Friday, April 25, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 38

A metallic click-click snaps open my eyes.

Paranoid imagination? Or could that have been the latching apparatus on my Trooper-assigned bedroom door? Or maybe I’m still dreaming. I swear there was just a giant robot grasshopper in the hall. Like on that episode of Star Trek Voyager.

Why don’t these aliens just knock?

Thick blackout curtains keep the midday sun at bay, the darkness thick, slowing my herky-jerky rise to consciousness. But I can’t help waking up entirely when something or someone slides inside my room and gently seals the door behind them. Fear gooses my heart rate.

After the briefest shaft of hall-light, darkness again hugs me close. I breathe without making a sound. Clothes rustle nearby. Soon I hear the soft intimate whisper of a woman’s breathing. I smell her lilac perfume.

Captain Franny’s weight on the edge of the bed draws me to her, and her body heat toasts me through sheet and thick cotton blanket. Slowly, she slides an arm and a leg over me and tugs at the fabric between us.

“Don’t say a word,” she says.

While El Capitan nibbles my chest, rubbing her breasts across my stomach, I consider this naked Trooper’s potential motivations.

Hmm. Let’s see. Hmm.

Well, after admittedly incomplete deliberations, I figure either Franny fell in love with the full-boat “phony” Carr grin, or this is one of those top-secret super special police interrogation techniques they can’t show you on Law & Order.

A method too effective to make public.

Despite being in my utmost glory--I’ve spent twenty odd years waiting for an uninvited woman to sneak into my bedroom for a hump--I must say Franny is definitely taking her time getting down to the nitty gritty. If I get any more excited, in fact, we could be looking at early departure. An unscheduled culmination.

I try to steer her hips into a more accessible position, but she pulls away, quickly and completely.


I’m left with the scent of lilac, the whisper of cloth on skin as she dresses.


“We’ll finish this after your State Grand Jury testimony,” she says. “I believe in carrots as well as sticks.”

Carrots? Sticks? Is she talking about my penis?

Next time I see Franny, maybe two, two-and-a-half-hours later, I’ve got my fork stuck in a three-layer stack of Stuart’s blueberry pancakes.

These State Troopers sure know how to make a guy feel welcome. Although it really really makes me wonder what Stuart did to draw this duty as Franny’s personal chef. I think his transgression must have been significantly worse than a poor voting record.

Anyway, El Capitan, as Luis now calls her, looks undeniably scary storming into the gray stone and black-tile kitchen this afternoon. The woman’s face reminds me of Dracula stalking her castle.

“What’s the matter?” I ask. I’m hoping her bad mood involves her self-denied sexual encounter with yours truly. Your chance may never come again, honey.

El Capitan glances at Stuart, then looks me straight in the eye. “Mallory tipped off Bluefish to your children’s location,” she says.

My fork tumbles in slow motion, pancakes and syrup flying. The steel utensil clatters hard on the stone floor, an echo that travels around the big kitchen like a parading hearse.

My right hand aches from being balled into a fist. I know she’s a woman, but Franny just sold out my children, I suppose in exchange for possible career advancement. My right hand wants to make her cover-girl nose bleed.

“If you had Mallory under surveillance, his phone tapped, then you knew he was crooked, knew he might give Bluefish the location of my kids,” I say. “Basically, you used my family as bait.”

“You picked Mallory, not us,” Franny says. “You trusted him.”

“You could have told me not to.”

“Why? I didn’t know you. I still don’t. I didn’t start worrying about your kids until you told us Mallory knew where they were. We worked hard to find them since then.”

Can’t believe anything this woman says. “Where are they?”

“Staying with a friend of your ex-wife’s an hour outside of Philadelphia.”

“Give me the phone number.”

“We’ve already called. There’s no answer...yet.”

An odd dizziness hits me, like I jumped up too fast after sitting too long. My eyes see faded images. Kitchen shadows in a yellowish glow. “But you’re still trying?”

My voice sounds unfamiliar.

“Of course,” Franny says. “And I have two detectives and eight State Troopers already on their way. Fifteen minutes out.”

(Click on Headline to read the opening chapters of this book, BIG MONEY. All previous 37 chapters are on this blog. Somewhere. I'm a fictional a character, not a techno genius. Try the archives.)

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