Bam. Bam. Bam.
My eyes tried to open, made it about halfway, then closed again. Damn, those four or five tequilas from last night were still lingering. Okay, who am I kidding, it was more like four or five hours of tequila.
Bam. Bam. Bam. Bam.
‘Who in the hell can that be,’ I thought. I noticed the redhead as I struggled out of bed. ‘Not bad, Hanner, almost a dime. I hope this isn’t some jealous boyfriend beating on my front door.’
I looked out the peep hole, and lowered my gat, as I recognized that familiar scowl.
“C’mon in, Shaft,” I slurred, while I was unlocking the door.
“What’s up, Jim?” he started.
“Why are you beating down my door at the crack of noon?”
“I got some good news for you, cuz.”
“All right, let’s hear it, Cam.”
“You know that female’s case, the one where she wanted dude’s cousin to disappear?”
“Yeah, Victoria Lane,” I smiled, as I remembered her leaving my office three weeks ago. “Yeah, Dale Jr’s cousin.”
“It’s done, man. Dude is buried,” Shaft whispered.
“What? No, no, no. He wasn’t supposed to get clipped,” I nervously hissed back.
“Be cool, man. He’s alive. He’s buried in something called R&D.”
I asked, “What the hell is R&D?”
“Let’s just say that she won’t be seeing the cousin around anymore,” Shaft replied.
“All right, dude. How much is it gonna cost her,” I queried.
“ Okay Shaft, I’ll call her and set up a meet to get the money for you.”
Shaft made sure to tell me, “Cash is King, Homes. Ya feel me?”
“Yeah, yeah, I got it, man.”
I let Shaft out, and grabbed some Gatorade and Motrin for my headache. Damn, I might have to upgrade this thing from hangover, to hangaround. Meanwhile, I might as well put that Private Investigations degree from the Devrie Institute to use, and go see how that redhead got tangled up in my sheets.
I finally made it to my office around two, and looked up Victoria Lane’s digits. I felt like a high school kid rehearsing what I was going to say before I called her. What is wrong with me?
I could feel me face flushing as I heard her phone ringing through the receiver. “Hello,” she said.
“Hi, Miss Lane, this is Mike Hanner with some good news.”
“Please call me Victoria.”
“Okay. I have good news on the Dale Jr missing person case.”
“That’s wonderful,” she purred.
And now, for some reason, my heart is pumping warm, melted butter through my veins. Great. Get a hold of yourself, man.
I composed myself and told her, “My friends have taken care of Dale Jr’s cousin. He won’t be the one keeping you two apart anymore.”
“That is great news, Mr Hanner.”
“Please, call me Mike. Can I meet you somewhere later to pick up the payment for my friends,” I asked?
“Sure, just tell me when and where,” she replied.
I started, “Well, a few of my informants in Foxtown have told me that Jr sometimes hangs out at a place called Whiskey River. So, I’m checking it out later tonight. We could meet there about...”
She interrupted me, “That’s not a good idea. If Jr is there, I’d rather not see him on his turf. I’d rather him come see me. I really don’t want him to know that I’m looking for him. I am a lady.”
“Okay then. How about the west parking lot at South Park Mall at eight-thirty tonight?”
“Alright, I’ll be there,” she let me know.
“Good. The cousin disappearing is going to cost you ten thousand dollars, cash. Bring it in a manila envelope, and I’ll have a detailed expense report for my first two weeks on the case. You
can mail me a check for that,” I told her.
I saw her Mercedes as I rounded the back corner of the mall at 8:15. I pulled up beside her and rolled down the window of my El Camino.
“Sorry I’m late,” I began.
“It’s alright, I just got here myself.”
“Look these parking lots have mobile guards and video cameras everywhere, let’s make this handoff quick,” I told her. “Here are my daily updates on the case and my expense reports.”
She took them through the window, and handed me a 5x7 manila envelope that was stuffed like a small piece of carryon luggage.
I told her, “Thanks. I’m heading to Whiskey River to see if I can get a word with Dale. Sure you don’t want to be my escort? Uh, not that I think you’re an escort, or anything. Sorry, I meant, are you sure you don’t want to go just to, maybe get a look at him.”
“No, no I better not. I might get all emotional and start crying or something.”
I left her with, “That’s cool. I’ll let you know what I find out at Whiskey River.”
I flipped through the cache of hundred dollar bills in the envelope as I idled the Chevy through the parking lot towards Independence Boulevard. I turned left on Indy, and gunned the cherry bomb El Camino towards the Charlotte skyline.