I slept late the next morning. I had been up very late the night before and it wasn’t much fun. Sure Jen, Ruth, and James were good company, but pancakes wasn’t what I had planned to be doing at 3AM.
Anyway it was noon before I got my ass out of bed and dressed. It was 2PM by the time I made it to the West End Bike Shop. There was a new manager every time I went in. I never had to tell the manager who I was, they always seemed to know.
“Ms Stone, what can we do for you today?” The current manager asked. He was a blond kid, but he didn’t act blond. He was also slightly past college age, but not a lot. He did have a bike rider’s body. That was a body not quite as skinny as a runner’s body.
“I think the motor on my bike is gone. It seized yesterday,” I explained.
He rolled the bike through the showroom and into the back workroom. “Lucille,” he said to the older chubby lady who was cleaning, what was obviously, a donated bike. “Would you watch the front. while I take a look at Ms Stone’s bike?”
“Sure Bobby,” the older lady said as she headed to the front of the shop.
After she had gone Bobby tried to turn the motor. “Yeah it’s seized. Most likely it threw the rod or melted the bearings.” He paused to let that sink in on me. “So what do you want to do with it.”
“Bobby, I know you are used to people who need to know all the details, but I don’t really. What do we do to make the bike work again. So that is all I need to know.”
“Easiest and fastest would be a new motor. I have a couple to chose from.” he said. I made a windup motion with my hand so he went on. “So let’s pick one out.
“Let’s do it,” I said.
“I don’t have the 33cc you have now. The motors are kind of catch as catch can for this design.” he explained.
“Too much information Bobby, what do you have. This is like picking a coffin,” I said without any particular emotion.”
“Huh?” he said.
“Never mind, so what you got that you can just bolt on and let me ride out?” I asked.
“Nothing really, but I can fabricate the mount by noon tomorrow for any of them.” He said.
“So what are my choices?” I asked. I was really getting tired of prompting him.
“Yours was 33cc I have a 40cc and a 65cc either would be fine as a replacement. You might get a little more speed with the 65cc since I could put a larger roller on it.” he said.
“That might be nice when I am in traffic.” I admitted.
“It wouldn’t me much maybe five to eight more miles an hour,” Blondie suggested.
“Okay go with the big one. Tomorrow at noon you said?”
“Yes noon tomorrow,” he replied.
It was after 3PM when I answered my phone. I was still in the bike shop but ready to leave. “Good timing Jen, I’m ready to get back out into the world. So what’s up?” I had a feeling I knew already.
“Looks like we are going to have some new residents here in good old Aster,” she said cheerfully.
“So which one of them are you screwing?” I asked.
“You know I don’t do women, unless somebody puts me up to it and nobody did. I didn’t screw James, but I did screw a friend of a friend.” she admitted.
“So you are going to take care of the paperwork and now you have told me to look out for them, what else is there?”
“Julie just got her driver’s license and is going to work for Lucas,” she said. By the time she dropped that bomb on me I was sitting outside the bike shop in my cruiser. It was the maroon one because it was the only one with a bike rack.
“All this happened since 2AM last night?” I asked.
“Well she just had to take the test for the license, she already knew how to drive. Jack agreed to that after he talked to James last night.” Jen said.
“No shit,” I replied.
“Yeah, James does have a way with words. I called Lucas since he is always looking for someone to deliver court papers.” Jen informed me. “I had her the job before she got home from the DMV. You know as long as she is half assed dependable Lucas will keep her.”
“Yeah, I’m sure he will. I thought James had her set up for a part time job and going to the community college?”
“Now she has a choice,” Jen said all proud of herself.
“When you get involved, you really do get involved,” I said.
“I am not going to lose Helen as a caterer or friend. So yeah I’ll get the little slut a job.” she said. “So what are you doing for dinner tonight?”
“I’m not going to dinner with the loving couple from Swamp Thing.” I said.
“But they do so love you,” she said.
“Yeah, I noticed that last night when I was alone in the car with James. Actually I think I’ll get a pizza later and take it to the Cop Out.” I said.
“Good plan, I think we will join you,” she said.
“Jennifer you wouldn’t dare?” it was a question.
“Of course I would, and you better be there at nine.” she said.
“What if I’m not?” I asked.
“Have you forgotten I have access to all your money. I will have you bankrupt by morning if you force me to have dinner with Bob and the couple from the Swamp Thing.” Jennifer might have been kidding about robbing me, but she had convinced me she needed help.
I left the bike shop with Jennifer and the couple from Swamp Thing on my mind. I sure as hell hoped that they got their business done soon, so that Jennifer would stop pestering me about them. I mean they were nice enough, but I was pretty sure they could fend for themselves. After all she was most likely some kind of spook and he was most likely swamp things answer to a gun thug.
The phone played Mag 7 in that crappy canned music kind of way. “Hello,” I said to the unknown caller.
“Maxine, I wanted to see how the emergency worked out last night,” It was Eddie’s voice that came from the phone.
“We found her alive and well, damn kids,” I said with a laugh.
“So how about we try to finish what we started last night,” he suggested.
“I have kind of got plans tonight, I’m sorry my friend Jennifer called and wants me to have dinner with her and the couple that looked at your dad’s farm.”
“They celebrating already,” he said with a laugh. “I just called them a minute ago.”
“So your dad is going to sell to them?” I asked.
“Yeah, Seemed like a pretty good deal.”
There goes the neighborhood, I thought. “Well I’m glad it worked out for everyone,” I meant it even though I could have done without the competition. Not that we were in the same business or anything.
“So how about tomorrow night,” Eddie asked.
“Tell you what I will meet you at Cowboys. but this isn’t a date or any guarantee you will get laid,” I said.
“Don’t need no date, just need to get laid,” he said.
“That’s what I was talking about.” I agreed.
I tried to watch the news online, but people kept calling me. I turned down half a dozen jobs just because I wasn’t ready to go chasing all over the country again. I gave up on the news because I couldn’t concentrate. Instead I moved on to one of those tv on demand sites.
I caught up on a TV Cop drama, which I hadn’t seen at all during it’s new season, which was also half over. I watched three episodes back to back, then dragged my ass into the shower. The shower was hot as hell. I could never get enough hot water. I stood under the flow and just let it happen. The chill of the night air was going to be a shock when I went out after that shower. As I expected there was a chill and my wet hair did not help me cope with it.
The pizza restaurant was all take out. The deal was call five minutes in advance and your pizza would be ready. It was a good advertising slogan but it didn’t really work that way. I called five minutes before I arrived, but I still had to wait ten more minutes. Since I was in no hurry, I didn’t complain. Besides I knew better than to expect my pizza to be ready on time.
It was ten till nine when I dumped the pizza boxes on the table by the postage sized dance floor. I looked up to see Blevins at a table with three other cops. One of them was a black female. She might have been a nurse, I suppose, but something about the way she held herself screamed, bad ass cop.
“I heard you have been busy,” I said to Blevins as I walked up to his table.
“Yeah, fucking house cleaning is a bitch,” he said.
“Yeah, I’m sorry about that,” I said.
“You and your crew could have done it, but there would have been bodies everywhere,” the woman said.
“Not me lady, everybody knows I’m a peaceful wimp,” I said to Blevins’ new lady cop friend. “So Blevins you got anything for me.”
“Just that everything is peaceful around here. Seems we survive another international incident,’ He said to me. A couple of seconds latter he added, ”Oh shit, what did I do to deserve this.”
I turned to look a the entrance even though I knew what he saw. Into the room walked Jennifer with her two new friends. “Come on Blevins you know you love her.” I said. “Or is that over now?”
“Very funny Maxine, go entertain your friends. Keep them the fuck away from me.” He said
I walked over to the three of them. Well hello there, I heard you have bought yourself a farm and were still alive to enjoy it. Congratulations,” I said.
“Come on in and have some warm beer and bad pizza. It’s a tradition when I’m back in town.” I said.
“Yeah Jennifer filled us in,” James said.
“Jennifer Blevins is going to be upset if you don’t stop by to say hello. That is also a tradition.” I turned my attention to James, “Blevins is like Norm was on Cheers.”
“Do I have to?” Jennifer asked.
“Of course you do,” I said. Then to Ruth I confided, “They pretend to hate each other, but there is really a passionate thing bubbling beneath the surface.”
James and Ruth danced with each other but Jennifer and I danced with cops, firemen, and paramedics all night. By midnight I was worn out.
I walked out with Jennifer and the couple from the thing. I noticed that we had been followed out, but said nothing. Jennifer did. “You are being watched,” she said to me.
“What makes you think that she isn’t watching you?” I asked.
“Big beautiful bad ass cops don’t watch me. I’m too vanilla for them,” she said with a laugh.
“I might be as well,” I said. “I will bet you the price of lunch tomorrow,” she said.
“As long as I don’t have to eat it with you, it’s a bet.” We shook hands on the bet, so I had to go back to ask Blevin’s girl friend. “Hey chick, who you following so poorly?” I asked.
“Your friend Jennifer, are those people with her, or are they going to be leaving her alone?” she asked.
“Sorry love they are joined at the hip for the next few days,” I said.
“Then how about you. I prefer my women a little more refined, but any port on a cold night,” she said.
“Even with so romantic a proposition I have to say no thanks.” I turned and walked back to Jennifer and her party.
“It’s a draw,” I said and laughed. “It was an either/or kind of thing.”