Another hole filler – Evidentiary and the chauffeur asked for more page time. He’s a decent kid so I obliged.
There was a familiar name on The Bishop’s slip of paper. Brock Holland, one-time All-American quarterback and point shaver at UCLA. He broke a lot of connected gamblers’ hearts when he flopped as a pro. His address in San Francisco didn’t ring any bells, but it wouldn’t. Mr. Holland was going to have to wait till tomorrow, though, because tonight I had another fish to fry. Lorelei’s boyfriend Trevor.
I called the Gilmour Arms independent on-call chauffeur who’d driven Lorelei and me on the night of the murder, asked if he was busy. He wasn’t and agreed to meet me in my parking garage as soon as he could swing it. I dropped Frisky’s .45, minus ammunition, down the trash chute on my way to the elevator. The chauffeur rolled up in under ten minutes, windows down, radio blaring. I put my hand on the doorpost. The radio volume dropped.
“Your name really Huntley Bryston?”
“What momma said.”
“Great Expectations, eh?”
“Never mind. This your car?”
“Mine and the bank’s.”
“To the hilt.” He pushed his chauffeur’s cap back. “What’s on your mind, Mr. Meyers?”
“I need to go back to the dump on Fairfax, but my car needs to stay put.”
“You in some kinda jam, or just paranoid?”
“Can’t tell yet.”
“Better safe than sorry? Works for me.” He checked his teeth in the mirror, adjusted his cap. “We stoppin’ for the babe?”
“Not tonight.” I opened the back door, slid in.
“I’m startin’ to lose some enthusiasm.”
“She thinks if you’d wash your hair you’d be a Rafael.”
“Yeah?” He perked up. “It ain’t dirty, I keep it loaded with vitamin oil. So when I wash it out for date night I got a sheen without no stinky products.”
“Might rethink the vitamin grease for off hours. No telling who you’ll meet in this job.”
“That’d be stuck up women and dry-cleaned puckerbutts, mostly.” He smiled in the mirror. “You bein’ the exception.”
I laid on the back seat until we were well on our way. I raised up and we were coming up Sunset from the west.
“You get lost?”
“Too many headlights pullin’ in behind us. I took a page outta your paranoia book, drove around till they peeled off. I’m gonna drive by the Hacienda Javier one more time, run us around a couple blocks.”
I reminded myself to tip this kid while I watched a few blocks of Fairfax sail by, a left on Ogden, up through an alley and a parking lot and we rolled back up Fairfax to Trevor’s last known address.
No one answered when I knocked. I tried the door. Unlocked. The switch brought back the feeble bedside lamp, but this trip I’d brought along a flashlight. The light switch in the bathroom had functional light, so Trevor’s barf in the dark theatrics were intentional or he couldn’t hack the sight of his own vomit. I ran the light around inside the bathroom wastebasket, found a cheap single-edge razor, a wad of gooey gauze, half a pack of lidocaine lozenges and a broken black eyebrow pencil.
The closet turned up empty, as did the dresser. The wastebasket by the bed contained a sandwich wrapper from Tommy’s Deli with Lorelei’s address written in a loopy female hand and an empty chicken minestrone soup can. I held it for a minute, wondered how in the hell anyone could eat cold soup before it hit me like a sledge on a thumbtack. The little son of a bitch had faked the puke and splatter and sold out his girlfriend.
I killed the lamp at the same time a muffled gunshot thumped from outside and a bullet splintered the door. Another shot came on its heels. I dropped, crawled across moldy, crumbling carpet, pushed the door open and out onto the breezeway. I waited. Nothing. I duck-walked to the stairwell, took the stairs sideways and low. From the direction of Fairfax, two more shots thumped, followed by tires squealing and the unmistakable BOOM of a shotgun. I sprinted to the street, found Huntley on the sidewalk, shotgun pistol in hand, the front passenger door open.
“Scratched me’s all.”
“Couldn’t see. But there’s a saddle oxford Ford out there damn sure missin’ some glass.” He ran his hand over his ribs. His fingers came back with traces of blood. “This kinda shit a regular thing with you?”
“I wouldn’t call it regular, but it happens. You want me to drive?”
“Nah. Nothin’s broke or bleedin’ much.” He pushed himself up, walked around to the street side of his car, fingered a bullet hole in the driver’s door. “Goddammit… I just waxed her.”
“I know a bullet hole specialist who’ll throw in a wax,” I climbed in the open passenger door. “And a woman who’s an artist with tape and gauze that’ll make you feel better just looking at her.”
“Yeah?” He dropped behind the wheel, winced, hit the starter. “You got their numbers memorized?”