Thursday, May 26, 2011

16300--A Knowledge of Heather (Ch. 5)

Happy Thursday. To help keep my own feet to the fire, I'm using Thursday as my public accountability day. That means, posting a bit of coherently creative output for you to read and feedback on every week. If I perform according to my own intent, what I put here will be available as a whole elsewhere at the same time or shortly after appearing here.

A Knowledge of Heather is currently available as a part of The Official Private Eye Handbook, first book in the CITY OF MAGICK series.  Please, feel free to take a look here, though, and at subsequent chapters. Let me know how you feel about it.  For those of you finding your way here relatively late, no problem. The start of the story is just a click away.
Chapter 5
     I could tell that something just didn’t strike me right about Lance Boyle from the moment we met. He was one of those clowns that made my trigger finger itch. While I waited on him to get his coat, he kept blathering about one stupid, sleazy thing after another. The more he talked, the more I thought about blowing .44 magnum holes in things.
     His place looked worse than mine without the excuse of a break-in. “Maid’s year off,” he’d said, but it was kind of obvious I was his first visitor in a while. His living room was basically built around a recliner, a coffee table and a big TV. The worn recliner looked to have a permanent Boyle-sized dent in it, the coffee table was covered with skin mags and porn movies littered the shag carpeting between the table and the TV.
     I started running bullet prices through my head. Gold, iron, silver…Slugs made from any of ‘em could all do the same basic job as lead plus something extra, but without the pesky issue of being affordable. Lead was all Boyle deserved and all he would need. Still, he might’ve been the key to all this nonsense, so my entertainment would have to wait.
     Boyle was getting his coat, eager to go with me when I gave him the story I’d told Whitney Gregg. He didn’t seem to want to waste any time, rushing through getting ready like the place was on fire. His mouth never stopped, even as he tucked his shirt in with one hand while slicking back his thinning black hair with the other. As he came back toward me I saw the skinny little mustache over his mouth turn up in some sort of perverse half-smile, so I figured he must’ve thought he’d said something funny. I gave a half-hearted chuckle to make him feel at ease, but really I’d tuned him out awhile ago. All I could see when I looked at him was a greedy opportunist, not a historian…not a treasure hunter…not an explorer…just a guy who was more concerned with a score than the oddity of a stranger showing up at his door on the wrong side of midnight to offer a ride. Worse than just impatient and greedy, there was almost an air of stupid about him. The whole deal was making me suspicious, like one of those pictures of dots you were supposed to stare at till you saw a boat or something. If you kept looking and never saw it, you had to wonder if it was there.
     “So, new guy, Jack didn’t say anything about bringing anybody else in,” Boyle said as we headed for the door. “What kinda cut are you supposed to be gettin‘?”
     “I’m not even sure how the whole thing’s supposed to work yet,” I said, trying to play dumb. It was a simple tactic, but one that usually worked for me.
     “Look, I know you ain’t been in on this from the start wit’ us,” Boyle said, “but Jacko’s gotta be givin’ you a pretty good taste to come in on this.”
     “Oh, that. It’s something, sure, but you’ll all still get the big pieces. I’m just, y’know, hired help.”
     “Good. That’s the way I like it,” he smiled. “You’re better off, really. You missed out on some stuff that…well, you don’t want to know, big guy.”
     “Pretty bad, huh?”
     “Well, if you’ve been around town awhile,” he said, “you’ve probably seen some of the crazy shit that can go on when magic starts gettin’ tossed around. It’s the kinda stuff guys like us need to just steer clear of or else you end up with a crowd around you pointing and taking pictures.”
     “Yeah, I guess,” I said. “Some stuff even ol’ Jack can’t be ready for, huh?”
     “Well, y’know, he always tries. He’s as stubborn a guy as anybody.”
     “He’d have to be to handle that wife of his, huh?”
     “Yeah,” Boyle went on with a chuckle, “she’s sure something. Don’t get me wrong, she’s hot, but she’s a handful. All I’ve ever heard from her is how she wants him to hit that big score so he can retire. That’s lovebirds for you, I guess, always either fightin’ or makin’ up. Now, me? If they‘re getting outta line and you wanna straighten ‘em out, y‘give ‘em one.”
     “Give ‘em one?” I honestly couldn’t tell if he was talking about smacking women around or--
     “Yeah, y’know,” he went on, “slip ‘em the ol’ bone. Shut’s ‘em up for a while.”
     I tried to laugh convincingly, but I couldn’t see the boat.

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