Saturday, August 03, 2013

Mamie Barlowe, Episode 4

Ten minutes on the job, I'm heading out the office. A bullet whizzes by my head and hits the doorframe. I jump back inside and take out my watch. It’s a priceless family heirloom: a pocket watch with a gold fob, the crystal face framed by tiny diamonds. It hangs off a 24k gold chain. Grandma Barlowe gave it to me. I was on a stakeout, see. The mug spotted me, see. There’s a reason he spotted me. A 90-year-old woman in the passenger seat of my car got real bored. She decided to freshen up her makeup. First, she primped her two storey, dyed blacker-than-midnight bouffant hairdo. A coupla ribbons were sagging. Next, she reapplied ruby red lipstick. Only she used a compact mirror, the kind of mirror that kills a stakeout faster than I can yell, GET DOWN! I spotted the flashing light, but not before a bullet took out my front white wall tire. Then I yelled GET DOWN, but the second bullet was already on its way, see. It collapsed the second storey of Grandma Barlowe’s hair before slamming into the side of a street meter. She ducked. I ducked. I took out my glock to return fire. Grandma handed the watch over. I was a little busy, see. But she felt bad. I knew why. I took the watch.
  Now I’m cornered in my office waiting for a second bullet. They always come in pairs, see. I count down: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 . . . Bingo! It hits the door frame. That should do it. Some jasper has called the cops by now. Good thing Sable Mink isn’t a crack shot. She’s nearsighted, see. And that’s not all—and darn if it doesn’t crack me up in a good way—she has an eye phobia, the kind of phobia that doesn't like wearing contacts or glasses; the kind of phobia an eye doc should oughta run away from if he sees ditzy dame Sable stumble into his office.
  Not seeing real good is a major weakness in my line of business. But Sable’s different. She’s part telekinetic, part psycho. Ok, scratch that last part. She’s full on psycho! But she can move objects with her mind, see. Big objects. Not just spoons and baby rattles. I was at a conference once for psychic dicks. Sable showed up. And she wasn’t there to kiss my tookus. She was there to flatten it like this boulder that ‘suddenly’ rolled down a mountain one time, and hit a jeep carrying two mugs who were tailing me. I look at it like this: it saved a junkyard from compacting the tuna can, and it saved the mortuary from having to bury the bodies. Things mostly work out to my advantage, see. When they don’t, I suffer. And Sable ruined that conference. I spent more time dodging bullets, dishes, vases, statuettes, tables and chairs, and less time accumulating biblical knowledge; you know the kind, where 11:00 in the evening means shuffling off to bed, with a man, then smoking a cigarette, then leaving a note that says, stay healthy; stay the heaven away! 
  I reholster the glock. Then take out my cell phone and text Sable: 3 blind ice, c ‘ow the run! I hate texting. But Sable gets the message. She replies, i got mi i on u clent. Stupid dame. She can’t spell for bat guano. Good thing I know what "clent" means. Since Sable doesn’t leave her own “clents” alive many a time, Roxy Binghorton the III is in serious trouble. She’s gotta be the reason Sable knows about my “clent.” Need to find Roxy. Spell things out the way they’re going to be, see. 
I make a few phone calls. Turns out Mrs. Binghorton the III is in Bermuda. I call Mr. COB the III with the information. Told him it could be a ploy. Told him not to let down his guard. He tells me he hired a shadow already. I say good and hang up. Meantime, there’s an easy case I’m working one, the kind of case where the wife 'thinks' her husband is cheating, but the husband doesn’t think she knows he’s cheating. Ha, ha, ha! She does know, you lugs. 100% of the time she knows. And that's before I'm hired. Wifey's just gathering evidence to plan her revenge. 
  Later that same night, I’m driving down Dragon Alley. It’s a strip of road a ghost wouldn’t be caught dead in; you know the kind: red lights flashing, hookers sticking out skinny gams, people hustling with needles sticking out their arms, and drug dealers holding lunch bags in their hands. Chill told me lunch bags went out with sweet innocent little kids; you know the ones, they don’t yap to adults. Unless you make them mad, see. Then the little genius’ come up with two words that should oughta muzzle their mouths. Permanently. I don’t use words like that, see. Mother Barlowe taught me real good that way. I was six. A bad word popped out of my mouth. A word Daddy used a lot. Mother Barlowe lost it. She marched into Grandma Barlowe’s room, and came out holding a small box with these colored tablets inside, see. Grandma told me later they were invented by a Dr. Miles’. Mother Barlowe took out six beauts, and pushed them on Daddy. I begged for some, but Mother Barlowe said no, the kind of ‘no’ that means no. Then she gave Daddy an ultimatum. He swallowed the tabs right away. Guess he didn’t want to sleep on the couch forever. I’d a taken the couch. Daddy stumbled out of the bathroom like he’d been laundered through a Handy Dandy Model Mangle, you know the kind, designed for the modern home and the best in its class. I felt sorry for Daddy. But I never heard bad words again.
  I pull into a dog and pony motel; the kind where raids occur on a daily basis, and people run out their rooms stark naked. They’re holding clothes, keys, wallets, and cellphones with one hand, unmentionables with the other. If they’re men. It’s harder for women. Makes it tough on my eyes. Still, it’s a whole lotta fun to watch. These sinners, as Grandma Barlowe calls’ em, scatter in all the wrong directions. They forget where they park. I don’t. I learned my lesson the first time. But Grandma Barlowe doesn’t know that, see!
  My key turns the lock in a door marked 179. I look around the area, then up at the sky, you know, in case there are any UFO’S with my name on the flagship. I slip inside and close the door. It’s dark, see. But I’m not alone. 
  “That you, Mamie?”
  “No, it’s a butcher with a cleaver. Cover’em up, Luigi.”
  A whole lot of giggling erupts from someplace close. “Hey, come over here and cover’em up for me, Mamie. And call me Lou. How many times I gotta tell you that?”
  I make my way over to where I think Luigi is. With Luigi, he could be under the bed, doing things I wouldn’t do with the lights out. But I see a bulky stump standing face against a wall. One of Luigi’s eyes is glued to a sawed-out, quarter-size hole smack in the middle of the wall. Great view for a perv. But Luigi isn’t a perv, see. At least not around me. “Any signs of life?”
  “Yeah, got a flagpole in my pants, ‘cos that perfume you wearin‘ is grippin’ it. Know what I mean? OW! That hurt, bitc—OW! What the hell? Someone tamper with your lady parts? OW! Ok, ok, I give up.”
  Luigi’s rubbing his nose. I think I see the glint of tears. “I asked you a question, Lou.”
  His eyes light up. “Hey, you called me Lou, Mamie. I knew you’d fall for me one day.” Then he gets serious. “No, and I been here at least two hours already.”
    “You been here ten minutes. Most of that time spent on the crap throne.”
  “Damn, Mamie. I can’t lie to you for nothin’. I hate that psychic shit you do. OW! Geez, Louise can’t I say anything without you—OW! Ok, ok, I surrender for good.” His eyes light up again. “Hey, Mamie, I can’t do this seein’ eye thing for ‘while. Got me a new job.” 
  I look at him like his nose sprung a red geyser. “You? What kinda job?”
  He chuckles, then shakes his head like it’s got lice. “No can say. Sworn to secrecy.” He puts his eye back up against the hole. “Haven’t seen nothin’. Bo—ring.”
  I push him out of the way without replying. And look for myself. My psychic nose starts twitching. In a real bad way. Either a rat died in the wall, or a two-legged rat faced another two-legged rat marking its territory with bullets. My vote’s on the latter. “We need to get into that room, Lou.”
  He jumps up excited. “My specialty. I’m outta—OW! Jeebuz, Mame. Don’t ever do that again. I don’t like being pinched. Reminds me of when my brother and sister used to bite me on the arms. I was just a baby.”
  “Yeah? And where is your brother and sister now?”
  “In the stir. But—”
     “No buts, Lou. They’re there, you’re here, get over it. I pinched you for a reason, see.” His eyes grow rounder than 38 Double Dee bralicious cups. Not mine. Mine are bigger, see. Not that I’m bragging. Carrying two tons of weight up front slows me way down. I’m thinking surgery. 
  “Oh, I get it. Somethin’s not right in that room.”
  “Yeah. So open the door, but don’t go inside, capiche?”
  “Capiche with a touch of cappuccino, bosswoman.” He darts out of the room. 
  I’m on his heels like a mosquito at chow time!
  A few minutes later, Luigi’s laid outside the room moaning about missing a few man parts. Luigi don’t listen so good. Drastic action is often necessary to save a life, see. I take out my glock and pause outside the door for signs of activity. I don’t hear any, so I creep inside the room without turning on the light. Bad mistake. I slip on something slick and plant face down into soft mushy flesh. There’s good mushy and bad mushy. This one’s bad, the kind of bad where you want to stick your head into the oven and end it all. But I don’t, see. I heave myself to my knees, and reholster my glock. Then I play patty cake with the corpse. Rigor hasn’t set in. Been dead only a few hours is my guess. And it’s a very naked male. Know how I can tell? No, not like that, see. I’m no perv. It's the body hair. And the hairiest set of arms I’ve ever touched. Reminds me of someone I know. A gorilla by the name of Mick the Creeper. He treats me like a bad check; I treat him like a hairball; there are times I visit the ER for a few broken bones; there are times the hair on his forearms get waxed. He screams real nice. I’m going to miss that. 
        I shake my head and sigh. Mick was Sable's shadow, see. Those two were real tight; corkscrew in a wine bottle kind of tight, see. Hard to believe the gorilla actually had the balls to cheat on Sable. But he wasn't exactly mensa material. Sable and him had a lot in common; dumb and very dumb. I get to my feet, and check out the rest of the room. Nothing. I check out the bathroom, only this time I turn on the light, see. Great. Just great. Naked woman face down on the floor. She never made it to the shower. Two bullets stopped her. One in the back, and one in the right posterior cheek. I hear a weird breathing noise behind the shower curtain. I hold my breath and take out the glock. You know the old saying, shoot first, ask questions later? It's crap. Usually. I rip the shower curtain open. Wow! Big surprise, you know the kind, where your eyes go round and round like a dirty slot machine, and you can't focus for a few seconds! I lower the glock. Ugh! Big mistake, you know the kind, where a bullet penetrates your chest before you can process it all! 
       A dead body breaks my fall. But something small, hairy, and—judging by the wide grin on its face—cocky, uses me as a catapult and jumps out the bathroom. And, is that a cackle I hear?
Good. Probably be the first thing I remember when I come out of my coma . . . Might be a good time to get knocker surgery too!