“Yaargh!” I said. Or something like it.
The cop managed to turn his head away from “Kim.”
“What — what did you say?”
“I, uh. I almost tripped over the chair here. Not much room, you know. Still getting used to the small space.”
He looked back at the blonde vision sitting beside my desk.
“That’s — I mean, you’re –” he stopped as “Kim” put her finger to her lips. She was smiling that characteristic V-shaped smile that have made so many men, and not a few women go stupid.
“Yes, well,” I said, trying to inject a semblance of order into the conversation. Unfortunately, since I wasn’t feeling particularly orderly, I abandoned my comment to hang in the air, alone.
Fortunately, the officer seemed too distracted to notice.
I was hoping he’d also be too distracted to notice that this “Kim” was dressed exactly the same as the one in the poster, which he’d not yet seen on the wall behind him.
“So — my van,” I said. “Is it all right?”
He pulled his eyes back to me as I made my way around the desk while gesturing for him to take the other chair.
“Yes — your van. I’ve got a couple of questions.”
“Would it help if I told you what I was doing there last night, or do you want to go through a Q and A?”
“No, go ahead.”
“I was there on behalf of a client,” I explained. “I obviously can’t simply tell you who it is, nor what he or she wanted me to investigate — at least not unless it’s important enough for a warrant — but it led me to a meeting that took place on Noble Street.”
“The Church of Satanic Love?” he said.
I hesitated. “Yes. I can’t see a problem in telling you that. Anyway, after their meeting was over I went to Queen Street where I ran across,” I hesitated and glanced over at “Kim” in a meaningful fashion, “well — I ran across some friends and had a few drinks. I didn’t want to chance driving back home, although I’m sure I wasn’t over the limit. Still, the laws being what they are –” I finished with a shrug.
“And after the meeting, did you go back to the van or the hall?”
“No,” I said innocently. “Why?”
His gaze had again drifted over to “Kim,” who was sipping her drink in a distracting manner.
“Oh — uh. There was a bit of trouble at the hall last night.”
“Please tell me nothing happened to my van. I just had it repaired over at the brothers’ garage on Dufferin.”
“No, no. Your van is fine.”
There was a silence that threatened to become awkward.
“Well,” I said, “If there’s nothing else?”
“No. Nothing else.” He stood up, closing his notebook. He paused a moment, and in a sudden flash of insight I knew what was coming next.
“I don’t suppose you could tell me the nature of the ‘trouble’ last night, could you?” I asked, while typing “Kim Basinger signature” into Google and clicking on Images. “It’s possible, although I admit not likely, that it could have something to do with my case.”
“I’m afraid not. It’s part of an ongoing investigation,” he said. And then opened his notebook again. As he did so, I clicked on a signed photo of Kim Basinger and then stood up, moving my laptop so that the screen was facing my “Kim.”
“Well, if there’s nothing else…” I said.
“Actually.” He looked acutely embarrassed. “If you wouldn’t mind –” He opened his notebook again. “Kim” looked up at me and I gave a slight nod, while glancing down at the screen. She followed my eyes and nodded.
“Of course,” she said, accepting the notebook and pen from him.
“Just don’t date it,” I told her, while stepping to the same side of the desk she was on, hoping to keep the good officer from seeing the poster on the other side of the door. While I’m sure that upon seeing that the “Kim” in my office looked identical to the Kim in the poster, he would not immediately jump to the conclusion that I had a shape-shifting demon for a partner, it might lead to unwanted questions which in turn would undoubtedly end up with us giving some suspicious sounding answers.
She nodded again, although looking a bit puzzled. “What’s your name?” she asked, and after he told her, executed a very passable forgery of Ms Basinger’s autograph.
After thanking us both profusely, the officer left and we heard him walking down the Nightingale hallway. Only when I heard the elevator come and go did I get up, look out and confirm that he was really gone.
Sitting back down I looked at Adramelech.
“Her picture was hanging there. I was rushed,” he said defensively.
I waved it away. “No problem. It turned out for the best.”
“Why didn’t you want me to date it?”
“I’m hoping he’ll think that Kim Basinger was on an unofficial visit to Toronto, and that I didn’t want you to date it because that would be written proof of when she was here.”
Adramelech raised an eyebrow while turning back into himself.
“Sometimes you think really good — for a mortal.”
I nodded my acknowledgement and then set about trying to think really good about what had to be done next.
Right! The flash drive.
Digging into my pocket I pulled it out and plugged it into my laptop. After the interminable wait while machine and gizmo decided whether or not they were going to talk to each other, I was able to pull up the directory. I tried opening a few of the documents, but as I’d already discovered the night before, they were password protected. I pulled up my Password Hacker Pro (version 7.0) and set it to work. Within minutes I had the files open and Adramelech and I were pouring over them.
“What are we looking for?” he asked.
“Haven’t a clue. To be honest, I don’t even know that there’s anything hinky about the church. The people seem above board — it’s their leader that gets my hackles up. Other than that, I’ve no reason to suspect they’re anything other than a harmless collection of off-beat characters.”
“Well, there’s one other thing.”
“That’s where my sister came through when she went missing.”
We turned our attention to the dozens of documents now open to us. It only took me about 15 minutes to finally see the obvious.
“This is going to take forever,” I said.
Just then we heard the elevator at the end of the hallway open and what sounded like a horde of people get off.
“If he’s not here, I don’t know where he is,” said a voice that sounded remarkably like Paula’s. A moment later the door opened and Paula, accompanied by Jimmy, Chuck and Ignatius came barging in.
“Where the hell have you been?” she demanded. “We’ve been looking all over for you and there was a police car in front of your house and — ” she stopped, registering Adramelech for the first time.
“And who are you?” she asked — her voice suddenly much softer.
I glanced over at him, his fine features, sartorial elegance and fedora tilted rakishly on his head.
For those interested, there are notes on this chapter which can be found HERE. Notes to previous chapters can be found by hovering over the “Notes: Chapters 11 – 20” tab at the top of the page.
Warning — Read the chapter first, otherwise the notes may be an inadvertent spoiler.
This is my 17th entry in the February writing challenge, “30 Minus 2 Days of Writing: III” (or 30M2DoW) issued by We Work for Cheese, the rules for which, such as they are, I am completely ignoring — except the attempt to post each day during the month.