Short Story 18f of …


blog post
This is part six of the 18th and final post in this series of those not accepted by journals for publication.


Sham

Part Six

I mulled around the office in a slump about my pair of careers. I certainly had little to write about my being a PI. I tried a direct call to C-gibs and after the response I expected, ring-ring-ring, I sent another text and E-mail. Same old, same old!

The rent was due. I recognized the lesson in bad economic practices I was having and transferred the amount from savings. On the way to the micro-brew pub I gave Mr. Fender a check from my personal account.

A pair of blue tarp acquaintances were pushing their bikes up the street, so I decided to get to know them better if they allowed it. Neither hesitated at my invitation to get burgers or anything within reason from the menu. I ordered a house IPA and made a hand gesture indicating it was OK for them to order a drink also.

The Nam vet Guild said, “That’s part of what got me where I am. But I’d appreciate any cola.”

Martin ordered a house light, saying, “Don’t like beer much, but it’s something to sip so no one questions why you’re in their booth. They were both light on my pocket by ordering a mid-price cheeseburger with all the free toppings.

Guild told me, “For calorie intake, guys like us top with all the free condiments available.”

Neither Martin nor Guild played out a sad story to me and I didn’t ask questions. I just wanted to observe and bridge a little trust. I knew word would get around and might be helpful if I did need more ‘on the street’ information.

The dressed for attention at Sam Malone’s bar server asked, “Seconds on drinks?”

Almost in unison our heads nodded no, and she presented the ticket to me as I’d asked earlier. As soon as she was on to the next booth, Guild asked me, “Mind staking us to coffee to go?”

“I’ll make it three so it doesn’t look awkward for you,” I told him. After having the paper cups delivered, I left cash with 20% over and we left.

Outside, Martin asked, “Still looking for that missing girl?”

Guess I might have gained some trust, I thought.

It wasn’t, as you’ve read, what I was hired for, but I said, “yes,” anyway. “How’d you know about that?”

“Mr. Fender,” Guild said. “He said his Mrs. told him.

“You know him…”

“Sort of. He lets us park out back of the place because we keep an eye on things during the night. He gave us a flip phone to call with if there’s anything suspicious.”

“But,” Martin added, “We didn’t say anything to him about that man coming out of your place and being picked up in that more than a year’s pay for most workers Lexus.”

I asked if they saw the driver. Neither did.

<>

After a month, I was resigned to the fact that C-gibs was into me for a Grand of expenses, and the probability of getting it was like betting against Usain Bolt in a foot race. Good thing is that having to take only two marshaling trips I’d made rent and paid myself for the month I’d taken from my personal account.

Remember my telling you that the case would take a turn no one could have expected. I learned much later about names playing into the events. I’ll probably never know if C-gibs ever knew there was a duet by Gibson and Gretsch.

After Philip Gretsch and I separated at Dulles, he met Carver Gibson by the Reflecting Pool. “Have any trouble,” Gibson asked, “getting out of town?”

“No,” Gretsch said, “but I was a little concerned because that nose Cassie hired was on my flight. Good thing she pointed him out at the graduation, otherwise I wouldn’t have recognized him. How are the Fenders playing out for you?”

“Fred arranged for us to meet with Taylor and Rickenbacker for data on the startup rollout,” Gibson replied.

“The Seagull involved?”

“Could be,” Gibson said, “But I know for sure that Paul Reed Smith was tuned out and said he couldn’t get here.”

Washburn approached and blended into the conversation, “What a flight. Weather impact either of you? Think we’ll get any kind of Ovation for just showing up?”

Gibson took the lead saying, “I don’t credit my ESP, but it’s not likely. The brass doesn’t seem to appreciate us.”

<>

Are you still wondering about the missing girl?

Her Mariachi band caught a flight to Cabo San Lucas where she’d be playing her Lucida Guitarron in a paid gig the day after the graduation she skipped. Any guesses who bought tickets for the band and wasn’t available to answer calls, etc.?

I sure was strung along in the sham. How about you?

-end of the sham-


As my octogenarianism continues, my mind wanders as I wonder.
Or could it be that my mind wonders as I wander?
It is a fact that I have opinions – or is it?