The morning after Martin Left, I drove my cruiser to Ed’s old office first thing. It was mildly cold, but even so I rolled Gunny’s bike into the parking lot. There I gassed up the bike and gave it a few tugs. I was happy to see that it started easily.
Lucas arrived while the bike warmed up. “You going for a ride?” he asked surprised.
“I’m thinking I will ride it over to the motel. That is if I can get you to drive my cruiser over.” I suggested.
“If you don’t feel you need me to follow you, how about I have a cup of coffee first, then bring it over.” Lucas suggested.
“Actually I think that would be a good idea. By the way what do you hear from Gwen?” I didn’t really care, it was just being polite.
“The last I heard she and Mike were working on some kind of real TV deal.” he admitted.
“Well, is she coming back down here or are you going to move up there?” I asked.
“We don’t know yet. It looks like for the next five years I am going to stay here.” He didn’t sound angry or even irritated.
“That’s up to you Lucas. You know all that wasn’t personal?” I said.
“I know, but it seems like you did it to spite Gwen.” he said.
“Well we are just to have to disagree on that. Thanks for bringing the cruiser over,” I said handing him the single key to the ignition.
Even though I had worn the full ski hood and neck scarf, it was cold riding the bike the two miles. It was also a definite wake up experience. There is no way that anyone could have that early morning groggy feeling after a ride like that.
I parked the bike in the store room. I had left the can with the extra gas behind. Since Lucas still had his bike there, he could make use of it. I parked the bike as far away from the boiler as possible. If a flame from the boiler reached across the six foot space between them, the gas in the bike would be the least of my worries.
I had stopped at Hardee’s on the way home for a breakfast biscuit. Since I made perfectly acceptable coffee, I sat at the old registration desk with my Mr Coffee and the paper bag. I finished the biscuit before Lucas arrived.
I had the morning news on my 15“ screen TV. The TV wasn’t any larger than my computer monitor. When I had people in my place, it wasn’t to watch TV, I can assure you.
“I got your car,” Lucas said from the door.
“Come on in, you haven’t seen the place since Archer’s men finished up.” I suggested.
Lucas took the quick tour then said, “They really did do a nice job on this old place. If I were sure Gwen wouldn’t be coming back, I would rent one.”
“And if I were sure Gwen wasn’t coming back, I would let you.” There was no sense pretending. He knew that I would never rent to him as long as Gwen was in the picture.
For the next three days I did absolutely nothing. Sure I ate, I used the toilet, and I watched TV. I even watched a TV shows the next day on the computer now and then, but I did nothing constructive or exciting. I was a drone for three days and loved it. I ran on auto pilot every day, so I accomplished nothing. It didn’t bother me at all.
The cell phone rang after almost a week of doing nothing. If I counted from the days before I bumped into Martin. “Hey Slut,” Jen said.
“My, my shyster what bee crawled into you panties?” I asked.
“He said to just tell you it was Martin from the Cop Out.” she said.
“Oh and from that you deduced that I am a slut?” I asked.
“Wouldn’t you?” she asked.
“I guess I would at that. So what is it that Martin wants with lil ole me?” I asked.
“Someone down there in the North Carolina Swamp wants to rent two of your apartments, if they can work out a deal for your services as well.”
“Ah, you know what they want to do there don’t you?” I asked.
“My guess is that it’s not water boarding.” she said laughing at me.
“They want me to run a safe house for them. I don’t want to play spook.” I said.
“Well as far as I know it’s one of the few things you haven’t done.” Jen suggested.
“It’s all too complicated to be honest. It’s much easier to just rent to firemen and the like.” I admitted.
“So how about the other? They also want to talk to you about being a body guard.” Jen was pressuring me to take the work. I didn’t need the money, so I didn’t understand.
“Actually Jen the best I can tell they want me on the payroll in some capacity. I really don’t want to go on their payroll. Something will come along to keep me out of trouble.” I admitted.
“Well be careful how you say no. These might not be the best people to piss off,” she suggested.
“I expect that I already have, but I’ll try to play nice mommy.” I laughed when i said it.
“You need someone to keep your head out of your ass,” Jen said. “I refuse to see you self destruct.”
“Then why do you keep pushing me into these jobs that get me shot at.” I asked.
“Because I’m too chicken shit to do it myself and it is just so exciting to be part of. Part of it from a far, far distance,” she admitted.
“Too bad Vlad didn’t hang around, he would have been perfect for you.” I suggested.
“Yes he would,” Jen agreed. “So I should tell Martin to find another home?”
“Yes, I think that would be a good idea. Also that I’m not looking for steady employment.”
Just as soon as I hung up, I began working on the Advertisement for the local papers. I also considered Tryon as a local paper. So I found the on line classified listing sites for both. It took only a few minutes to get the listing completed.
I stopped in the Cop Out that same night. I found Blevins holding court as he usually did. He seemed to be occupied with a couple of young patrolmen. When I came in he made a bit production of introducing them to me. I didn’t sit at this table because it was full of cops. It really didn’t want to do the cop story thing that night.
Instead I saw Kate in a corner. It looked a though she was trying not to be seen by me. I hoped that she wasn’t going to hold a grudge, just because we screwed the same guy. I had no idea why that should be an issue for either of us. Martin was a dog, he sure as hell wasn’t in my future plans. If he had been in Kate’s, I had a feeling Martin told her about me to get himself out of them.
I made the first move, since she might not have felt comfortable making it. There was no real reason for her to be uncomfortable. I walked back to the table and asked, “Is this seat taken?”
“No,” Kate said. There were a few awkward moments before she said. “I knew that it might be difficult the first time we met after Martin. I hope you aren’t holding any hard feelings.”
“Not in the least. To be honest I was afraid you might be.” I admitted.
“I felt a little awkward at first, but now I know he is a dirt bag and not worth my time,” she said.
“Good for you, I found him good in bed but lots of dirt bags are good in bed.” I suggested.
“To be honest, he was really quite adept at oral sex,” Kate said.
“Yes he was rather good at it. It seems as though he had a lot of practice eating out women somewhere.” I suggested.
‘Yes, and I do love that sensation.” Kate said then looked at me and started to speak.
I held up my hand. “I know hon, you already explained.”
“Good, but you know nothing is carved in stone,” She said in what appeared to be a flirty way.
“Well someday we might just have to explore that possibility,” I suggested.
“Someday,” she said in agreement. “But tonight I am meeting one to the EMTs. He works for the county.”
“Be careful a lot of those guys are married.” I warned her.
“So are the firemen and the cops. I think in this place we all just look the other way.” she said.
“That’s fine as long as you know what the score really is.” I said.
I began to spread the word about the apartments after I left Kate’s table. I left her table, when the EMT arrived. After that I danced with some of the men and chatted with some of the women. I gave several of them my number. I had always kept it a big secret, but since I was going more or less straight, I needed to be available by phone.
I went home alone and didn’t mind a bit, until I got into the cold bed. The cold sheets were always a shock to me. I fell asleep wondering when I would get my first call about the apartments.
That call came while I was in the driver thru line at Hardee’s the the next morning. “Hi are you Maxine Stone?” the voice asked.
“Yes I’m Maxine,” I said.
“Detective Blevins said I should give you a call. I’m new to the Aster Police department and I need a place to live,” he informed me.
“What’s your name and where are you living now?” I asked.
“My name is Jeffery Tate. I just got out of the Army two months ago. I have been living with my wife Ruth’s mom and dad while I finished up the paperwork and orientation training.”
“I knew that they didn’t have rookie schools any more. How did you avoid the criminal justice classes at the community college.” I asked.
“I was an MP in the Army. They took that in lieu of school. I went on right away, but I have been doing civilian law cram courses until I could pass their test. Now that it’s done I’m looking for a place for my wife and me to live. Belvins said I should take a look at your place,”
“Jeff, Blevins has never seen the place. It is really small but if you and Ruth want to see it come over. I live in Unit 3 so just knock on the door.”
“I’m off today can we come now?” he asked.
“Sure, I’ll be glad to show you around.”
It took them about an hour to make it to the apartment building. Jeff turned out to be a tall thin attractive black man. Ruth however was a pure trashy blond women. She was also a few years older than Jeff. She didn’t look like a junkie or anything, she just looked trashy. There is just no other word that describes her as well.
When Ruth badmouthed the apartment as being too small, I agreed completely and rushed them out the door. At the door to my place Jeff said, “You sure ended that tour in a hurry.”
“Well Jeff, all the units are alike. Your wife thinks that they are too small, the aren’t going to get any larger.”
“Are you sure it’s not because we are interracial?” he asked.
“I don’t think so, but how would anyone ever know their real motives. Ruth would never be happy here, but if you feel otherwise, we can discuss it again after you two have talked.”
“Fair enough,” he said to me on his way to the gate.