“You know you shouldn’t have said that. I’m going home I’m not in the mood now.” I said it with my hand in my pocket in case he wanted to take a swing at me. Most guys won’t hit a girl with a closed fist, but some will. I was willing to take a slap now and then, but I drew the line at a closed fist.
He was good at reading that look I shot him, because he said, “Okay, I will write you off as just another stuck up puta,”
“Okay. You got the last word, now move out of my way. I had to walk through two parking lots to get to the parking lot of my motel. It was a bit more than I bargained for, so I stopped at the convenience store for coffee.
“If you hold on, I will fix some fresh coffee,” the man behind the counter was old enough to be my father.
“Don’t bother, this is fine,” I said.
“You sure, it ain’t no trouble. I don’t mind at all,” he said with a big smile.
“I prefer it old to tell the truth. As long as there is no mold, I’ll drink it,” I said.
“You in the Army?” he asked.
“No a few years ago I was in the Air Force. I was an AP. Lots of time we drank day old coffee so this is fresh for me,” I said.
He nodded his head, then asked, “You a cop?”
“I used to be one of them too. Now I’m just a rent a cop.” I said.
“I was a police Sergeant, but they did a reduction in force, when the city had budget cuts. I had enough time for a partial pension, so I took it. They really didn’t give me a lot of choice, There were about twenty position they did away with. If you had the rank, regardless of the time in, they wanted to put your name in the fish bowl. I had the choice, put my name in the bowl, or take the pension. I chose the pension and let the younger guys have my spot. Didn’t know how hard it was to live on the crappy pension, so now I work a couple of shifts here and there.”
“Yeah the bastards got me as well. I got my hand banged up, and they declared me unfit and pulled my certification. So I’m a body guard now, but its probably two gigs in one. Most likely it’s my first gig and probably my last, a twofer. I said laughing.
My name is Tom what’s yours?” he asked.
“I’m Sylvia,” I said.
“Sylvia if you would like, I get off at 11pm and that is twenty minutes from now. I still have a drink now in then, in the local cop bar. I would be thrilled to buy you a drink after work,”
“I’m afraid not Tom,” he looked sad with my answer. “But I’m starved and in no condition to drive in a strange town. Why don’t you drive me to an all night diner, Some local place you know from the old days. I’ll put your breakfast on the company credit card.” I said smiling.
“Have you ever got a deal,” he said grinning quite widely. I found a table by the window used by people eating terrible hot dogs. They bought all kinds of microwave crap so they could save a few minutes. I sat drinking the undrinkable coffee until the middle aged woman working the real night shift showed.
“This is mine,” Tom said when we reached the three year old Korean car.
“Since I drive a Jap car, I like it. How do you like it though,?” I asked,
“A hell of lot better than I thought I would. I mean the air bad sign doesn’t work. The plugs that cover the bolts for the door panels came off. I was very surprised with the engine and transmission, considering the body is so much tin foil and plastic. No matter how bad it looks, or how many parts fall off, it always gets me where I’m headed.” Tom said
“That is the purpose of a car. I tell anyone who asks about my crappy Toyota that, if I wanted to look cool, I would have bought a Harley,” I said it with a laugh. We shared other trivial things during the ten minute ride to the waffle house restaurant.
“I was expecting something a little more home town,” I said.
“We would have had to go into Philly for that, This place is fine for breakfast that won’t have you in the bathroom all day,” he said. Over breakfast he told me his wife had died from cancer and he went into a bit of a depression. It was part of the reason they wanted his name in the fish bowl,
I told him about my life in the small mountain town of County Seat. “I didn’t realize how important it was till they told me they were pulling my certificate. They kicked me out of the safe house with a barely healed hand. I explained about the rehab and the retired British commando who recruited me for the joke of a mission.
Tom laughed easily and often, I like that about him. After breakfast he said,” I know you are too tired and I need about an hour to get ready, but I you would like tp go out again tomorrow. I promise I will be more fun. It was his way of saying he would like to try to screw me. I smiled at him and said, “Not sure where I will be tomorrow, but I’ll look you up for some more bad coffee,”
“Well that’s better than nothing,” he said.
“Trust me, it’s much better than nothing,” I said. “Now take me to my motel.”
“Only problem with that plan is I’m not working tomorrow. So here take my card and call me when you settle in somewhere,” His card was like what they sold online by the hundreds,
Okay, I’m going to change motels tomorrow, when I get settled I’ll call. I would invite you to run in the morning, but you don’t look like a runner,” I said.
“I’m not. You can tell by the thirty pounds of extra weight,” Tom said.
“Make a deal with you, I won’t mention the extra pounds, if you don’t mention how skinny I am. Remember, I have been sick,” I said it laughing.
“Done.” Tom said. He drove me back to the Econo Lodge where I fell asleep and slept way too hard. I was up at five and couldn’t get my head out of my ass before I ran. If I hadn’t been so tired, I might have stopped running, since my body was trying to tell me, I was in for a nasty cold. The exertion just kicked my ass.
I could hardly make it to the Embassy Suites when Joan called at 11AM. I felt like shit but I went to the venue, with Rodney at the wheel of the SUV. We made sure the exits where secure and the entrances covered. Philly was going to be a big deal. Most likely bigger than New York. We had Philly and Camden NJ to worry about.
“Sylvia, you look like shit,” Rodney said.
“You don’t look like a princess yourself,” I replied. I tried to keep it light.
“You need to see a doctor,” Rodney said.
“We have a show tonight and two tomorrow, I don’t have time to be sick,” I explained.
“I’m not sure you are well enough. I don’t want to go out there in that mob with someone who isn’t a hundred percent,” Rodney commented. “Maybe you can show up, but you can’t do shit.”
“And what do you suggest,” I asked.
“Call Swamp Dog and get a replacement.” Rodney suggested.
“He couldn’t get anyone up here for tonight,” I replied. “I know a retired cop from Philly,”
Of course you do,” Rodney said with a laugh.
What if I get him to come along as backup. The two of us ought to be as good as the healthy me.”
“Have you known him long enough to vouch for him,” Rodney asked.
“I will vouch for him. You make the call Colonel Martin or whatever name he is using this week,” I said. “Tell him if he doesn’t want to pay my friend, I will pay him.”
Rodney removed his cell phone and made the call to Swamp Dog. When he returned, he said “Martin said it was your call. He said to make a cash with drawl of $300 and if costs any more you pay the rest. You are also to go to a doctor and get a diagnosis today. Then you are to decide, if you can continue. However, I am to report on the safety of Soda, and whether I feel safe with your man. I am also to send all his information to the office for a quick background check.”
“I will call him while I am waiting to see the doctor.” I said. He was going to wait for Joan and the roadies to finish, before he went back to get ready for the gig.
I checked in at the reception desk, then sat down. I called Tom. “Hey Tom this is Sylvia. Do you remember me from last night?” I asked.
“Of course, I was hoping you would call,” he said.
“Tom are you working a shift anywhere else this weekend?” I asked.
“Nothing I can’t get out of, why?” he asked.
I need to find someone to be my backup tonight. If you are interested there are three rap music shows spread over two nights at a hundred bucks each,” I said.
“And I get to be with you, that is a no brainer. Of course I’m interested,” he said.
“Tom this is business, after the last show maybe then we can do something. But not till it ends on Saturday night. Do you understand?” I asked.
“Yeah, I got boss lady,” he said.
“My boss is going to do a quick background check on you. Is there anything in your past?” I asked.
“Nope, I’m as clean as a choir boy on paper,” he said.
“Good then I’ll call back after I see the doctor,” I replied as I hung up the phone. I quickly call Rodney with the information.
I knew that I was going to have to tell the doctor everything, so he could make an educated guess as to what I had. I answer everything he asked honestly. I especially mention the diarrhea. After a half hour and a couple of quick blood test he was ready to see me again.
“Okay here is the deal, you have an elevated white cell blood count. I think it is either a short term virus, or a mild case of food poisoning. Either way all I can do is give you something to keep you out of the toilet. I can give you an anti fungal to kill whatever you got hit with if it’s mold.”
“Old coffee,” I said.
“What do you mean.” he asked.
“I drink day old coffee. I don’t like fresh coffee. I could have been contaminating the new coffee with the old till it got me. I never completely empty the cup.”
“Yeah that would do it. For god’s sake wash the damn cup, when you get home.” He said with a grin. He also cleared me to work.
I got word that Swamp Dog cleared Sergeant Tom Brady, formerly of the Philadelphia police department, to work for us temporarily. I called and told him to meet us at the venue and to bring a pistol, if he had one.