‘Brah, I got bail,’ he said. ‘Judge followed all my fights. Trial date three months down the line.’
I reached my hands through the bars and gave him a high five. ‘Awesome,’ I said.
He grinned some more. ‘I told Mister Taylor I’d stake your bond, even if it’s two million bucks.’ He pointed an extremely large finger at me. ‘Don’t be jumping bail, brah ... you hear me.’
I choked up; didn’t know what to say. So I gave him another high five instead.
He turned. ‘See you in court, brah,’ he said, and walked away.
In court the next day, I had everyone rooting for me; Janet, a more conservatively dressed Rupert, a vocal Smokin’ Joe, and an inspired Jameson Taylor who made me look like an all-American hero who’d been wronged. Patterson was subdued, and the prosecuting attorney didn’t push for confinement. The judge - same one that heard Smokin’ Joe’s case - was lenient. My bond, courtesy of Smokin’ Joe, was posted at one million bucks, and my trial date set six months away.
Enough time to find the motherfuckers that had set me up.
‘Rohypnol is a date rape drug. Mixed with cocaine it acts like a speedball ... really fucks you up. Add alcohol on top and it’s a lethal combination.’
That’s what Taylor told me when he showed me the blood test results. We were sitting in Sandy’s bar planning our next step, him, Janet and me; plus my surfboard and a new Nokia cell phone. No alcohol after the celebratory excesses the night before with Rupert, we were dining out on Cokes and burgers.
‘We struck gold,’ he continued. ‘The police lab was satisfied with evidencing the cocaine residues. That was enough for them.’ Then he frowned. ‘But the Chablis bottle hasn’t been found. That would have been the corroborating evidence.’
He didn’t seem too happy, which worried me. ‘What’s that mean?’
He sighed. ‘Patterson still has a very strong case. At best, we could be offered a plea bargain to get the charge downgraded to second degree homicide.’
‘No way,’ I said through clenched teeth.
Maybe it was the way I said it. Full of conviction. He exchanged looks with Janet; then he stood up to leave.
‘Keep me in the loop,’ he said, sliding a couple of hundred bucks under his glass to keep me afloat. ‘Otherwise, I can’t defend you.’
A roundabout way of saying he couldn’t be seen to sanction anything illegal, which was a green light for Janet.
After Taylor had driven away in his Land Cruiser, I stepped up a gear. ‘I’m going to beat the shit out of those fags, until one coughs.’
Janet grasped my wrist to calm me down; I could feel my muscles gradually relax under her touch.
‘They’re in Hollywood, now,’ she said, softly. ‘Told the police they’d come back for your trial.’
I slumped back in my seat. I struggled to think how I was going to trap these gays. I fiddled with my Nokia, but suddenly I sat up as if shot, shook off her hand. The something lurking in the back of my mind had surfaced.
She’d had her cell with her at the pool before she went for a short siesta before dinner.
That’s the last time I saw it. ‘Janet ... the police inventory. Was Linda’s cell phone on their list?’
‘No,’ she said. ‘I asked the same question, but Patterson shrugged it off. Said it didn’t matter, he’d solved the crime ... sorry, didn’t mean to ... you know...’
‘It’s okay,’ I said. ‘Understandable, he would think like that.’ But maybe it was in her room; I had to find out. I stared hard at Janet. ‘I need to get back in there.’
She shook her head. ‘Unlikely ... I drove past the mansion yesterday. They’ve upped security ... guards on patrol, and CCTV cameras being installed.’
I liked the way she said “unlikely”. She was already figuring a way in. I loved this woman - brains and beauty was a powerful aphrodisiac.
She seemed deep in thought. ‘You told me that everything was contracted out to a service company ... right?’
I nodded; wondered what was going through her mind. Marine Corps raid, maybe?
She blew me a kiss. ‘You’re going to be a pool maintenance engineer.’
‘Simple. Pool is polluted, needs a clean, right?’
I couldn’t argue with that - Linda’s body, for starters.
Janet was on a roll. ‘Even if it’s been emptied and sanitized, it needs to be checked out. So does the rest of the plumbing. That gets you into the mansion and into the bathrooms.’
A high five, we were in business. A silence filled the air while we figured our next move. I stared out at an almost empty Napoopoo beach. The tide was falling and the big waves were brewing. At that instant I just wanted to climb aboard my Sweet Spot; to blow away the last few days’ nightmare. Janet saw me getting edgy; she surprised me.
‘Teach me how to surf,’ she said.
I did a double take. ‘It’s too dangerous here, not for beginners.’
She grinned at me, took hold of my arm, and dragged me up. ‘I welcome danger,’ she said.
A chill swept down my backbone; I could sense a dark menace hovering over me, but I shrugged it off. ‘Today, you watch. If you like what you see, I’ll rent a wet suit and a board.’
She skipped out of the bar, turned and crooked her index finger. ‘Come on, then, dude.’
My uneasiness passed, and I stepped out into the sunshine; beams of golden light that made the black sand shimmer in the cool breeze. Janet sat cross-legged on the beach under the shade of a palm watching me through her shades while I charged the waves. Fat ones. I was coolaphonic, the coolest of the cool.
For a while, until I got wrecked by a left-hander.
I paddled back to the beach.
‘Aloha, boss,’ she said, throwing me a towel.
I dried off and lazed down beside her, content in her company. I hoped she felt the same. Even though I had a murder-one hanging over me, that day on the beach was magic.
How was I to know my problems were only just beginning...?