The redhead wasn’t the girl next door. Nor the marrying kind. But he wasn’t so picky. Not after today.
“Rough day at work?” Her voice penetrated his senses.
Detective Stewart Mackenzie peered through bleary eyes at her reflection in the bar mirror. The cracked mirror, half hidden behind empty booze bottles. A rusty sign below it read, ‘Welc... to Longfield.’
“That bad, huh?”
He raised his chin off the bar counter. Rubbed a hand across his stubble. Was it that late? “It’s been worse.”
She pushed his plate to one side. Chipped on one side, with a half-eaten chili dog on top. Congealed ketchup had put him off.
“You want to tell me about it, cowboy?”
Mac fumbled for his glass. “Not really...” He stopped, turned, focused... “The last one looked a lot like you.”
Her crimson lips parted. “Last one?”
He tipped his glass. Gulped. Liquid burned its way down. “Before the roaches.”
Her nose twitched.
Mac slammed the empty glass on the counter. Closing soon. Not that it mattered. He could drink there all night if he wanted to. Like he had before. Just him and a bottle. And a night lamp for company. “You want one?”
She shrank away. Picked up her bag and stood up. A glimpse of black nylon sashayed through his vision. “Another time.”
He stared at the empty bar stool. Mumbled to himself. “Another time, huh?”
“Like I said, every time the Bees come into town, 24 hours later a girl is found dead.” Jake put down the Stockton Daily Herald and looked at the girl with the crooked nose. “These here crime stats prove it. Emmy, you better watch out, taking pics and all.”
“You believe everything in a newspaper, you’re such a moron.” She picked up her coffee cup and drained it.
“You want another refill, babe?” he said.
He watched her rubbing her shoulder, the one with a butterfly tattoo on it. “I want some new tops and jeans, would be good. All I get is you talking crime crap. When you going to grow up and get a job?”
“How many times I tell you, every day I go down town and sign on the line. There’s nothing doing for college grads, especially those with a CSI hobby. They look at me as if I am unhealthy or something, wanting to play around with dead bodies and all.” He pointed his finger at her. “And I’m not the one who’s got a doctorate in forensic photography.”
Her voice rose. “That’s what I mean; I’m the one that’s bringing in the money, while you just sit around all day drinking coffee and getting stoned.”
They were sitting in Joe’s Joint, like they had done for the last few weeks. Mega breakfast for five bucks. Fast food, fast moving clientele. But not them. He lazily chased french fries around on his plastic plate with his fork. “Maybe you can wire your folks,” he said.
She snapped at him. “My folks have wired us money through thirteen states; you think they’re happy about that? They say you’re a long-time loser and I should dump you in the nearest trash can.”
He backed off a little. “Well I guess your folks don’t know me too well. Truth is I could hit it big and be a millionaire next week for all they know.”
“Yeah like hell you could. You can’t even get a hard on every morning like most men. I got more balls than you got.”
Jake squirmed around a little and looked out the coffee-shop window. “Well maybe things will change with the Bees in town,” he said, hopefully changing the subject. “Should be plenty of action until they head off to Longfield.”
She sounded mad. “Look Jake, just admit it, you’re a god-dam failure. You’re wasting my life. God knows why I’m still around.”
“Your period due, babe? You want some weed and relax awhile?”
“Go to hell.”
Jake sighed and signaled for a refill. This relationship was past its expiration date. They both knew it.
Babe George, Bees quarterback, drained his coffee cup and looked at himself in the changing room mirror. A hard mean machine, all muscle no fat. The women would get wet just looking at him. Saturday. Who would be the lucky one that night?
“BG, you decent, there’s a photo shoot wanted?” called out Ruth, the media girl, from outside the wide-berth trailer. “Freelance magazine coverage. Here or at the hotel? Emmy is your shooter.”
“Yeah, I’m cool. Send her in. We got all our gear and stuff stashed here. You want me reclining or pumping iron?” Ruth forced a laugh. “I guess that’s her call,” she replied in a way that let BG know not to mess around. Well that was too bad. If she thought they were an item, she was mistaken. He earned millions on the field and in sponsorship deals. He appeared in every magazine on the shelves. A stack lay on his bedside table at the hotel. Pussy like Ruth was available everywhere.
“Hi Emmy, I’m BG. You can call me anytime.” BG looked at Emmy. Eight point five, nice body, sexy smile, would have been a nine had her nose been smaller.
She looked around. “Plenty of space in here BG. And the lighting’s fine.”
He put on his winning smile. “I look better in Spandex. Women like to see I’m all man.”
She seemed impressed. Well who wouldn’t.
“Maybe we can get around to it, later,” she said. A grin on her face. She started to set up her camera equipment. “But first, there’s a commission from the Christian Coalition.”
BG twitched. “Christian Coalition? That’s a joke, yeah?”
She shook her head and fiddled with the camera lens. “Seems like kids, even Christian ones, have idols. Let’s face it BG. You are big news right now.”
She sure could handle herself, thought BG. “Full gear then?”
She nodded. Tested the flash. “Not the football helmet.” She smirked. “I want a full frontal BG...” her voice tailed off.
BG got the message. Was he on to a winner here? He made sure she left the photo shoot with his cell phone number.
It didn’t take long. He was relaxing in his executive Jacuzzi when the call came through.
“BG, this is Emmy. Meet me for a drink or something after the game?”
He soaped his chest. “Something would be good. Where you wanna meet?”
“Say I pick you up outside your hotel, around nine tonight,” she said. “I’ll bring my camera for some candid pics, Okay?”
He laughed. “Tell you what; meet me outside Joe’s Joint in the parking lot at the back. It’s quieter than the hotel.” Meaning he’d avoid Ruth, the fiery Latino he’d hooked up with.
“Okay. Do not be late or I’ll start without you.”
BG smiled. Patted his erection. Easy as taking candy from a baby.
Emmy was looking forward to her date with BG. Eight point five, nice body, sexy smile, would have been a nine except he was full of himself, God’s gift to women. Well she was up for it; the cheap motel room was claustrophobic, and Jake had been useless in bed the last few days. Come to think of it he was pretty useless at anything except getting stoned.
Jake was lying on the unmade bed on top of the grey-white sheets with a damp smell. Emmy bent over and shook his shoulder. “Jake wake up. You want some more candy? Smoke while I go and get supplies.” Treating him like the baby he was. She stood looking at him, bag on her shoulder, camera equipment and a change of underwear inside.
Jake stirred. Saliva oozed out of his lips. He tried to focus. Shit I’m stoned,” he murmured, closing his eyes. “See you later.”
She gave him the finger. Time to dump him, and their non-existent lifestyle. Although he had a brain Jake was not really a man just a youth, a dreamer with a habit, who sponged off her earnings. Her parents were right; she would do well to be rid of him.
“Let’s go for a short drive up in the park, we can have a real quiet time up here with Yogi Bear, no one around.” He put his arm around her and smiled.
Good decision, Emma thought. With BG’s money, this could be a real earner for her. She put the Ford into cruise while BG caressed her thigh. With her attention diverted she didn’t notice the biker on the BMX, who was soon left far behind.
But not for long...