Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mike Hanner: Private Eye III

It was after nine by the time I made it to Whiskey River, the bar where my informants told me that Dale Jr sometimes hung out. Damn, this place is packed. I finally parked the El Camino around back next to a dumpster, and headed for the front door.

As I made my way closer to the entrance, I couldn’t help but notice that the dress of choice for these patrons was Levis, NASCAR sponsor logoed golf shirts, running shoes, and the ubiquitous ball caps. I felt a little overdressed in my slacks and sport coat.

Once at the door, I nodded at the three slabs of beef, all wearing the standard two sizes too small, black, staff, tee shirts.

I asked them, “Which way to the gun show, boys?” No one smiled. Tough crowd.

I tried again, “Dale Jr been around tonight?”

The smallest one of the three, who I’ll call Biggun snorted, “Haven’t seen him, mister.”

“If you do, could you tell him that Mike Hanner is looking for him?” I asked.

“Will do, Chief,” Biggun replied with a sneer somewhere south of contempt.

I moseyed on inside and beelined for the bar. I elbowed my way up the rail, waved an AJ, and told the biggest bartender, who I’ll call Chesty, “Jose Gold, straight up, please.”

Chesty made it back with my shot, and I told her, “Keep the change. You been working here long?”

“Too long, Sweetie.”

“Yeah, I've heard that before. You know Dale Jr?”

She smiled, “Oh, yes, he’s a sweetheart.”

“Is he here tonight?”

“Haven’t seen him, Hon.”

“Okay, thanks,” I tossed back as I walked away from the bar, and out into the club.

My eyes were now adjusted to the dim lights, and I was scanning the room for a friendly face. I noticed the long, black hair cascading down the bareback of a cocktail waitress, and knew that I recognized her from somewhere. When she finally turned around I was right behind her.

Her eyes lit up like a cash register as she recognized me and said, “Hey… you.”

“Well, hey yourself, babe. I haven’t seen you since you were at the Gold Club. How long have you been here?”

“A couple of months now,” she smiled with that fake, buy me a new car, stripper smile.

I looked over her shoulder and saw Chesty and one of the bouncers having a conversation at the bar while looking at me and the ex-stripper. They didn’t seem too happy.

I continued on with, what the hell is her name, “So, babe, you know Dale Jr?”

“Oh yes,” she purred as that cash register smile lit up again.

“Seen him lately?”

“Yes, he's in the VIP section, and that bitch, Roxxi, is working his table tonight.”

“Can you get me in there to see him?”

“Sure thing, babe,” she said as I could tell by the look in her eyes that this would require some grease. So I peeled a Benj off of the stack I’d picked up from Victoria Lane earlier.

Cash register eyes took me by the hand and led me into the VIP room, right by another security guy that looked like the Incredible Hulk. That is if the Hulk was smaller and had that same strange spray-on orange tint as this dude.

The waitress led me right up to Dale’s table. He was sipping a Bud, and holding court with two other guys and three girls.

I introduced myself, “Dale, I’m Mike Hanner, and I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions?”

“Sure, man,” Dale smiled, and nodded for the others to clear out. “There you go, sit down, dude. I heard you was tryin’ to find me. What’s up?”

I sat down, and could feel the Orange Hulk’s stare on the back of my neck. Jr nodded towards the Hulk to let him know that everything was okay.

I led off, “Dale do you remember Victoria Lane?”

He grimaced, “Well, it has been a while, but who could forget her?”

“Yes, I’ve met her, she is unforgettable,” I continued, “She misses you, Dale, and she wants to see you.”

Dale raised his voice, “You think I don’t miss her, and want to see her? Damn, If it was up to me, I’d be living with her. Just tell her I do want to see her, but it’s gotta be on my terms.”

I felt the clamp of the Hulk’s paw on my shoulder and I started to rise so he wouldn’t break anything.

Dale put his head down as Hulk said, “That’s it, let’s go.”

I saw the ex-stripper by the bar, looking the other way, as Hulk escorted me to the front door. I noticed that only one of the three meatheads was there now.

I was almost to my truck when I heard someone behind me. As I turned, I never saw the large silhouette step out from behind the dumpster. I did hear the thwack of Louisville Slugger on the side of my head, though. Then, nothing.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe Mr. Hanner will wake up in Athens Regional's Emergency Room! How 'bout un-capitalizing Bev in the ad above that girl's photo before someone from my email list thinks I'm on here posing for you! LOL