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Wonderland (Part Eleven)

Wonderland

A Jack Collier Mystery

By Brett N. Lashuay

Look here for last week’s entry!

 

Part Eleven: Time Gentlemen

 

            “We’ll have to leave it Red,” Knight said.

 

            “Okay,” Red nodded, and then pointed at me. “We’re going to discuss this again though.”

 

            “Yeah,” I nodded. “We probably are.”

 

            They left the room, walked down the stairs, got in a Ford Explorer and drove away. I sighed a breath of relief for a moment, but only a moment, because I remembered that I’d told Alice where we were and she was still on the phone. I pulled it out of my pocket and looked at it. It was still on, and I could just tell Alice we’d be here when the troops got here. However, somehow, I didn’t want to. Call it caprice, call it crankiness, call it what you will. I hit the end button and looked at the two of them.

 

            “Let’s go Peter,” I said.

 

            “Was that the truth?” he asked as I turned the phone off.

 

            “Sadly, yes,” I said as I pulled the battery out and stuffed it into my pocket. “Let’s go and I’ll explain how we get you out of this.”

 

            “What do I tell them?” Cary asked as we headed down the stairs.

 

            “No one knows you know me,” I said to her as we started down the stairs. “A couple of guys came in and paid cash to get a room. Just tell them you don’t ask for anyone’s life story when they come in.”

 

            “Thanks,” she said, following us down the stairs.

 

            “I’ll call you for dinner.”

 

            “You’d better,” she called back as I started the car and we drove away.

 

            “So how do we get out of this?” he asked.

 

            “I’m glad you asked that,” I announced. “You’re going to turn state’s evidence and tell them everything you know.”

 

            “WHAT?!” he demanded. “Flopsy would fuckin’ kill me.”

 

            “Flopsy is already trying to kill you,” I told him as calmly as I could manage. “Life in jail for six killing is just like death ,only you don’t die. You want to be railroaded?”

 

            “So where are we going?” he asked. “The police?”

 

            “No,” I said, shaking my head. “I need to eat something.”

 

            I took Peter to Orchid Café, which is around the corner from my office. It’s a nice Thai place where you can sit and have a conversation for lunch. I had the royal chicken, he had some sort of broccoli beef I think, it escapes me for the moment. When I’d eaten as much as I was going to I put my phone back together and turned the phone back on. Peter looked concerned, but I didn’t bother to assuage his fears anymore.

 

            “You’re gonna call the cops?” he asked looking at my phone.

 

            “Not yet,” I said and scrolled through to a number for a certain university. The number was actually a professor’s private office, I just hoped he’d be there. If not I was going to have to work something else out.

 

            “Hello?” the man’s voice asked.

 

            “Henry, its Jack. You still planning on finding the Lost City of Chachapoyas?”

 

            “Yes I was,” he said, sounding interested. “Leaving next week.”

 

            “Okay,” I said. “I know this is short notice but I’ll come with you.”

 

            “You will?” he sounded a little surprised.

 

            “Yeah, the price you offered,” I said. “If you e-mail me a list of the stuff I need I’ll get it this weekend and I can either meet with you by Wednesday or meet you in Peru.”

 

            “Wednesday will be fine.” 

 

            “Okay,” I said. “See you then.”

 

            “Are you in some kind of trouble?” he asked.

 

            “Not if I leave by Wednesday,” I laughed, trying not to cackle insanely.

 

            “Alright then, we’ll see you on Wednesday.”

 

            “Fine, bye-bye Henry,” I hung up and then scrolled through to find Alice’s office number again.

 

            “So now you call the cops?” he asked.

 

            “No,” I said and realized that I hadn’t told Peter this part yet. “I’m going to call Mary Anne.”

 

            “Why call her?” Peter asked, “She’d be busted with everyone else, wouldn’t she?”

 

            “No,” I sighed, “she won’t because she’s an undercover agent.”

 

            “Oh,” He didn’t look angry, just a confused and a little hurt. “Well that explains that.”

 

            “Yeah,” I nodded.

 

            “So she’s going to come get us?”

 

            “No,” I said standing. “She’s going to come get you. If you’ll just wait here, everything will be fine.”

 

            I went to the cashier, gave her enough for the bill and a very generous tip. I looked back at Peter as I walked out the door, then turned away and walked to the car. Had I been smart, if I had a lick of intelligence, I would have taken him to the office and called Crammer to come get him. Instead I called Alice’s number, letting parts of me that weren’t up to the task do the thinking.

 

            “Yes?” she asked.

 

            “He’s at the Orchid Café in Troy,” I said. “You can pick him up there.”

 

            “Pick him up?”

 

            “Yeah,” I said. “I just left him there.”

 

            “Why aren’t you there?” she asked.

 

            “I’ve got some things to do,” I said. “And I don’t want to be detained if it’s all the same to you.”

 

            “Okay,” she said. “I’m sure it’ll be fine, it’s a public place right?”

 

            “Yeah,” I said. “I’ve got to go, call me when you do that dance.”

 

            “Right, talk to you later.”

 

            “Yeah. Bye-bye.”

 

            I got to my office and found Debbie pecking away at her keyboard. I took my coat off, hung it up, pushed my hat back and leaned over the desk. This was partly to look at her cleavage, but mostly because I was tired and needed propping up quite badly.

 

            “You called Crammer?” I asked.

 

            “From the Starbucks on the corner,” she nodded.

 

            “Good girl,” I said taking my hat off. “We need to go on a shopping trip and then we’re going to close the office for a while.”

 

            “Why?” she asked.

 

            “I’m going with the professor to Peru, or wherever. He’ll send an e-mail with the details,” I opened the door to my office and looked back at her. “I think I need to get out of town for a while.”

 

            “That check would have helped then.”

 

            “No,” I shook my head. “That check would have put us back in the middle of the shit.”

 

            “Tiding up the trail?” she asked.

 

            “Muddying the waters more like,” I said and went into my office.

 

            I think I must have sat down on the couch to take a nap, but I don’t remember. What I remember is Debbie shaking me awake and telling me there was a call on the phone for me. I stumbled to the phone and picked up the receiver, still groggy-eyed.

 

            “Hi babe, it’s me,” Amy Heart’s voice said. “I took care of everything for you.”

 

            “Took care?” I asked.

 

            “Yeah,” she said. “No one’s going to know you were ever near this, you’re completely out of it.”

 

            “Oh,” I said. “Thanks?”

 

            “Yeah,” she said. “No problem. Rabbit’s taking the blame, he’s going down.”

 

            “Really?” I asked, knowing that ignorance was my only defense.

 

            “Yeah,” she said. “Still, not our problem now, right?”

 

            “I guess not,” I said.

 

            “Well, I’ve got to go, I just wanted to say hi and that you’re clear. I’ve got to leave town again for a while.”

 

            “Okay,” I said. “I’m going away for a while too actually.

            “Good,” she said. “A vacation will be nice for you. See you later.”

 

            “Yeah,” I said, and bid farewell like I have almost every phone conversation in my life. “Bye-bye.”

 

            I hung the phone up and sat down at my desk. I turned on the monitor and decided to check out what was going on in the real world. Sadly, the first news site I opened up was a local paper, which means where was no escaping the front page story. Someone had walked into the Orchid Café about ten minutes after I walked out, put a gun to his left temple and fired a single shot through his brain.

 

            I sat and looked at the screen, wondering why Alice had done that to me. Why betray me like that. I picked up my phone and called her. It rang and rang and rang some more. Finally an electric voice told me I was being forwarded to an automated voicemail system. No doubt she’d just dropped the phone now that she didn’t need this identity anymore. I couldn’t quite understand what the game was supposed to be, why bring me in like this if they were just going to shoot him?

 

            “The feds just got Rabbit,” Debbie said coming into my office.

 

            “Really?” I asked.

 

            “Yeah, top story on Channel 7, they dragged him out of his warehouse this afternoon with a couple of bodies and a head still in there.”        

 

            “Huh,” I said. “When?”


            “About noon.”

 

            “So about half an hour after they shot him?” I asked.

 

            “Pardon?”

 

            “Peter got shot,” I said turning the monitor around. “Clearly Alice really was Mary Anne and she told them where to go to get him. Evidently they waited to see who paid for lunch and decided to shoot the scrounger.”

 

            “How would they all be waiting if they were about to be busted?” she asked.

 

            “I don’t know,” I said. “Probably Alice and Miss Heart were looking for us. Fucking bitch got him killed out of spite. If they’d put the bodies in there, the cops didn’t need Peter. Why?”

 

            “Spite, I guess,” she said.

 

            “Fucking bitch,” I said getting up. “You want a drink? It must be closing time by now.”

 

            “Yeah,” she said nodding, so we went out for a drink as a boss and a employee.

             

            Of course I wouldn’t really be drinking, but I could watch Debbie swallowing her drink. Maybe get her to eat some fries or even a cheese stick, anything she cylindrical she could slide into her mouth. Maybe afterward I’d take her out for an ice cream cone and watch her lick whipped cream off a Sunday. It’s the little things that keep my spirits up.

 

 

This is part eleven of twelve, come back next week for the final installment. 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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March 11, 2009 - Posted by | Fiction, Jack |

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