Fiction Saturday – Untitled Story – Part Six
Fiction Saturday – Untitled Story – Part Six
I’ve never liked the “French Provincial” style of furniture. To me it’s always looked like something that belonged in a doll house. And it’s uncomfortable too. The only people who seem to really like it are the shysters that sell it and people who grew up with milk crates and plywood furniture who managed to hit the lottery. I doubt if Adam Cream ever noticed, or even cared, what his trophy wife had purchased by the truckload.
“Welcome to ‘Versailles,’ May I show you around?”
“Does the tour end in the Gift Shop? I could use some new refrigerator magnets.”
“Cut the wisecracks. This is my home, my ‘palace’, and I love it.”
The home looked like something out of an old “Robin Hood and Maid Marion’ movie. Turrets, thick colored glass windows, and a wooden front door that had wrought iron knockers the size of a basketball. There was ivy snaking up the stone work every few feet. It looked unreal and real expensive.
“It sure is a few steps up from Pulaski Street.”
“Oh, you have been busy. But why are you looking into my life when I’m paying you to find Adam?”
“Just trying to find out who’s who around here.”
“And have you? Oh, and I see you took my advice and bought a new suit. You no longer look like such a bum.”
“Now you look like the bum’s Probation Officer. You need a woman to dress you.”
“I don’t look good in French Provincial. I drove out here to talk with you. Is there someplace we could sit down without looking like we’re in a department store window?”
We went to the kitchen, bigger than my apartment, and knocked back a couple of long-necks. She made no attempt to hide her scars.
“That must have been rough,” I said, nodding at her red scars.
“Yeah, I thought I was going to die from the pain. I would have if I didn’t have a goal. These scars will fade some in time, but my goal won’t.”
“What’s your goal?”
“Don’t you already…”
“My husband owns it. I don’t – yet. That’s why I’ve hired you. Your reputation is that you never give up. I like that. I’m the same way.
“You bring me proof that he’s dead or you bring him to me and I’ll get what I want. Tell me. What have you found, so far?”
I filled her in on my visit to Pulaski Street. She wasn’t pleased, but she wasn’t ashamed. If her sister’s opinions upset her, she didn’t let it show. She saved that for when I told her about my talk with Mr. Lundqvist, the company librarian at Golden Pyramid headquarters.
“I hate that little weasel. Leave him to me.”
“His opinion of you seems to be pretty universal, Gita. You can’t fire everybody.” The look in her eyes said that I was getting too close to the mine field. She took a deep breath and went to the huge refrigerator for another pair of bottles. The cool air seemed to calm her.
“Look. All I’m really concerned with right now is finding Adam. Once that is done…. First things first. Oh, and don’t call me Gita ever again. Now get out of here. I’m going shopping.”
“One last question – tell me how Ricky fits into all of this?”
From the look on her face you’d have thought that I asked her for her bank balance. She paused and looked at me like she smelled something bad – sardines, maybe.
“Ricky? He doesn’t fit into this at all. He’s a truck driver the last I heard. Adam and him don’t get along. Nobody has seen him in a while. We don’t even know if he’s still living around here. Forget him.”
I expected her to give me a short answer to my question. I say,“How does Ricky fit into all of this?” – and she answers with something like, “He doesn’t.” Instead I get a synopsis of the last few years of his life.
“Then get busy. We’ll save the tour for another day.”
“Richard Cream – what can you tell me?”
It’s always good to have a contact who works for the State and is willing to violate a few confidentiality statutes for you. Doris and I have been an “on-again, off again” item for the last few years – more off than on lately, but the pilot light was still burning.
“Cream, Richard – lives at 317 Walker Valley Road – that’s out in the boonies. He pays his taxes on time. Want his phone number? I’ll print this out for you. He’s got a few D &D arrests on his record, nothing serious.”
“What’s it worth to you? I’d say that so far you owe me at least a good dinner – one where we eat inside and not in the car.”
I was still feeling flush with what was left of Ginger Cream’s retainer.
“Dinner, indoors, and in a place with cloth napkins. Deal?”
“Deal. Richard Cream works for ‘Pick and Save Foods Company.’ He has a CDL license with endorsements, so I’d say he drives big rigs for them.”
“How up to date is all of this?”
“It looks like he paid off his Court Costs fine from the last D&D, by check – yesterday. Did he skip on you?”
“No, actually, I might end up helping him to collect some money.”
“What time is dinner, you hunka-hunka burnin’ gumshoe?”
“I’ll pick you up about 7:30 – that OK?”
“7:30 is good.” Her voice dropped and she rolled her chair toward me until her hair brushed against my shoulder. “And you know that I still love you? I don’t know why, but I do.”
She looked up at me and her smile faded as she turned away and moved back to her desk. She handed me a sheet of paper over her shoulder with all of Ricky’s info. She wasn’t looking at me.
“I like the new suit. It’s a real improvement. You don’t look so much like you just got out on parole.”