The next day I really got to work. I had to. I went through the motions. Got my suspects in order. Starting with Coyote Face. He knew something, alright. Him and his goons. I owed them all a swift kick in the nuts. Mary-Lou was on the list too. I couldn’t rule her out, yet . . . Even Snyder . . . I thought about the bolo around Coyote Face’s neck and the ’S’. Figured I’d have a look around the Snyder & Welles building. See what I could find. . . . Yea, everyone’s a suspect as far as I’m concerned.
I grabbed my camera and headed out. Got in the Volks’. Drove towards downtown.
No traffic on the freeway. My lucky day. I rolled down the windows and let the air whip around. Benny Goodman’s Sing, Sing, Sing was on the radio. I felt good. I turned it up.
Some hothead in a slick car came up quick behind me, right on my ass. He swung wide and tried to cut me off. I laid down the lead. Held my position. The car in front of him flashed its brake lights. He cut over another lane and pressed on it.
“Come on, baby!”
My RPMs revved to 4000. I punched it into fifth.
The Volks’ barreled down the freeway like a bullet. She was gleaming! Every inch of her rattled and vibrated and clanked.
I looked over. He was cutting back towards me. Benny and the boys were really going at it. The horns were blasting through the speakers. I felt the drums in my bones.
“Eat my dust!”
We bobbed and weaved for a three mile stretch, cutting between every minivan and pick-up truck, every semi and sedan. A brunette number was having trouble changing her tire on the side of the road. She was all leg. We both looked at her. Then at each other. He smiled at me. I gave him the bird. He scowled.
I felt the Volks’ top out. She was losing power. The other guy inched ahead. The song changed to a slower tune. It was Gershwin. Rhapsody in Blue. He got a full car length ahead. A sticker on the back windshield read “The LORD is my STRENGTH”.
Damn. I was beat.
My exit came up. I pulled out.
The Snyder & Welles building was hard to miss. It was the tallest in the city. All glass and steel running in long straight lines towards the sky. Someone was over compensating.
I parked across the street. Put an hour in the parking meter. The waiting game was on. I was sure something would pop up. As sure as Vidal standing behind a bent-over Kerouac at the Chelsea Hotel. But that’s got nothing to do with this.
I pulled out a wrinkled pack of smokes. Lit one. Took a couple drags. The sun was up there, working. Everything with metal reflected its blinding light. The heat was rising up from the asphalt too. After a while it all got to me. Each drag made my stomach turn. I opened the door and puked. An elderly woman walking her pointer gagged and hurried past. I wiped my mouth. Took another drag. Puked again. I pulled out my flask and took a hit.
An hour went by. I got out. Paid for another.
“Only when the clock stops does Time begin,” I said to the meter.
It stared blankly back.
There was a sandwich place at the end of the block. I walked down and went in. Ordered a Rueben, toasted.
“Don’t forget the pickle spear,” I told the pimple-faced kid behind the counter.
He smiled meekly. Handed me the sandwich.
I went back to the car. Opened the sandwich. No pickle.
“That little shit!”
I took a bite of the Rueben anyway. It was good. The pastrami was perfect. I took another bite and got out to go rub the rest of it in the kid’s pimpled face. Add a few more to the canvas. That’s when I saw Coyote Face come out of the building. His two goons at his sides like suckerfish. I ran back to the Volks’ and pulled out my camera. Checked for film. Wound it. Took some shots.
They got into a white Cadillac and headed south down Enterprise. I followed after them. The Caddy made a left at Market. They were heading towards the warehouse district on the outskirts of the city.
Something didn’t smell right. I cupped my hand over my mouth. Took a whiff.
I shuttered. Pulled out my flask. Took another hit. Gargled. Spit . . . Shit, what did I know.
Soon large grey warehouses lined the street. Bums covered the sidewalks like ants on an anthill. Some going up, others coming down. Their tents tattered and scattered about. One of them had a face like a butthole. Another cursed the gods for a cigarette, “I want a cigarette you pricks! You fuckin’ pricks! Pricks! Pricks!”
The Caddy made a right down an alley. I slowed the Volks’ to a soft purr and looked down as I passed by. There was a black van parked. The Caddy pulled up alongside it.
I went a block up. Hit a red.
On the corner a bum had his pants around his ankles and was squatting with his knees tucked into his armpits. He looked up at me. A shit grin on a dirty face. He wiped with an old newspaper and tossed it aside.
“Good god, man! Don’t you have any decency?” I yelled.
The bum pulled up his pants and moved on without a worry or care.
The light changed indifferently. I u-turned.
Why would Welles give a damn about these animals? What could he possibly give them that could change their lives? . . . I hadn’t the slightest clue . . . But I was going to find out . . . First, I needed more info. More intel. I had work to do. Had to keep my nose off the ground . . . Coyote Face . . . Yea. I was going nail his ass.
When I approached the alley I put the Volks’ in park, pulled out my camera and went to work.
“Alright, ladies, let’s see those spurs jingle.”
One of the goons got out. He stood beside the car, did a strange squat, then lifted his left leg in a circular motion. A slight shimmy and crotch adjustment followed.
“That a girl.”
He went to the back of the van. Opened it.
Three little clowns hopped out. Each one with a rope in their hand. At the end the ropes was a burro. The midgets tugged, but the ass fought back and the little buggers swayed from left to right, one bounced into the other like Newton’s cradle . . . It was a genuine Marx brother’s bit.
They struggled for some time before Coyote Face and his other suckerfish got out and helped them. The burro fought all the way out until they pulled it into one of the warehouses and closed the big bay door behind them.
I got a shot of the warehouse. Unit X-9. Then I got the hell out of there. I had seen enough. I didn’t care to know what was going to happen next . . . To the tiny clowns, or the ass.
I turned on the Volks’.
Some leads are a wrong step in the right direction.