Since I had the cruiser anyway, I drove to a Hardee’s for take out biscuits. If nothing else Jane, the Junkie, was going to put on some weight while she was with me.
That might not last long since Royce, her new keeper, was convict thin. You know the ones who eat their meals and nothing else. Nobody brings them candy and their canteen fund is empty. They are the ones who run and lift weights every day. At least that is how he looked to me during our short visit.
Of course he was in one of those prison jumpsuits, anything could be hiding inside one of those. Possibly even Jimmy Hoffa.
When I reached the office at 8:15AM, Sam and Royce were drinking coffee and chatting like old friends. I did hope Royce’s time in prison didn’t mean he and Sam had things in Common.
“Good morning all,” I said smiling at them. I was trying to be cheerful, even if I didn’t feel it. I was lost with the Jane thing and I didn’t have near enough clients to cover my growing overhead.. In other words I was faking cheerful and doing a damn good job I might add.
“Good Morning Ms Ayers,” Royce said. “I suppose that is Jane with you?”
“It is and as of this minute she is your responsibility keep her alive until she identifies a killer.” I said.
“Word is that the killer is an undercover gone wrong,” he said.
“I don’t know that, but Jane says his name is Ansel. Max Hammond said he was a cop. That’s all I know.” I replied.
“You have kept her alive past the point where killing her will prevent an ID. Now it is just keeping her alive long enough to testify. That is usually the cop’s job to handle,” he said.
“Royce you know they don’t have a clue how many or who is dirty. They could be putting the fox in charge of protecting the hens,” I suggested.
“True so they have you doing it. That could be so that they can get you both killed. Two birds one stone kind of thing,” he said.
“And exactly what is my dad’s dog in the fight?” I asked.
“Why do you think he has one?” Royce asked.
“I know my dad that should be enough, he does nothing that doesn’t benefit him. You are here because he got you an early release. and now you owe him, so what is the payoff?” I asked.
“You really are suspicious,” he said with a laugh. “Your daddy’s advice to me was to keep you alive and well. If Jane got killed by the cops, too fucking bad, but you better not get a scratch. So that’s my plan, to do whatever it takes to keep you healthy.”
“Well right now keep Jane alive and well and that will make me happy,” I said.
“Happy wasn’t part of the deal, but I can try a little extra service for my pay,” he said.
“Here is the deal Royce, I have three clients I need to go to the jail to interview. You need to stay here and keep Sam and Jane healthy. What I have in this large plastic bag does not belong to you. It is just to be used by Sam in case of an imminent threat. I guess if worse came to worse you could defend yourself with Sam’s weapon, but I has to be in his desk, not yours.”
“I got it counselor. It’s a numbers game. Judged by 12 or carried by 6, not to worry I don’t want to go back inside, so it will be absolutely necessary, if I do it.”
“I am an officer of the court. You do not have my permission to use that weapon,” I suggested.
“Stop beating the dead horse Ms. Ayers, I got it.” he admitted.
“It was nice to leave Jane and not worry about her running from Sam or having someone show up with a bag of junk for her. Of course I should be worried about Royce. According to some folks he was a stone Junkie himself. Since my dad vouched for him, I was willing to give him a try. I just was not willing to take him on faith.
“I am going to jail, but I’ll be back by lunch and we can make plans,” I said as I walked out the door. The clients were nickel and dime criminals, but they still had to be defended. I didn’t mind The one truly innocent client was still out there somewhere just waiting for me. In the meantime I would deal with the burglary suspect, the guy who tried to rob a convenience store with a knife, only to find that the owner had a Glock and of course the drug dealer who got busted with felony weight in his pocket.
When I finally worked my way through to the drug dealer, on a purely wild possibility that he might be able to help himself some, I asked. “Do you know a junkie named Ansel?”
“You mean the cop who shot LowBall?” he asked.
“Did everybody know he was a cop?” I asked.
“No, but just as soon as one knew we all knew. The street is alive with people who have tales to tell,” he said.
“Well if you can tell me where Ansel is, I might can work a deal with the DA for you,” I suggested.
“If I knew I would definitely have told you already. I got no use for cops and I kind liked old LowBall,” he said.
“Too bad Cheech, you got caught holding way more than felony weight. You are most likely going in for a while. With your record a long while, unless you got something I can deal,” I suggested.
“I can’t deal any of our people and I don’t know nobody else,” he said.
“Are you sure you don’t know where to look for Ansel?” I asked.
“I done some things for Ansel. You know delivered him some dope to his place. I know the cops done been there. He had a junkie chick for a while she might know something. She was living in the welfare motel out by the highway. But she probably ain’t no more. You know how junkies move around.”
“Actually I don’t, but I will take your word for it,” I said. I could have turned that vague maybe this girl who’s name we don’t know was screwing Ansel and maybe she is still at the motel where Cheech saw her a couple of months ago, and maybe Ansel is still screwing her. Even I thought that might be pushing my credibility a little to far. “Tell you what I will do. If you want to pay the investigator fee, I will have my man check to see if the chick is there and if she can put the cops onto Ansel’s trail. If she can do that and is will maybe we can sell it, but first I have to know that we have something to sell.”
“Hell yeah,” cheech said. “Check her out, I don’t want to do no more time than I have to do. I’m good for the money, my boss will advance it to you and I’ll pay him,” he said.
“Here is my cell phone, use it to call Tomas and make sure he is willing to front the fees. If so I will have my man on it immediately,” I suggested. The call was made and I had my assurance that I would be paid.
I got back to the office before lunch. I called Royce into my private office and explained it all to him. “So you willing to try to track down a cop?” I asked.
“Cops are just more guys with guns. I have sure as hell seen my share of guys who once carried guns lately, some were legal and some were not so legal. So yeah, as long as I can do it without violating my parole, I’m in.” he said.
“First thing we need to find out is the name of the woman Ansel was keepings company with. We can’t track her down till we know her name.” I suggested. “Try Jane she might know who she saw him with on the street. Someone has to know something. If not her name the name of someone who does know.”
“I appreciate the advice but I know how to do what you want done. Just tell me what you want, and I’ll do it or tell you why I can’t. Then you can give me all the advice you want,” Royce suggested.
“Sorry Royce, we are still new to each other and it’s important that we find this Ansel or at least put the cops onto him,” I said.
“Yeah, I do know how it goes,” he said. “So let’s bring Jane in and sweat her first thing.”
“Sweat her gently please, I still have to have her around for a while longer.” I said it and meant it as well. Then I opened the door and called out. “Jane come in please, we need to talk.”
Once she was inside Royce began, “So Jane how well did you know Ansel?”
“I just saw him on the street a few times before I saw him coming out of LowBall’s flop,” she answered.
“Who did you see him hangin with?” Royce asked her.
“What do you mean?” Jane asked.
“When you saw him on the street, who was he with?” he repeated.
“I don’t remember,” she said.
“You remember him, but you don’t remember who he was with,” he asked even I could tell he didn’t believe her and he wanted her to know it.
“That’s right,” she said.
“Bullshit, maybe you were more than just another junkie to him. Did you and Ansel go to LowBall’s house together. Were you Ansel’s whore?” he asked.
“I’m with Michael the lawyer knows,” she said.
“You wouldn’t be the first junkie to whore for more than one dude,” Royce said almost viciously. “If it wasn’t you, who was whoring for Ansel? And don’t tell me you don’t know. If you don’t know, then you know who does know.”
I could tell Jane was trying to decide what she could get away with saying. “Jane, right now we are all that is standing between you and the guys who want you dead. So you need to start talking to us,” I said.
“You don’t get it lawyer lady, but he should,” she said pointing to Royce. “There is more than just Ansel doing and dealing. Some of them moving the big weight are either cops, or protected by cops.”
“How do you know,” Royce asked.
“Because we see their badges, when we give them blow jobs,” she said to Royce. “The ones on the street don’t show their badges but the others do. Some of the local drug dealers will tell you.’Don’t even thing about fucking with me I got protection.’ We all know who the protection is.” she said.
“That’s all fine and good but who was Ansel hanging out with?” Royce asked again.
“Sarah, I don’t know her real name. They just call her Sarah cause she is so plain looking.” she said.
“So what does this Sarah look like,?” I asked.
For the next several minutes Royce and I worked Jane to squeeze all the information possible from her. She didn’t have much, but she finally shared anything we asked for.
“So now we have enough to start. So do I sit with Jane, or do I go looking for Sarah?” Royce asked me.
“Which do you think would be the best use of your time?” I asked.