In the morning, I awoke remembering fragments of a truly weird dream about the proprietress and the fact that Clint’s previous incapacitation had screwed up my phone. I got out of bed and headed, hobbled really, to the phone. The line was clear, and I was glad that it was a Monday. If Clint had passed out on a Saturday night, Clint might still be lights out and my phone might still be screwed. Off-duty cops do that.
I showered, dressed up in one of my best suits and headed first to the “office” of the one guy I knew would know what was up with the jumpers. Down on Main it was all Latinos and Tejano music. The one legitimate newsstand still near City Hall was an island of information. The suit had never impressed Javier, but it did give his regular patrons a start; particularly so when worn by a guero like me.
“Javier, que tal?”
“May we talk?”
“Sure… sure… step into my office.” Javier laughed, waving me into the nearby alley. “What’s up?”
“The five guys, the ones who jumped.” I whispered.
“Not much… the feds aren’t interested. The locals… the same.”
Javier’s newsstand stood at the aorta of Angeleno government, of any and all levels or descriptions. He heard everything, one way or another. I should have started with him, but I’d been impatient and started my inquiries on a Sunday. Javier’s newsstand is closed on Sundays.
“Hermano… seriously… anything?” I begged.
“No… maybe this…” Javier took me by the arm and led me further down the alley, under the fire escape of an empty building. He looked around and offered an explanation of his own. “The five were gay, right?”
“Right.” I agreed.
“Then why is LAPD so interested? They don’t give a shit about los maricones.”
“My contact says LAPD is not interested…”
Javier shrugged and laughed. “They’re taking over the whole investigation from the Feds and the Sheriff… just this morning.”
“Why?” I asked.
Javier laughed and led me back out of the alley. Along the way, he reminded me, “I hear things… I’m not a mind reader… How have you been anyway? How’s Emery?”
“That’s not good.”
“No… it’s not.” I groaned.
Usually I grease my sources with some legal tender. Javier and I go way back. I do not insult him. He patted me on the back and the séance was over. I started toward Parker Center, dressed to kill. Javier grabbed my arm.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
I shook off his hand. He grabbed my arm again and spoke firmly. “I wouldn’t… not yet.”
Javier and I are the same age. When one gets toward fifty, one has to listen to others who are there with you. I hugged him and thanked him. As I walked away, he moved to stand in my path. “I mean it.”
“Gracias… you’re right.” I said as I turned to walk the other way, back to my office/ crash pad. I picked up a copy of the Times from his stand and threw down a single.
Javier walked over to grab the single, follow me and hand it back, growling “Cabron.”
“Thanks… I mean it.” I said as I hugged Javier again, for real that time.
After hours of useless research on the computer, I headed to the bar downtown that isn’t filled with wannabes, the Gallery Bar at the Biltmore. I wasn’t going to drink… just to try and elevate my game. Under the vaulted elaborate ceilinged elegance and at a marble surfaced bar, I ordered a ginger ale with a lime. I sat and watched the silenced television screen above the bar. A short haired, thirty something business woman sat on a stool next to me. The broadcast was a cable news station. The announcer was a woman, not unlike the one sitting next to me, but one for whom I had had a two year distant affection.
“I think she’s great!” I said to the woman adjacent.
“You here on business?”
“No… I… Hell, my name’s Carl.” I stuck out my hand.
“I’m Marlene…” She said as she took my hand, holding on to it for a moment before asking, “So you think Sharon Maddox is great?”
“Why?” Marlene asked, a curious look on her face.
“She tells it like it is and she’s super hot… so to speak.” I laughed.
“She’s a lesbian.” Marlene sighed, taking the last sip from her glass of wine.
“No! How do YOU know?” I laughed.
“I’m a lesbian… ‘gaydar’ and all that… besides she’s out.” Marlene sighed, again from my ignorance.
“Oh… we’ll she’s still hot!” I insisted clumsily.
“You’re right.” Marlene agreed as she laid a ten on the bar and walked away.