Chapter 18 (Mark): Still Batting A Thousand
Why couldn't I have hit Mindy? Goda, who nearly slammed into me when I stopped, came running up. Always the cop, he kneeled next to Victor to assess his condition. I'll never hear the end of this.
"Victor? Victor! Oh, my God! You killed him!" shrieked Mindy across the parking lot.
"Me?!" I said incredulous, getting out to check him. "What are you doing with that kitchen knife?"
"Oh. I was, uh--- I was having a pear."
"You hate pears."
"I gave them a second chance!"
"The ambulance is on its way, don't move, pal. Fix, where do you think you are? Daytona?"
"Tell him. Tell him!"
Mindy gave me the punch. The "he's-wrong-so-take-my-side" punch. I hate the punch.
"Gimme that." I felt taking the knife out of Mindy's hand was a wise move at this juncture. "If we could just all calm down here. We can go inside, have a freshly barbecued burger and wait for the ambulance. Oh, and by the way, he didn't kill Viv. And don't punch me." She hit me again!
"What do you mean he didn't do it! You said! You said!" Mindy took me aside and whispered, "The Stuff."
"It must've been wrong."
"You said its never wrong!" she insisted, shouting in my ear and hitting me again. "You said! You said!"
"Don't hit me!"
"But you said!"
Our conversation is a blur after that. Mindy and I have argued so much over the years, we learned to tune ourselves out. The details of the actual problem take a backseat, logic goes on vacation and you're basically seeing how badly each one of us wants to win. Take my advice, if you argue with a woman, just let the argument take its natural course and it's over that much sooner. I guess we must've gotten on Goda's nerves, because he was suddenly standing, all red-faced and furious.
"Shut the FUCK! UP!" he bellowed.
We fell dead silent, more because we had forgotten Goda was even there. Somewhere in a nearby apartment, a couple applauded Goda's
"Both of ya sit on the goddamn curb until the ambulance gets here and don't say a fucking word!"
And we did. It was kind of like having your father yell at you on a trip. Just sit in the back, shut up and walk on eggs until he decides to loosen up.
In the Emergency Room of the hospital, Mindy told me what she had done, but I was only half paying attention. I was more anxious to compare
notes with Goda and grill Victor. And hopefully, he wouldn't decide to sue me. As Goda came back from the vending machines with a coffee, the
doctor walked in.
"How is he doc? He gonna make it?"
"Oh, certainly," replied the bemused doc. "Although, uh, he'll be in a little pain for a while. You can see him, if you like."
We started to follow the doctor, but he gestured to Mindy.
"Oh, okay," agreed Mindy, sitting back down. Then Goda's beeper went off.
"Ah, shit," he muttered. "It's an emergency. Find out what he knows. If he gets cute, tell 'em about our little Japanese friends."
Goda rushed off to a payphone. I had my instructions.
| "Fix, man, Fix," Victor mumbled happily.
He was surprisingly happy to see me, considering I just ran him over.
"Hey, I think Mindy tried to kill me."
"Nah," I assured him. "She was just kidding around. Trust me, I know when she has murder in her eyes."
"That cop was asking me questions. Should I get a lawyer or something?" asked Victor, completely ignorant of our country's laws and
Seventies' TV police dramas. "Mark, you can be my lawyer, right?"
"Okay. Than as your attorney I advise you to answer Goda's questions."
"Let me start you off. We're at the Alien Blue. You, Mindy and Viv exit, Mindy comes back and drinks me a hundred dollars poorer. Where
did you and Viv go?"
"I don't know."
"Victor," I said threateningly. "I'm gonna call Mindy in here."
"Well, I--- I mean, uhhhh..."
I could hear the wheels squeaking in Victor's head. God, I wish I had a nickel for every second I lost waiting for pea-brains like him to catch up. You want to know the value of a good education? Five minutes, man. Five fucking minutes. That's about all the time I can stand waiting for the dullard at the video store to ring up my video or the genius at Castle Burger to get my fries to the window. Without the stress of the Stupid, I think we'd all be in much better health.
"Victor!" I growling, gritting my teeth at him.
"I was in the alley," he finally remembered. "Yeah, I was making a deal with some guy. Viv and Mindy were at the fire escape, ya know, doing their lesbian thing."
"I missed lesbianism?" I inquired, momentarily distracted.
"No, not really. They just did a little more hugging and kissing than normal."
"Victor, I've just about had it. Now either tell me a good lesbian story or get to the point!"
"That's it, man! I dealt the rest of my coke--- What was left of it, to this guy. Then, I don't know, I must've passed out. Viv and Mindy were gone, I went to some dive on the waterfront and passed out in a dumpster. Next thing ya know, everybody's trying to kill me."
"So you didn't see anything?! C'mon, Victor. Viv is dead! And according to Mindy and a reliable source, she got into a cab with a guy who looked exactly like you!"
"I didn't get in no cab, Mark. I swear! I didn't have any money!"
"What about the coke you sold?"
"I didn't pay for the drugs yet, I couldn't afford a cab, man! And Viv don't go with me no more! You think she'd take me home? No way. Not in years. I'm just her dealer, now."
Victor was scaring me. He made sense and I believed him.
"Wait, what happened to the guy you dealt the coke to?"
"Him? Um, I guess he left."
"What did he look like?"
"Real familiar, now that you mention it."
"C'mon, Victor, if you know him, just say---"
"No, not like that. Like he was famous. That guy who does the commercial. With the stuff."
Well, that narrows it down.
"Who? What stuff?"
"Umm, it's in a bottle..."
"Shampoo? Beer? Mustard?"
"Mustard's not in a bottle."
"I think he used to be in a shampoo commercial, but that's not the one I'm thinking of. This was like a medicine, like a pain killer."
"Hemorrhoid creme's not in a bottle you putz!"
|"That's it, though. He did the Hemorrhoid commercial. I think he was a football player."
"That's Nate Jordan, the ex-quarterback! Are you telling me you sold
coke to the Brooklyn Bomber, then he took Viv home and killed her?! Did he give you a free twelve ounce sample too?!"
"Well, he looked like him. Hey, that cop doesn't know about the drugs, right?"
"Victor, we just left Viv's apartment thirty minutes ago. There were about a dozen, very angry Japanese martial arts students there looking to cut you to little pieces. So either you start making some sense or we're going to let them visit with you."
I had enough of Victor's nonsense and stormed out of the room. He shouted for me until I got out of earshot. Goda was back in the waiting room with Mindy.
"He didn't see anything. Some guy he sold drugs to--- Looked like Nate Jordan, I don't know. I think we're back to square one."
Goda kicked over the magazine table in frustration. I looked at Mindy bewildered.
"Chill out, man. He might remember something. In the meantime, you can fill me in on the other victims."
"I can't, that's what the call was about!"
"What?" I looked at Mindy. She's no help.
"They stole his files," she whispered to me.
"Those feds, I told ya about. My captain called the bureau to see if we could get a look at one of the files. No one knew what the fuck he was talking about!"
Oh, no. Not him.
"What were their names?" I asked Goda, my heart pounding.
"What difference does it---"
"What were their names?!" I insisted.
"Agent, uh, Keystone and Nash--- No, Mass. What? You know 'em?"
"Keystone, Pennsylvania. Mass, Massachusetts," repeated Mindy, putting it together aloud.
"Those guys weren't feds. They were two of the Colonials."
I grabbed Mindy by the arm, suddenly having the urge to go back to the office and find my bigger gun. Goda had other ideas.
"Who?" he said, turning me around.
"Look," I said looking around for the hidden cameras and microphones.
"You know I have friends on the Liberators, right?"
"These Colonials are some kind of superheroes?"
"No, their boss," added Mindy.
"The Colonials are just his henchmen. Ex-CIA guys, Green Berets, Black Ops--- All that bullshit. There are always thirteen Colonials and they always take the codenames of the first thirteen states. That's his trademark."
"Who's trademark?" Goda said impatiently.
I knew he wasn't going to believe me, but I said it anyway.
"You heard of 'em?"
|"Yeah, and I heard of the Easter Bunny. Patriot 13's just something they tell the tourists over at Independence Hall."
"I'm telling you, I've seen him!" I insisted, trying not to lose my temper.
"He kidnapped us and tried to kill us," added Mindy, backing me up.
"Patriot 13's supposed to be some kind of legend, like Paul Bunyon or Uncle Sam. He supposed to be a good guy, right?"
"Look, you know how there's the police, but then there's the undercover guys and then there's the FBI, but then there's the CIA? Well, you got your basic superheroes, the Liberators and then you got the super-psycho spies, like Patriot 13. I'm telling you Goda, half the Liberators shit a brick if you just mention his name."
"So why would he steal my files? Who's he covering for?"
"Who does the CIA cover for? Anything to protect national interests. He's a fanatic, Goda. A powerful fanatic who hates me and scares the shit out of me."
"Mark, can you take me home?"
This was all too much for Mindy. She bit her bottom lip and tried to hold back the tears. I think she just did it so Goda would leave me alone and we could leave. It's amazing how we band together when someone causes us mutual discomfort. Goda followed us outside the Emergency Room entrance.
"I'm not finished with you," insisted Goda.
"Goda, we're out of it. Good luck."
"No, I don't think so. Not if you want to keep your secret, secret."
Mindy and I stopped.
"He knows?" she whispered to me.
I nodded, then turned back to Goda.
"Goda, you don't have any idea of what you're dealing with. The Patriot had my P.I. license revoked, had me audited, wiped out my bank accounts, changed my Social Security Card number! And that was just for starters!"
"Yeah, well he pissed me off!" said Goda, as if that were reason enough for me to change my mind. "Now are ya in or not?"
"Fine," I said reluctantly. "But don't come crying to me when you find out you're legally dead. You gonna question Victor?"
"No, first I gotta go home and write down everything I can remember about the other victims."
"Wait a minute! I just remembered! Aldo was supposed to fax me the same information!"
"I don't know, but that doesn't matter. Meet me at my office tomorrow morning at eleven."
Mindy and I climbed into the Fix Mobile.
"Eleven? Why so late?"
"We like to sleep in," added Mindy.