Girl Gone Wild part 2 (A Lenny Parker serial)
by Jochem Vandersteen
Melinda had red hair and an ivory face full of freckles. She was 15 years old and looked as innocent as a Carebear. I watched her leave the convenience store where she worked behind the cash register. She was still in the skirt and polo shirt she was required to wear to work there.
I was pretending to be window shopping. The guy who taught me the ropes and got me my license, Old Man Jackson, always told me it was nearly impossible to follow a target while remaining unseen on your own. Most professional investigators work with at least three people. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any people to work with. Fortunately I wasn’t a tough looking six foot tall black guy like Jackson but just another slacker with too many tattoos.
A passing hottie wearing shorts and a white tank top gave me a funny look. Disapproving really. That’s when I noticed I was window-shopping at a lingerie store. Good thing I don’t embarrass easily.
Melinda didn’t notice my choice of window and walked past me. She walked around the corner. I sauntered after her, hands in my pockets. Just another slacker enjoying a walk in the sun.
A silver Audi was parked across the street. Melinda walked over to the car. I stopped, kneeled and pretended I had a shoelace to tie. I’m so suave.
Melinda opened the door of the Audi’s passenger side and entered the car. Crap, if they drove off I was going to lose her unless I could get to my Dodge Ram fast enough. Unfortunately, being fast and weighing 300 pounds don’t exactly go hand in hand. I decided to protect myself from a heart attack and memorize the license plate instead so I could find out later who the car belonged to.
The Audi drove past me. I managed to sneak a look at the driver. It was a guy about Bagley’s age with a better tan. He was wearing what looked to be pretty expensive designer shades. He looked like the living example of a midlife crisis. What his connection to Melinda was I had no idea. The peck she gave him on the cheek while they drove past could have been one of those you can give a friendly uncle. It could also have been one of the kisses in a situation I didn’t want to think about.
So I managed to lose my target in the first fifteen minutes of surveillance. Old Man Jackson was turning around in his grave for sure. Memorizing the license plate seemed like a great idea at the time. I even managed to remember it long enough to get back in my Dodge Ram and jot it down on the back of a copy of Revolver Magazine with a red marker. What I didn’t think about was the fact I didn’t have the connections to DMV-people Old Man Jackson had nor the databases he subscribed to. That’s what you get from running a business just a bit too part-time.
I thought about calling Bagley to ask if he knew a guy that fit the Audi driver’s description. I decided against it, realizing it would make me look like an amateur if he realized I’d lost his girl almost the minute I started to follow her.
I needed some help from an investigator that did know what he was doing. Or rather, what she was doing. I decided to crank up the sound of the Biohazard record I was playing and drive to the other side of the city for a visit to an old friend.
Baby Jackson has a real office with a reception desk and everything. A plush waiting room with free coffee and magazines that offered something newer than the sinking of the Titanic. She inherited her dad’s business when he passed away and continued its success.
The girl at the reception desk, a Latino with dyed hair and enough make-up to sign up with Kiss gave me a disapproving look. I get those a lot at reception desks. Maybe I should have worn loafers instead of my Vans All-Stars.
“You are?” she asked. She sounded like she’d just taken a bite of bad pizza.
“Lenny Parker, and old friend of Miss Jackson.” I extended a hand over the counter. She just stared at it.
“Do you have an appointment?”
“No, but she’ll be happy to see me.”
The receptionist sighed. “If you say so.” She grabbed the phone and told the person on the other side of the line a certain Mister Parker was there to see her. It was quite an experience to clearly hear your name but getting the feeling they were talking about a leper.
A door behind the reception desk opened and out came a young black woman wearing designer jeans, a sleeveless purple shirt and a disgusted expression. Her bare arms were muscular and she wore cornrows. She accessorized with a shoulder holster carrying a big ass relvolver. “Look what the cat dragged in.”
“Nice to see you too, Baby.” I didn’t even know her real name. Everybody just used to call her Baby to distinguish her from her dad, Old Man Jackson when I used to work with him.
“I really don’t have a lot of time to waste with you,” she said.
“Won’t take much. I just need a license plate checked.”
“And you couldn’t just ask me on the phone?”
I shrugged. “I was pretty sure you’d hang up on me.”
“So you aren’t as stupid as you look,” she said.
“Come on, play nice. We used to work together. That should give me some credits with you,” I pleaded.
“I had a stronger bond with the turd I flushed this morning,” Baby told me. The receptionist guffawed.
“That’s really mean. That hurts.” I made a gesture resembling being stabbed in the heart. If I started to suck as much at being a roadie as I did as a PI maybe I could become a mime.
Baby turned around and walked to the door. “Just fuck off, stupid clown.”
“It’s okay, it’s okay. If you’re short on time right now I’ll just have a seat in the waiting room and wait until you have some time to see me.”
I sat on the couch and made myself comfortable, putting my feet on it and laying back. I picked up a copy of Time Magazine. “Don’t you have some comic books?”
Baby turned around, arms crossed. “I don’t to put off any potential clients. Come the fuck in.”I jumped off the couch with remarkable agility for a man of my girth and followed her through the door behind the reception desk. I stuck out my tongue at the receptionist before the door closed.
TO BE CONTINUED