I just wanted to go to bed. I was tired and the pain in my calf was more than usual. I planned to take a double whammy, over the counter pain killer combo, and try to sleep. That’s what I planned, but it wasn’t what happened. What happened was the knock on my door. I expected Sarah or Cheryl, maybe. I did not expect Gwen.
“Can we talk?” she asked inviting herself in.
“Gwen, I’m about to take some aspirin, and then some Tylenol and have one drink before I pass out cold. If you can get your talking done, while that is happening, go for it.” I said.
“I don’t understand you at all,” she informed me.
“Can you talk to me while I take a shower. I really feel like I need one,” I said.
“That’s what I mean. How can you just wash it away. Surely you have some feelings of shame?” she asked.
Actually I don’t feel shame ever. Whatever it is you think I should feel shame for is over, and I forgave myself. Now it’s time for me to do what I have to do again. But tell me Gwen, what is it that I should feel shame about?” I asked. “Speak loudly, I’m getting into the shower.”
She decided to wait until the shower was over. Having been in the military all those years, my showers were short. When the water was off and I was drying down, Gwen started up again.
“What you did tonight, don’t you regret that?” she asked.
“Gwen people pay for information all the time. CIs get paid, it’s the way the system works. Obviously, Barbara and Ned don’t need the chicken shit money I would have paid them, but they wanted to have an adventure. They probably watch porn, so that they can do those things with each other. I mean he is old and her body is not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, so whatever works for them is fine with me.
I have already had sex since the cruise, so for me it wasn’t from being overly horny. For me it was a case of thats what they wanted. I mean I have slept with two people for reasons not nearly as good. Mostly just because they expected it of me, and I wanted to please them.”
“Why in the world do you feel the need to please people by letting them use your body. I mean you don’t really seem to enjoy it,” she said.
“Of course I enjoy it. Do you really think, that because there is so little romance, it can’t be fulfilling? Well, you are wrong. Sex, for the sake of sex, can be very fulfilling. I just have to be in the right mood for it. The trick with Barbara is that I had a reason, but I could have said no, and made it stick. I am in control, she thought she was in control, I could tell. She had control of Ned for sure, but she didn’t have real control of me.
Then why would you agree to have sex with them? They were strangers.” she asked.
“We are back to that romance thing. I guess I just missed the lesson that said there had to be romance to enjoy sex,. I have sex for all kinds of reasons, most of which I don’t even understand. If the guy or girl stinks, I might say no. If I absolutely could not stand to wake up next to them the next morning, I might say no. If they have some dreaded disease, I would probably say no.
But, just because they are strangers, I don’t think that is a reason I would refuse anyone. Of course there is one thing I will not tolerate period,” I informed her.
“I can’t believe there is anything. So go on tell me what is it?” she asked.
“I would never do it with anyone I find boring,” I said with a laugh.
“Is that why you never hit on me. You find me boring?” she asked.
“No Gwen, you I find abrasive. I would not dismiss you out of hand, but there are so many others around that I might never get to you.” I didn’t tell her that she ranked just above a gang rape on my list of least likely things to try.
“Okay, then tell me this, why do men and women keep hitting on you. Nobody would ever think of asking me to have a threesome with them.” she said.
“For one thing, Barbara and New knew from the Net Bits that I had done it before. Sometimes it’s in the meaningless things we say and do that tips people off. Something in our demeanor tells them what we will or will not do.” I said. I paused to let that sink in, then I said. “I’m going to take those pills now and have that drink. I think this is too deep a subject for further conversation, as least for tonight.”
“Okay, would you mind if I stayed till you fall asleep?” she asked.
“Now see that is the kind of question that would make a man misread you. A man would think that meant you were horny and wanted to have sex.”
“What if that were true, what would you do?” she asked.
“Considering I just left a group sex scene, I think I would pass.” I said. she looked at me almost sadly.
“Besides that poor, poor pitiful me act won’t fly with me. I know that you have Lucas all pussy whipped. I never saw a grown man so whiny over a woman. Somehow he thinks being involved with this case will bring him into closer contact with you.” I said.
“I know, I should have the courage to break it off with him completely, but I’m a wimp. I keep wondering what is the right thing to do.” she said.
“Sweetie the right thing, is what is right for you. Not what he wants, or what I might want. Your decisions should be about you,” I admitted.
Gwen began to prattle so I drifted off to sleep. I jerked awake sometime later and she was gone. I hobbled off to bed glad to be alone.
When I awoke the next morning, I realized that I had over slept. I rushed through my morning chores, then went to breakfast at Helen’s Sit Down. I had a bagel with two kinds of cheese and a spicy egg. It was delicious and her potato fritters were to die for. I just wished that she used a better blend of coffee.
“So what are you going to do today?” Cheryl asked.
“I’m going to talk to some old girl friends for a client.” I didn’t want Cheryl to know too much, but she was acting strange.
“You are a little late today,” she said.
“Yes, I over slept. I guess I was more tired than I thought.” I was waiting for the other shoe to fall. She knew something. Maybe she knew about the threesome, but it seemed to be more than jealousy. Besides she was the one who was screwing around first. I still didn’t know who the new chick was. I refused to spy and I also think she was seeing her somewhere else.
“Lucas came in to pick up bags for Ed and himself,” she said. I knew right then that I was fucked. He must have let something slip.
“Oh that’s good, I thought they came in every morning,” I replied.
“Almost, but he usually doesn’t leave an envelop for you. Damn it Max you are into something and aren’t including me. That just pisses me off.” Cheryl said it angrily. She was more upset than she would have been if it were simple jealousy.
“You are going to be in, when the time is right. At the moment it’s just BS legwork. I don’t want you risking your job until I need you to do something I can’t do myself.”
“I have to hand it to you. You are probably the best liar I ever met.” she said.
“Think what you want, this is business. If your feelings get hurt, I’m sorry, but the business comes first. It’s how I survive out there. Besides this one is just a favor for someone.”
“I know all about it,. Lucas told me after I threated to kick his ass in front of everyone here,” she said and she was not laughing.
“If you know, then keep it quiet. I am working it now I can’t let it get out until it is ripe,” I said.
“Okay, but damn it I will be at your apartment tonight to hear all about this,” She said it very seriously.
“I can’t say what time I will be there. We are in operational mode. I have to follow the evidence. I might be home at five or it might be midnight.” I couldn’t see anyone wanting to talk to me at midnight, but I had to make a point to Cheryl.
The point was that I was in charge period. I didn’t live by anyone else schedule or their idea of how I should behave. It was my ass on the line, so I did it my way. I drove to the mall more than a little pissed at Lucas. If he didn’t know better than to bring people into the loop, he sure as hell should.
The two laps of the mall was a little easier that morning, even on the crutches, so I went another lap of the bottom level. That made it 1.5 miles on crutches. I felt like it was time to get rid of the crutches. The only way to avoid becoming dependent on them was to just throw them away and run home Forest.
I used the crutches to go into the drugstore near the apartments. Inside the drugstore I found an aluminum cane. It was adjustable so I bought it. I took the crutches to Goodwill and made a donation of them. I doubted that it would be worth my while to get a receipt for tax purposes, so I didn’t bother.
I hobbled into my place on just the cane, so I felt that I was making progress. I reheated a cup of my morning coffee in the microwave, then I sat down to read the contents of Luca’s envelope. Even without giving an old man a blow job, he came up with about 20% of the previous girlfriends of James Smiley.
I decided to start with the closest to me. Not the current one, she wouldn’t know anything until it was over, if she ever knew anything at all.
I found Martha at a place called Cut Above. Martha was a cosmetologist “Martha, my name is Maxine Stone. I am an investigator and I would like to ask you some questions about an old boyfriend.”
“Oh which one?” she asked. “There have been a few over the years.”
“Me too,” I said with a laugh. “The one I need to ask about would be James Smiley,”
“Oh James, sure we dated about five years ago for about six months, I guess. It was nice going out with a guy whose idea of an evening out wasn’t just drinking beer in some country and western bar.”
“Ah, then it was a pleasant experience dating James?” I asked.
“Yeah it was a fine experience,” she said.
“So what happened to end it?’ I saked.
“I have no idea. You know how it is sometimes, they just stop calling.”
“Do you have children?” I asked.
“Yes a son twenty now and a daughter who just turned 19, why?” she asked.
“Just curious that’s all it doesn’t mean a thing. How did the kids take it when James just stopped calling?” I asked.
“My son was fine, but my daughter seemed to be upset for a while. But it’s no big deal kids get that daddy thing, when a man comes into their lives. Especially at fourteen,” she suggested.
“Well that’s all there is to it, I do appreciate the help,” I said.
“So who is your client,” she asked.
“I have no idea, I am doing it for a lawyer. She never said who her client is.” I left the shop but not the parking lot. I got on the phone and called Lucas. Even though I was pissed at him, he would most likely be able to find Martha’s daughter.