(A Detective Dexter Roland Adventure)
9: Lady Luck
Fish glared at Fred, and without a word Fred grabbed me and walked me into Miles’ office, pushed me down into the nearest chair, and said, “I would stay here if I were you.” Fred shut the door behind me and I looked around to see if anything had changed since the last time I was here. Aside from a few files and stacks of records having been moved, there was little different in the office. But, as Miles was missing, it was also likely that he was the one who was on the gurney.
I didn’t get a chance to really see anything on the way in, but I saw Robert, the outline of a woman I couldn’t recognize, and another gentleman in a suit who was pacing around in the store. It appeared that an officer was in Johnny’s old office, but I couldn’t make out much else that seemed odd to me.
I stood up and listened at the wall that was shared with the bathroom, but couldn’t make out anything. Listening at the door did me no good either, but it was apparent that no one was in any hurry to talk to me. I relaxed and wandered around Miles’ office leafing through his desk, to pass the time. An envelope labeled “Marcus Little” caught my eye, partially sticking out of a lower drawer, and in it was $200 cash and four more joints, all of which I pocketed. But aside from Miles’ office stash, there was little else of real interest to be found. My phone buzzed but I ignored it, and began to glance at the photos on the wall. I recognized Angie from a Dig Your Grave flier, and there were a few other musicians and artists mixed in. I remembered the “Photograph” index card suddenly, and scanned the wall that was at eye-level when I was in the room before, and found a shot that read, “You Spin Me Right Round Staff Party.” There was one woman with her arm around Miles, and she was the same person I saw talking to “T A” the morning previous.
I paced the room a smidge, and glanced at my phone. It was a message from Carla saying, “Uhm, why did you give me a Weeknd CD last night?” I glanced at the message a few times, but wasn’t sure what she could mean by it.
“Don’t you mean ‘Mission of Burma’?”
She responded with a photo of the CD. “No, this is what you gave me last night.”
Something didn’t add up. I had given her the Mission of Burma tape for safe keeping, as I assumed she would never get rid of it, and most likely it was a clue. But now this?
I hammered out, “What are you up to later?”
“Working and avoiding you.”
“Can you bring the CD? I want to look at it.”
I paced some more, then fruitlessly sent a message to Sam, asking when I could see her next. But I suspected that she would be contacting me the next time we would get together. A slight twitch in my goin reminded me of some of the things we did last night, but if I had my way, we wouldn’t be so drunk and horny this time. Still, the thoughts were fleeting and pleasant, but by no means caused her to write back.
After a few minutes of working off the remaining nervous energy, it became clear that Detective Fish was going to be a while before he was going to talk to me, so I started futzing with a phone and rolled a J out of some clippings in Miles’ stash. I assumed that I would be in no more trouble than I already was, and Miles’ office always smelled like weed anyway. (And, if my guess was right, he wouldn’t be missing it at this point.) I started to feel a little sad about him getting knocked off. Miles was a nice enough gent, ran a good store, and seemed like the kind of guy I could be friends with in another lifetime, or under other circumstances. Up until now I assumed that he had a small case on his hands, internal fraud or an insubordinate employee. But now it was clear there was more going on than I suspected, and now that the stakes have been raised, I was wondering if I would be able to sort this out before I risked my own life.
Having worked up a pretty good buzz, I lit a cigarette and turned on the radio. Frankie was already in the middle of his morning block, where White Lion and Whitesnake were doing a back-to-back set that made my stomach crawl. As the songs ended, Frankie’s voice came on:
“That’s right, KLOW rockin’ it a loud as me can with our Metal In The Morning, as I paint myself into a White Corner of The ‘80’s. The hair may be receding and the spray has washed out, but the hair bands of your childhood roam the airwaves every morning on K L O W, with your fantastic DJ-tastic air-spastic host, Frankie Diamond!” I was almost ready to retch. “Now, we’ve got some terrible news, and this next track goes out to the friends and family of You Spin Me Right Round Records, who have suffered enough this month. It is with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to Miles Dangerfield, the owner of said palace of platter, who has been added to the great cut-out bin in the sky. You’ll never know how much you were missed here in this world, but let’s hope where you are are the turntables never stop. Now, here’s ‘Landslide’ in honor of this incredible force in the local scene. Some of us built our entire record collections around you, and we are afraid of loosing you and changing our lives completely. Here’s to the crew at You Spin Me Right Round, here on K L O W.”
At first I let Frankie’s bullshit wash over me, but as I started to piece together what it was all about, Detective Fish threw open the door. “Put that out, and turn off that crap. What are you, a teenager?”
I looked Fish up and down and said, “Well, at least I still look good enough to pass.”
Fish began to pace and said, “Well, have you got your alibi, or should we just take you back to the station with us?”
“Does drinking count as an alibi?”
“Oh, here and there. I don’t spend a lot of time in The City.”
Fish rounded on me, and leaned in. “I’m sort of glad you think this is a game. It’ll make pinning all of this on you all the more sweet.”
“What exactly are the rules to this game? I’m a little slow.”
Fish’s arm twitched, like he was going to slap me, but he relaxed and went back to pacing. “It’s funny, you show up at two of my crime scenes, and both times you’re looking for the person I was called in about.”
I shrugged. “Guess I’m a comedian. Is he alright?”
Fish turned around. “What do you think?”
I sighed. “He was a nice guy, he didn’t deserve this.”
“Tell me about it.”
“And he was found in Johnny’s office?”
I pointed to the office next door. “Where the boys in blue are working.”
Fish shook his head. “You seem to know a lot about what happened here.”
“And I saw a lot on the way in, too. So you think I did it?”
Fish cleared his throat. “You’re a suspect, for sure. Where’s Sam?”
“Is she a suspect too?”
“Cut the crap. Where is she?”
“How should I know?”
“Weren’t you wish her last night?”
“Who told you that?”
Fish’s eyes narrowed, and then turned away. “Nevermind, we’ll find her soon enough.”
“What about Angie?”
“What about her?”
“Seems as if she’s connected to KLOW and this store, too.” I pointed to the photo on the wall, to which Fish turned. While he looked away, I cast a spell and hammered something out on my phone.
Fish looked at the photo, then his pocket buzzed. He pulled out his phone and glanced at it briefly. “Shit.” He typed away on his phone, then turned to me.
“The Sham? Probably in the used LPs. Here, let’s take a look.”
Fish came over and grabbed my by the bow-tie. “Look, dipshit. I’ve seen you two more times that I would have liked to see you today, and you are lucky that you actually are a detective, or your ass would be downtown quicker than you can say, ‘Black Mask.’ So, while we’re on the subject, maybe you just give up this case right now before we get to three strikes, at which point I’ll no longer be responsible for what happens to you.”
I said, “But Miles was my client.”
Fish growled. “Of course he was. Well, he paid you in advance, didn’t he?”
“And if I know you, some of his stash has been ‘lifted.’”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Right.” Fish mulled this over. “I’m probably making a huge mistake, but just so we’re clear: if your phone rings, and its me, you answer, or so help me, it will be worse than going downtown when I catch you.”
“You have my word. I’ll be waiting for your call, all night long if I have to.”
Fish grunted and walked out, leaving the door open. I snapped a close-up of the woman on Miles’ arm, then re-read the message I’d sent Fish (forged from a “neighbor” as per the spell): “I looks like your car was stolen. Cops just showed up.”
I gathered up my stuff and leisurely followed him out. I glanced over at Johnny’s office, but saw that the uniforms were largely done. I looked in. Evidence markers were in one part of the room, and a small splatter and hole in video monitor (and the wall behind it) was clear on the far side of the room. The other monitors were on, and from there you could largely see most of the various sections of the store, save for the front counter. I glanced around some more, but aside from a spent condom (presumably from Angie’s rendezvous’) and a box of LPs that looked like crap mostly, there appeared to be little else of interest in the room.
I made my way to the store proper, and walked behind the front counter. I knew I didn’t have much time, as the guy in the suit made me and was heading over. I found the camera that was pointed on this spot, and then looked around the frame of what would have been visible to see what would have been in the monitor’s screen previously. Obviously, the register would have been visible, but mostly likely there wouldn’t have been any money there at night. There wasn’t anything behind the counter either, or at least nothing missing. But someone went back there after the screen had been shot out to make sure they weren’t captured on the surveillance camera. For what, exactly, seemed unclear.
I glanced around briefly, then noticed that beneath the counter there were stacks of items on hold for customers. Once shelf was empty, and sitting on it was a QR code. I ducked down and saw that it was similar to the other two I’d found. It seemed as if there had been other items there, but where now missing. I palmed the QR code just in time for the man in the suit to appear behind the counter.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” he asked.
“Marcus. Marcus Little. I’m a friend of Sam, but I see she’s not here.”
“Yeah, she doesn’t work today. Why are you behind the counter?”
“Who are you?”
“Look, I can just go and get the police and see if they can get you to answer.”
“I’m sorry, let me move to the floor. I guess I knew I shouldn’t have, but I was looking for another copy of this tape I was supposed to buy. Sam had set it aside for me. A Mission of Burma live tape? I paid over the phone… my name’s Marcus?”
The guy in the suit looked me up and down. “She’s not here, and given the current situation, you’ll have to come back another day. We’re closing. Maybe for a few days. I hope you underst-.”
“It’s just that I already paid over the phone, and she promised me the tape.”
The guy in the suit rubbed his temples. “Then let me give you a full refund.”
“I’d much rather have the tape.”
“And I’d much rather that you leave. Someone has died here, or is your perpetually dazed and confused mind so addled that you can’t see that?”
“That’s awful, for sure. And I’m not trying to be insensitive, believe me. But it was a Live video that I was really looking forward to. Can you tell me when she’ll be back?”
There was a buzz, and the guy in the suit reached for his phone. “Shit,” and he answered it, “Angie, I’m in the middle of something, I’ll call you back!” in a sort of whisper. Suddenly, I recognized his voice.
The guy in the suit pulled out his wallet and took out a $20, then put it on the counter. “How much was the tape again?”
“The cost isn’t -” but he took out another $20. “Sir!” I insisted, but when he put down a third I scooped up the money and left before he could change his mind.
All in all, it was a pretty good day. Usually I show up at a record store stinking of weed, and drop $260 on vinyl. But I had never score drugs and a $260 payday, merely by getting accused of murder.