It’s refreshing to be surprised every once and a while, she thought.
Anne dabbed her lips with a napkin. The steak stained her lips red, which was a welcome change from her red lipstick. She swallowed and took a long pull of the regional beer to wash it down. She let out a belch and feigned embarrassment.
Massey laughed. “You’re starting to fit right in here, Miss.”
Anne turned to Massey, a modest piece of steak impaled on her fork. “You know my name, Frank. Do I need to get rough with you?” She made a stabbing gesture with her fork and impaled steak.
“Sorry,” he replied and looked down at his own cleared plate. “Hazard of the job, I guess.”
Anne stuffed the fork in her mouth, and with her piece of steak causing her cheek to bulge, she continued. “And what is it you do, Frank Massey?”
Tony took that moment to interject himself. “Frank here’s the local lawman,” he said with his best southern drawl.
Anne raised her eyebrows, and Frank gave Tony a look only friends of indeterminate length could manage.
“I’m a detective with Metro P-D,” he replied. “And you, Anne Henderson?”
Anne swallowed, drank another mouthful of her beer and cleared her throat. “Acquisitions, mostly.”
“Acquisitions?” Frank asked before looking up to Tony who had suddenly busied himself with another patron who was working through his seventh cup of coffee.
“Yep,” she smiled. “Things, people or information. I acquire them all.” She looked directly into his eyes. “I always get what I want.”
Is she flirting with me? he thought. He gauged her to be the same age as his daughter, and he admitted to himself his perception of such things had gotten rusty from lack of use. “And what is it you want, Anne?” he coughed.
Anne smiled again. This time it wasn’t a smile of benevolence, but the smile of a predator. “I told you, information.” She looked over her shoulder to the coffee patron. “For example,” she brought an intense gaze to bear on the Detective. “How about you tell me where Joaquin is?”
* * *
Joaquin hid behind a tree. He kept a small distance away from Kristof. What the hell is this guy doing, he thought as he watched Kristof examine moss on a tree. Joaquin shivered and rubbed his arms. There wasn’t any snow on the ground, but it was still cold enough to see his breath.
Joaquin was concerned that Kristof would see him and run away faster than he could keep up. Traipsing through the woods was not in his skillset. Born and raised in a city that contrary to beliefs held by those three thousand miles away, Seattle was the city that never slept.
Kristof, after appearing to have satisfied whatever curiosity the moss held, had moved on to another item of fascination. Joaquin rolled his eyes and stepped squarely on a branch. The snap echoed off the canopy, and the forest suddenly became quiet.
Joaquin froze, fearing he would be noticed. Kristof seemed unfazed by the sudden change in his environment, his focus on a flowering plant. This dude’s in his own little world, Joaquin thought as the sounds of the forest slowly returned.
* * *
“I told you, buddy, I don’t know anything about Kristof.”
Globe nodded, Jules’ fear of him was genuine. “I believe you, Jules.”
Jules cringed. “You’re not gonna kill me are you?”
Globe leaned forward. “I don’t know, Jules. Do I need to kill you?”
“No, buddy.” The words fell out of Jules’ mouth, as if talking would somehow make his previous statement go away. “I didn’t see anything. I don’t know anything. In fact, buddy, I think this is all a dream.” Jules licked his lips. “Maybe one of those blackout things from drinkin’ too much.”
Globe nodded. “Perhaps,” he said and reached into his overcoat.
“Aww, man…” Jules whimpered.
Globe pulled a cellular telephone out of his overcoat. After a moment, he replied to someone on the other end of the line. “I want satellite reconnaissance over British Columbia.”
After listening, he continued. “Boundary road to the One. East to Cultus Lake.”
More listening, followed by, “let me know.”
Globe looked to a visibly relieved Jules. “Looks like I have some time on my hands, lets spend it talking about Kristof and his mysterious tail.”
* * *
“So, bus sixteen into Canada?”
“What, no. I uh…” Massey stammered. He felt distracted, perhaps out of sorts. He looked at the clock behind the bar – an hour had elapsed and he had a hard time remembering the passage of time. It was as if he was waking from being frozen in a soupy fog.
Anne gathered her petticoat and stood to leave. “Thank you for your time, Detective.”
“Wait a minute.” He felt his hackles raise. Massey stood and faced Anne. “What the hell’s goin’ on here?”
Anne smiled the same predatory smile from before. “It’s been a lovely evening, Frank, let’s not ruin it by a lengthy goodbye.” Anne buttoned up her petticoat and brushed away an errant peanut shell.
“Hold it right there,” Massey said in a raised voice and reached for his service weapon.
“Oh, Frank,” she said. “You already told me you saw my handiwork at the warehouse.” She pulled a one-hundred dollar note from her purse and laid it on the bar. “Poor Joaquin saw what I’m capable of.” She walked toward the coffee patron. “Let’s go,” she said and he followed her to the door.
“I said, ‘don’t move.'”
She turned to the coffee patron. “Jerry, let’s be on our way.” She turned to face Massey. “Jerry, we were never here.”
Jerry nodded and covered his eyes with his hands. Massey sat back down at the bar. “Another beer, Tony,” he said and tapped the counter with his empty glass.