Since it was early, I drove to what used to be my office. I supposed that I would be forced to think of it as Lucas’s office from that time forward. I saw Ed’s big sedan and Lucas’s Hyundai in the parking lot. Since the van was gone, I was guessing that Luke drove his car to the office, then used the van to make the deliveries. It made sense, since the van had the delivery signs.
Once I opened the door, I realized how wrong I had been. Gwen sat at my old desk reading a magazine. Ed had his feet up. He appeared to be sleeping. I entered very quietly. I probably would have left, if Gwen hadn’t seen me when I opened the door.
“Is Luke out working,” I asked.
“Yes he said he would be back about three. That’s a few hours from now, can I help you.” Gwen asked.
“I needed Lucas to look something up for me on the net. I’ll have him do it tomorrow. Just have him call me later,” I suggested.
“You know I’m a pretty good researcher. It is one of the many things I did for PBS.”
“I need the urls of anything about this guy, Vladimir Blostovick.” What can you do for me.”
“Is he Russian?”
“Moscow police department or whatever they call it there.”
“I’ll email you all the sites that mention him,” Gwen suggested.
“Fair enough,” I replied.
“How should I bill it,” she asked. When she saw my look of surprise, she added. “You know, who should I bill for my time.”
“Oh exactly what are you planning to charge me per hour?”
“For research I think $50 an hour is fair, don’t you.”
“I’ll tell you what, don’t bother yourself, but do explain to Lucas that we haven’t signed any contracts yet. This is still my company until we do. I won’t be paying you for research now or ever.”
“Oh God, I didn’t mean to piss you off,” Gwen said.
“Sure you did honey, you just didn’t think it through. Tell Lucas, I don’t go back on my word, but he will not see me in this office again. If I want to pay for research, I will go to a service company, not a friend.” I turned and headed for the door. Yes I was pissed.
“Don’t forget to tell Lucas,” I said angrily as I headed for the door.
“If she does, I won’t,” Ed said from his desk. Our loud voices must have awakened him. “If you don’t come back, I’m going to sell all your crap from the vault.” Ed said that to remind me I had things to get, and to try to pour some water on the fire. It was too little too late.
“I’ll be back for my stuff, when no one else is here,” I replied sharply. “Give me a week before you change the locks.”
“Won’t be no changing of Locks. I still own this place.” Ed shouted just before the door closed. I sure would have enjoyed hearing the conversation that would take place between Ed and Lucas. Not to mention between Lucas and Gwen. Did I want to cancel the sale and look for another buyer, you bet your ass I did. Would I? no.
Even with all the drama I still needed to know about Vlad. I called Blevins. “Okay what do you know about Vlad?” I asked when he picked up his cell.
“Not much, the FBI vetted him. If there is anything worth knowing, they know it. I shared a room with him at the compound. He seems to be a nice enough guy, and all business. That’s all I can tell you.”
“Come on Blevins, I need to know what kind of history he was with the Russian Mob.”
“Why?” he asked.
“This is one time, you don’t need or want to know.” I informed him.
“I know he hates them, or at least he says he does.” Blevins answered. “You might try your old buddy Anya. She probably has access to his file.”
“Give me her number, I know you have it.” I demanded. Blevins read off a bunch of numbers and I copied them down in my little investigator’s notebook.
I called the bitch, and after a few almost pleasantries, I got her talking. “I don’t have it in my hand, but I have read his file,” Anya informed me. “Why do you need to know?”
“He has asked me out on a date. I want to know whether he has a wife and five kids back home or not. It wouldn’t hurt to know, if the Russian I shot was his best buddy, back home.” I suggested.
“Strange coincidence there, or maybe it isn’t a coincidence at all.” Any said.
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Okay try to follow along. Your boyfriend Vladamir is a Moscow cop. They say he was one who worked on the organized crime investigation. He got a little too close, so they threaten him. He didn’t stop, so they kill his wife. Then they let him know that his daughter would be next. He transfered off the case, but they still kill his daughter, because he refuses to give them information about the investigation. He claims that to have done so would have gotten several undercover cops killed.”
So Vladamir went back to work on the case. He had nothing to lose by that time. The mob shipped the killers to the states to prevent them from talking. Vlad had no idea where they went. At least not until you shot one of them in the face. All the publicity caused the FBI to come in and form the joint task force. The Russians offer up an expert. That expert just happened to be Vladimir”
“Vlad of course?” I agreed
“He came over and worked his ass off. He helped us more than any other asset. The man knows the mob guys inside out. It was personal of course, but since we weren‘t in the field, nobody paid much attention.”
“So, he just has a thank you dinner in mind. I can do that.” I commented to ease her mind.
“Be careful Maxine. Vladamir is as much a loose cannon, as you are.” Anya said.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” I said it into the phone, then stepped from the parking lot into the cruiser. From my old office I headed to the sign painter’s shop.
I gave Vlad and his project a lot of thought, while the sign man ripped the signage from my cruiser. Then he wiped it down to remove all the glue residue. While he was at it, he reinstalled my rear seat. It was just a matter of positioning it and putting a couple of bolts back. I had kept them so there was nothing to it really. I just wasn’t up to the struggle necessary to reposition the seat. I left with the signs, and fifty bucks gone. It was worth it. After my encounter with Gwen, I wanted nothing more to do with my old company.
I arrive home at 2PM, more or less. The cat came limping from the woods. He appeared to move a little faster, even though he still limped noticeably. “So, how did you spend your morning?” I asked. He didn’t answer, so I just went on as if he had. “Me, I got and offer to be bait for a killer. No I don’t know, if I’m going to do it or not. Yes I know Davenport is our number one priority, I won’t be forgetting that.”
I opened the door to invite the cat inside. He chose to turn his nose up at me and walk away. Someday, I thought as I walked into the house and shut the door. I sat at my desk in front of the computer to try to think things through.
So if the FBI had vetted Vlad and found him genuine, I supposed that should be good enough for me. It wasn’t of course, but it was a start. I tried to be logical with the computer thing, but I knew that I was out of my league.
So I tried thinking of it as I would, if there were no computer. Where would I look for verification of Vlad’s story, if he had been the one to tell me instead of Anya.
“A story like that should have made the papers. At least parts of it. He was a Moscow cop, so the Moscow paper.” I checked Google and got the name of the Moscow Times. It was the only English language newspaper in Moscow.
I spent the next hour entering the names of Vlad, Ivan, and Anatol into the search block. Sure as hell there were stories about all of them. The connection was never made, but it did tell me that Vlad was a cop like he said. Then told me that his wife and daughter were murdered at different times. The stories also told me that Anatol and Ivan were brothers and suspects in mob activities.
In other words I was able to verify Anya’s story for myself. Hell, I was proud of myself for figuring it out. Of course Lucas could probably break into the Moscow police files to get Vlad’s current status. I wasn’t sure what his official status was at that moment. I did know that I didn’t really give a crap. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, I thought. I had a feeling that Vlad felt the same. I gave a lot of thought to calling Vlad, since we needed to talk, but I just didn’t feel up to that kind of conversation just yet. I knew I should get that over with, but a conversation with Vlad was not what I needed at that moment. I needed to have, if not a great sexual encounter, at least a good one. Nothing heavy, just a chance to touch someone, and have them touch me.
I figured my best bet was the Cop Out. I took another shower before I headed out to dinner. After dinner the Cop Out would be on my agenda. I felt pretty good about it as I locked the cabin door. I had checked the cameras, so I felt confident that the Cat and I were alone, in spite of Vlad knowing where the cabin was located. I made a mental note to have the cruiser scanned for the gps locator chip. I also made a note to change my cell phone as well, I knew that it was the most likely source of the trace. It was time to get off the grid again.
Vlad showed up at the pizza and pasta pit. “So have you finished vetting me?” he asked.
“Are you stalking me?” I asked. “Not that I would mind all that much. You are kind of cute in that faggy European way.”
He burst into laughter then said, “No, I’m not stalking you. I needed to eat and I checked your location and decided to join you.”
“You could have just called to ask,” I informed him.
“Yes, but I get fewer rejections, if I just show up.” Vlad said.
“I can’t imagine anyone rejecting you. There is something so sexy about a stalker.” I said it smiling. “If you stay, you are going to have to pick up the check.”
“Fair enough, how much could one of these awful pizza things cost?” he asked.
“Well mine is going to be about five bucks, but the two I am taking to the Cop Out will run your bill up to about twenty bucks. That is, if you don’t eat.”
“Well I think I can handle that but I might need a loan, if we are going to drink afterward. I’m on unpaid leave.”
“Save that till tomorrow. We can hash all of the details out tomorrow. I mean all of them, so no shop talk tonight.” I said sternly.
“No shop talk,” he agreed.
As I munched on pizza he asked, “So you ever been married?”
“Three times, two divorces one dead in Iraq.” I replied.
“Sorry I asked, and of course for your loss,” he said woodenly.
“It’s been a while,” I admitted.
“I heard you were in Afghanistan?” He made it a question.
“Yes, very memorable.” I admitted.
“I was there in the 80‘s,” he said.
“Seems we never learn from our own mistakes, or anyone else’s either.” I suggested.
“There is a rumor that when the war first started, your George Bush called Putin to ask about Afghanistan. Putin said, “The president who sends troops there will be a broken man, before the Taliban is broken.”
“So he fought the war he could win, and left Afghanistan for the new kid on the block.” I suggested.
“That’s how we see it to,” he replied.
“So, are you going to tag along to the Cop Out?’ I asked after we had finished the plain cheese pizza.
“As you say here, if I’m paying for the pizza, you bet your butt,” he said.
“Actually we say ass.” he looked confused. “I say, you can bet your ass, not butt.”
“Oh, then you can bet your pretty ass,” he said it with a smile.
I figured he was straight arrow, but something was wrong. His English was far too good.
We took two pizzas with everything on them to the Cop Out. Blevins was glad to see Vlad, Obviously they had not only shared a room at the guarded compound where they worked, but were friends as well. Vlad and Blevins both refused to dance with me, so I danced with a couple of EMTs. I could feel their hard cocks against my belly and it had the usual effect on me. I began searching for someone gentle to take me home and to bed.
It was getting late when I finished the dance with the Married EMT and his hard cock. Someone tapped me on the shoulder. “Remember me?” the voice said as I turned to him.
“It’s dark in here, is that you Eddie?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said putting his arms around me to force me to dance again.