A Hard Case (Part 8)
The voice was familiar, as was the tone Sheriffs Dept bulls use on people caught in the misery light. I got outta the car, hands up.
“Turn around.” Sheriff Johnson Brown went heavy on the get-in-the-position judo and frisked hard.
“Where’s your gun?” he said.
“Gone,” I said. “Didn’t need it anymore.”
“Your former secretary called to report that your private investigator license expired.”
Wanda always said I was a rotten detective, but dates and bureaucracy were an electron cloud spinning out of control in another, distant dimension.
“Things’ve changed,” I said. “I work for the government now.”
“Oh yeah? Then who’s this ginch?” Sheriff Brown shone his heavy flashlight on Doris behind the wheel. “She looks like the wrong side of a divorce case, to me. Which means you’re operating illegally.”’
“She’s my new partner.”
Doris flashed a Project X badge, which gleamed golden.
“She drives better than you, too,” I said.
Sheriff Brown saw his party was pooped, and threw in a surreptitious kidney punch. A call crackled in on the squad car’s radio. There was a hostage situation at the Nursing Academy.
Sheriff Pettet said, “We’d better go, chief.”
Their unmarked prowler crunched the gravel and broken glass in the alley and faded away.
Doris lit a cigarette, but crushed it out in the ashtray.
We drove to a beach in Ventura County. The sun came up behind us. The Pacific waves lived up to their name and reputation. We went in, with our clothes off. The day finished with a green flash at a point where the world was a blue line and the sky was a pink infinity.
Time to go back to work at Project X.
The last detail of a misspent career in private investigation was a courtesy call to a former client. “Mr Frawley, I found your wife.”
“Oh? Hey, that’s great. When…”
“But that’s only because you lost her.”
“Huh? Never had no complaints from any other…”
“She’ll send you a check for what she borrowed to fund her escape from a nowhere life.”
“When’s the last time you did something for your country, Frawley? Think of it that way.” Then I hung up.