Brian at Bonnywood Manor wrote a post with a great scene in it (See #4) that I plugged into a throwaway chapter. Thank you, Brian. I might turn it into a series. Meyers – Mercenary Detective? Nah. It was a dark and not so stormy night…
Cambridge, U.K. – Early October 1982
Meyers checked his watch, thought about a cigarette for the hundredth time in the last half hour. And food. Food would be good. But he’d have to step out of the phone box and into the drizzly Cambridgeshire soup. It didn’t look like much, but it got right through everything but a wharfman’s oilskin and right down into your bones. His not so new, or all that clean London Fog was perfect for playing the “Mercenary Detective” on his business card. Or baby sitter, which was what he was. On this job, anyway. Regardless, the overcoat wouldn’t keep him dry, and he had to wait for his charge to appear. He’d stay smoke and food free for a while, pick up what he needed walking in the shadows behind her if she ventured back out tonight. Assuming she made it home in one piece.
Why anyone gave a rat’s ass about a skinny American girl who could get knee deep in her own shit simply walking down the street going to Cambridge for a grad degree was beyond him. Was she pretty? He’d seen pictures. She had a Gran’s porcelain doll look to her. So yeah, before the hair cut with pinking shears, and back when she maybe ate occasionally. The American who handed her off said it would help if she didn’t dress like Redneck Lesbian Barbie most days, all in thrift shop men’s clothes that she threw an oversized old lady dress over. He’d been told she was smart, too. Couldn’t prove it by him. He was starting to question his own judgement to take up station in the phone box and wait for her to make it home. The silly cow was always getting into –
“About bloody time.” He rubbed a peek-a-boo hole in the fogged glass of the phone box so he could see her, checked his watch again.
Deanna fumbled with the door latch. She knew it was going to piss her off, like always. Dammit. Everything in England was a hundred and fifty fucking years old, at least. And that Stonehenge thing? Don’t even. How could anyone not know how it got there? Like it just appeared in some farmer’s back yard? Jesus. How stupid was that? Someone had to know. And Blake’s house on Molton Street in London? It was a fucking bar. With French sandwiches, which really meant yukky, fatty English ham, tasteless hydroponic tomatoes and runny mayo on a croissant. And sweet, colorful drinks. She’d been. Once. Gotten thrown out. That had been a long afternoon. She’d met a lot of nice police women, but that was it.
“Come on. Godammit, open.” The cold drip from the useless, narrow awning over the door was going straight between her collar and her neck. She looked around for a place to set the paper bag full of off-fresh veggies she’d bargained for at the green grocer’s, settled on the basket of one of the half dozen bicycles on the tiny strip of sidewalk in front of her flat.
Meyers’ gentleman instincts kicked in, but there was nothing he could do to help her. “Let her screw up until it gets dangerous,” the woman had said. “Stay out of the way and off her radar. If you need to show some horny, overly enthusiastic asshole the big book of manners, do it in the background.” What the hell. The girl drew her fair share of ‘Bohemian Babes are for me’ horn dogs, but none of them were very dangerous. Questionable taste in women, maybe, but not dangerous. He didn’t get it. The people who hung around colleges. Forever. He was starting to feel like one of them. It paid like a real job, though. He stuck a stick of gum in his mouth, hoped it lasted longer than two minutes, checked his watch. Again.
“If you don’t –” She bumped the stubborn door with her hip when she twisted the key and the solid wood door with a thousand coats of paint banged open, dropped her into the flat on her hands and knees. She straightened her legs, butt in the air, brought the rest of herself up like a mechanical mime and stepped out into the soup to grab her veggies. When she turned back she kicked the door and yelled “Cock sucker!” loud enough for Meyers to hear it inside the phone box.
His handler had told him that back in the States she’d grown up with a brother who played linebacker in the NFL and she had lived with a musician. She had a mouth on her to prove those up. And despite dumping the musician on her way to the airport bound for England’s green and pleasant land she was still in love with him. “Poor bastard,” he’d said. The woman said not to feel too sorry for him, he was getting a well deserved vacation and that he was the only bloke who could wrangle her. Meyers could use some advice on that shrew wrangling. The girl was a bad judgement accident magnet with feet.
Deanna decided to come out again, looking almost female. Meyers dutifully followed her to a posh, second floor flat further north up the Cam. There were no convenient phone boxes so he decided to drink cheap wine while doing his best to blend in at a party of obviously not very discriminating people of varying ages. Who were only there to drink some rich Spanish kid’s free, sweet, shitty white wine. And eat his free, greasy, shitty oven-fired hors devours that kept popping out of an oven somewhere around a corner before being put up on a table strewn with paper plates, balled up dirty paper napkins and empty plastic wine glasses. The greasy bites were delivered by a thin, underage pimply faced boy who, if he were to wash his hair more than once a month, would see his complexion miraculously clear up.
Meyers was reaching for some Americanized eggroll looking thing when he was jolted out of his shampoo reverie by a sonic boom that had probably been heard across the channel.
Everyone was staring at the balcony sliding glass door, and Deanna, as her face slid down the glass. The slow trip pulled her upper lip off her teeth in a comic snarl and left a smeared streak of icing from the piece of cake she had been eating in its wake. Meyers waited to see if she slumped, or got up. She stayed down. Dammit. He set his wine glass with fifteen others on an end table whose varnish had long since worn away and took a step, stopped and picked up his wine while he still knew which glass was his. Sheridan, the gay theology guy in the clergy cassock with contrasting white button trim, who followed her and other attractive female misfits around for reasons unknown, was already on her.
“Deanna? Dee-anna! Miss Collings?”
“Good. You must stand up Miss Collings. Please. This is, um, unbecoming. Please.”
“Yes, exactly.” He put his hands under her arms, straight and stiff, karate chop style, to avoid a couple of handfuls of her boobs. More for show, Meyers thought, but it was decent of him. Gay and soon to be priestly. Or making a good show of both until he got out into a pasture full of sheep in need of shepherding. Smart lad, and well played if that was his game.
Deanna stood, dazed, with what little lipstick she wore in a red line from the left corner of her mouth to up under her eye. Her upper lip and both nostrils were covered in blue and white cake icing, which had also managed to find her eyelashes and eyebrows. Picasso clown meets Sixties movie vampire. In pastels.
“Didn’t you see the door?” Sheridan wiped a finger of icing off her left eye lid, sucked it off his finger.
“Mm-hmm. Fuck me yes I saw it. Up close, didn’t I? Where am I? Whose house is this?”
“Dimas. From Spain? Early Shakespeare, last spring?”
“Dumbass? He had a party?” She rubbed her nose. “Ow. Fuck me.”
“You’ve said that, love.”
“Said it again, Father Fag, ‘love.’ And no one’s taking me up on it, are they?” She shook her head, looked around, cleared her eyes and pushed back a step from the glass door. “God. What an idiot…” She put her hand on the aluminum frame, stuck her head around the side of the glass door.
“Dimas! Hey! Dumbass! Motherfucker put some little stars or butterflies or unicorn sticky thing decals on this door, ‘Kay, asshole?” She rubbed her lip, came away with a touch of blood from her nose mixed in the icing, held it up. “Jesus, you know? I could have fucking killed myself.”
Meyers heard the mumbled “Don’t we wish” comments from members of her various study groups float around him like gnats on a moldy orange. Good thing she knew she couldn’t drink or she’d be a right mess.
He reloaded his wine while priest-to-be fawned all over her, working the icing out of her nose with a paper napkin wrapped pinkie finger. She was swatting at him, telling him to fuck off, rubbing her lip and nose looking for more blood, giving anyone who stared at them too long the finger. Meyers checked his watch. She’d be in bed soon enough after this little number, and he’d have an early night of it. This job did have its perks. Decent hours. Occasionally chatty girls on the periphery of whatever Deanna was getting up to. Unless tonight was the night priest-to-be offered to bathe her. That would fuck everything up, having to be discrete about knocking him into the shrubs or the Cam with enough force to send him back to gay for a while. He’d keep his head down, blame the fog for his bash into the black frock. He’d run off with her swearing at him, the priest —
There she went, wiping cake all over the priest-to-be’s frock and calling him a boob honking pervert for trying to wipe the cake off the front of her dress. Shit. What he needed was a standard issue who’s shagging the other divorce case. Motel rooms, half empty champagne bottles and forgotten panties instead of a profane, clumsy female grad student who rarely shagged anyone. And if she did she never left him flat, room temperature champagne. Or her panties.
She was getting her raincoat, and the priest-to-be was staying. Good. He glanced at his watch again, and at the greasy, disgusting, thumb sized cold egg roll thing making his fingers shiny. He flicked it out the open patio door and over the balcony rail like it was the butt of a cheap cigar. Which reminded him that he still needed a cigarette. And food. Real food from a reasonably attractive, friendly and zit free waitress would be good.