'He said he wasn't
working for your wife,' Dave said suddenly. He sounded pleased that he'd
remembered something else.
Dixie closed his eyes and let out a God
give me strength sort of sigh.
'I don't have a
'There's probably a
whole bunch of other people he's not working for either. The President,
the Pope, Father Christmas . . .'
That short word conveyed
a lifetime of put downs by people who were smarter than he was. Dave's
temporary enthusiasm had pretty much run its course.
Dixie looked up at the sky in
frustration. 'There's nothing else you can tell me about him?'
'He had a photo of you.
Well, half a photo.'
Dixie was tempted to
point out that you couldn't have half a photograph, just like you couldn't have
half a hole or half a piece of string, but he knew it wasn't worth the effort.
'What do you mean?' he
said, trying to keep the growing irritation out of his voice.
'It was a photo of you
cut in half. It looked like you and a woman and the woman was cut off.'
That was more interesting.
'Okay,' Dixie said, stretching the word out a couple of extra syllables as he
took the information on board. 'That all?'
'Yeah . . . Apart from
the fact that he broke Charlie Watson's finger and busted up his nose pretty
bad. I gotta say I was impressed.'
Dixie laughed. 'Charlie's an inbred who
doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground. He probably deserved it. I bet
he started it, too.' He heard Dave grunt in agreement. 'I think I like Mr
Buckley already; my kind of guy. Give me the details on his card.'
Dixie took down the address and cell
phone number and ended the call. He walked slowly back to the car turning it
over in his mind. Where had the guy got his name? More importantly, how had he
known to start looking at Kelly's Tavern? And what the hell was that about a
He got back to the car
but didn't get in. He stood and drummed his fingers on the roof as he tried to
think it through. It came to him like a mini epiphany and he smiled to himself.
It was the mention of the woman cut out of the photo. Ellie. It had to
be. She must have asked Buckley to find him. She gave him the photo, told him
where to go. The question was, why? Well, at least it made his job of
finding her a whole lot easier. He'd worry about the why later.
The smile slipped off
his face. Before he did that, though, he had to go and talk to Alvarez. He knew
it was a pointless exercise. It was all very well Chico saying talk to
Alvarez. What was he going to say? Hey Alvarez, Chico wants to know if
you took the drugs but kept the money for yourself. It was going to take
some careful phrasing to avoid a slap, that was for sure, and there wouldn't be
much help coming from Crispy's corner unless there were some heads needed
He rubbed the back of
his neck and rolled his head, feeling the vertebrae pop, hoping to ease out the
tension. It actually made it worse. Finding a diplomatic way of asking Alvarez
if he was a double crossing, cheating beaner wasn't his biggest problem,
either. He opened the door and climbed in. Getting rid of the idiot sitting in
the driver's seat was. He couldn't be one hundred per cent sure, but he
reckoned Chico had insisted he take Crispy along because he didn't trust him.
He could hardly blame
Out of the frying pan and
into the fire was a phrase that crossed Evan's mind as he walked away from
Kelly's Tavern. It appeared that he'd exchanged one barroom brawler with a pool
cue for two serious looking Hispanics with . . . he didn't like to think what.
As he'd suspected, one good kick had snapped the pool cue in half and the doors
had burst open. Looking over his shoulder he'd been surprised to see it was the
Hispanics who'd followed him out of the bar and not the inbreds. They were
about fifty yards behind him.
At first he'd been
surprised—and grateful—when they'd helped him in the bar, but now he wasn't so
sure. Their interest must be to do with him asking about Dixie, and he couldn't
help but wonder if their concern to stop him being beaten up was driven by the
desire to do a better job of it themselves. They didn't look like the types to
use something as prosaic as a pool cue, either.
He reached his car,
jumped in and pulled out into the traffic. Behind him on the sidewalk the two
guys started to run back to their car which was parked directly outside the
bar, but facing the other way. It gave Evan a few seconds head start but
traffic was light and in his rear view mirror he saw them make a u-turn before
stamping on the gas.
Evan accelerated until
he was alongside a semi-trailer truck lumbering along. He looked in his mirror
and saw the two guys right behind him. He saw a turning on his right just up
ahead. He waited to the last second and wrenched the wheel hard, swinging the
car in front of the semi-trailer and into a narrow side street, missing the
truck's fender by inches. There was a blast on the horn and the angry squeal of
rubber as the truck slammed on its brakes and the two guys shot past it. Evan
glanced in his mirror again and saw the side of the semi-trailer completely
blocking the entrance to the street. He was in the clear.
He goosed the gas and
shot forward between the cars parked either side of the narrow street. Another
quick look in the mirror and he was still in the clear. Eyes snapped front
again, he did a double take and stamped on the brakes. He couldn't believe his
eyes. In front of him a Fedex delivery truck had reversed into the street and
was coming towards him. He twisted in his seat and looked over his shoulder.
Behind him the semi-trailer was on the move again. He hit the horn but the
truck in front of him kept on coming. He leaned right into it and the truck
stopped. The driver jumped down from the cab and made his way round to the
back. Evan hit the horn again and the driver held up his hand, fingers splayed—five
He turned in his seat
again and saw the back end of the semi-trailer clear the end of the street and
disappear from view. Behind it, the two guys had reversed and were waiting as
it finally got out of their way. They pulled into the street and stopped. Evan
was boxed in.
In front of him the
delivery driver had opened up the back of the truck and was climbing out again,
a stack of boxes in his arms. He looked towards Evan, smiled apologetically at
him, and then looked past him. Evan watched him go rigid for a split second, an
incredulous look on his face, then throw the boxes away from him as if he'd
just been told they were radioactive. Then he turned and ran.
Evan looked behind him
and saw the two guys were out of their car and striding towards him, guns in
their hands. The driver made it to the cab and scrambled in, dropping the keys
in his panic. He half jumped, half fell out and snatched them up again. But he
didn't get back in. He looked back at the two guys, then at Evan and then the
two guys again. He was wasting too much time. Evan knew he was thinking of
forgetting the truck and making a run for it.
He pulled forward until
he was almost under the truck's loading ramp. He couldn't see the driver any
more. There was a sudden cough of black smoke as the truck's engine fired. It
jerked forward and stopped again. The idiot had stalled it. The engine turned
over and over but it wouldn't catch. Evan looked in the mirror—the guys had
quickened their pace and were only yards away. The truck's engine fired again
but still it didn't move.
What the hell was the
guy doing? Finishing up his paperwork?