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When I woke up the next morning with my face and eyes swollen from too much sleep, thank God, the sun hadn’t burned the earth yet. From the open window, I could feel relatively cool air coming in, which was pleasant to breathe in. To my surprise, Lara was missing from the room again. The fact disturbed me quite a lot this time because I was starting to think she was conducting her own investigation, which was different from mine. This couldn’t lead to anything good, for sure!

I thought about the situation. My discussion with her about changing base camps was obviously on hold now, and the delay could pose a significant threat to our investigation and even our lives. We had no reasonable chance to find information about her sister while staying in this miserable hotel, and it was a much better option if we switched it to my place because we only blew tons of money here instead of paying my rent with it. It was a good idea indeed, but I knew bringing my assistant on board with this wouldn’t be easy. She would probably resist by all means possible.

Since it was still too early to go out, I spent the morning taking a shower, shaving, watching TV, smoking a pack of cigarettes, and doing three medium-level crossword puzzles in a couple of months old newspaper, which I found ditched behind one of the nightstands. Somewhere around noon, when the weather became “pleasant” and “stimulating” for work, I sneaked out of the room to tackle another urgent problem of mine—Sandra. From now on, I did not intend to show good manners when communicating with her. With my latest findings about her business, we didn’t have to play hide and seek anymore.

When I walked down to the lobby, however, I found the reception desk empty. I peeked into the bar too, but she wasn’t there either. My next try was in the parking lot outside, and I noticed her red Porsche there as usual, but now, there was another eye-catching monster parked right next to it—a bright-red Ferrari Testarossa, which I had never seen before. My intuition immediately suggested something strange was going on.

I nervously looked up and down the street, and since I couldn’t see a living thing around, I walked back to the lobby. I moved behind the reception desk and tried the door behind it, where I had noticed Sandra sneaking in a couple of times. Then I cautiously opened it.

A very long and narrow corridor stretched in front of my eyes, and the fact didn’t surprise me at all. Lately, I was on a roll to come across such places, but they usually brought me nothing but trouble. I was happy that this one, at least, wasn’t decorated with pictures of celebrities, and it wasn’t red, which I had already started to accept as an invariable characteristic of corridors in general! Instead, the one before my eyes looked ordinary and quite dark, and it was clearly part of the hotel’s office area.

Since no immediate danger presented itself in the following minute and I didn’t know what else to do, I decided to follow the established routine in such cases and sneak recklessly inside in search of god knows what. If Lara were here with me, that’s what would have happened anyway, so there was no point in kicking back!

A small awning window on the dead-end wall ahead of me was the only light source in the corridor, and there were two lines of doors evenly distributed along both sides. I tried the first one to my left, but it was locked. The one to the right of me gave in, and when I opened it, it revealed a laundry room full of all sorts of bed linen, robes, tablecloths, towels, and housekeeping uniforms. Weirdly enough, there was also something very bright and flashy-looking among them, which I couldn’t identify at first, but then I realized it was a red latex sado-maso outfit.

I looked at it, quite surprised. It was so weird; I couldn’t even imagine why someone would send such a thing for laundering, so I stepped into the room to examine it. When I did it, it all got even weirder. I saw a leather whip, which was obviously part of the set, and I used it to check out the SM suit without touching it. It was nothing special, actually—just a cheap outfit—and I looked up at the laundry chute opening. Someone had probably dropped it here by mistake or gotten rid of it after a wild night of role-playing—maybe a hotel guest. I pictured myself for a moment wearing it, but I decided I looked really awful in it and quickly took it off before the laundry lady came around and caught me in the middle of my virtual try-on session. Then I hurriedly stepped outside, ashamed.

I quietly shut the door behind my back and resumed my search behind the second door to my right. Quite in the order of things for a place next to the laundry room, it turned out to be a drying room. In contrast to the mess I found back there, everything here was hung on hangers and racks or neatly folded and placed on shelves along the walls. I looked around for a minute or two, but nothing caught my eye, so eventually, I sneaked back outside.

My inspection continued with the second door to my left, which was locked again. After trying it, I stopped in the middle of the corridor and asked myself what the hell I was doing here. My search seemed completely pointless. What did I even expect to find in a hotel except for dirty laundry and stuff of this sort? After all, the place was supposed to serve guests, not be a drug hub or something! Despite this, I continued my raid and approached the third door to my left without speculating anymore about whether I should do this or not. I grabbed the lock, expecting to storm into some kind of supply room now or even the kitchen itself, when my hand froze in the middle of my gesture. I could hear faint voices on the other side.

I nervously glanced up and down the corridor and listened carefully to the people talking. It seemed that a man and a woman discussed something, but they were obviously deep in the room or deliberately kept the conversation quiet because I couldn’t recognize a word. Highly intrigued, I embraced the door, pressing my ear against the wooden surface in a desperate attempt to catch something that made sense. After a few seconds, my heart started beating wildly because one of the voices sounded familiar to me. It was Sandra’s!

“Don’t worry, I’ll get the sluts!” she said quietly.

“When?” the man’s voice asked worriedly.

“Soon enough! The first chance I get!”

“I’m gonna ride them well!” the guy continued.

“What the hell are you talking about? Why would you do that?” The hotel owner scolded him. “I’ll personally sperm every single one of them and flush their lashes down the toilet!”

I drew my head back, seriously surprised and wondering what was going on. Something was terribly wrong with this conversation! I eavesdropped again, and in my attempt to hear better, I literally scratched on the wood with my nails like a puppy dog who wanted to get in, and if I kept doing it for much longer, the guys inside were going to suspect something, and come check out what was happening. If they did it, given my pose here, I would surely roll inside the room and thud on the floor like a sack of potatoes, with absolutely no excuse why I hung outside.

“There’s another problem, though. This dirty mop, Mellrow, keeps smoking around!” Soon I heard Sandra talking again, and when she mentioned my name, I felt an unpleasant chill crawling up my spine. I had no idea she considered me a dirty mop, and I definitely didn’t know she was so pissed off by my smoking!

“Don’t worry,” the man in the room tried to soothe her frustration. “I can arrange for someone to taste his dick.”

“No. It would be better if I gave Tanaka a hint. He’d take care of it!”

After hearing all this, I felt really worried and stirred uneasily behind the door. Probably I had to be flattered that people thought so highly of me that they wanted to send someone to suck my dick, but strangely enough, I wasn’t! My entire eavesdropping outside in the corridor continued until the moment when my mind finally overcame the initial shock, and while shaking off the sexual context of the conversation, it suddenly grasped the true meaning of the words. After that, the puzzle pieces twirled frenziedly in my head, and they all took their right places.

So the overall meaning came out like this: the guys inside had laid their hands on a bunch of sluts, and instead of riding them, the man wanted to hide them, but Sandra disagreed. She insisted on committing the horrible act of burning them—not sperming them—and getting rid of their ashes in the toilet. She probably wanted to do that because I was a dirty cop, and I poked around, and she was sure I wouldn’t stop unless she sent someone to give me some kind of oral pleasure! I really didn’t understand why “tasting my dick” had to be a bad thing, but from the context of her words, I could definitely draw the conclusion it wasn’t good either! The entire thing with the sluts and their burning also didn’t fit very well, but the problem was solved pretty soon when the man’s muffled voice exclaimed, “I really hope Tanaka hasn’t made any copies yet!”

“I doubt it,” Sandra firmly rejected his idea. “He didn’t have a reason to suspect anything!”

Then I suddenly got it all figured out. The baggie that changed owners a couple of times—first Larry and Bob, then Tanaka, then Sandra—contained a bunch of pictures, or most probably the photo negatives of these pictures. The sluts, that is to say, the shots, were clearly of importance to all these guys because otherwise, Tanaka wouldn’t have killed Larry and Bob in the yard, and Sandra wouldn’t have taken the risk to sneak inside Eternity and steal them just an hour later. The only thing I didn’t understand was why she had to lie to the guy inside this room about not having the shots. Was it possible she wanted to play Tanaka and him against each other?

Right after realizing what I had just heard, something else—even more terrible—occurred to me, and it literally made my hair stand on end and rustle restlessly at the door like the leaves of an old poplar tree. Tanaka actually knew nothing about Sandra’s betrayal. On the other hand, he knew perfectly well that Lara and I had been in his club that night, and now my cute little arachnid suddenly wanted to give the guy a hint to “taste my dick” or maybe rather to “waste the dick”! Whichever it was going to be, it would clearly be the fucking end of my stupid life, and my only hope was that Tanaka didn’t yet know exactly where he was supposed to come for his sensual love session. Unfortunately, it wasn’t much of a hope, though!

Shuddering nervously, I quietly removed myself from the door, with horror butterflies flitting agitatedly in my stomach. I actually did it right at the moment when I heard a surprising noise down the corridor, which made all my fears about receiving unwanted blowjobs unpleasantly real. Then, when I looked in the direction of the threat, I froze, unable to move or think because I saw a wonder I had never seen in my entire life so far. A huge ghost of bed sheets was swiftly approaching me with the clear intention of running over me as if I were an annoying pair of dirty underwear standing in its way!

Completely immobilized like a dormouse that sensed a snake at the entrance of its hole, I giddily thought something wasn’t right with this strange vision. My confusion went on until the moment when I suddenly realized—surprised and enlightened at the same time—that behind the ball of bed sheets didn’t hide some horrible mythical monster but just the hotel laundress, who was obviously coming to her “office”.

While still in a panic, I looked back at the window at the end of the corridor, but it was too late to get there, and besides, it was just impossible to squeeze myself through the small opening. At the same time, I couldn’t risk the boss of the hygiene division seeing me here because I would land myself in a very unpleasant situation. Fortunately, the laundry lady didn’t see me, and with her head buried in the pile of sheets, she stopped at the door to the laundry room and started pushing bed linen into it like an old stoker shoving coal into his hot furnace.

I promptly grabbed the opportunity to sneak out of the trap unnoticed, but just as I tried to pass behind her massive buttocks, she unexpectedly bent over and nearly spread my body all over the wall behind my back like peanut butter on a slice of bread. It was really a close shave! Then I quickly ran outside, shaking and continued snooping from a much safer position—sitting in the front seat of my old and tired but also devoted and fateful Ford Galaxy.

I didn’t have to wait too long inside the car. I had been nervously tapping my fingers on the steering wheel for only ten minutes—give or take—when a fancy-looking guy walked out of the hotel and headed to the parking lot. He was more than six feet tall with proportional features, a cleanly shaven face, and short brown hair. He wore sunglasses, and I couldn’t see his eyes, but he definitely didn’t belong in this neighborhood. His luxury gray suit was enough proof of that because it was probably worth the average monthly rent of a small office in this area. The guy briskly opened the Ferrari door and sat in the front seat, after which he started the engine and wildly zipped away.

I worriedly looked at my car and pursed my lips, embarrassed at what I was thinking. The poor thing didn’t object, but it was obvious that she was fed up with my insane car chases lately. I was sure she cursed the day she left the factory and also all the factory workers who never prepared her for the true life waiting for her outside, because these were definitely not brief trips to the nearby supermarket! She had every right to be mad at me.

Despite that, my Ford gave everything to live up to my expectations, and although it wasn’t an easy job and the car had great trouble keeping up, it made it after all. We were helped by two factors: firstly, the guy in the Ferrari wasn’t a very good driver; and secondly, at some point, I started realizing I knew the route very well. I had simply been in this area not so long ago, and when I remembered when and why, I promptly stomped my left foot on the brake, after which—to be on the safe side because Lara obviously wasn’t here—I stepped on my left foot with the right one.

I did all this just in time. Not more than a few seconds later, I zipped like a ballistic missile past the familiar road sign that read Villa Nueva, and abruptly stopped only a few inches from the fence of the place itself. The vehicle snorted in the dust with two wheels in the gutter, while Sandra’s rich boyfriend dashed through the gate, which opened only a moment before he crashed into it. Five seconds later, the gate made a quiet “huum” and closed before the stupid idea of following the guy inside occurred to me.

I nervously looked around and started the engine to move the car to my spot in this peculiar parking lot—the low-growing willow tree. Interestingly enough, even without Lara’s help, I almost managed to bend the bumper again. However, this time, it was the rear one. As it seemed, I had persistently missed too many lessons back in seventy-six when I learned how to drive—particularly those that were supposed to teach me how to do reverse parking.

When I glanced in the rearview mirror to see what had happened, I realized it wasn’t my fault, though. Or, at least, it was, but not only my fault! I noticed my usual spot here was already taken, and I even saw the guy who had taken it. He was a paparazzo, standing by the open door of his own clunker and documenting with his camera my desperate attempt to get my Ford to crawl over his car. When he registered my intention to come out and ask him what he was doing here, he tried to hide the device behind his back, looking confused.

I angrily backed the vehicle a bit, pulled the emergency brake, opened the door, stepped out, pulled my sleeves up, and prepared to fight for my rights. After all, the spot was mine—I found it first!

“What do you want?” The man raised his voice as soon as he realized I wasn’t joking. He obviously thought I was a bodyguard for the big shot who owned Villa Nueva, and since his mistake suited me fine, I diligently took on my new role.

“I wanna break your stupid head!” I roared threateningly and approached him. “What are you hiding behind your back?”

“I’m warning you!” the paparazzo warned me. “I have a black belt in karate!”

“I’m warning you too!” I warned him back. “I have a bad temper early in the afternoon!”

Then I took another step toward him and angrily reached my hand behind him.

The bastard quickly stepped back and suddenly turned around, delivering such an unexpected Ushiro Mawashi-geri in my face that he sent me right on the trunk of my Ford—almost unconscious. It was literally a near-death experience. All the major events in my life flashed before my eyes, but disappointingly enough, they seemed rather trivial now, if not even boring. Then I slowly sank into a soft milky-white fog, and a naked lady in a transparent white gown tenderly stroked my head and told me that my time hadn’t yet come. Afterward, the fog dissipated, and the paparazzo appeared again. He was biting his upper lip not far from me and nervously waiting for my reaction.

I slowly rose to my elbows and slid my butt off the trunk. To test the operability of my jaw, I grabbed it in my hand, and it cracked agitatedly, promising me it would never be the same again. At the same time, one of my eyes had learned to imitate a LED equalizer, and it was improvising on a tune while my other eye watched it, utterly surprised.

I stretched myself a little and looked at the jerk. I wondered whether to turn to my Colt for advice, but eventually, I rejected the idea because we were too close to the mansion. My iron friend was indeed a good adviser, but bad-tempered and noisy in situations like this.

The black belt owner was still looking at me with curiosity.

“I warned you!” He suddenly opened his mouth again.

“Yes, you did that!” I confirmed.

“Besides, you’re not a bodyguard!” He stripped me of my brand new role unceremoniously.

He didn’t actually need to do that. I had already given up on it anyway. I did that for the sake of my well-digested supper when I was older and also for the steadiness of the world before my eyes. Nevertheless, for the sake of my maltreated and humiliated jaw, I decided to pick on him a bit more.

“You sure about that?” I asked condescendingly. “What else could I be if not a bodyguard, and why would I be here?”

“I’m pretty sure you’re not!”

“And how do you know that? You have a crystal ball?”

“No, I don’t. I’ve just never seen you hereabouts.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” I was surprised. “Do you sleep in a fucking tree house or what?”

“I actually sleep in the car!”

“Really? Well, you have a pretty big mouth for a man who sleeps in his car! You realize how pathetic it is?”

“And how is that even connected?” The guy couldn’t see my point, which was no surprise, because I couldn’t see it either. I just wanted to humiliate him.

“Okay, if you really sleep here, you should enlighten me then! What’s happening in the big house over there, huh?” I asked him instead of answering his question, although I didn’t believe he would tell me. “You must know your neighbors, right?”

“Many things are happening. Why is that your business?”

“Oh, boy! You’re such an idiot, aren’t you? Don’t you see I’m a colleague?”

“Bullshit! You’re no colleague of mine!” Sherlock Holmes promptly stripped me of my next lame attempt to disguise myself.

“Why am I hanging around here then?” I tried to mess with his head again.

“How the fuck would I know?”

“I’m a scribbler!”

“No, you’re not!”

“I am!”

“You are not!”

“What do you think I am if I’m not?”

He looked at me closely from head to toe and then the other way around.

“I think you’re a gumshoe!” he suddenly announced with quite a disturbing certainty in his voice.

I looked at him, flabbergasted. What a fucking bastard he turned out to be! I really had to erase the words “private” and “eye”, which I obviously had tattooed in bold letters on my forehead! Because of them, I couldn’t get reliable information from anyone lately. Despite that, I kept playing dumb and didn’t give up.

“Oh, you think you’re so smart, do you?” I said, annoyed. “Problem is that you’re actually very stupid! For one thing, you’re right, though; I’m not your colleague. FYI, I’m a funeral agent.”

The moron looked at me, mildly intrigued, and examined me again. Judging from the expression on his face, I clearly had the appearance of a funeral agent—at least to a point—because this time, he didn’t object to my new role.

“And what’s your business here?” he wanted to know after the pause. “Has someone died?”

“I’m not sure yet. But I think you might soon!”

“Ha!” He ridiculed me. “You’ll have to wait for that!”

“I will wait. I have plenty of time!” I sneered. “I have a client over there in the house who is on her way, so I might stay around a bit longer until you join her. She’s a cute little brunette with green eyes and a hell of a rack. Have you seen her?”

Generally, I was just shooting blindly in the dark without a distinctive idea of what I was trying to achieve, but surprisingly, I hit the bull’s eye in this situation.

“What do you know about the girls kept inside the house?” The guy suddenly narrowed his eyes and asked me in a serious tone.

Feeling hopeful now, I promptly put on a mysterious look and tried to come up with something ambiguous enough to give me room for maneuvering. It was a hard thing to do, though.

“Why do you think I’d spill?” I laughed at him after I came up with nothing in the end. “You’d be better off staying here and watching the windows for a naked boob flashing behind the curtains. It’d be enough for a paparazzo like you!”

“I’m not a fucking paparazzo!” My karate friend snapped at me, offended. “I investigate what’s happening behind the boobs. I’m a serious journalist, so if you’re serious too, you’re gonna tell me what you know!”

I swallowed nervously. I desperately wanted to throw him a bone because the bastard clearly had things to share with me, but the problem was that I had very little idea what was happening behind the naked boobs, and it blocked my imagination. Up until this moment, I wasn’t even sure if there were any naked boobs in there!

“Okay, but you spill first!” Eventually, I shrugged and opted for the childish trick that kids love so much. I simply couldn’t come up with anything more mature than that.

To my great disappointment, the smartass decided to opt for exactly the same thing. At some point, he even started to accept the possibility that I might really be a colleague of his.

“You really think I’m the dumbest person on Earth?” He laughed at me spitefully after considering my idea for a moment and rejecting it. “Don’t you want me to write your material for you so you don’t wear out your typewriter’s keys?”

“I already told you I’m not a colleague, you silly fuck! I was just kidding at first! Boy, you’re really stupid!”

He kept looking at me suspiciously without saying anything.

“I’m a private eye; your very first assumption was right!” I went on afterward, wondering how to win him over to my side. “And also, I don’t investigate stupid sex scandals, but drugs!”

The paparazzo eyed me up for a third time, and now he obviously decided I was telling the truth about myself at last.

“So you think Kurvallo has been using?” He asked me, still not entirely sure about my insinuation.

I puffed wearily.

“I don’t know. Probably, but that’s not the point! What’s so difficult for you to understand here? The point is that he is in the big game! You get it? He’s in the business of drugs and doesn’t care about dumbasses like you who lurk in the bushes around his house, hoping to snap some pictures of a pair of tits.”

He suddenly looked at me sourly.

“Yeah, I think you’re definitely a PI or a cop. You’re too big of an asshole,” he admitted in a second. “But you’re also naïve if you think the DEA’s chief would risk selling drugs at his parties. It’s the other way around; everybody who comes to his parties is already loaded with it!”

I spread my arms in the air, desperate. The guy literally made me want to cry; he was a complete failure as a journalist! Nevertheless, I considered it unnecessary to open his eyes to the truth. There was one positive thing that came out of our stupid little chat, though, and that was the fact that, at least, I knew now whom I was dealing with. The boss of the Drug Enforcement Administration wasn’t some small fry, and his involvement in this entire shit totally changed Sandra’s role in it!

“Well, I spilled alright,” I tried to urge the moron to give me something in return after we watched each other for almost twenty seconds without saying anything. “Now it’s your turn!”

My karate friend took his time to think a bit more, but eventually he decided it wasn’t worth it. I couldn’t blame him, by the way, because, apart from not being exactly a headline, my accusation wasn’t backed up by hard proof. If he only knew, I came up with it just minutes ago!

“I don’t think so! It’s no good,” he announced his final decision at last. “You’ll have to clear your vocal cords and open your mouth wider if you want me to spill mine!”

“Yeah? You sure you don’t want me to clear your asshole by kicking you in the stomach instead?” I suddenly lost my temper because I felt deceived.

He promptly braced himself and took the famous karate posture like a fucking Bruce Lee.

“Okay, okay, relax! I’m just kidding!” I hurriedly shrugged and backed up. “I have no intention of breaking my knuckles fighting a useless battle. Chicks don’t like men with dried blood under their fingernails!”

The wretch looked at me peevishly and grunted. “Given your fucking attitude, I really doubt any chick would hook up with you, no matter what you have under your stupid fingernails!”

I glared at him angrily, but that was all I did. I obviously couldn’t cope with this moron with enviable karate skills, and since he had already demonstrated how painful his kicks were, I just made a sulky face and turned around, choosing to withdraw with what remaining dignity I still had.

I walked to my car, sat inside, and released the emergency brake, after which I slowly drove backward for fifteen yards to park under the shadow of another tree. Then I took a cigarette out and looked around for my lighter. I had just wondered where the hell it was when I glanced through the car window and noticed something was going on outside Villa Nueva’s fence. It made me realize how lucky I was and that I had picked just the right moment to retreat.

Clearly annoyed that a crowd of paparazzi had gathered outside the mansion, five enormously big thugs had come out in front of the gate carrying huge baseball bats in their hands. After seeing them, I momentarily forgot I wanted to light a cigarette. Fortunately, the guys weren’t close enough to get me, and when I said I was lucky, I actually meant just that. This was not the case for my poor “colleague”, though! Before I even had time to worry about him, they swooped on the bastard and his wrecked car.

The proud owner of a black belt in karate didn’t even try to demonstrate some of his techniques. He was tragically aware of his helplessness at this moment and spared himself all the empty hopes and illusions, as well as martial arts disappointments, by obediently letting them smash him like a herd of buffaloes running over a toad.

For fifteen minutes, blood and glass shards were flying all around the place. The guy’s precious camera was disassembled into pieces, and every single one of them was pushed up his asshole. The thugs used the exposed film to tie his hands up and then walloped him for fifteen more minutes. After that, they stopped for a while to take a short rest, and it was only then that they finally noticed my not-so-discreet presence in the area. I shyly waved my hand in the air to greet them.

One of the mutants goggled his eyes at me and promptly left the main group, carrying not just one but two bats—one in each hand. Clearly, he was clever enough to realize he would need additional firepower to cope with me, but unfortunately, he was juggling his weapons rather recklessly, and since I had the intrusive feeling something very bad would happen to him very soon, I just waited in my car without taking any action. When he came about six yards from me, the presumptuous juggler unexpectedly whacked himself on the head with one of the bats so hard that he literally did an impossible somersault and then thudded heavily on the ground, almost five feet back on the road.

The rest of the thugs, who had so far impassively watched their colleague’s individual performance in rhythmic gymnastics with clubs, suddenly realized they were on the brink of losing their group competition, and while bellowing like horny elephants, they threw themselves toward my car with the clear intention to rip my ass off. I didn’t know why, but they obviously held me responsible for their buddy’s failure and the vicious knockout he inflicted on himself.

I waited for them to come a little closer, but when I deemed the situation unsafe and impossible to develop four more times in the same way, I quickly started the engine and drove back as fast as I could. After that, I suddenly turned the wheel and stomped on the brake for a brief moment before changing gears.

It all came out remarkably impressive. I did it just as they did it in Hollywood. There was a lot of smoke, a lot of car skidding, tires screeching—everything you would expect from a good old-fashioned action movie. On top of that, my Ford endured the stress just fine, and the engine didn’t die in the most critical moment of my stunt.

Then I just stomped on the gas again and shot an entire fusillade of small pebbles into the thugs’ ugly faces, racing off in my car in a cloud of dust. I felt completely revenged for their hostile intentions toward me, and after this small act of street justice, my good mood kept me elevated all the way back to the city.

©2022 S.T. Fargo


Damn you, Detective!—Chapter 20 | a Crime Story by S.T. Fargo

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