W. Slammer, Private Eye
January 26, 2013
Fresh air in my hair reminds me that I’m hungry. Using my new hoof-free phone I call Michael, my favorite ‘open 24 hours a day’ pizza spinner. I know he works the morning shift. I’m a regular.
“Michael – Slammer here – how about a couple of Margarita toasty thin crusts with artichoke hearts and additional cheese? I’m about ten minutes away. Let’s make this a quick curb-stop pick-up. As much as I’d like to come in and sit at the counter, I’m working and actually getting paid to. Can you make this happen? Box and bag them and have someone waiting for me to pull up in front. You can? You’re da man!”
The Chamberlain dame is driving slowly. She’s gotta have me in her rear views. I pull up along side – she opens a dark-tinted window.
“Follow me. I’m stopping to pick up something to eat.”
She drops in behind and stays back a few hundred yards. I don’t see any suspicious cars tailing us, but my eyes keep scanning for trouble. It’s my professional training.
I don’t need the Chamberlain address. Every kid in town knows that gated mansion in the cul-de-sac out at the end of Elm. Money. Lots of it. And I was gonna be getting some.
A skinny teen with black pompadour hair and wearing a still white apron is holding a big bag and standing at the curb outside Perticano’s. I pull over and hand him a couple of Jacksons.
“Keep the change - tell Michael ‘thanks’. I’ll stop in soon.”
Kid hands me the bag, slips the bills in his pocket and I’m already pulling away from the curb. Couldn’t have taken a minute. I glance in the rear view. She’s driving past. I hang back and let her get a good lead on me while I open one of the pizza boxes. My stomach is complaining about being empty. It’s hot, but I tear a piece of pizza and juggle it with one hoof to keep from burning myself with melted cheese. The aroma of Mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano make me salivate before I can get my first bite.
That’s all I get. A dark speeding SUV comes wheeling around the corner a block ahead and speeds past the Chamberlain limo on the driver’s side. When I was in the paring garage, I remember thinking that the black Lincoln probably had a target painted on it somewhere when the sound of an automatic weapon echoes in the early morning street.
My guess was right. The limo must be armored, and Marlene, by the way she handles the big car, must have taken a defensive driving course. She makes a perfect U turn at 35mph and heads straight toward me. The SUV speeds on. Even before coming to a stop, I’d called 911 and given the operator the SUV license number. Marlene pulls up along side. No holes in the Lincoln – no broken windows.
The tinted window rolls down. Still looking like a movie star just out of her dressing room, she says, “I don’t think that was my brother. He’s hired someone to get me out of his way.”
“You okay? You sure know how to handle that thing.”
“I’m fine. So … .” she raises an eyebrow, “shall we try to get home in one piece?”
What a cool cookie.
I take another bite of pizza. “You hungry?”
She shakes her head and smiles. She’s pretty.
“I’ll wait until we get home. Not safe to drive and eat at the same time.”
My stomach is unwilling to take that advice.