Silas sat at a picnic table with a quaint umbrella beside an aluminum carport and shoved his hot dog into his gaping maw. His dark eyes flickered along the line of patrons. The stainless steel stand was a regular fixture in front of the lumber yard on Sixth Street. Some people appreciated the wit of Pat, the proprietor. Magnets adhered to the metal sides of the trailer proclaiming, “We cheat the other guy and pass the savings on to you,” and “Best hot dogs in this parking lot.” There was even a plaster dachshund nestled in a hot dog bun with ketchup and mustard on top. Others came for the premium ingredients that Pat used or the friendly smile from a man who prided himself in offering a quick, tasty meal for less than a fiver. A few years ago, the city had even tried to make Pat pay a ridiculous fee on top of his business license by passing an ordinance. Their reasoning was that too many food carts and trucks were hurting the ambiance of the city. The outcry from Pat’s regulars and a local AM radio station just down the street put an end to that particular piece of legislation.
Anne watched Pat pull a bottle of mustard out of a cooler and draw two straight lines on her monster dog, followed by a zig-zag line of ketchup. He produced a pair of tongs and dished out onions, tomatoes, and neon green relish onto her monster dog.
“Celery salt, and pepper,” Pat asked, the hot dog resting in an aluminum foil embrace. A boom box played hard rock softly in the background.
Anne tilted her head and rolled her eyes at Pat. “Oh, Pat, you incorrigible tease, you know what I like.”
Pat grinned and dusted the spices on her hot dog before carefully folding the aluminum foil and placing the package neatly on the table in front of him.
Anne opened her coat and reached into her red clutch. She offered Pat a five-dollar note.
“Meal deal?” Pat asked.
Anne smiled and nodded.
Pat stepped around the corner, and the telltale sound of a cash register sounded over the boom box. He held up a pair of quarters, but Anne waved him off and lifted the door and rummaged around to find a can of soda. She examined a selection of chips and cookies behind a plastic sliding door, eventually selecting a bag of name-brand corn chips.
“How exactly do you know Joaquin?” Silas asked after Anne sat at the picnic table across from him.
Anne rolled her eyes and bit into the hot dog. The strong smell tickling her nose.
“Come on now. Sharing is caring.”
Anne turned to look at Silas. His lips quirked hinting at a smile. He already knew.
“I tried to recruit him a while back. He was too stubborn, then shit happened, and Joaquin disappeared.” She emphasized the last word by cracking the pull tab on her soda.
“Such an unsatisfactory story, Anne and I’ve heard that you are quite the storyteller. Or was he not that memorable of an acquaintance? Were you not his type?”
The joke made Anne grit her teeth, but Globe rang again saving her the effort to flip off Silas. She was ready to tell Globe to fuck off politely as well because she was doing all she could to locate Joaquin but his voice cut through her like a knife, quick and cold.
“Anne, sweetheart. Are you enjoying your playtime with Silas? Listen… I have some news that might cheer you up.” The pause in his voice was long, and Anne shifted in her seat. She could just catch his breathing from the other end of the line – fast, heavy like he’d been panting. He was furious and trying to steady himself. “Batiste called earlier spoiling my already shit day with news that some hateful SPD whore stole the Jensen case and passed it to Massey.” His laugh was brisk, raspy. “Now comes the fun part, are you ready? I told Batiste to deal with that and eliminate the little problem, but it turned out our dear detective had plans to take the file somewhere else, so naturally, I had Batiste follow up on that. Well, and this is the punch line dear, it turned out some young boy was running the old detective’s errands. And not just any ordinary boy. Can you guess who it was?”
Anne sighed. “I have no idea, Jacob. Who was it?”
“Think a little harder!” The shrill yell filled Anne’s ear, and she pulled the phone away for a moment. She could feel Silas watching her. He was not eating anymore.
“I can hear you are eager to tell me yourself, so spill it out,” she cooed at Globe.
“IT WAS JOAQUIN!” The laughing was not far from maniacal, but it was a forced one, and it did not entertain her or Globe who was splitting his lungs out of fury. Silas hovered above Anne eager to hear more.
“All along he has been safely under Frank Massey’s wing. How did we not think to look there? What do you say, Anne? You were acquainted with Massey were you not?”
“I don’t know. Too obvious?”
“Don’t be coy with me, Anne. I’m sending you the address where Joaquin went. Apparently there has been a fire and one of Batiste’s men barely made it out alive thanks to Joaquin. Sindi’s to thank for that. She managed to nearly burn Joaquin alive. Find him, would you? I’m sure I’ve narrowed his location down.”
“Do you want me to clean your other mess or will that be a PR, propaganda stunt too?”
The line went dead as soon as she said that and seconds later Silas’s phone buzzed. Anne tutted at that. Globe didn’t trust her completely. She found it equally amusing and annoying. Nonetheless, the call ruined her hot dog heaven.