Authors: Mick James
Bobby phoned Marci the
following morning to
see about working.
“Hi Marci, how are you this morning?”
“Fine, thank you.” He could feel the chill coming from the other end of the phone.
“This is Bobby, calling to see if you have anything for me today.”
“Yes, I recognized your voice. No, everything is quite in order. We certainly won’t be needing your services today. Perhaps try again tomorrow. Anything else?”
“No, I guess not.”
“Thank you,” she said attempting to sound cheerful before she abruptly hung up.
He wasn’t all that disappointed.
He received the same response from Marci the following morning and was only too glad to get off the line. The newspaper had a sketchy, vague article about an “incident” at his address but not much else in the way of information.
Wild and crazy guy that he was, he went to the library and picked up another book. He logged onto the library computer to see if he could learn anything else about the incident, but all he found online was a copy of the newspaper article. On the way home he stopped at the grocery store and picked up a few items. The SUV was parked on the street when he turned into his parking lot.
He parked in his usual spot next to the dumpster and quickly entered the building. He noticed the tape detached from the door before he took the key out of his pocket. He cautiously turned the knob and the door swung open.
“Bobby, ‘bout time. What’d you bring us for dinner?”
Kate’s son smiled as he sat in the chair he had pulled away from the window. The chair was angled in such a way that he could keep an eye on the street without really being seen. He watched as Bobby closed the door, then glanced back out onto the street.
“How’d you get in here?”
“What? Didn’t you miss me?”
“I haven’t seen you around the last couple of days, ever since that excitement the other night.”
“What excitement?” he asked, then stared back out the window. Bobby noticed the bulge against his back and assumed he was carrying a gun of some sort.
“Yeah right. Who was it?” Bobby asked.
“Why would you think I know anything about that?”
“The act is getting pretty old. Either you’re a bad liar or you’re too dumb to know. I don’t happen to think you’re too dumb.”
“Arundel.” He answered nonchalantly, like he was listing off which day of the week it was or what he’d eaten for breakfast. He returned to staring out the window.
“Is he going to be okay?”
He turned slowly and looked in Bobby’s direction, but he wasn’t focused, at least not on Bobby. The cockiness left him for a brief moment and he shook his head ever so slightly. “He’s dead.”
“I think that’s what I just said. The man’s dead. Someone took him out, killed him.”
“Who? I mean, why was he…”
“You think I’d be sitting on my ass in this dump if I knew the answer to any of that shit?”
“What was he doing here? In this building?”
your building, Bobby.”
“But he was here, in the middle of the night. Right?”
He nodded and went back to looking out the window.
“So what was he doing here? Does he know someone here? Have a girlfriend? What?”
“That’s what I just said.”
“What did I do? I’ve been gone for four-plus years. Except for my ex-wife, who would probably still like to kill me, I’m off everyone’s radar.”
“’Cept those two fucks that murdered my mom.”
“Kate?” Bobby nodded toward the urn on his kitchen counter. “This doesn’t make any sense. I can’t identify anyone. I don’t know who killed her. No one knows for sure if it was even the same two guys who chased us. I never talked to the police, never told anyone about any of that.”
“Well, they came here looking for you,” he said almost in a whisper.
“The killers? But, how would they even know who I was? How would they know anything about me, let alone where to find me? Like I said, I’m not on anyone’s radar.”
“We might have put the word out, sort of, maybe.”
“Well, yeah. See we knew who it was soon as you described them, one’s got reddish hair, the other’s is dark and curly with that pig nose.”
“Pug,” Bobby corrected.
“Whatever. We let the word out, Arundel and me. Figured they might come looking for you. Guessed they wouldn’t expect to find us, well except they did. They caught Arundel out back in the parking lot. Spotted him standing by that piece of shit you’re driving. Just sort of came outta nowhere, like.”
“But the cops, they knocked on my door the other morning. I told them I didn’t hear anything, no shots, nothing.”
“They slit his throat, then left him by the back door. Make it look like he was maybe trying to get in here. ‘Course it don’t really make no difference now, does it?”
“Did you tell the police? I got a number here you should call. They’ll want to talk to you. In fact, they’ll need to talk to you and find out what the hell you know. I’m sure they’ve got an ongoing investigation….”
“Shut the hell up, will you? Not you, not me, no one is gonna be calling the cops, Bobby. That ain’t happening. Understand?”
“This isn’t some game you’re playing, here. This is the real deal. Now a man’s lost his life. A man has been murdered and he was your friend. You’ve got information that….”
“Shut up, damn it. Jesus Christ, I gotta tell you? For someone who’s supposed to have pulled four years you sure as hell didn’t learn much in there.”
“Didn’t learn much? Listen here you swaggering little street thug. Let me tell you what I learned. I don’t know what exactly happened to your mother over there on my kitchen counter, but the bottom line is she was murdered. Based on what you just told me I’m guessing the same two guys who took her life murdered your pal Arundel the other night. They murdered him out there in the parking lot because you two dipshits were using me as bait. Weren’t you?”
His look gave him away and suddenly Bobby knew all he needed to know.
“Yeah, perfect. You two were going to surprise them, right? Extract your own warped little version of vengeance, like this is some sort of B-grade movie. Of course you happened to be parked out on the street in that one of a kind pimped-out ride of yours that can be spotted from a hundred yards off.”
He stared back out the window and didn’t say anything.
“Perfect, how very professional. I suppose the two of you planned to settle this in your own little tough guy hoodlum way. Sneak up behind them and shoot them a half-dozen times in the back. Let me take a wild guess, the dome light goes on inside the car when you open the door. Right? So you can announce to everyone when you’re going to begin sneaking around. God, other than shooting them and then doing your celebration dance, did you even
a plan? And thanks, by the way for using me as bait. You know maybe if you’d kept me informed, told me your name or some of the other secret shit that seems to not be going your way, maybe things could have worked out differently. At least they may have worked out differently for your hapless dead pal, Arundel.”
“Precious. My name, you’re standing there bitching that you wanted to know, so I’m telling you. It’s Precious.”
“You got a problem with that?”
“No, no problem. That’s what everyone calls you? Precious?”
He looked back out the window. “They call me Prez.”
“It’s what they call me, man.”
“Okay, I’m cool with that, I get it. So, what do you plan to do,
? I’m guessing what happened to Arundel just made whoever slit his throat that much bolder. And you think it might be the two guys who killed Kate?”
“Well no offense, but I’d like to have a little stronger confirmation than your hunch that the same….”
“Dubuque and Mobile,” he said staring out the window.
“Dubuque and Mobile, that’s their names. They’re brothers. The ones that killed Kate and then they killed Arundel the other night.”
“It sounds like something off a rightwing propaganda sheet. Dubuque and Mobile, like the towns? And you know this how?”
“I know it. You described them. We knew who they were right away. They killed some guy a few weeks back, name of O’Brien. Contract sort of thing. Arundel was going to wait for them inside, except they jumped…”
“You saw this happen, didn’t you? You actually saw them murder Arundel. Have you told any of this to the cops? Oh, God, why do I even bother to ask? Of course you haven’t. Because you have some master plan, right? A master plan which so far seems to be that first Kate and now Arundel get murdered by these two assholes.”
Prez gave a small shrug and continued to stare out the window.
“So, I’m guessing you’re between a rock and a hard place here. You know who did this, but if you go to the police that opens the door to all sorts of other
He gave the slightest of shrugs in response.
“And they’re going to be out there, somewhere, looking for me because you put the word out that I know who they are. Didn’t you?”
He nodded slightly, but kept staring out the window.
“Jesus Christ. Okay, look, you’re staying for dinner. I hope you like chicken thighs and roasted potatoes. You want some Doritos?”
“I still don’t get
why you won’t go to the police,” Bobby said. He’d left the lights off in the apartment and they had finished their dinner in the dark.
Bobby was leaning against the kitchen counter while Prez sat looking out the window. Although night had fallen outside he could still make his figure out in the chair silhouetted against the window.
“What part aren’t you picking up? Having the cops come in just opens me up to all sorts of problems. They’ll do a search of my place. Next, they’ll want to know everything from who I’m sleeping with to where do I get my money. I really don’t need any of their bullshit investigation coming down on top of me. Okay? God, they’ve already been through Arundel’s place, carried out bags of evidence including close to thirty grand in cash, thirty grand that by rights belongs to me.”
“You two were keeping that much on hand, just lying around, thirty grand? Planning to invest it somewhere?”
“Lying around? No, not really. How dumb do I look? We had it hidden. Arundel kept it in a shoe box in a space under the floor.”
“Gee, amazing they found it?”
“You’re being a wise ass, right?”
“I’m going to guess it was in his bedroom. Just for the record, most people hide their valuables in the bedroom. So a shoe box under the bedroom floor isn’t really rocket science.”
“So where would you hide it?”
“I wouldn’t, at least not in a shoe box under the floor.”
“You start to lose money the moment you decide to hide it like that. You need to launder that stuff, get it invested and producing a revenue stream for you. It’s what you guys never understand. Cash in hand does not make you wealthy.”
“Invested, you mean like stocks and that sort of shit? Talk about stealing, Jesus Christ, talk about crime.”
“No, not stocks, at least not right now. But there are a lot of opportunities that can present themselves. A small investment in a business, a bar, certain types of real estate. Places where you can write off losses and gradually show a gain, maybe an increase in property value. A taxi business could be a great revenue stream for you or maybe even a bar.”
“Taxi. You think I want to drive a taxi around town? Just for starters, it’s dangerous,” he laughed.
“You don’t actually have to drive a taxi. Maybe a limo would be a better option. The key is it’s basically a cash business, same with a bar.”
“That how you got nailed?”
“Me? No, I got nailed just like everyone else. I was stupid, well, and impatient. I’ve maybe learned a thing or two since.”
Prez nodded, but Bobby couldn’t determine if he really understood.
“You stockpile cash, I don’t care how much, you’re just never really going to get ahead. If you do some research you’ll find there are tons of guys who are sitting on a pile of cash one day and the next day they’re broke again. Why? Cause they didn’t have a plan. Or they had half a plan. They got the cash, but then what? You have to plan carefully and keep a low profile, always.”
“That what you’re doing? Keeping a low profile by driving that piece of shit out there with the windshield all shot up. That’s your plan?”
“No. I’m just starting over, but this time I plan on doing it right.”