Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Father Lucifer: Middle Part of Chapter Two

<<<<<Beginning of the book


I knew Breit hated to be awakened before nine, so I phoned him at 8:30 from the lobby of the City‑County Building. The hawwnkks and brakkk‑k‑k‑s from his end could have been a walrus receiving the Heimlich maneuver.
"Detectives in Denver are unlicensed," I said. "Anyone can be one. Even an ex‑felon illiterate oaf like me. They were going to start licensing them a couple years ago but the state board that controls licensing said detectives were not important enough, at least not as important as beauticians, so they didn't." It had taken me about fifteen minutes to learn this as I wandered from office to office. "But if you're going to take clients and accept checks, you have to register a trade name, and now that I've been around here asking, the tax guys know you're out there. I thought Nasty John's Detective Agency didn't have a real good salesy ring to it, know what I'm saying?"
"Yeah." Hrawk‑bbb‑hrawk‑k‑k. "Yeah. All right, well, give us a name, list yourself as fifty percent owner. Some name someone your age would like."
"Beer and Chicks Detective Agency."
"You know what I mean."
I did, so I called Leigh, since she's my consultant on what's cool. It was also my chance to make sure she was on her way to school, which she was.
"Something that comes off 'private eye'," she said. "With like a real good positive word. Mad Sick Eye."
"Sounds like an ophthalmologist."
"Then you think of something, and I'll tell you why it's lame."
"Maybe Chillin' Eyes?" I ventured.
"Cause all God's chilluns gots eyes?"
I laughed. "Educate me."
"Chill is over. Chillin' is so over the preps and the Jesusoids use it. Chill Eyes would be okay on your tax documents, as long as you don't say it out in public."
"Deal," I said. "Thanks. Consider yourself patted on the head and told to stay in school because you're a good kid."
"Momster already did that this morning. Now I got to get back with my girls."
A voice in the background shrieked, "Tell him he's cute," just before Leigh added, "So fuck off," and hung up.
I love my little sister.
Tax registration for Chill Eyes was a state thing so I had to go a few blocks east to the office buildings by the Capitol to do that, but it was really pretty simple. Just as I finished the phone rang, and it was Breit. "Hey," he said, "I made some phone calls. You're right, there's no detective licensing in Colorado."
"Wow, I sure lucked out making that one up, hunh?"
Hrawk‑ftooth. "The last time I talked to a detective I know here in Denver—he has a big agency and a lot of good ex‑cop connections, and he and I go way back—" There was about two minutes of Breit jabbering about the guy's cousins and connections and friends before he said, "So I thought he'd gotten licensing through but it turned out he didn't."
At thirty‑five an hour, he could read me the phone book and I'd agree with him. When I was sure he was done, I told him we were now Chill Eyes.
"Good. Now about the gun permit, I thought since I screwed things up so badly with sending you after the detective permit that doesn't exist, I'd straighten things out on the gun thing by making some calls." A short burst of snotty noise segued into a gasp followed by Fuck! He'd awakened enough to blow his nose.
While he was talking and I was all unh‑hunh I'm listening, I'd gotten into my old p.o.s Cutlass, backed it out, and steered back into the Golden Triangle, that impossible tangle of streets just across Colfax from the south end of downtown, where the streets are all fucked up into short blocks among busy streets meeting at weird angles.
As I drove around looking for an open meter, Breit told me the names of like six people I should talk to, and everything he knew about their cousins, and several important legal principles, and a couple stories about the detective business, and for all I know, since I paid no attention, probably his mommy's recipe for lemon meringue pie. I thanked him and told him I'd sure try that, just about the time I finally parked way the fuck down on Eleventh Avenue, near Speer.
It was five blocks back but not a bad walk today; that warm-November weather was still hanging on, the bright sun gleaming on all those government buildings and business towers. Lots of snow on the mountains in the distance, but here among the red and gold trees, nobody was wearing a coat, and even the middle‑aged office ladies were bravely making do with just sweaters.
After I cleared the metal detector at the Sheriff's office, I took a number, snagged a brochure from the rack, sat in a corner close to the counter, read the brochure with a tenth of my brain and listened hard with the rest. Very politely, the brochure said that "You have to have all this crap in order and then we can just say no anyway just because we feel like acting retarded."
I heard one Denver deputy turned down a vet just back from someplace in the Middle East, on grounds that he'd only used a gun in the army and hadn't ever had an NRA course.
Then a woman deputy told this tiny little woman, whose husband had beat her with a bat, that it was "not in the public interest" for her to get a permit, and kept trying to give her the number for a shelter, and wouldn't listen at all when the woman tried to say, But it's my house. I paid for it. He moved into it and now he's hitting me, stealing from me, I'm afraid he's going to hurt my kids. It's my house, and when I tell him to leave, I want to have a gun handy.
Little Miss Deputyette Fucktard just kept talking about how the people at the shelter were wonderful and telling the tiny little lady how much she cared, and trying to hug her and be all supportive. It was like something my mother would do—useless, but she wanted credit for it.
Obviously Denver didn't want to give out any permits.
If I gave a shit, I'd have to agree with Breit about guns, and I'm careful never to agree with Breit, so I don't give a shit. I just told the guard I needed to go home for more paperwork, handed him my little number back, and got my quiet polite ass out of there.
I'd found a great big loophole in that brochure. Momster owned a little piece of worthless property up in Larimer County, in a bend of the Big Thomson River. She'd been in on a plan with five friends to start a commune back around the time I was born, and originally they'd bought it together.
About half the property was pretty much vertical, cliffs and bluff faces and breaking‑away redrock, and the rest divided between bare redrock and sandy bottomland that flooded in every rainstorm. That had been why it was so cheap for Momster and her friends to buy it back then, and it was also why, over the years since, it had been cheap for her to buy out her friends' shares, sometimes for cash, sometimes for a dollar over the table and a pile of weed under. Now she was sole owner of some rocks and sand and a few pathetic aspens and cottonwoods, a patch of dirt that nobody could build on ever.
But that land was there, in Larimer County, right up near the Wyoming state line, at the corner of Way Out and Too Far you might say, and she'd kept the taxes up, and the Colorado rules said I could get a permit in any county where my immediate family owned property. I had a feeling the sheriff'd be a little friendlier up there, even though Fort Collins, the county seat, was a fairly liberal college town.
I also needed proof that I'd completed a firearms course, so when I swung by the house for the tax record on Momster's Folly, I picked up my certificates and merit badge sash from the Boy Scouts; I'd had the merit badges for Rifle Shooting and Shotgun Shooting.
Then I caught Santa Fe north to 25, and 25 right up to Fort Collins, maybe fifty miles in about forty minutes, a gorgeous drive on a nice fall day, with the harvest all in, the mountains shining in the west, and not a statey in sight.
At Larimer County Sheriff's Office, the property tax receipt and my merit badge sheets were all it took to get a concealed carry permit, at least when the clerk on duty was this thirty‑something bleached blonde in a stretchy pink top who also told me where her six favorite bars were in Fort Collins, and that Fort Collins might look kind of small‑town but it partied real crazy, and about how she was just too alive to go out for coffee and dinner with old men because she liked to dance and have a good time. I smiled a lot, and it was a slow Wednesday, and my permit went right through. I managed not to think thank god it's easy go get a gun up here, they've got a serious cougar problem until I was actually back in my Olds p.o.s.
I checked the clock; 11:42 a.m. Breit had said he wanted a progress report by one. I called him and told him what I'd done. He laughed, and though he didn't say "thanks" or "good job," which might have made his dick fall off, he did tell me to fill up my tank on the 1919 account debit card.
I walked into Nasty John's half an hour early for my shift. Breit and Megan were at the counter, talking to what seemed to be a pretty girl, till she turned around and I saw it was my sister.
I'd come bounding through the door in a real good mood, but when I saw that it was Leigh I slowed way down. Serious trouble at home?
But then Megan hit the big piece of paper between them with the APPROVED stamp, and I saw it was a poster for Fall Dance Concert, Englewood High School.
"Impressive poster," I said.
"Definitely," Leigh said. "Understandable by a primitive man such as yourself, and brilliantly designed."
"Meaning you designed it?"
"I had to. Who else was going to do any kind of job? I mean, it's fucking high school, the teacher wanted a picture of dancing pirates, to show our old Pirate spirit, you know? So in a school full of fucktards, who else was going to do it?"
"It's very cool and elegant and looks professional as all shit," Megan said, "and don't let your brother spoil that for you."
"Hey, I think it looks good too—"
"Not even when he says that."
"Really?" Leigh asked, ignoring me. "You think it looks good?"
Megan nodded emphatically. "Really. Better than half the things in my advertising class. Not to mention so well done even Hal can see that it's well done."
"Hey," I said, feebly. They ignored that too.
Leigh was obviously excited that Megan had said she liked it. "I scared them all, told them I was going to headline it NUBILE JAILBAIT IN LEOTARDS, DIRTY OLD MEN WELCOME, so they were so relieved to see what I actually did do, they didn't fuck around with it afterward."
Breit laughed. "Hal, we need a full‑time evil person on the staff, so let me know when Leigh's old enough to work full time. Meanwhile I need you for about five minutes in the back room."
His back, visible around and through his hot pink wifebeater (2XL, according to the tag that stuck out), looked like shag carpet over lumpy linoleum, and his ass looked like two pigs fighting in a sack. He closed the door and said, "What you did to get your carry permit was what I mean about intelligently not following orders. You have $175 coming for the morning's work, and I'll have more instructions for you soon. Something more interesting I hope." He stuck out his hand, and, what the fuck, I shook it. Didn't even wipe my own hand on my pants till he'd left the room.