W. Slammer, Private Eye
January 16, 2013
"No one will recognize me behind these Foster Grants® ... "
The sound of a car door slamming, followed by an engine revving, tires spinning on asphalt left little doubt in my mind that the shooter was leaving the scene. I wasn’t about to stick my head out the window to see if I could get the license plate number. I glance at Marlene rich dame who’s still sitting at the other side of my desk to make sure she was still with us. Cool cookie, this one – only a raised eyebrow.
“You all right, Mr. Slammer? Don’t cut yourself on all that broken glass. I hope you take me seriously. Now you know why I’m carrying a gun. Someone is trying to keep me from getting back my stolen property. If they’d wanted me dead, or you, for that matter, wouldn’t they have just walked in through that door and shot both of us?”
See what I’m getting at? That makes sense. This dame is cool. I get up off the floor. “I wasn’t hit. Just ducked to keep my head out of the line of fire. Who knows – they could-a been in the building across the street.” I made sure I wasn’t covered in broken glass before I sat again at my desk. “No sense callin’ the cops. Whoever took that shot is long gone.” I look down at my watch – but like the clock on the wall, I forgot I wasn’t wearing one. I look the dame square in the eye. “It’s gettin’ late. You got that will with you? I wanna read it.”
“It’s at home in a safe spot – and anyway, I can always get a copy from father’s attorney if I need one.”
“You do that,” I say, pulling my collar higher. The building’s old steam boiler can’t override the cold night air pouring through the broken window like cold night air. Let’s see … where was I? I straighten my hat. Dawn was breaking like broken glass but the flashing neon from across the street still gave the room a funeral parlor pallor.
“We should get going if we’re going to,” I say, thinking about my landlady. She’ll probably add the busted window damage to my two-month late rent, but I leave a message for her anyway. I scribble the note, then go to door and tape it to the glass.
I stop for a second, holding the open door for Marlene Nelson Chamberlain. “Are you driving? Or did you take a cab? I wanna see that will. There may be somethin’ here I’m missin’,”
“My car is in the building garage across the street. No garage in this building. Are you driving?”
“I am. I’ll follow you, but give me your address just in case … “ I didn’t want to be a passenger in her car right now. It must have ‘shoot me’ written all over it.
We take the stairs. Three flights always leave me thinking that I gotta find an office in a building with an elevator. And someplace to get breakfast.
Across the street, we enter the parking garage – two levels. My car is in the basement. Hers is on the street level only a couple of spaces in. She’s driving a four door Lincoln Town Car with black-out windows.
“Father’s,” she says, using a key remote to unlock the doors. “What are you driving?”
“A fifty-nine-year-old British roadster. It’s fast enough to keep up with you, but don’t try to lose me. I’ll stay on your tail, but a little way back. We don’t wanna make no one suspicious.” She got in, shut and locked the doors and started the engine. It wasn’t stock. Her father must have paid a few big ones to have someone tune his ride. I was guessing the big sedan had also been armored.
I took the elevator down to basement parking and climbed into my Austin Healey. Thankfully, it started on the first push of the starter button. I changed hats to one that would stay on my head even at high speeds. I check myself in the rearview mirror. Lookin’ good, I think. Wonder if the dame has any food at her place.
Going through the gears, the well-tuned four cylinder motor purring like a big cat, I follow the black sedan into the glare of early morning sunrise and slip on my favorite dark glasses. Being incognito has its bennies when someone’s gunning for you. Then I add, out loud, “No one will recognize me in my Foster Grants®.”