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First Feature: An Anthony Carrick Mystery

First Feature: An Anthony Carrick Mystery

Автором Jason Blacker

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First Feature: An Anthony Carrick Mystery

Автором Jason Blacker

Длина:
360 pages
6 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Dec 3, 2016
ISBN:
9781465909527
Формат:
Книге

Описание

First Feature is a bitingly wry detective whodunit featuring ex-LAPD's not so celebrated detective Anthony Carrick as he juggles mafia lords, drug addled neophytes, nymphomaniacs, gay counterculture, vegan hippies and tinsel town's dark side in a quest to uncover a homicide in the midst of his own personal turmoil. 

Like Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe and other hard boiled detectives before him, Anthony Carrick uses his guts, charm and humor to solve murders and deal with the other sordid details of people's lives. 

Why was one of Hollywood's premier producers bludgeoned to death with his own Oscar? Amongst a dozen suspicious culprits, can Anthony solve this murder and keep Hollywood's seediness out of the tabloids before LAPD Homicide solves it for him. 

Employed by one of the biggest movie production companies in Hollywood, Anthony is working against time. Tinsel Town's image must stay pure. But can he solve the murder before the tabloids publish the immoral truth of Hollywood's darker side? Find out in First Feature. The first of the Anthony Carrick mysteries.

Издатель:
Издано:
Dec 3, 2016
ISBN:
9781465909527
Формат:
Книге

Об авторе

Jason Blacker was born in Cape Town but spent most of his first 18 years in Johannesburg. When not grinding his fingers down to stubs at the keyboard he enjoys drinking tea, calisthenics and running. Currently he lives in Canada.  Under his own name he writes hard boiled as well as cozy mysteries, action adventure, thrillers, literary fiction and anything else that tickles his muse. Jason Blacker also writes poetry and daily haikus at his haiku blog.  You can find his haikus and other poetry at his website www.haiqueue.com.  For FREE books and to stay up to date and learn about new releases be sure to visit www.jasonblacker.com where you can find more information about his writing and upcoming projects.  If you enjoy space opera in the tradition of Star Trek then take a look at Jason Blacker’s pen name “Sylynt Storme”. It is under the name Sylynt Storme where you can find both sci-fi and vampire fiction written by Jason Blacker.  “Star Sails” is the space opera series and “The Misgivings of the Vampire Lucius Lafayette” is his vampire series.

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First Feature - Jason Blacker

Tony.

ONE

An Omelet And A Murder

I was sitting in my bed. Pirate was across my shins, his warm, limp body hot. His breathing was shallow. It was warm in here and his fur wasn’t helping any. California was enduring another heat wave. My window was open and the blinds were still. You could smell the smoke from the fires up by Falling Springs. They’d been raging three days already. The smog was worse, if you could say that in the valley. The sun was creeping in through the window. Slowly inching towards the bed. Trying to creep up on Pirate and I. I wasn’t going to let him.

I was reading the Book Review section of the L.A. Times. It was Sunday, and I liked to look at the books. I read when I can. Takes my mind off things I’d sooner forget. The Overlook was getting some good reviews from the Times. I liked mystery stories. Funny thing is, truth is stranger than fiction. I was reading out of one eye, like Pirate might. Smoke was snaking up from my Marlboro stuck in my mouth and irritating my left eye. I might have been winking if I’d had a lady in bed next to me. I didn’t. That was a shame. But I wasn’t crying about it.

My cell phone started ringing. Like on old fashioned telephone. Ring, ring, and then a pause. Then ring, ring again. I liked it better that way. I sucked on my cigarette, pulled it out of my mouth and rested it in the glass ashtray. I picked up the phone and it vibrated in my hand. I didn’t like that too much. I’ve got to turn that vibrate off.

Yes, I said. It was nine in the morning. Pirate looked at me out of his one good eye. He wasn’t impressed. He was trying to get some sleep around here.

Anthony Carrick? It might have been a question. I wasn’t sure. It was a man’s voice. Deep but young.

Sure.

Mr. Carrick, my name is Jeffrey Stein, special assistant to Miles Kaufman at NBC Universal.

I wasn’t impressed. Maybe because I didn’t know a special assistant from a secretary. But that’s probably just me.

Call me Anthony, Jeffrey.

Sure. Listen Anthony, Miles wanted me to give you a call see if you’d help us out with something, um, how do I say this. Something discreet.

I know discreet Jeffrey. In my business most things are.

He was a young guy to be sure. I could hear his Yale pedigree in his accent. Got to love these folks. People dying and they talk about being discreet as if they even know what it means. I sucked on my cigarette and blew smoke at the window. I imagined the blue haze as Aladdin. See if I could squeeze out three wishes.

Chief Frank Burton recommended you to Mr. Kaufman.

How nice, I said. He didn’t know what to do with that. He startled a little the young buck.

Can we meet someplace Anthony? I don’t trust these phones.

Joe’s Main Diner down here on Main Street, Santa Monica. I could use some food. I wanted to see if this young fella was worth my trouble.

Sure, he said.

Ten o’clock then Jeffrey. Bring an appetite, they serve good food.

Okay. Thank you Mr. Carrick.

Anthony, I said.

Sorry? he said.

Don’t be. I hung up the phone thinking I could be sorry. But I hadn’t had any work for a couple of weeks and rent was coming due. Besides I was curious about what seediness Hollywood might be up to. That could get me a few bucks from the Inquirer. Or not. I was discreet. I took a last pull on my cigarette and squashed its nose into the sea of ash. I blew smoke rings at Pirate. He yawned at me. I scratched his ears and he started his diesel engine. That small cat could purr pretty loud. He looked at me through one blue eye and one milky blind eye.

A pirate’s life for us hey boy?

He rattled the chain in his throat a little louder. I glanced back at the paper at my side. The Overlook was getting a great review. The journalist was encouraging us to have a read of it. Even if we’d read it as the New York Times serial. There was new, taut stuff to be had. I couldn’t wait. He had me sold. I figured some of the characters I’d rubbed shoulders with could make for interesting reading. I folded up the paper and tossed it on the floor. I didn’t read most of it much. Too much black stuff. All the macabre and depressing news that’s fit to print. Something like that. I didn’t care for any more violence in my day than I already had. My cup spilled over anyway.

I swung my legs out from under Pirate. He jumped up, stretched his back then jumped off the bed. I got up, cracked my back and went to shower. I don’t usually work the Sabbath. Not because I’m religious. I just like a day of rest. If you can call it quiet at all then Sundays in Santa Monica are fairly quiet. I liked that.

I pulled on some gray slacks and put on a blue shirt. Blue was supposed to be calming I read someplace. Not sure if I was wearing it for me or for Jeffrey. I put on my fedora slightly askance and put a few kibbles in Pirates dog bowl and headed out into the hazy day.

If the earth smoked then L.A. was its ashtray. I’d never seen it so hazy. I figured I’d do my part so I lit up another smoke. Not many people were out walking. Seemed people liked to drive around here. Heard this is where the first highways were built. California that is. But you never hear about sidewalk rage. So I took my time. Admiring the views, which included a young lady jogging by me in spandex. I watched her a while into the distance. Her blonde pony tale sweeping a smile at me. Her firm ass could make a fella forget about church. I smiled after her. She didn’t seem to mind.

Joe’s Main Diner is a great little hole in the wall that you could easily miss, if you were walking by head down in thought. That’s not a bad thing. It keeps it popular with the local folks. Not too many strays. There’s a big tree outside. The climbing kind that I would have tried a handful of years ago. Now I’d just look foolish. I ducked in under its red awning and headed to a two-seater next to the wall. It was busy for a Sunday. Probably around two thirds full. I didn’t mind. I had my regular table. I fished out my phone and turned off the vibrate. I didn’t want to look like a dirty old man. I put my fedora next to me. The phone said ten to ten. Nine five oh. Police slang. I smiled at that.

Hey Mr. Carrick, how are you today? asked Wendy.

Just fine thanks hun. How are you?

A little hung over actually. She giggled then looking down at her feet. She was cute. But I was too old.

How about a coffee for me and for you?

She giggled again like an uncorked champagne bottle. Sure, she said and sashayed off. Her cream colored legs smooth as pudding under a short gray skirt. I took my Marlboro’s out of my shirt pocket and placed them on the table. Couldn’t stand not smoking in restaurants anymore. Bleeding hearts trying to save everyone from themselves. I took a cigarette out of the box and sniffed it anyway. Fresh tobacco and fresh ground coffee. Smells you’d find in heaven I’m pretty sure.

Here you go Mr. Carrick, she closed the k softly in my ear. She had a nice voice. Sultry. Maybe it was the hangover. Maybe it was my wishful thinking.

Thanks hun, I said.

I put two sugars in and two shots of milk. I took a sip. It was sweet and creamy. I thought about Wendy, so I turned my eyes outside. Here people were strolling down Main Street. I saw a short guy get out of a new blue Mercedes. He had on a fine cut suit. Same color as the Mercedes. This was my guy. Dollars to donuts. He took a moment to button up his jacket before walking in. I picked up my hat and put it back down again. He noticed.

Mr. Carrick? Anthony? he said offering a slim hand with long fingers. I stood up and shook it hard. He was limp. Impotent. I figured he was smarmy, maybe even a liar. You can tell a lot about a guy by his handshake. He squirmed out of it and we sat down.

Yeah. It’s Jeff right?

Jeffrey, he said. I smiled at him. He winced a smile at me. Wendy came by. My moderator. She offered us each our own menu. I was hungry. I was going for the omelet.

But I didn’t say anything. I let Jeffrey look through the menu. He pushed it far out from him, holding it out in those hands that had never known honest work.  He wasn’t squinting. I figured he just wasn’t impressed with what he saw. Too bad for him. I don’t think a guy like him eats at places like this. His breakfast probably costs me a week’s groceries.

Wendy came back to see what we’d settled on.

The omelet special, I said. She refilled my coffee. A real sweetheart.

Jeff looked at me and then at the menu and then at Wendy.

Perrier, is all he said. Jesus, guy wouldn’t even join me for a coffee. I winked at Wendy.

Thanks hun, I said.

So what can I do you for Jeff? I asked looking him in the eye. I thought I saw a spark behind his. He interlaced his fingers in front of me and laid them on the table. We were getting down to business. I took a swig of coffee.

One of our producers was found dead last night, he said trying to muster his sincerest earnestness. He had nice blue eyes. Not the eyes themselves, the color.

I figured that much Jeff. I looked at him steady. He looked around the room like he was going to offer me a big secret.

He was murdered. Hit over the head a bunch of times with an Oscar. I smiled at the irony.

Sounds like something for homicide, I said.

They’re looking into it. But we want you on board. There are things with this producer that we’d rather have kept discreet. He had, uh, habits that we’d sooner have uncovered by you and dealt with by you rather than hearing about it on the news.

So you’re hoping I’ll clean up some garbage.

He smiled at me but his eyes didn’t. Wendy came by with his water in the nice little green gem of a bottle. She offered him a glass. He looked at it but didn’t like what he saw. He drank from the bottle.

We don’t own the police Anthony. If we’re paying you we have a little more leeway. I understood what he meant. I was about to become his employee. I hadn’t heard him be so honest up until now.

That’s still not going to keep everything out of the papers. You could still be burnt. Besides haven’t you got PR for stuff like that.

Indeed. And that’s what they’ll be used for if it comes to that. Mr. Kaufman believes that with your help less will be leaked in the first place. We’re hoping that you soften up the suspects and especially the murderer for an easy prosecution.

Half his water was gone. Half my patience with his rhetoric too. Wendy came by with my omelet. Hash browns on the side and a couple of sprigs of parsley. Fine dining. I tossed salt and pepper on my omelet. I liked the way they lived in harmony. I was generous with them both. I’m just that kind of a guy. I caught Jeff raising an eyebrow at my food.

You want some Jeff?

No thanks. I tucked in. I was hungry and it smelled good. It needed some heat. I grabbed Tabasco and squirted it on. Perfect.

Okay Jeff. Tell me about this fella of yours. I was feeling more inclined to hear what the suit had to say.

What do you mean Mr. Carrick. I just told you he was murdered last night. What else would you like to know?

How about the fella’s name? His wife, kids, that kind of stuff. This guy was green. New like that suit of his. I swirled my coffee around in the mug. Swallowed some. Chewed some food. Looked at Jeff waiting for his inspiration.

Max Ernst is, uh, was his name. His wife was, uh, is Vanessa. Nee Gideon and they have one son. His name is Walter. What else would you like to know?

Max you say. Like the painter. I’m a fan of the Dadaists.

He gave me a quizzical look. I guess a Yale education doesn’t get you anything but a high paying job nowadays. No culture in kids. I thought I’d lob him an easier one.

Was he killed with his own Oscar or someone else’s?

His own. But the police probably have that already as evidence.

Have they arrested anyone?

No.

Who found him?

Vanessa, his wife when she came back from Pilates. Pilates. These were my kind of people. New age shit for people with nothing but their own navels to gaze at.

Where did he live? What is the address of the scene? I was finishing up my omelet, washing it down with coffee. I needed to leave soon. I needed a smoke.

Eight Lexington Road. Nice big white house with tiled roof. You can’t miss it. Besides, there’ll be a patrol car out front anyway.

He finished his water and put the bottle off to the side. Very carefully. Tight up against the wall.

Is there anything else you need? he asked. This wasn’t his kind of place. He wanted to get going.

Twenty five Benjamins Jeff. And a number to reach you at. I pushed my empty plate up against his green bottle. They clinked.

Twenty five what Mr. Carrick, he said fishing a card out of his wallet and placing it on the table. I looked at it. Special Assistant it said. Jeffrey Stein. 555-1669 cell. NBC Universal.

Twenty five hundred dollars Jeff. I work for a living. It’s five hundred bucks a day plus expenses like this breakfast. Thanks.

Okay Mr. Carrick.

He put those delicate hands back into his wallet. Nice wallet. Thick and soft. Probably calf. He counted out twenty five Benjamins from about thirty or forty of them. A nice thick wad. He put them on the table fanning them out for me to see. He dipped back into his wallet and pulled out Grant and looked at it closely for a second. He placed Grant by himself on his side of the table.

Grant here will pay for breakfast. He smiled at himself. Cute I thought. That’d be a nice tip for Wendy. She deserved it, putting up with these guys I sometimes bring in. He got up and buttoned his jacket. He offered his hand to me. His fingers this time and I squeezed them hard.

Stay in touch Mr. Carrick. We want frequent updates.

You’ll be the first to know. I smiled after him like a Cheshire cat. I watched him pause for a moment by his car and smile to a woman walking by. A sly fox indeed. He never looked back at me. I took my last sip of coffee and got up putting on my fedora. I put the Benjamins and card in my back pocket. I scowled back at Grant. Treat her right I told him. Meaning Wendy. Then I walked back out into the hazy day. My mind no clearer. My conscience neither. I stopped outside by the tree and fired up a cigarette. I leaned against its gnarly bark. I inhaled and wondered what the hell I was getting myself into.

TWO

And The Oscar Goes To

SOMETIMES I like to walk down by the beach. See the tourists clicking cameras on the pier. Oblivious to the seedy sides that rub by them unknown. More often I just like to walk around down by the pier and watch people. Try and see if I can find any diamonds amongst the coal. Try to make sense of the violence and mayhem bursting at the seams in this city. Sometimes I see good folks. Sometimes my mind sullies them up anyway. Today I had work to do. Today I had dead people to see.

I got into my LeSabre and looked at my map for the best route to the Hills. Hadn’t been there for a while. Not for a long while. The Hills just isn’t my kinda place. I’m not that familiar with these types of people. A nodding acquaintance you might say. It looked to me like Lexington Road was holding up two pendulous breasts. But that’s just me. I figured on the ten and the four oh five. It was nice and quiet on these roads. I like driving on Sunday. I put on the air conditioning to subdue the barbecue smell in the air. Didn’t need sunglasses it was so hazy. The sun was a burning cigarette in the sky. You could almost look at it. I didn’t. I was driving. I passed through the Los Angeles Country Club. Some nice cars out in the parking lot. Much like Jeff’s. Golfers were dotted on the course like colorful push pins. It was too hot to play golf. But they had their golf carts and tub tarts.

Lexington Road is the kind of road you just keep moving down. Past Oxford Way it’s clean as a whistle. Garbage pick up comes by pretty regularly I reckon. In the black and whites I’m sure. No errant shopping carts in this neighborhood. My two thousand LeSabre looked a little shlumpy around these parts. But I didn’t mind. I wasn’t shopping.

I pulled up to the gates next to the patrol car. A guy from the Beverly Hills PD who I didn’t know asked about me. I gave him my name. He checked his clipboard and waved me through. These rich folks sure get things done.

I pulled up to the front entrance behind some unmarked units and the Crime Scenes’ van. I saw a tennis court off to my side. I walked into the house. It was big. Too big for a guy like me. I’d lose myself in it. I saw Mike Cardigan coming towards me carrying his camera and tool kit. He’s a tall lanky fella with a wig of sandy hair. Looks fake but it isn’t.

Anthony, he said, you’re on this one?

I suppose. You guys coming or going?

Just finished up with the crime scene. You can go check it out. Just down the hall on your right. Can’t miss it, a huge office. Messed up now, but nice.

He came up and stopped next to me.

What do you figure? I asked him.

That’s why you’re here Anthony. We do the collecting and collating you guys do the figuring. He smiled at me. He was playing coy.

Michael, Michael. Give a guy a bone here. You’ve been in this game long enough to do some of your own figuring.

I was looking at him. His eyes were a good half foot higher than mine.

Definitely a murder Anthony. Might be a robbery too but a botched one because it seems only the den has been rifled through. John’s on this case. He’s probably back at the station if you want to talk to him. He’s come and gone already.

Who else is here from the family?

Nobody. The wife is at the station with John doing a statement. Maria Rodriguez, the domestic engineer aka the maid is here. I left her in the kitchen fixing us up a sandwich. She didn’t know what to do with herself.

Okay, thanks pal.

Catch you later Anthony. By the way, when’re you coming back?

I looked at him sideways.

Well Mike, I was thinking maybe next week when hell freezes over.

He laughed. Patted me on the back and said something about that coming sooner than I figured. I left him with his tool chest and walked down the hall and into the den. I ducked under the police tape. The room seemed almost as big as my apartment. There was no door. Right behind me across the hall was a bathroom. Just a little further up. The room had a big dark brown desk. Might be mahogany but I couldn’t be certain. I’m not a carpenter. The desk was about the size of a bed. It had a large pad of paper on it, some pencils and pens strewn over its face. The room had hardwood floors. In front of the desk was a large Persian carpet. Probably seven feet by five feet or more. There were a couple of comfy leather chairs on the carpet. One of them was turned on its side. A dark wooden coffee table stood squat between them. Probably cut from the same tree as the desk. Its face was naked. Not a mark or scratch on it. Highly polished dark brown.

As I walked into the room, behind me was a floor to ceiling book shelf. A lot of the books were on the floor, strewn about the hardwood. Some made it onto the carpet. A lot of dead trees in this room. To my left was a set of sliding glass doors looking out onto a large patio. Beyond that was the rest of the backyard. A tool shed in the distance. Off to the side I could see the tennis court.

I passed around the far side of the desk. Behind it was another floor to ceiling bookshelf. Most of these books were on the floor behind the desk. The high leather chair was squashed up against the bookshelf. About six feet away from the desk. I looked around the floor by the desk and noticed a couple of picture frames on the floor. One was face up, cracked and missing half the glass. The missing glass crunched under my foot. I picked up the frame and placed it on the desk. I noticed the one fella in the photo. Brad Pitt with his hand around a shorter heavyset fella with a tidy beard and round glasses. This fella was smiling. He had a space in his tooth. That meant money or something. So I’d heard. This was probably my guy.

I looked at the bookshelf. There were some blood splatters on the books at about eye level and a little higher. This was off to the right of the desk as you faced it. I kicked a couple of books out of  my way and noticed where the guy must have fallen. There was a pool of blood on the honey colored hardwood. Some of the books on the floor had little red spots of blood splatter. A smattering of blood rain. On the corner of the desk closer to me was a smudged bloody stain. I figured this might have been where the killer put the Oscar back down after the event. The blood had dried. Deep wine colored. Maybe a merlot.

I took a seat in the leather chair and looked towards the entrance. There were a couple of drawers in the desk which I opened and found nothing of note except a gun. It was a Springfield Armory XD forty five. It hadn’t been touched. If I was robbing a guy, I’d steal his gun too. Nothing else much of interest. Some odds and ends. Coins, stuff like that. Not much of value. I figured this was a crime of passion. Not a robbery. You’d take the guy’s gun if you had really robbed him. And you wouldn’t beat him with his own Oscar. You’d have your own tools. And that gun. Sitting here seeing someone come in on me. I’d reach for that gun and tap him a few times before he could turn around and say help me Jesus.

I’d seen enough. There were going to be a bunch of folks who could have or would have liked to pop this fella off. Not saying he deserved it. Just saying how these things turn out.

My cell rang. I looked at the number. It wouldn’t say.

Yes, I said.

Anthony buddy. I heard you’re on the case?

It was John Roberts, Captain John Roberts from LAPD Homicide. We went back a ways.

Unfortunately, I said.

C’mon buddy. Listen, it’s great to have you on board. I’ve got a lady here who’d like to talk to you. She figures she knows who did it.

Great. Go arrest him and I’ll go back to the crossword.

It’s Sunday Anthony. I’m heading home for some r n’ r. Come help a buddy out. It’ll be just like old times.

Sure. What’s her name?

Vanessa, he said. Talk to her. She’s the deceased’s wife.

Before I could say anything a woman’s voice was on the line.

Mr. Carrick, she said. She had a raspy voice. A practiced smoker.

Yes.

When can we meet? John tells me a lot of good things about you. I’d like your help.

Well Ms. Ernst I’ve been employed by your husband’s employer.

Oh, she said. The air had been punched out of her.

But I’m more interested in the truth.

Okay. So you’re looking for who did this to my husband?

Yes. Do you have something to share?

Of course Mr. Carrick. I know who did it.

I bet you do. I couldn’t help myself. Smart woman thinking she’s so clever.

What was that Mr. Carrick?

Just a little remark Ms. Ernst. Where do you want to meet?

I caught her of guard. She thought cops and the like were schmucks. She thought wrong. I had a feeling she’d probably be as good a candidate as any she was going to offer.

Meet me at the Rooftop Terrace. I’m staying at Raffles L’ermitage under Ms. Gideon. Do you know where Raffles is Mr. Carrick?

Sure, I said, just a grenade throw from South Central.

Very funny Mr. Carrick. You’ll need a jacket and tie. You know what that is don’t you?

I let that one roll out the park. I left here hanging there on her own words. Most folks can’t hang there too long. She couldn’t.

Six pm Mr. Carrick?

Sure, I said.

Thanks pal for doing this. I’ll owe you one, said John.

It’s my pleasure, I said. I’m a sucker for a haughty woman.

He laughed at that. Called me a kidder and hung up. I looked around the den again. Seems money can’t always find you happiness. Not that poverty can either. From what I’ve seen though, there are more problems with being rich than poor. But maybe that’s me. Sour grapes. I got up and headed towards the kitchen. Wherever the hell that was. I wasn’t hungry. But I had my eye on the hired help. My colleague if you will.

Down the hall and a couple of right angles and I found it. I was feeling obtuse. I bet this place had a nice bottle of scotch somewhere. I’d ask the domestic engineer. She was sitting at the breakfast bar on a high stool. No sandwiches in sight. It had a black face and thin silvery legs. She had long warm legs and a pretty face. I smiled at her. She didn’t have any makeup but I still liked how she looked. She was Hispanic and I wanted to learn Spanish.

Her eyes were red and puffy. She had been crying. Or else peeling onions but I couldn’t smell them. She looked at me under heavy lids. I’d seen eyes like that. In my dreams.

She smiled feebly. Hello, she said.

Hi. I’m Anthony Carrick. I’m here to find the murderer. Sounded authoritative. But then I realized she’d probably been interviewed by a few cops. I came around to the other side of the bar. I opened a glass faced cupboard and took out a wine glass. I filled it with water and gave it to her. I’m a gentleman. It’s an old school thing.

Thank you Mr. Carrick, she smiled warmly this time and I saw her straight white teeth. Color of milk and the eyetooth sparkled a bit. Might have been a diamond.

I fished out a cigarette and lit it. She didn’t wince. I took a long drag of it and then held it over the sink.

What’s your name? She took a sip of water.

Maria, she said, Maria Rodriguez.

She got up and brought an ashtray to me. I could smell her. Clean and fresh. Soapy. She couldn’t have been more than twenty five if a day.

Thanks. Listen Maria, where you from?

Boyle Heights, she said. That wasn’t what I was asking.

No Maria. Where are you really from? I don’t think they’ve announced the results of the green card lottery yet. I was taking a chance. But I figured I had about a seventy, maybe eighty percent chance that she was illegal. Most of the maids up in these parts are. She looked at me hard. I gave it back. She bit her lower lips but my knees didn’t buckle. But I liked the look.

What you going to do. Have me sent back. I’ll disappear so fast that you’ll never find me.

No, nothing like that Maria. I just want us to start off on the right foot that’s all. I just want to know I can trust you to tell me the truth.

She pointed her chin up at me and crossed her arms over her small breasts. Her lips were full and still pouting. I looked into her brown eyes and winked at her. She broke into a big smile. That’s better.

"Okay, Mr.

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