There was no way to know how “Ebby” Eddy was going to handle this. I doubt his mother trusted him. Oddly, it was somehow comforting that I knew that I couldn’t believe anything Eddy says, at least I know he’s one of the bad guys.
“I think I’ll give you some time to think,” Eddy said, as he slithered towards the door.
“Leaving so soon?” I asked. I’m not sure why I bothered. I could feel the hatred beaming from my eyes, and perhaps I wanted him to stick around a little longer so that he knows how much he disgusts me.
“I can stay a while. Are you ready to talk?” Eddy asked as he held the doorknob. I guess he thought he broke me already. When you get sacks full of cash handed to you every other day I take it you get used to things coming easily. Unfortunately, he’s living a fantasy; reality isn’t on his radar.
“Since you retreated when I was about to engage in deep thought, per your suggestion, I was wondering if thoughts hurt your ears or something. Maybe like a dog whistle. Are you a dog, ‘Ebby’?” I asked, with the apparent intention of insulting him. I’d insult his intelligence as well if only I were able.
“Don’t you call me that!” he yelled. He made it across the room in a flash and pointed his finger rather close to my face.
“I’m no expert on dogs, but I’d say you’re a lapdog. One thing I know about dog’s, again I’m no expert, but they can all lick their own scrot. You ever do that?” I asked, not that I expected an answer.
“You’d be wise to tread carefully,” he warned.
“Come to think of it, I’ve seen plenty of dogs lick each other. In your case, I imagine you start with the boots and slowly work your way up. Am I right?”
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it but, wouldn’t you know, Eddy socked me square in the eye, knocking me to the floor. Then, he slammed the door so hard that the glass shattered and splashed to the floor like a sack of marbles. As I got back to my feet, I could see Eddy storming through the office. Just before he exited, he cleared the top of a desk with a single swipe of his arm. He’s not classy enough to do that to his desk; I hope that was Greene’s.
Suddenly, Greene walked into the sad little interrogation room, now somewhat in shambles. The glass crumbled and crunched underneath each of his footsteps. More importantly, he seems to have brought a peace-offering.
“Fancy a drink?” he asked, with a bottle and a couple of Dixie cups in his hands.
Was he serious? “Sure do,” I replied. He set the cups down on the table. When he removed the lid from the bottle, I could almost see the scent of the whiskey attaching itself to molecules of air and sailing home for a reunion with my sense of smell. I find myself jealous of the cup for getting a taste of the mania before me. As soon as he finished pouring, I readily snatched the cup as if playing some twisted game of jacks. I finished my cup before he could even pour one for himself. He didn’t make me ask for another but, this time, I let the cup rest unfettered on the table. “Are there any strings attached to the open bar here?” I asked, slightly paranoid but pragmatic to be sure.
He didn’t answer at first, not before having a drink. That’s fair. “I don’t want anything from you, Chet. I just thought I’d offer a battered man in my custody a drink. Call it a gesture of goodwill,” he replied. He didn’t bother looking at me. Frankly, Greene was a grumpy old man. He wasn’t chubby but had a pot belly, in complete opposition with his physique. It was so out-of-place it might as well have been a cartoon belly. He is simply a victim of time. His hair is thin, especially up top, and his eyes were dull. On the plus side, his complexion was good, and he was healthy enough, and willing, to track down the baddies. If that’s not sufficient, he apparently donates booze to two-bit hacks; the biggest jerks get refills.
“So it’s Chet now,” I said as if I was owed anything in the first place.
“Look, I didn’t send Ed in here. He asked me about you and said he could get you to talk,” he admitted.
“Maybe you’re running a game on me,” I replied. I know Greene is by-the-book, but I mostly know him by reputation. With my luck, I can’t be sure he isn’t willing to have a hand in throwing the book at me as well.
“Maybe I am,” he said, as he gathered the bottle and cups. “That crack about the brothel was good. I’m gonna steal that from you,” he remarked, as he entered the hallway. He turned back. “By the way, Judge Cohen is on duty,” he added and winked.
Just as soon as Greene left, the desk sergeant barged in. He nearly plowed through Greene, which wouldn’t hurt my feelings. He turned a chair around backward and sat down as if he were about to lay down the law, no pun intended. His name is Stanley Law, believe it or not, we call him Stan.
“What did you get yourself into, jackass?” he asked, though his concern was unconvincing.
“A foxhole of a different variety it seems,” I replied. Stan was one of the few real men around and one of the fewer whose opinions I cared to know. Suddenly, “Ebby” Eddy casually walked in and plopped a folder down before walking off without a word. Stan noticed my disapproval of his existence. “What’s in the folder?”
“Don’t worry about him,” he said, addressing the tension clutching to the rafters. “Ed processed you. I’m here to escort you out. I think you can agree to that, especially since Ed and Fred agreed,” he announced.
“Who the hell is Fred?”
“Is that what you have to say to that? Really? Fred is Detective Greene, genius,” he replied. “Aren’t you a detective too, smart guy?” His words cut well enough to hit bone. Unfortunately, he made a good point, and I had nothing to say for myself, for once. “Do you need a minute?” he asked, this time with genuine concern.
That was a good question. Was a minute all that I had? Eddy didn’t apologize when he came in here or show the slightest hint of remorse. If he helped get me out, I could only wonder whether I have a target on my back now. It’s not the jitters talking, I just had six fingers, so I pondered the possibility that I’m being turned loose as part of a larger, much more fiendish plan. As the man said, I’m supposed to be a detective, a smart guy, and there’s certainly no shortage of fiends these days.
Copyright © 2016 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.
“I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”