Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Eleven
“What do you want to know about Nate anyway? If you already know that he says he wants to kill you – that should be enough.”
It’s hard to argue with basic logic, but I was never good at accepting the obvious. So here I am talking to a jockey with a beer belly who still has a gun in his hand.
“I want to know where he is! I want to find him so I can stop him from killing me.”
“Wait long enough and he’ll find you. Then you two can have a nice chit-chat before he slits your throat.”
“Well, my short not my friend, the trick is that I want to find him before he finds me.”
I didn’t think that was funny, but the little wise guy was giggling.
“So you can slit his throat? I wouldn’t advise trying that. He’s younger than you; in better shape for sure, and he is one sneaky son of a gun.”
This was like talking to a dog. The movement of my lips was keeping his attention, but nothing was getting through to him. Time to start over.
“Let me go back to the beginning. OK? Square one? Are you with me?”
“Shoot, Pal. That’s a figure of speech.”
I really wanted to strangle him by this time.
“Me who wants to know where in the hell is Nate Williams, Jr.? Do you know where he is right now? Today? This very moment?”
“Sure. Why didn’t you ask me that straight out of the gate? Of course I know where he is.”
“Ok then… Where is he?”
The old jockey leaned over and reached down to the floor beside his chair. When he did that he put his pistol in his lap and it slipped off and clattered to the floor. When he straightened up he was holding a newspaper. He folded it in half and tossed it at me.
“Here, read it for yourself, Mr. Sam Spade, Private Detective.”
I grabbed the paper in midair, unfolded it and looked at the front page. The headline was about some senator dropping dead in Washington.
“What am I supposed to be looking at? This story about the dead politician?
“Below the fold! Below the fold! Nate would never merit a spot on top. Are you sure you can read or do you want me to help you sound it out?”
I was being dissed by an ugly gnome who was living in someone else’s attic. Under other circumstances I would have kicked his scrawny butt into next Tuesday, but he was a source.
I turned the paper over and scanned the page below the fold. That was where I saw Nate Williams’’ picture – his mug shot.
“Suspect in Mini-Mart Massacre Captured.”
The story said that he had been nabbed “without incident” while he was sleeping at his home “at 432 Wilson Avenue last night.” I didn’t read any further.
“What the…? Why didn’t you tell me this 20 minutes ago?”
“You didn’t ask – and you weren’t being very polite, lying to me about who you were. Barry Livingston, indeed.”
I’d wasted half a day tracking down this address, getting here through crosstown traffic, and then playing “Twenty Questions” with a smartass munchkin after climbing up that deathtrap set of stairs.
“Why didn’t Martindale call me? I said that out loud.
“That Copper? He’s a dick.” He had the gun in his hand, pointed at my crotch again. “Now, get out of here and don’t come back. I won’t be such a good host next time.”
Nate Williams wanted to kill me and now I wanted to kill Detective Martindale. All he had to do was pick up his phone and call me. I would have slept better last night and I wouldn’t have blown half a day and I think my left knee climbing the stairs at 432 Wilson Avenue.
I didn’t even stop for lunch. I knew that if I did I would end up drunk and try to storm into Martindale’s office. All that would accomplish would be to get myself arrested and tossed into my own cell.
Stone cold sober, but with my stomach grumbling like a St. Bernard, I walked up to the front desk at the Central Station.
“I’d like to see Detective Martindale, please.” I was trying hard to be polite. “If I may.”
The Sergeant looked down at me from his spot at the desk. He knew me, but I didn’t remember him.
“Ellis, he don’t want to see you. Nobody down here wants to see you.”
“Could you tell him that it’s about the Nate Williams Case…Please?”
“There is no ‘Nate Williams Case’, Ellis. Don’t you ever watch the Noon News on the TV? His lawyer walked out of here an hour ago with Williams by his side. It seems that he was able to produce a rock solid alibi. Mistaken Identity or something. Yeah, they were laughing and making lunch plans.
“Now, you…I want you to get out of here before I write you up for being a Common Nuisance.”
I don’t know how he did it. “A rock solid alibi” is what the desk Sergeant said.
My aching back.
Williams was all over the CCTV at the Gas Station. Unless he has a twin brother roaming around out there, which I know he doesn’t, Nate Williams, Junior was the shooter and now he is walking the streets again and looking for me…as if I am the cause of all his problems.
If he could have an alibi of any sort in the face of that security camera video what about the others?
Leslie Ann Wolas chopped up the Emergency Room at the hospital and they have cameras up on the wall there too. The other guy, the one I dropped at the Mall, had to be on video too. How could they claim to have been someplace else? Once my bullets put him on the floor his alibi went to hell with him.
I don’t know why it’s been taking Williams so long to find me. It’s not like I’ve been in hiding since I retired. I have moved a couple of times, but that was to save some money on rent. I haven’t even been out of town for more than a day or two in over two years.
If somebody wants to find me I don’t see where all of this showboating has been all that necessary. I’m not in the phone book like Nate Williams, but still…
Some days are not worth getting out of bed for. Some others are not worth getting into bed in the first place. This one was getting to be a day for not worth even owning a bed. I’d be considered a luckier man if I was living in the park and sleeping on a bench.
This morning I didn’t know where Nate Williams was, then I did, and now I don’t again. I’ve had better days hooked up to life support.