Tuesday, May 26, 2009

THE SEED

Last night, Mrs. Nerd said something, like a seed, and I’ve got to stick around until she lets it grow. I can’t pry it out of her. She wants to tell me. It’ll take time. And the payoff will be worth it.

Her wedding ring had clinked against her glass of wine and she nearly spilled it in the bed. “It’s not cheating if he already broke the rules.”

That was the seed. I wanted more. I kept it smooth. “Dude’s a fool not to treat a woman like you right.” I knew the details could be money for me, but she clammed up and watched the Lakers game as if she cared. Like she didn’t think I had heard what she said. But I did hear it, and she spoke it out loud. Now I’m the patient priest, waiting for the confession.

Meanwhile, I’m wearing a pair of pants that would have my friends in Ballentine laughing their asses off. And if they saw the shirt, complete with buttons and a collar, they’d squeeze out a brick. But who gives a shit what dudes think?

Mrs. Nerd insisted on paying for a nice shirt and pants for me. Guess she didn’t want to see me in jeans and a t-shirt anymore. And before you start thinking that Trey’s hooked, let me cool that idea.

I clean up slick. Believe it.

Tokyo thought I looked good. I could see it in her eyes.

Trey’s on the loose today. Almost too loose, like on the end of a noose. Mrs. Nerd had to keep up appearances and met the girls for their weekly golf game. No way am I going to sit in that house alone, not with these clothes on.

Don’t worry, I brought the dagger with me. Still fits down the inside of my left leg and I keep the shirt untucked.

It had been a while since I had been down to my old park. Nothing changed. None of the garbage had missed me. I kicked around in the plants behind the bench, hoping for a note or some communication from the Nerd, or even Rodeo. No luck. Just dirt.

I’m still holding the bag and someone’s going to pay.

Who knew that a shirt with a collar was bulletproof? Walking away from the park, I was caught out in the open. I heard it first and didn’t have anywhere to run. Besides, running makes you look guilty. I kept my strut and felt the growl of the Valiant approach. Stay cool, I told myself. I’m just a dude out on the street in fly clothes. They’re looking for dirty Trey.
I told you I clean up good. Sig drove right by and didn’t recognize me. Didn’t even look at me. But I saw him. He was in the passenger seat, strung out. Red eyes and white knuckles as he gripped the chrome around the open window. Keep looking Sig. I’m right here, asshole, and when you find me, it’s going to get ugly.

Driving was one of his North River fucks, Mike. Everyone calls him The Eagle. Don’t know why. In the back seat, looking like he was asleep, was Big Wes. Not to be confused with Little Wes, who works at the porno shop in Ballentine. The heaviest hitters of the North River Gang are in Los Angeles looking for me. Wanting me dead. They can want ‘til it hurts. Maybe I want things from them. Maybe when they find me, it might not be as easy to kill Trey as they think. I have a score to settle, too, you see. Could be them that winds up dead.

Or I’ll get my payday from the Nerd or Rodeo, both maybe. When that happens, I’ll get my revenge on Sig by living well. Big house and spread of land. Set for life. He can rot, looking for a Trey that doesn’t exist anymore. Hard to just walk away, though. There would be satisfaction in watching Sig bleed to death.

Trey put his smile back on after the Valiant rumbled away. Looking this good, it was time to put my slick on. I walked right into the clothing store like I belonged in the richest neighborhoods. Too bad I didn’t have a big douchebag watch, but my cuffs looked sharp. Place was empty and I got the immediate eye of Tokyo.

That girl is wise. All kinds of smarts and smart ass in her eyes. And she likes what she sees. I could tell. I get the up and down, quick and subtle. She pops her hip to one side, slides her hand over her glossy hair.

“Can I help you?” she says, like this is all business.

“Yeah, I was hoping you could give me a hand.” Confident smile, I’m cool as a bullet before it’s shot. “I’m from out of town, staying with a friend in the neighborhood and need a good place to eat.”

She named a couple of joints I had passed on the street. I saw the tables from outside the windows. The bread baskets looked like car wrecks with shards of something sticking into the air. “Yeah, that’s the kind of place my friend likes," I said. "But I was hoping for something with a little more body and soul, you know what I mean?”

Tokyo did know what I meant. Saw it in her eyes. Sharp, man.

I couldn’t stop myself. I said, “I don’t do yoga.”

Got a laugh out of her. Unguarded and low. The kind of laugh she gives her friends, smoking a cigarette with one hand and holding her rum and coke with the other. It wasn’t a laugh for the customers. Trey wins.

She gave me the name of a place nearby and I thanked her. If I wasn’t staying at Mrs. Nerd’s place and wasn’t hoping to squeeze the Nerd or Rodeo for a couple hundred-thousand dollars and if Sig and his shitbags weren’t looking to kill me I would’ve offered to take Tokyo to that place that night. Instead I’m a wanted man and my plans could get me dead. So I thanked her. I held her eyes longer than I needed to. Drink it up. Then she frosted over and I saw that a real customer came in the front door. Tokyo’s armor. The girl protects herself. I respect that. I gave her a wink and headed out into the bright sunlight.

There, I proved it. A little cleaned up, Trey has a shot with Tokyo. More than a shot. That’s all I needed to know. It could happen. But it never will.

Back at the nice library. Cool, clean Santa Monica. Feeling like my wallet’s stuffed with money, even though its full of mummy dust. Soon. There’ll be money. Mrs. Nerd will talk tonight. I’ll get the information she wants to leak. Trey will get what he wants.