A short Forties throwback... - Editor
Courier was staring down a double Dewar’s in the Marriott bar when the burly man in the too-tight, off-the-rack suit took the stool next to him, flipping a large, plain postal envelope in front of him.
“That’s the latest batch,” the burly man said in a gruff, whisky and cigarettes voice. He caught the bartender’s eye. “Beam, straight up, beer back.”
They were quite until his drink was served. Courier picked up the envelope and pulled out its contents, a dozen or so photos of him and an attractive, shapely brunette in various creative forms of sexual gymnastics.
“Lucida,” Courier said shaking his head. “My God, that was three years ago! How long have these bastards been tailing me?”
He took a gulp of his scotch and looked over at the burly man.
“Okay, Piper, tell me what happened.”
“Same as the other times, only they changed the route again. I took the cash and the disposable phone and directions they sent. They had me walk down to 12th this time, where I headed north. I went about eight blocks when the phone rang. Then I dropped the envelope with the cash and phone and walked another six blocks until I saw this mailer on a bench.”
“And if she sees these photos… and the others?” Piper growled. He fired down his shot and took a hefty pull off his draft.
“Then I’m really screwed. She’ll get both houses and half the cash and stocks in the settlement. Shit! They said last time was the last time. And now this.”
“There’s never a last time,” Piper said, a small knowing grin crossing his face. “You’re on the hook pal… for good.”
Piper signaled the bartender for another round.
“But maybe,” he said, “this could be the last time.”
“What do you mean?”
“Lot of homeless guys on 12th.”
“They’re invisible. No one wants to acknowledge them, so they don’t look at them. That’s where the pickup man was, dressed as a bum.”
“And, that’s also where one of my, uh, associates was.”
“You had someone there? He saw who it was?”
“Better. We got us a few photos of our own now. That’s why I said this could be the last time. For a fee, above my usual rate, of course, your problem could disappear… permanently.” He gave Courier a cold hard stare.
“Whoa, hold on a minute. I don’t know… you’re talking about….”
Courier shut up as the bartender brought their drinks.
“I don’t know, Piper,” Courier continued after the bartender left.
“Well, let’s wait on that for a minute,” Piper said. “First let’s see if you recognize this person.”
Piper pulled a stack of digital prints from his jacket pocket and fanned them out in front of Courier.
“They’re a little grainy,” Piper said, “we had to blow them up quite a bit.”
Courier studied the photos. “Is that a… woman?”
“Look closer, the photo on the far right.”
Courier went white. He stared speechless at the photo for about 30 seconds.
“It’s Geneva!” he yelped. “It’s… it’s my wife! My own wife is blackmailing me?”
“Yep,” Piper said, raising his shot glass. “The old double-dip. She cleans you out of all your hidden assets. Then she suddenly comes into possession of some of these photos, and she cleans you out again in the divorce.”
Courier picked up his scotch and drained it. He paused for a moment and looked at Piper, the cold stare coming from his eyes this time.
“So tell me,” he said calmly “what was that you were saying about making this disappear permanently.”