Disclaimer –

Derek's work has been registered at the U.S. Library of Congress, so it would be a terrible financial idea to plagiarize or use any of the material found on this website for your own purposes. Nevertheless, enjoy the writing!

Sunday, 10:40 am

 

It had been a while since I’d heard… actually, I think… yeah, I think this happened later.  That’s right, I slept in.

 

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Sunday, 1:25 pm

 

It had been a while since I’d heard the name Hickey.  We’d crossed paths before.  When I was starting out in the detective business, he had his hands in the entertainment racket.  Some hybrid of Vaudeville and Japanese Noh theatre that seemed to resonate with the fans.  It left me scratching my head.  Sure it was entertaining, but I’d seen better stripshows at convents. 

 

For as long as I knew the guy, I didn’t actually know an awful lot about Hickey.  He was a pretty elusive person.  I know he had some broad under his wing and I heard tell of a little piece of his loins running around Germany, but nothing concrete.  I didn’t know his life, his day-to-day happenings.  Most troubling, I didn’t know his schedule or how to access it. All I did know about him was that he had a silly last name.  And this is coming from a guy who goes by Bulbous. 

 

To clear my head, I took a walk out in the brisk October air.  The autumnal splendor that is Reno, which is highlighted by slightly oranger sagebrush, failed to inspire, but it did chill me to the bone.  And it was then that I made the realization: it’s frickin’ cold in late October, and I should put on something other than these Jams shorts.  I moved on, a wiser man.

 

I knew I could probably squeeze some information out of Hickey’s father.  Hickey’s old man and I go way back.  He gave me some pretty sound advice when I was just starting out: “It doesn’t matter if you can walk the walk, or even talk the talk.  You just gotta wear the pants.”  Truer words were never spoken, except when my wife tells me that our kitchen smells like fetid puddle water.  I even got Hickey’s father’s phrase emblazoned on all my stationery, though he did later sue me for, of all things, patent infringement.  Anyway, as a turn of good fortune, Hickey’s father was in town for ‘business.’  I could never really ascertain what line of work the elder Hickey was into – could have been smuggling, could have been racketeering, could have been Musketeering.  All I know is he was on the go and always carrying a healthy supply of bubble-wrap.  He was hard to pin down, but he was easy to understand when he had something to say.

 

I met him outside the Tubby Pawn and Launder.  He was a tall man in his 50-60s (you never can be too sure with a guy like Hickey’s father), with enough panache to fill a wheelbarrow.  He carried himself like a stringer bolsters a return.  In short, the man had it put together.  He gleaned from me almost immediately that I wasn’t up for idle chatter. 

 

“Harawph au mummahah.”

 

“Pardon me?”

 

Hickey’s father spit out the marbles.

 

“Sorry about that.  What can I do you for?!”

 

“I gotta know where he is.”

 

Hickey’s father stiffened slightly, but noticeably.  Perhaps he wasn’t used to people asking about his son, being so intriguing himself that people rarely stopped him to inquire about anyone else.  He appeared to get lost in the display window where we were standing, pretending to ogle the necklace/toaster oven combination they were shilling.  He wasn’t interested in those contraptions – he had injured his cervical spine years back, coincidentally during the aforementioned Portland Pleather Incident, in what could only be described as a dusting accident.  His neck could never support one of those beasts.  No, he was just stalling.

 

“Fine weather we’re having, don’t you say?”

 

I didn’t want games.  Actually, I could have gone for a game of Boggle right then, but I had left my bubble at the office.  I didn’t want his games at that moment.  And I began to wonder, what did he know about Hickey?  Did he not even know where Hickey was?  It’s the only thing that could explain his sudden circumlocution.  There must have been some tragic accident, some horrible mash-up and Hickey had been missing ever since.  And, of course, without my target, the last vestiges of the Theme-mail’s possible existence disappeared with him.  His silence told me more than his words would readily admit.

 

“I asked you a question.”

 

“You most certainly did not.  You made a declarative statement.”

 

I thought back closely to what I had said.  ‘I gotta know where he is.’  He was right.  Dammit, he was right.  Two seconds into our exchange and I’d already blown it.  My knees started feeling week, and perspiration came from my face at an unsettling rate.  I mopped my brow, finally, but it was no use.  I felt like my entire face was melting off, and trickling over my three ties (you never can be too prepared.)  Hickey’s father wasn’t just good with semantics, he was the king of them.  How could I get what I needed from him?  His lips were tighter than lourver vents in a hurricane.  I needed a new tactic.

 

“Let me buy you a beer.”

 

TO PART 4