Authors: Ken White
be sure,” I said. “Sometimes it takes a lot of convincing.”
I guess. But I’m honestly not sure what his problem is anyway. I mean, she’s
cheating on him, but it’s not like....”
laughed. “It’s okay. Sara told me about the problem that male Vees have.”
Sara is the night secretary at Night and Day. As a Vee, I figured she
knew what she was talking about.
erectile dysfunction,” he said. “And all the meds in the world won’t change
knows what Maxwell wants. Pride, love, commitment.” I paused. “Best not to
go too deep into why a client wants answers. Just get the answers and let it
signal. She’s turning onto the boyfriend’s street.”
up to the corner. If she parks in front of his apartment, park on the other
side of Burnside and we’ll do a walk-by.”
rolled up to Burnside Avenue and I glanced to the right. Mrs. Sandra Maxwell
was out of her car and climbing the steps to Tom Garcia’s first-floor
park it and let’s go for a walk.”
we climbed out of the car, Brenner asked, “Why do this on foot?”
driven past three nights in a row. If she’s suspicious, she might have made
What’s she going to do? Tell her husband?”
might call the cops,” I said.
what? We’re licensed private investigators on a job. They’re not going to
give us any problems.”
sighed. “Okay, some more for your education. I used to be a Metro cop here.
I still have friends in the department in Downtown District. I know how they
think. They generally don’t have a lot of love for guys on the private side
of the street. Plus we’re in Central District now, and I don’t have any
friends on the night shift here.”
but they’re not going to arrest us.”
but they can make it harder to work in this district at night if we don’t
answer their questions. They’re going to want details, client name, that
kind of thing. I don’t think Mr. Maxwell wants his marital situation to
become common knowledge around the Central Station squadroom.” I paused.
“Low profile, all the time. It gets the job done with minimal
walked around the corner onto Burnside and started down the street. “Eyes
front, ears open. We go around the block, back to the car, and head to the
office. She usually leaves a little after midnight. We’ll come
back, follow her home, and call it a night.”
of us, Tom Garcia’s door opened and he came out onto the stoop. Garcia was
big, football player big. He stared at us for a moment, then started down
let me do the talking,” I said softly.
propelled himself across the street like an angry attack dog. As he hit the
sidewalk on our side of the street and barreled toward us, I saw that his
face bore some similarity to a pit bull’s.
are you doing here?” he demanded, coming to a stop a few feet in front of
do you mean?” I asked, throwing a little bit of confusion into my voice.
“We’re just taking a walk.”
give me that bullshit. You been hanging around the neighborhood all week.” I
could see his hands were clenched into fists. Big fists. “And you’ve been
following my girl.”
sorry,” I said. “I think you’re confusing us with somebody else. We haven’t
been following anybody.”
we were burned, we were burned. Couldn’t change that. And it really wasn’t a
big deal. We already had the reports and the pictures for Maxwell. If he
decided he didn’t get his full five days, I’d kick back a day’s rate to
I didn’t want to see this escalate on the street. Like I’d told Brenner, I
didn’t want the cops to show up.
stared at me, the veins in his neck bulging. If it was a show, he was a damn
fine actor. Then he stepped forward, his face a few inches from mine and
shoved me. “You calling me a liar?”
stumbled back a few feet. It was a solid shove, but not enough to send me
down on my ass on the sidewalk. If I was downtown, and it was daylight, I
might have pulled the pistol on my hip, get him to back off. I don’t like
I wasn’t downtown and it wasn’t daylight. If I pulled the gun, he might just
get really mad. Then I might have to actually shoot him. He wouldn’t want
that and neither did I.
I could finish, Brenner turned to Garcia, closed one hand around the front
of his throat and lifted him. Then he pivoted and slammed Garcia against the
wall of the building beside the sidewalk.
bloodsac,” Brenner said, his voice barely above a whisper. “You touch my
friend again and I’m gonna pull your head off. Do you
was a pit bull at the end of a choke chain. Eyes wide, mouth working without
friend and I live in this neighborhood, down the street and around the
block,” Brenner continued, his voice still soft. “If you or your girl have
noticed us, that’s why.” He paused. “Neighbor.”
was making anxious little grunts in the back of his throat.
do you have a problem with us taking a walk down the street,
opened his hand and Garcia dropped the couple of feet to the ground. He
staggered, gasping as he sucked some air in. “Look, I’m sorry,” he said.
“We’ve had problems with prowlers in the neighborhood.”
stared at him silently.
won’t bother you again. Enjoy your evening.” Garcia turned and hurried back
across the street, rubbing his throat.
was nicely done,” I said softly. “Good improv.”
following your instructions,” Brenner said. “You told me to run through
scenarios. There was always a possibility that Garcia or Mrs. Maxwell might
confront us, so I gave it some thought.”
nodded and started walking. He fell in beside me.
what if it had been her?"
smiled. “I would have taken her aside and used the same story about living
in the neighborhood. With an added kicker, that I was grooming you to be a
regular evening snack.” He paused. “That would have hit home for her. Did
you see Garcia’s neck?”
shook my head. “Human. We don’t see in low light as well as you.”
had half a dozen little scars. Some older, some fresh. She’s getting more
from him than a good boning.”
maybe not even that. Maybe he’s just an evening...snack.”
I hadn’t seen the cuts on Garcia’s neck, I’d seen them before. That’s the
way the high-class uptown slurp clubs operate. Little silver plate with a
fancy little knife. And human employees known as refreshments. Cut. Lick.
Cut. Lick. It was ugly, but not as ugly as the not-so-high-class slurp
clubs. They ran things more like a buffet, with the diners free to eat as
much as they liked.
passed the steps up to Garcia’s apartment. “Think they’re watching?” Brenner
it,” I said. “You gave him a good scare. He won’t want to piss you off by
peering out the window at us.”
he’ll call the cops?”
may want to, but he won’t do it,” I said. “He started it, you’re a Vee, the
on-duty cops are Vees. And he is, as you made clear to him, a bloodsac. How
do you think that’s going to play out in his head?”
good.” Brenner was silent for a moment, then said, “Hope you weren’t
offended by me calling him a bloodsac. I did it for effect. I’d never call
laughed. “I’ve been called bloodsac and a lot worse.”
are we blown?”
shook my head. “Don’t think so. Your story was credible and they’re not
going to ask any questions. By tomorrow night, the job should be done and it
won’t matter anyway.”
was about twenty after ten when we got back to the car. The rest of our
stroll around the block had been quiet and uneventful.
think we’ll skip the return visit to follow her home,” I said as he slid
behind the wheel. “We already know she’ll head home around midnight, and
she’s going to be watching her rear-view mirror very carefully on the drive
uptown. No reason to spook her again.”
what’s next for tonight?”
go to bed early for a change. You spend a few hours with Sara, and go over
the client meeting tomorrow night. She’s been in on a few, and knows how it
works. Pay attention to what she tells you. We like satisfied customers and
that doesn’t happen when the client cops an attitude because of something
and Day Investigations operates out of the Triangle Building, where
Expedition and Second meet at Hennessy, overlooking Expedition Square.
Thanks to some financial wheeling and dealing by my late partner, we owned
the building. Which meant I owned half the building. Bain owned the other
half, just as he owned half of Night and Day.
pulled the car to the curb on Second behind my Jeep and we got out. The
square was quiet, the streets mostly empty. Almost five and a half years
after the war, and more than two years after humans were released from the
internment camps, a lot of people stayed off the streets after dark. It
takes a long time for bad memories to fade.
Welles,” Benny, the night security guard in the lobby, said with a nod as we
passed. I smiled and nodded back. It was the least I could do. Well, that
and the nice raise I’d given him last fall after he killed a vampire intent
on turning me.
usual, I avoided the antique elevator and went up the stairs to the fourth
floor, Brenner right behind me. After Joshua’s death, one of the first
things I’d done was get an elevator company in to check it. They said it was
fine, a hundred percent. That was good to hear. No accidents, no lawsuits
from the families of those killed when they hurtled to their death in our
elevator. But I still didn’t like the way it creaked going up and down, so I
stuck to the stairs.
was behind her desk when we came in. Sara Tindell. Small, blonde, cute. And
destined to remain that way forever, unless misadventure of some sort
stopped her heart from beating and ended her life. We have two secretaries
at Night and Day. Sara for the night investigator, Cynthia DiPierro during
the day for me.
smiled at Brenner, then gave me a bigger smile. After Joshua was murdered,
we’d had a little....well, I guess you’d call it a fling. It never quite
reached the level of an affair.
hadn’t initiated it. She had. Male Vees seem to lose their sex drive along
with their erections when they turn. Or maybe the fact that they have no
lead in their pencils, as Sara put it, just made it unimportant to them.
Female Vees, on the other hand, seemed to retain those needs, as evidenced
by Mrs. Maxwell. And Sara.
put Sara off as long as I could, but it came down to either going along with
it or losing her as a secretary. And she’s a good secretary. So I took one
for Night and Day Investigations.
was okay. I think she enjoyed it more than I did. I could never get past her
low body temperature. I like my women warm.
a few months, it went from weekly to every other week to monthly to done. It
wasn’t anything I said or did. Maybe she got what she wanted. Maybe she sensed my
unease. Maybe I didn’t hit the sweet spot for her in that department.
Whatever it was, she stopped suggesting it, and that was that. At least for
the time being.
go all right?” she asked.
or less. Mrs. Maxwell’s gorilla boyfriend decided to raise a fuss, but
Brenner tamed him pretty quickly.”
she said, looking up at Brenner. “Going back up there to see her
shook my head. “No, we got what we need, and I don’t want to scare her, have
her say something to her husband about men following her. She can get home
on her own, and tomorrow night we’ll dump it in Maxwell’s lap.” I paused.
“Speaking of which, I’d like you to go through the presentation with
Brenner. Help him on the do’s and don’ts of how to close out a case with a
are you going to be doing?”
I have about twenty-five pawn shops I need to hit in the next couple of
days, see if I can find Mrs. Dillon’s ring. Then connect it with her
thieving junkie nephew and close it out.”
got a call a couple of hours ago.” She pulled the pad on her desk close.
“Said his name was Shuster.”
leave a first name or a number. When I told him you’d be back in the office
later, he said he’d call at eleven-thirty.”