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Wonderland (Part Four)

Wonderland

A Jack Collier Mystery

By Brett N. Lashuay

Look here for last week’s entry!

 

 

Part Four: The Surprise Egg

 

            I had expected the garage to be some fix-it place or chop shop. It turned out to be an ordinary parking structure though. The truck was parked in a marked slot and I was able to pull right up next to it. As I got out of the car, a small red import drove up along the other side of it. Mary Anne got out and smiled at us as she walked around the truck. Instead of the suit she’d been wearing before she was now wearing jeans and a sweater, with a jacket over it.

 

            “Can we get in?” she asked looking at it.

 

            “Doesn’t look locked,” I said and yanked the rolling door open. The boxes were haphazardly stacked, a few had fallen over, but otherwise they looked in tact. I climbed up into the truck and looked at the boxes, which I was sure weren’t filled with gold coins.

 

            “I could use some coffee,” Mary Ann announced. “Peter, do you know where to get some coffee around here?”

 

            “Yeah,” he nodded.

 

            “Could you get me a cup then?” she held some money out for him. “Just black with a little cream and sugar. You want anything?”

 

            “No,” I said. “I’m fine.”

 

            “Get yourself something too,” she told Peter and he smiled warmly, eager to help.

 

            “I’ll be back in a minute then,” he said happily and hopped off.

 

            “You know something Mary Ann?” I asked.

 

            “What?” she asked.

 

            “I think it’s time you showed me some I.D.”      I pulled out my pocket knife and slit the tape on one of the boxes. This was a process slowed by my need to do everything with my left hand. She looked like she’d been expecting it, but was still determined to fake me out.

 

            “I’m not sure what you mean,” she said, watching me with those big blue eyes.

 

            “You’re no business secretary,” I told her. “Someone puts a gun in your face and you didn’t even flinch.”

 

            “You work with the wrong people, you get guns put in your face,” she shrugged in a way that would have made me catch my breath if I wasn’t such a tough guy.

 

            “No,” I said, pulling a small box of chocolate eggs out. “You know guns. You know that kind of gun and you knew it wasn’t loaded.”

 

            “I saw the safety was on actually,” she said climbing up into the truck with me. “What are you doing?”

 

            “Confirming a suspicion,” I said breaking one of the hollow white chocolate eggs open. When I saw what was inside, I knew that I should listen to my paranoia more often. There was a white frosting like sugary substance and something solid inside that. “That’s what I thought.”

 

            “What?” she asked.

 

            “Motherfucker wasn’t putting coins in here.” I said showing her the small baggie of a white powdery substance that was coated with the frosting. “I’m not sure exactly what this is, but it’s not a gold sovereign.”

 

            “Heroin.” Her accent changed to an American one and she pulled a wallet out that had a badge in it. “Alice Liddell, DEA. Well, on loan to the DEA anyway.”

 

            “See?” I pointed my finger at her. “I told you that you weren’t a secretary.”

 

            “Your deductions went on kind of a rocket sled though, didn’t they?” Her voice was less soft and submissive, now it had a serious edge to it. Actually, I liked her real voice much better. It was the sort of voice that would urge you on to greater strengths in bed.

 

            “It’s only a short story,” I said smacking the fourth wall with a sledge hammer. “So what do we do about this? Do we bust Rabbit?”

 

            “Can’t,” she looked cute when she looked contemplative, she also looked cute standing perfectly still though. “I haven’t got enough evidence to put him and his people away yet.”

 

            “So we give him back his smack?” I asked annoyed.

 

            “For now, we put this bait back out there and reel in the fish,” she shrugged. “You know how this goes.”

 

            “Yeah, I know,” I said. “That doesn’t mean I don’t get annoyed by it.”

 

            “Well, we can get all the big guys if we let him take this back,” she smiled at me. It was a nice smile. It was the sort of smile that women like her usually use to get men like me to go see romantic comedies and mop the floor.

 

            “The thing is,” I said, calmly as I could, so as not to expose the fact that I wanted to pant, “there is a police inspector name Crammer who already is annoyed with me. See, I didn’t inform him of everything that happened during this thing in December.”

 

            “Yeah,” she nodded, trying to look like she understood my problem. “When Smith got killed.”

 

            “Right,” I said, “and I think he might be bothered by me not telling him about this.”

 

            “Well,” she smiled that smile again, “when I clear a big case, I’ve been known to do a bouncy little dance.”

 

            “Oh?” I asked, trying not to show too much naked interest.

 

            “Guys have been known to make sure that I get the credit for their busts just to see me do this dance,” she smiled and her eyes fluttered a bit.

 

            Now I’m a fairly liberal-minded guy, I’m all about women’s lib and stuff. I’ve read a good number of feminist writings and I’ve agreed with much of them. I do believe that women should be judged equally, and that they have as much to offer to the workplace as any man. All that being said however it was the thought of this attractive young woman, this young woman who must have inspired a string of wet dreams in the recruits at school, doing a little bouncing dance that did it for me.

 

            “You will of course call me before the dancing starts, right?” I asked as I tipped out the baggie of smack and started to eat one of the chocolate halves. I have no idea why, but I was suddenly worried about fingerprints.

 

            “Sure,” she said taking the other half and biting into it, “I might even set you up an appointment just to see it.”

 

            “Well, that would be nice,” I said grinning.

 

            “How did you know that these wouldn’t be gold coins?” she asked. “I mean you didn’t seem surprised, just annoyed.”

 

            “Peter’s better than a dog for a detective,” I said simply. “Did you notice the look of surprise on his face when Flopsy told me he was smuggling coins?”

 

            “I thought Peter always looked that way,” she said biting into another section of the egg and then wrapping her lips around it to prevent the sugary syrup from dripping.

 

            “You’ve got to look for the subtle changes,” I said finishing my egg and pulling out a handkerchief to wipe my fingers.

 

            “Hmm, probably,” she said and finished her section of the egg. There was a bit of the gooey frosting that had slid down her thumb and had made it nearly to her wrist. She placed her long pink tongue on her wrist and licked up the palm to the tip of thumb. She then proceeded to suck the chocolate off her fingers before taking my offered handkerchief and wiping. She even wiped at the corners of her mouth, like a proper lady should, before folding the cloth and handing it back.

 

            Had I been a lesser man, I would have memorized that action and played it back to myself on long winter evenings. I would have rhapsodized about her and thought about her perfect pink tongue for hours some days. I would have decided that someday I would have to convince her that I was the guy she’d been looking for all her life. Fortunately, I’m a tough guy and folded the cloth without even having to wipe drool off my chin or anything.

 

            “You know I already agreed,” I said as I stuffed the cloth away. “Don’t you think that display was a little over the top?”

 

            “What?” she asked, and then looked at her fingers and then blushed a very vibrant red. “I’m always doing things like that. I don’t mean to, but people always seem to be taking everything I do as something sexual.”

 

            “I can’t imagine how they manage to think what you’re doing is sexual in any way,” I remarked, trying to keep a level voice that wouldn’t reveal my level of arousal.

 

            “Well,” she said smiling, “I’ve got to get these back to the man who thinks he’s my boss.”

 

            “Okay,” I said standing up.

 

            I grabbed the edge of my coat and wiped at the places where I’d touched the box. Miss Liddell must have known what I was thinking because when she pulled down the door of the truck she yanked up her sweater to wipe off the handles of the truck. I’m not sure if she knew I was looking and meant to do that, or if she really didn’t know that men looked at her. She had pulled the sweater up so high that if I were an ungallant man I could report the color and brand of her brazier. I am not ungallant, so I will not be reporting those facts.

 

            “I got your coffee,” Peter said walking towards us with a cup in each hand.

 

            “Thank you Peter,” Alice said taking the one he held towards her. “You can drive the truck back to the warehouse. Your brother will be very glad to see that they barely touched any of it. We’ll see you Mister Collier.”

 

            I don’t normally shake hands with people, and particularly not recently, but I shook her hand when she offered it. Seeing that I’d shaken hands with Alice, I would have to shake with Peter as well.

 

            He smiled and got into the truck, which must have had the keys in it because it started right away. He pulled the truck out and drove away with it, leaving me on my own. I got into the car and decided to drive home, which of course meant a stop at the office first.

 

            When I pulled into my parking space that black car drove up behind me and blocked me in. I drew my Marley thirty-eight out of its belt holster and opened the door of the car. The door of the car opened and the young woman being called Miss Heart came out of it.

 

            “Hi Jack,” she said waving as she walked towards me.

 

            “You can just stay a bit back,” I said showing her the gun.

 

            “Oh stop it,” she put her hand over the barrel before pushing my hand away. She leaned in and gave me a kiss on the lips, wrapping her hands around my head. “How have you been?”

 

            “Miss Heart,” I started in a tone that said rebukement was coming.

 

            “Shut up,” she said and kissed me again.

 

            “When did you take up the name of Heart?” I finally managed to ask as I wrapped my arm around her waist.

 

            “Well, I couldn’t keep being called Amy Cook after what happened to the Duchess could I?” she asked with a shrug.

 

            “I seem to remember, you happened to the Duchess.”

 

            “Well, that’s one more reason.”

 

            “What’s the first name now?” I asked

 

            “Oh, it’s Amy,” she said smiling. “I don’t get so confused that way.”

 

            “So what are you and Mister Cat doing here tonight?” I asked looking at the car.

 

            “I needed to give you something,” she said reaching into her pocket and pulling out a paper envelope. “You shouldn’t leave these around.”

 

            I took the envelope, which felt like it had a stones in it. I opened it, shifted the opening into the light, and saw a pair of mashed up bullets. I had a feeling that I knew where she had found them and lowered the envelope to look at her.

 

            “You didn’t touch anything there did you?” she asked.

 

            “No.” I said shaking my head. “I don’t think so.”

 

            “Then you’re fine,” She said smiling. “Cat heard the shots, and I decided to look around for where they were.”

 

            “Well that’s quite nice of you.” I shoved the envelope into my pocket. “Jabber just let you look around for them and carve them out of the walls?”

 

            “You know what I do,” she looked back to the car behind her, “what we do.”

 

            “Are you saying that I should pretend like I’ve never heard of the Wonderland Gang by morning?” I asked.

 

            “Yeah,” she said nodding. “You’re clear. Rabbit has his stuff back, no problems. I’ll see you around.”

 

            She turned, skipping a funny step as she did so and walked back to the car. She opened the door, looked back at me once to wink, got in and they left. I touched the envelope in my pocket and then touched my other pockets, checking to see if everything was there. In an odd show of honesty, totally out of character for her, Amy had left everything in my pockets where they belonged.

 

            I wondered if there really was going to be no problems, since I did in fact know what Amy and by extension Mister Cat did. The fact that Mister Cat seemed to be on call, and was around soon enough to follow us to Wonderland didn’t help much. It was a tad troubling, but I decided to think about it in the morning. For the moment I would simply put the gun and bullets in the office and call it a day.

 

            I would consider all the implications tomorrow. As it would turn out, putting off the considering of implications is another one of those stupid things that I just wouldn’t do if I were any good at this detecting thing.

 

This is part four of twelve, come back next week for part five and every Thursday until we’re done to see what happens next. If you get lost, one of the tags here should help you. The Wonderland tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.

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January 21, 2009 Posted by | Fiction, Jack | | Leave a comment