Chapter 10 - Now Taking Requests

Posted in By Aiden Cobb 1 comments

            Aiden wanders through his mind like a Scotland Yard detective through London fog. Something is missing. That crucial piece of the puzzle that always eludes. What the hell is he looking for?
           He lays on the couch and stares at the ceiling. It helps him unravel events but there isn't much to go on. Dammit.

            Reaching into his pocket he takes out his cellphone. Punching a few buttons he raises it to his ear.

            “Yeah, whadaya want?” the voice is raspy.

            “Hey Dennis.”

            “My man! How's it going? Is it true that happened last night?”


            He chuckles. “I laughed my ass off, man. I wish I coulda seen it.”

            “Do you know if Cory got the info for me?”

            “Hold on, wait a moment.” He then hears him calling for his nephew. “Gimme a sec. I'll go back to his computer.”

            Dennis whistles something that sounds like an off-key version of “White Room” by Cream. He has more bootleg Clapton stuff than a normal person should. Then again, Dennis is not known to be normal.

            Aiden listens intently as a pen drops to the floor and Dennis shuffles through papers; closing his eyes it isn't difficult to envision what Dennis is doing or where he is. A drawer opens and closes. “I'm looking.” Aiden imagines Dennis rummaging around Cory's computer, probably in the back room of the store.

            “Take your time.” Aiden rubs his face.

            “Let's see... some funky letters and numbers. That might be it. Says it's worth... I'm trying to make it out.”

            A pause.

            “Holy shit, Aiden. That's a lot for a fuckin' disc. I should get into the movies.”

            A cool million. All this over a one followed by six zeros.

            “It looks like... there's a buyer here. Now it makes sense.”

            “What?” Aiden replies.

            “He was askin' me this morning how to get over to ten-four-oh-one Westport Road. Why do I...?”

            Thad's address. Aiden had not imagined Cory making a deal with Thad. How did Cory plan on getting the disc?

            “I know where he's going.”

            “Oh.” Dennis isn't pressing the matter.

            “Thanks, Dennis. Stay safe.”

            “You too, man.”

            Aiden cuts the call. Peeling himself off the couch he ambles over to the bookcase. He searches in his pocket and pulls out Veronica's number, dialing it.

            “How did I know it was going to be you?”

            She has that smoky, erotic voice that makes every orifice in your body stand at attention. Aiden imagines the brick wall like that one old black and white movie Steven made him watch. The one about all the identical kids born in a town trying to take it over.

            “You knew how to find me. Maybe you're psychic, too.”

            His fingers feel against the spines of the books. “Dune,” by Frank Herbet. “On the Road,” by Jack Kerouac. “The Stand” by Stephen King.

            “Maybe. What can I do you for, Aiden?” The cat wants to play.

            “I've been doing some thinking...”

            “So have I. Are you gonna play dice?”

            “Yeah,” his attention stops at a book. The book. “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” “But there's a slight snag.”

            “Isn't there always?” She says it in that old-time pretentious movie starlet way; a diva whose life is surrounded by expected disappointment.

            “There's these two cops...” Touching the book feels like caressing a bottle of poison. He doesn't know why he has it, nor why he keeps it, but he can't just throw it away, either.

            “Bensinger and Elliot? You're a hired killer, what's the problem?”

            “Fucks up the ecosystem if I do anything. I just need a favor.” He needs to figure out why he still had it. A worn and faded cover hugs the pulp inside still trapped in the musty smell of the used bookseller.

            “And what do I get in return?” Her fingertips tapped against the phone.

            He pauses. “A blank check for services.”

            “Anything I want?” A purr could almost be heard inside her voice.

            “Anything in reason.” Reason suggests he throw the book out. Reason suggests that when you get a snakebite you don't go back to pet the snake again.

            “Hmmm...” her voice curls.

            “I'll let your imagination do the talking.” He's used that one a million times.

            “What services do you need?” The idea becomes more attractive to her. Maybe brighter-colored yarn.

            He pulls the book back, rocking it on its spine. “Send some of your low-level guys to watch out for me. B and E get to me, it could be a while before you get anything, especially from me.”

            He hears smoke blow against the receiver. “I'll see what I can do.”

            “So will I.” He pushes a button and the call ends. Taking the book with his hand he turns the spine against the wall and pushes it back in, wedging it between Hemingway's “The Sun Also Rises,” and Stephen King's, “The Gunslinger.” Reason dictates that he has to purge the book from the collection but for the moment it stands against the crowd.