....