Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Part Three
Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Part Three
I explained to him that I was just a man doing a job and that the only dogs I liked were running at the Greyhound track. He laughed and pushed an envelope across the bar to me.
Inside the envelope was a small photograph. It looked more like a photo of a photo, but it was clear enough. It was a picture of a Doberman. Whether it was “Peaches” or not I couldn’t tell, but the collar on the dog was a match for the one in the picture Sunny Boggs showed me over beer and cookies. No dognapper is going to go to the trouble of making a copy of the collar. This must be a picture of “Peaches.”
“Forty Ounce” gave me a set of instructions along with the envelope. I was to be the go-between, to connect the Lady with the money to the thief with the dog. I was an errand boy.
I didn’t like my unwilling role in this. If it came apart at the seams it would be too easy for all the fingers to be pointed at me, but what choice did I have? I was already painted into this ugly corner.
Sunny Boggs broke down when I showed her the picture. She was sure that it was “Peaches.” I delivered the rest of the instructions from “Forty Ounce.”
Sunny was to come, alone, of course, to a house less than a mile from her mini-palace and bring $15,000 with her, in cash.
That part surprised me the minute I heard it from “Forty Ounce.” Why only $15K? She was able to pony up a lot more than that, and why have her bring it? They already had me on the hook. Why bring in another person who, at a later date, could identify him?
I was the errand boy in all this, but she was the client and there are professional obligations. I have a copy of them taped to the wall in my office.
I told her how I felt about this plan and urged her to let me make a counter-offer – another five grand and I do the swap. She was too upset, fearing that he would just kill the dog and run if we didn’t play by his rules. Her argument was a very real possibility.
I hated to leave her in such a state, but “Forty Ounce” had told me that, rather than try to contact him again, I was to communicate only through Regis at the Dog Pound. Another layer of buffering. I had to go back and tell Regis that the deal was on.
I wondered what Regis was getting out of all this. Was he being paid or was it just cheap thrills at being a “Player?” Or was he trapped in this just like me? Or was it Regis calling the shots and “Forty Ounce” who was the hired help? Regis – the brains behind this? What a depressing thought.
“Forty Ounce” tells me, I tell Sunny Boggs, she tells me, I tell Regis and he tells “Forty Ounce.” I felt like I was playing the kid’s game of “Telephone.”
I called the Boggs mansion and left word with the butler, or the house boy or whatever, that now we had to wait for the word to follow up with the trade.
I know that this was all about a dog, but still… It was like the lady’s flesh and blood was on the chopping block.
I went back to my office to wait to hear from Regis. I had tax and license renewal forms to fill out and messages to check on my real phone – the one that plugged into the wall and the Yellow Pages. Busy work.
This is the part I hate. It doesn’t matter what the case is about or how much is involved, whether it’s just money or someone’s life. When I have to wait for the other guy to make his move I feel helpless. Everything is out of my control. Feeling like that is worse than getting bad news. It’s why I can’t even play a game of checkers with somebody. Waiting for them to make their next move. It drives me crazy. And that is why and how I get myself in trouble.
Waiting for the other guy. I know what I want him to do. I can pretty much guess what I think he’ll eventually do, but having to wait – it’s what got me tossed from The Force. I’d make my move and then I wouldn’t wait for the Law to catch up. The Law insisted on things like Search Warrants, Probable Cause, and letting the guy hide behind a lawyer. They knew what their next move was, and I knew it too, but I was supposed to wait until some judge could be sobered up enough to sign a warrant before I could catch the crook with his hands dirty.
Enough of that and it was decided for me that I needed a new career. I tried that; I had to, but maybe it’s just that the whole idea of waiting again behind someone who’s kissed his way up the corporate ladder. To have guys like that telling me what to do and when to do it every day -that ground my gears.
My record was clean. I never broke any major laws, not really. I just sort of shoved them out of the way, so I was able to get my P.I. license without too much trouble.
I thought working solo would be easier – me being my own Lieutenant and Sales Manager. I was wrong. I became all of the bosses I’d ever had and I couldn’t shake them or tell them off. I had to discipline myself, chew out my own hide, and cut a new one for myself. The worst part was that I tended to call myself on the carpet at 3 AM when I need to be asleep and me with my last cigarette gone up in smoke.
And here I am, sitting at my desk shuffling papers and waiting for that cigarette leech to officially tell me that my counter offer was a no-go and that only The Lady could bring the ransom money – that decidedly puny ransom for that beast. I’m sitting here, knowing how and what to do, but waiting for the go-ahead from the likes of Regis and the barfly “Forty Ounce.”
“P.I.” – there’s nothing private about it. It has me wasting my time with the greasier parts of the public all day. For every Sunny Boggs there’s a dozen “Forty Ounces” – people so far from recognizable life that they don’t even have real names any more, just a description that tells you where to find them.
Against my better judgment I had given Regis my phone number. He said that he’d call when he heard from “Forty Ounce.” From now until the end of time that little furry louse will have my private number. I was sure that I’d be getting calls from him. “Can you loan me a few bucks?” “Can you do my bail?” “Can you – whatever?” He’s going to be a leech until one of us drops dead.