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Wonderland (Part Seven)

Wonderland

A Jack Collier Mystery

By Brett N. Lashuay

Look here for last week’s entry!

Part Seven: The Hotel

 

            I got Peter to put all his clothes in one of the garbage bags and gave him the soap and shampoo. I told him where and how to scrub the hardest, I didn’t want all my work to be spoiled because of his finger nails after all. While he was doing that, Cary and I put his clothes, including his shoes, into a round metal garbage can. She had gotten a can of gasoline for me and we poured it over the clothes, leaving the shoes on top. Because it was her hospitality I was abusing, I let her light the clothes on fire. The flame leapt up a good six feet when she lit it, and danced nearly three feet above the lip of the can for most the burn time.

 

            “You realize we’ve just destroyed evidence, don’t you?” I asked.

 

            “Do you have any idea how dull it is to work at a hotel on a Tuesday morning?” she asked.

 

            “Are you saying risking jail for several years is better than sitting at that desk?”

 

            “I am indeed. Can you tell me about it?”

 

            “I think someone is trying to frame him for a slaughter.”

 

            “Is this that thing in Detroit?” she asked.

 

            “So they found it?” I asked.

 

            “Yeah,” she nodded. “It was on the news a little while ago, they interrupted Regis and Kelly for it.”

 

            “Well they would, wouldn’t they?” I asked, feeling disgust rolling back in. “I mean six dead bodies, how could they resist?”

 

            “There weren’t six,” she said. “Only five.”

 

            “Really?” I asked.

 

            “Yeah,” she nodded, “Why did you think there were six?”

 

            “There were six people at the house when we were there,” I told her, realized I was telling too much and tried to adjust a little. “And he said they had six heads in a bag with them.”

 

            I am truly brilliant by the way. I decided not to give her too many details by not telling her about Jabber’s head on the post, and then I went right ahead and gave her too much anyway. That’s the kind of brilliant detective I am, the sort who gives away crucial details to anyone who happens to be walking by. This is why I avoid a life of crime, because I’m too dumb to remember a decent cover story.

 

            “Really?” She asked.

 

            “Well, sort of,” I said trying to shrug. “I mean it’s not really the sort of thing I should be discussing with you is it?”

 

            “I guess not.” She said and then looked at the fire for a while. “Should I wash all this stuff out or what?”

 

            “We just need to destroy the… ah, biological material,” I said shaking my head.

 

            “Biological material,” she said, starting to sound serious for the first time. “This isn’t just some extended joke, is it? You’re not rehearsing for a play or making some kind of movie or anything?”

 

            “No,” I said. “You want us out?”

 

            “Nah,” She shook her head. “I’m cool.”

 

            “Where do you want to go to dinner?” I asked.

 

            “Someplace nice,” she said. “Bahama Breeze or something like that.”

 

            “Okay,” I said nodding.

 

            My phone rang and buzzed in my pocket. I reached in and grabbed the phone, looking at it long enough to confirm that it was Debbie at the office. I pressed the talk button and walked away from Cary, holding up a finger.

 

            “Hello?”

 

            “Hi,” she said. “Are you able to come to the office?”

 

            “Should I be?” There were two ways for her to answer this specially coded question. If she said one thing I was to come like normal, and if she answered another way I was to come like gangbusters.

 

            “Yeah, you’ve got a visitor,” she said, which wasn’t either of the coded messages.

 

            “Okay, what does that mean?”

 

            “It means come to the office.” She said.

 

            “Don’t you remember the codes?” I asked.

 

            “Are we still doing that?” she asked.

 

            “Well…” I stammered for a moment.

 

            “Can you just hurry up?” she said. “She’s already waiting in your office.”

 

            “You put a person in my office?” I asked.

 

            “Yes,” she said, sounding petulant. “She’s got a badge and is better looking than me. I could take either one of those on their own, but together I couldn’t stand to look at her.”

 

            “Is this the sort of woman who doesn’t know that she’s doing that?” I asked.

 

            “Yes,” she growled flatly, which is quite a trick.

 

            “Well at least I know where she is,” I commented.

 

            “Pardon?”

 

            “Nothing,” I said. “I’ll be there in a little while, I’m kind of far.”

 

            “Okay,” she said. “She just got here.”

 

            “Okay,” I said reflexively. “See you later, bye bye.”

 

            I hung up the phone and stuck it back in my pocket. I then looked at Cary, who smiled up at me as I walked back to her. I couldn’t help but feel that I was abusing her, despite the fact that I was going to buy her dinner and never actually got around to sending her an invoice for the work I’d done for her.

 

            “You’ve got to go back to work?” she asked.

 

            “Someone is at my office,” I said raising my eyebrows at her. “Can you sort of watch over him?”

 

            “Sure,” she smiled in a way that I didn’t like at all. “I can keep him entertained.”

 

            “Don’t entertain him!” I demanded. “Just make sure he stays in there, get him food and stuff if he gets hungry and he’s here that long.”

 

            “Why shouldn’t I entertain him?” she said sticking her lower lip out.

 

            “Because I said so,” I told her. “I’ve got enough problems today without worrying about you getting whatever he’s no doubt got.”

 

            “They have things to prevent that kind of cross-contamination.” she smiled that smile I didn’t like again. What bothered me was probably the fact that she never smiled at me like that. “We have a coin operated machine that’s full of them.”

            I really didn’t like the way her eyebrows went up on the word full.

 

            “I am forbidding it.” I raised a finger at her.

 

            “I had no idea you were interesting in saving me for yourself,” she said, and there actually was a hint of that smile.

 

            “You want to call and tell me when you’re free for dinner?” I asked.

 

            “Monday through Friday, anytime after five,” she said putting her hands on her hips. “All next week.”

 

            “Okay,” I said smiling at her. “I’ll call you when I’ve got all this sorted out.”

 

            “This dinner had better be worth it,” she said to my back as I walked away. “I mean to give up someone with that kind of experience.”

 

            “It’s all careful editing,” I said over my shoulder. “Careful editing and flattering lighting. You should put that fire out.”

 

            “That’s why I want to be entertaining,” she called as I went around the corner.

 

            I walked around the front of the building and up the stairs to the room where Peter should be done with his shower. When I opened the door I was glad I left Cary to put out the flaming garbage can. Peter was standing naked in the middle of the room and looked completely unphased by my walking in on him. For the record, yes it is quite large, but not frighteningly so. I picked up a towel and threw it at him.

 

            “Put something on for crying out loud,” I said.

 

            “Oh, right,” he said looking down at his naked body and putting the towel over himself.

 

            “I’ve got to go to my office,” I said looking in his eyes. “I need you to stay here and not go out for anything.”

 

            “Why not?”

 

            “I don’t think right now is a very good time to be you,” I said, trying to be as delicate with the matter as I could. “If the police find you, the only thing that can help you is a really good lawyer, and even then only maybe. If someone sees you, then they might tell the cops where you are.”

 

            “Oh,” He said nodding sagely, like he understood the danger the police presented to him.

 

“Worse yet,” I said deciding on the big guns. “If someone tells Mister Cat and his little helper where you are, they might decide you talked.”

 

That worked, though I wish I didn’t have to go that far. The blood drained from his face and he sat down heavily on the bed, which probably had been used by many a couple that had met at bowling alleys. He looked really scared, which unfortunately was where I needed him to be. I don’t like scaring people on purpose, but sometimes you have to.

 

I left him agreeing that he needed to stay put for a while and left for the office. The entire trip left me feeling extremely paranoid. I watched every car and truck on the road, making sure that they weren’t following me. I managed to get to my office without shooting some asshole in an old Lincoln that didn’t seem to understand that tailgating is not the correct way to drive, particularly not behind someone with a gun and a bad case of paranoia. I was very proud of myself for that.

 

This is part seven of twelve, come back next week for part eight 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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February 12, 2009 - Posted by | Fiction, Jack |

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