Cry for the forgotten, Part II
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Tiny returned with Eugene in tow six hours later, who was being dragged into the basement against his will by the scruff of the neck. His eyes were red and bleary and I could tell he hadn't slept in fours days.
Tiny lifted him like a rag doll and threw him down into the hard chair unceremoniously the vibration forced his head to snap back and his eyes nearly popped out of their sockets.
I nodded to the massive bodyguard who grinned from ear to ear, I could tell by his face that he enjoyed the personal pain he was bestowing on Eugene.
"No problem, Cat."
"Did he give you any problems?"
"He was as meek as a lamb."
I smiled inwardly, knowing full well, there was little Eugene could do against the giant that was manhandling him, to tell you the truth I enjoyed the level of discomfort Tiny's presence was causing Eugene.
"That ape nearly killed me."
Eugene managed to find his voice it was raw and harsh no doubt from the weeklong binge.
"Really? I guess I'll have to talk to Tuvo about him, because I specifically said to bring you back dead."
I locked into his eyes with my fierce look and I watched as Eugene turned into a pile of jelly in front of me. He knew that I wasn't pleased at all with him.
"Did you toss him Tiny?"
"Yeah he only had ten bucks left, here you go Cat."
He placed the sawbuck in my hand, which I looked at disdainfully. The only remnants left of a three hundred-dollar deal. I was not pleased.
I envisioned ten different ways I could kill him slowly, I was pissed and I made no effort in disguising it whatsoever. I stood up and lifted him half off his chair by the collar of his soiled suit.
The stale smell of cigarettes and whiskey emanated from his body. I pulled his face to within an inch of mine and I forced him to look me in the eye, for once, I was going to make him act like a man.
"You little piss ant you, I should break every damn bone in your body and leave you outside for the rats to feed on."
I could smell the fear rising from his body, as his face turned a dewy yellow and he started to tremble, for a moment I was unsure if it was due to fear from my threat or the DT's.
"I'm sorry, Cat, I meant to come back quickly."
I cut him off not wanting to hear the well-rehearsed speech he perfected over the past four years and smacked him twice in the face to get his attention.
I reached the boiling point with him and I had no intention of forgiving and forgetting so easily.
"Shut the hell up, you little dirt bag and listen to me. I've had enough of your shit and from now on your going to stay clean and sober or so help me God, there won't be a part of you left that your own mother will be able to identify. You pissed away three hundred dollars that rightfully belonged to me. You took the food right out of my mouth and don't think for a moment I intend to forgive you this time, because I'm not."
I saw when he swallowed deeply and a certain distinct odor wafted in the air, I looked down at him and shook my head in disgust. This was without a doubt the worst I have ever seen him. I sniffed the air above him and I'd be damned if he didn't shit in his pants.
"Jesus Christ, you shit your pants you lowlife scum?"
I turned to look at Tiny who was damn near crying from laughter his other two companions were in a panic and weren't sure if they should laugh along with him or be scared. They stood staring at me with wide eye wonder and swallowed deeply themselves.
"Tiny, get this piece of garbage cleaned up and make sure they scrub him hard with lye soap and ice water."
Tiny wiped the tears from his eyes and motioned to his two companions, who quickly responded and with a look of utter disgust and disdain lifted him from the chair like a leper and carried him out the door.
"Damn Cat, you sure did scare the shit out of him."
I looked at Tiny ruefully, still shocked at Eugene's response from my harsh tones, I made it a point to practice my look in front of the mirror, just to make sure I could carry it off, there was something about my stare that seemed to make everyone back down.
"I'll say I did, Christ almighty Tiny, that rotten SOB went through three hundred dollars in one week."
"What are you going to do?"
"Make the little maggot work it off of course, damn, he really pisses me off."
"You'd think that dumb white boy would learn his lesson by now, don't he have enough sense not to mess with you?"
"Some people just take longer than others to learn, but thanks anyway for locating the little lowlife. I owe you one. Where did you catch up with him anyway?"
"Down at the Bowery pub, you should have seen the look of them white folks faces when I walked in there and grabbed him by the scruff of the neck. I thought I was gonna have some fun there for a minute, but they's nothing but a bunch of chicken shits in there"
"Well you don't think that Eugene would go somewhere were he may have to take a punch do you?"
"That boy ain't nothing but a fool and so are you Cat. Haven't you heard that old Harlem saying?"
" What Harlem saying?"
"You play pussy you get fucked."
A deep rumbled laughter emanated from his massive chest as I shook my head and chuckled loudly then held my hands up in resignation as a sign I was guilty as charged.
"Thanks a lot Tiny and they sure as hell don't kiss me first either"
"Dang Cat, why you let that white boy play you for a fool? "
"It's my private penance Tiny that little part of hell Hobbes left behind."
"Yeah, well I knows something about hell, I been married to Satan's mama for ten years now."
We both laughed out loud at his comment, as big as Tiny was, the only person I ever saw pummel him to a pulp was his wife Lucille, a 250 lbs. ebony woman with a short fuse and a mean left hook.
I recall the first time I met her, we were sitting in a bar, I was with Tiny, Tuvo, and the rest of the crew when a larger than life figure entered the place her massive frame covered the entire doorway.
I knew it was trouble when I saw Tuvo stand and back pedal immediately, being no fool myself, I quickly stood and followed suit as the booming voice, roared over the loud music and a dead silence filled the room.
The whispered sounds of "Oh shit" circulated as everyone either ran for cover or ducked under a table.
Everyone held their breaths as this massive six foot tall 250 lbs. raging bull of a woman proceeded to pounce on her husband like he was a 98 lbs. weakling.
In true nature and fashion we immediately began placing bets between fits of laughter, as to how many punches it would take to bring Tiny down. I must say, I won when I placed it at six.
I recall Tuvo snickering and whispering that maybe he hired the wrong family member. After all, Lucille was a far more threatening and formidable weapon than her 340-lbs. muscle bound husband was.
They had two sons that weighed in at 11 lbs. each, at birth and we always kidded Tiny that his sons came out smoking cigars and shaving when they were born.
Still as large and threatening, as they both could be Tiny and his wife had a heart of gold to match. I remember fondly being crushed to death from Lucille's powerful embrace, when I presented her with a custom made bassinet on the birth of her second son Little Man, luckily for me Lucille liked me.
"Well Tiny, we all have our own piece of hell."
"Yeah, but why I gotta live with mine for the rest of my days?"
I snickered loudly and shook my head as I stood and headed towards the door, I turned back nonchalantly and added joyfully.
"Let me know when he's presentable, I need to take him with us."
"Sure Cat, no problem, I'll have him shining like a brand new penny"
It was the next afternoon when Eugene finally appeared neatly pressed and washed, I could tell a considerable amount of coffee was forced down his throat.
As a cruel joke Tiny had him dressed exactly as he was, in black pants and spats with a starched white shirt and tie, though he made sure Eugene's shirt was long sleeved.
I stared at him for a long moment the evident look of disgust in my eyes was piercing right into his soul. He flinched at my stare and I somehow felt a little vindicated.
"Well, you almost look human again, you dirt bag"
Tiny and Miles snickered openly as the sweat started to roll off Eugene's forehead and his face flushed, I had just about tried every trick I could, to get Eugene to straighten up and the most I got was a two month stretch were he didn't go near the bottle.
"I'm sorry Cat, I."
"Shut up, I don't want to hear your sorrowful excuses. Here's the deal I have a new case and I need you clean and sober for this. I'm going to meet the client and after I leave you're going to shadow her, if you lose her for even a minute, don't bother coming back. Tiny will be with you and if you even go near a bar, he's going to break both of your arms, do you understand me?"
I saw the fear flash across his eyes as he looked side glanced at Tiny, who had a smug grin on his face. Tiny licked his lips in anticipation and smiled a mouth full of bright white teeth, I could tell he was hoping he'd have the opportunity to make the threat a fact.
Eugene swallowed deeply and shook his head up and down like a mechanical toy.
"You have my word Cat."
"Your word is useless too me Eugene, just do your damn job and don't think I'm paying you for this one either. The way I see it you're still four jobs in the hole to me after this."
"Sure Cat, anything you say."
I threw the keys to my 1934 Bugatti, a hot little black and red number I had some special work done too, it hummed like a bee and was fast as hell.
"The tank is full and if you need any scratch, just ask Tiny, he'll be holding onto the money."
He quickly grabbed the keys and stood, shaking his head as his eyes actually took on new definition. Eugene lived for two things in life, being behind the wheel and staring at the bottom of an empty whiskey bottle.
"What does the client look like?"
I could tell the coffee was taking affect he was beginning to come back to life again and think coherently.
"You can't miss her, she's a classy kitten, about 28 years, blonde, high maintenance, six feet tall and built to last forever with ice blue eyes, she has a preference for Parisian fashions"
"I got it Cat and I promise, I won't let you down, I swear."
"I know you won't, because if you do, I'll be feeding you to the fish."
Miles snickered loudly, as he looked at Eugene with a pitiful look.
"I was you white boy, I won't be blowing this one, otherwise Tiny won't be the only one you'll have to worry about"
He shifted his toothpick to the other side of his mouth for emphasis, as he stared tritely at Eugene. Miles and Tuvo had just about enough of Eugene they felt he was more of a liability to me than anything else was.
"I hear you loud and clear Miles. Lets go Tiny."
Eugene quickly exited without further fanfare, as Tiny ambled slowly out, shaking his head and watching the frightened retreating figure of Eugene.
I turned to Miles and shook my head in disgust, at the moment, I was angry with myself more than I was at Eugene. I made up my mind right then and there this was positively the last chance I was giving Eugene.
"This is it Miles, I've had enough of him, if he blows this one I'm tossing him to the curb"
"You should have done that three years ago Cat, you can't help that fool boy, he doesn't want any help"
"I know Miles, I know. Where is Tuvo?"
"He should be down shortly, he had a few phone calls to make."
"I have to tell you Miles, this case is getting to me, there's far too many hands in this and I'm starting to fear for my safety."
"Hell cat, what fun would life be with out a few bumps along the way, besides you don't have to sweat it baby, Miles got your back."
I chuckled loudly and hugged Miles he always had a way of making me feel better. We no sooner pulled away from each other, then Tuvo stepped into the room, he was dressed immaculately in a dark pinstripe suit, with a thin red tie and his ever-present diamond tiepin.
"Little brother, I've told you before you can't handle this woman. I don't know why you keep trying."
"I'm just trying to breakdown her resistance Big brother, that's all, one day I'll catch her in a weak moment."
"That only proves more, why you will never win, Cat does not have a weak moment"
I looked at them both and smiled ruefully, they always had a way of talking about me as if I wasn't there. Tuvo placed his arm around my shoulder as we headed to the door.
We got into Tuvo's black caddy and headed downtown to the Ritz-Carlton I had an appointment with the kitten and too tell you the truth I was looking forward to it.
I felt my heart racing as the anticipation built and I was silently wandering what the kitten would be wearing today, the retreating figure of her in the black and white Channel suit stood foremost in my mind.
Miles was riding up front with Jimmy the Gimp, next to Eugene he was the best damn driver I knew. Jimmy got his nickname from an old injury he suffered as a kid.
He was playing a game of chicken with the rest of the neighborhood delinquents were they would stand twenty feet apart and start hurling coke bottles at each other until somebody moved and lost the game.
Jimmy was nine years old and the youngest kid playing in the game, he refused to budge even after his foot was sliced open like a Christmas ham and he was bleeding all over the place.
His mother carried him in tears to the nearest hospital were a drunken ER doctor stitched him up worst then a Thanksgiving turkey.
The butcher sewed his tendons wrong and Jimmy lost the ability to stretch his foot out straight, he now walked with a noticeable limp, hence the nickname gimp.
He grew up with Miles and Tuvo and they were as tight as tight could get, the three were always together and I pitied the fool that tried to come up against them.
We pulled up in front of the Ritz and I climbed out when the doorman opened my car door. I ignored his disrespectful sneer when he saw Tuvo exiting with me.
I noticed the stuck up little shit smile when Tuvo handed him a fin, funny thing about money, it made a man swallow his pride with gusto and relish.
I rang the kitten on the guest phone and gave her the heads up I was on my way up with company, just in case she needed to make herself presentable.
I doubted very much there would be a hair out of place it was evident to me. The kitten took pride in maintaining herself in high fashion.
Tuvo greased the palm of the hotel dick as we ambled up the back elevator and exited on the 5th floor, we reached her room and I knocked softly.
She opened the door and it was the first time I saw her face completely uncovered, her beauty was more astounding than I remembered from our previous encounter.
Her features were soft against the morning light and her eyes were a penetrating ice blue. She was wearing a soft beige Channel dress with a ruffled neckline that plunged precariously low and matching beige shoes.
I have to admit she looked like a million bucks. I could see she must be on the exclusive customer list at the House of Channel in Paris, I'm sure her and Coco was on a first name basis by now.
Her makeup was tastefully light and she wore a pink lipstick on those soft pouty lips that haunted my sleep. I felt my heart leap in my chest when she gave me that predatory stare again.
I quirked my lips and entered and I couldn't help but notice Tuvo chuckle lightly. Tuvo was well aware of my nondiscriminatory tastes and it didn't seem to bother him, as I said, he was a very cultured man.
We followed her into the suite and I have to admit I became hypnotized with the wonderful sight of her derriere rising and falling in front of me.
She pointed to a French provincial settee and indicated we should sit, as usual she was short in the typical pleasantries of good morning and how are you.
There was a small cedar coffee table on which a silver tray with a serving for three was sitting, from the wonderful aroma filling the room I could tell the coffee must have just arrived.
She sat down and crossed her long elegant legs the knee length dress rose higher and graced us both with a lovely view. I could see Tuvo was finding this whole matter amusing by the twinkle in his eyes and the gentle curl to his upper lip.
She leaned forward and reached for the silver decanter and proceeded to pour a cup of coffee, I had a hard time keeping my eyes focused on her hands.
Tuvo turned to look at me and quirked his left eyebrow letting me know the kitten was playing me like a fine-tuned fiddled. I rolled my eyes in disgust an indication I had a difficult time keeping my composure around this kitten.
He just shook his head and smiled and I noticed she didn't ask me how I took my coffee. It seems the kitten must have done some homework of her own.
She passed it too me. Black with no sugar, the only way a true aficionado of the dark brew should drink it. I politely took it and nodded my head. I figured I could play tight mouth as well. I took the first swallow, felt the familiar taste, and then decided to thank her anyway.
She nodded her sultry head in response and then proceeded to fill a cup for Tuvo as well, he watched her with interest, as she proceeded to add milk and four spoons of sugar.
He titled his head towards me questionably. I did the usual shrug of my shoulders and continued drinking my coffee. She never poured any coffee for herself instead she pushed back and settled into the overstuffed chair.
Her back was erect as ever and her hands neatly folded in front of her. She looked at me long like, those icy blue orbs reaching deep into me, then she smiled slightly as I continued drinking my coffee and watched her through hooded lashes.
"What is it that I can do for you detective?"
For a moment I was stunned it was the first words she spoke since we entered her suite, I noticed the kitten must be pretty well off, a suite this size didn't come cheaply at the Ritz.
"I'd like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Tuvo. I believe you may have already met."
I watched to see what her reaction would be.
"Yes of course, we met several years ago at a conference in San Francisco, I have a photographic memory detective, Mr. Tuvo, it is a pleasure seeing you again."
She had a real subtle way of driving the point home I could tell the skirt must have had her hands full with this feral kitten. I quirked my eyebrows up, to let her know I wasn't impressed, but the fact of the matter is that I was.
"It's an honor too see you again Dr. Hansen, I'm only sorry it's under such trying times. Cat, has informed me of the circumstances that has forced you to obtain her services, I hope that the outcome will be successful"
I was just about to take another sip of my coffee, when I held the cup in my hand mid-air, I eyed Tuvo and marveled at his natural ability to make people feel at ease. I saw when the kitten's shoulders dropped a little and a smooth expression crossed her features.
"Thank you, Mr. Tuvo, I must admit I'm impressed that you recall my name."
"Really? Well you shouldn't be, I found that our previous discussion though short was extremely informative and intelligent, you made quite an impression on me Dr. Hansen."
"Oh brother," I sighed inwardly. The shit was beginning to pile so high that I was glad I didn't wear my good shoes.
Besides there wasn't a person within a hundred yards of this kitten, that would be admiring her for her brains. "What the hell, was Tuvo blind or something?"
"Thank you again, Mr. Tuvo, that is very nice of you to say. So tell me detective, how can I help you?"
I looked at the kitten and watched as she reached for her cigarettes. I can tell you, I had no intention of lighting it for her. This time Tuvo could do it.
She placed the smoke on the holder like before and gave me that look again. I tried hard to ignore her expecting Tuvo to quickly step in, but he just sat there without moving.
I couldn't help but think that I just was sideswiped by my best friend, I knew I was right when I saw the smirk across his loveable mug.
I reached into my pocket and lit the damn kittens smoke, It occurred to me that he was amused and enjoyed how the kitten could manipulate me so easily.
"I'd like to ask you a few more questions. I finished reading the dossier and I want to make sure I understand everything fully."
"Of course detective Cat, I will answer all of your questions to the best of my knowledge."
"Good, so lets begin, I'm interested in knowing if you know the whereabouts or Dr. Janeson's secretary, a Mrs. Williams?"
"I believe that Gretchen is living here in Manhattan and is working for another scientist."
"Where and exactly who would that be?"
I asked tersely, I felt my patience slowly ebbing as I began the usual cat and mouse banter with the kitten, without a doubt she was the most infuriating woman I ever had the misfortune of meeting.
"Why I believe she holds a position in Columbia University in the research department."
" I believe it was Dr. Charleston that offered her the position, I must admit I found it strange at first, since Dr. Charleston and Dr. Janeson weren't exactly the best of friends"
She gave me that look, as if I was some kind of dumb mook for not knowing that. I began to rise from my seat when I felt Tuvo firmly grab my forearm and hold me in place.
He knew me well enough to tell that I was pissed and he wanted me to settle down. I breathed in deeply before I continued.
I'm sure my stare let the kitten know I reached my limit, because she shifted uncomfortably in her chair.
"Is there some reason why you didn't tell me of this sooner?"
I knew my voice dropped a few levels and by Tuvos reaction, I could tell it was at its most dangerous, I have to admit the kitten remained cool, as if nothing was wrong or out of place, it didn't make me feel any better.
"I'm sorry detective, I guess I expected you to deduce that from the dossier I handed you yesterday, my apologies"
Though her eyes looked sincere, I couldn't help feeling like she just took me for a ride and dumped like a bad date that wouldn't put out.
From her tone I could tell, she knew I dropped the ball and didn't read the entire dossier thoroughly, I decided to count to ten and bring my temper down to a more respectable level.
"Well, is there anything else you failed to tell me?"
I knew I was sounding condescending and sarcastic, just as I knew that I was more to blame than the kitten, but I'd be damned if I was going to let her know that. For some odd reason, I needed to show the kitten that I was in charge.
"Only that Dr. Charleston is also a physicist and I believe they both attended Princeton together, Dr. Charleston has a position as the head of physics in Columbia University."
From that rueful little smirk on her face, I could tell I didn't fool her one bit, but she was being gracious enough to let me get away with it.
I chuckled and felt my anger drop as I stood staring at her intently, that was the quickest battle I ever lost and I never even saw the kitten coming.
"I see and when was the last time you spoke to either one of them?"
"I've only spoken with Dr. Charleston and it was only after he sent me Katrina's papers."
"When exactly was it that Mrs. Williams went to work for Dr. Charleston?"
"I believe it was shortly after the OSS closed their investigation."
"And that was exactly when?"
"Six months after Dr. Janeson disappearance on October 12th to be exact."
"You didn't consider this rather strange that the last person to see Dr. Janeson alive went to work for her rival, so to speak?"
"Detective, you must understand the field of scientific research is cutthroat to say the least, loyalty is as rare as virgin snow is in the streets of Manhattan in the winter."
"Cat, Dr. Hansen is being quite accurate in her description, the more obscure the field the less of a pool of reputable and gifted people there are to draw from."
I gave Tuvo a look of utter shock and dismay, I knew he didn't intend to embarrass me and was simply stating the facts, but at that moment, I wanted to punch his lights out.
I know he read my mind, because he kept staring at me like I had a dragon sitting on my head. For a moment I was beginning to wander who's side he was on anyway and it occurred to me Tuvo was just as smitten with the kitten as I was.
"Really, I didn't know the role of secretary was in such short demand."
I was trying hard to regain some ground and from the look on Tuvo's face, I could tell I just dropped and fumbled the pass on the two yard line and on the fourth down.
"Actually detective, in the field of research and physics a secretary is required to have an understanding in the sciences. It is part of their duty when they are typing and correcting any documentation associated to research. Mrs. Williams holds an associates degree in physics."
She gave me that raised eyebrow look again that let me know I must be some dumb schmuck off the boat for not knowing that. I was tempted to reassert myself, but from the smug look on Tuvos face. I knew, now was a good time to concede.
"I see, I wasn't aware of that."
"There are many intricacies associated to my field detective that you would not be aware of unless you have worked in it. I apologize for not making it more clear to you. If you will join me for dinner tonight, perhaps I can inform you of the complexity associated with my research, to give you a better understanding of course."
Tuvo snickered quietly and I suddenly felt like the holiday pig sitting on the table with an apple stuffed in my mouth and waiting to be carved and served.
My mouth went suddenly dry, as I pictured what it would be like to be alone with her and sit in a nice romantic atmosphere, staring at her all night from across the table.
I heard Tuvo clear his throat and suddenly realized a few minutes elapsed without me responding. I looked at the kitten and found her staring at me expectantly and waiting for my response. I swallowed deeply before I answered.
"Sure, shall we say at about eight?"
"Eight o'clock will be fine, I will await you downstairs in the lobby."
I know I was still in shock because I was answering her without really thinking and for some reason every time my lips moved I managed to get myself deeper into hot water.
"Tuvo and I will be waiting."
I noticed the look of shock that quickly covered Tuvo's eyes and I almost snickered aloud. Hey, my mama never raised a fool and I needed some protection from this kitten, with Tuvo around I might escape unscathed.
"I'm sorry, Cat, but I won't be able to join you tonight. My daughter is brining her new boyfriend to the house for dinner and I'm afraid my presence is required."
I knew Tuvo long enough to tell a blatant lie one I heard one, I could tell by the distinct twinkle in his eyes he had every intention of letting me squirm in my discomfort.
That was the one thing I hated most about him, he reveled in my amorous discomforts and he had an uncanny way of figuring out when I had the hots for someone and he loved to rub it in my face.
The kitten was no fool either as she watched the entire exchange with an amused look, I saw those hungry blue orbs bearing down on me and I knew I was hooked, it was just a question as to when.
"I'm sorry to hear that Mr. Tuvo, perhaps you can recommend an eating establishment we can go too. I'm afraid this is my first time visiting New York and I am not familiar with the restaurants in this area."
"Actually there's a wonderful little Bistro, Cat and I go to from time to time" I knew at that moment I was going to hate his next sentence and I actually cringed before he said it.
"It's called a Taste of Spain and is a small obscure restaurant in the village, the décor may not be top of the line but I assure you the food is excellent. The owner and Cat have known each other since her days in Spain when she ran with the bulls."
If I would have had, a knife in my hand at that moment there was no doubt in my mind. I would have drove it through Tuvo's heart. He knew damn well, the restaurant drew a certain type of clientele.
One in which two women dining together would be considered an intimate couple and I was smart enough to know a setup when I saw one. Furthermore, I didn't want to squire this kitten to any of my usual haunts it was bad news to mix business with pleasure.
He looked at me with that smug smile of his which I could have smacked right off his puss if I was given the chance. The kitten was astute and noticed our body language immediately, because her eyes took on a definitive twinkle before she responded.
"Really, well that sounds rather charming and I too spent some time in Spain, perhaps we can exchange stories."
She looked at me with that predatory smile again and I had that sudden sinking feeling that I was going to be the main course on the menu. I made myself a mental note to try to look as homely as possible.
I answered through gritted teeth as I stared fiercely at Tuvo, I could see I needed to practice on my stare some more, because it had little effect on him whatsoever.
"Lovely, I can't wait."
I couldn't help but let the sarcasm drip through as I tried my best to avoid looking into those bottomless blue eyes. I heard her rich throaty laughter and actually turned my head to look at her.
"Don't worry detective, I assure you I've already had my meat for the day, I won't bite you"
I felt my damn face betraying me and turning red as a beet and I mumbled under my breath for Tuvo's ears only "Yeah, but has she had her dose of seafood?"
Tuvo chuckled lightly and stood and I rose along with him, he reached and shook her hand firmly and exited quickly leaving me alone with the kitten and her sharp claws.
I raised my head slightly and shot her a crooked grin, I could tell she could see right through me and that I wasn't fooling her. She took my hand and shook it warmly, lingering a little too long before releasing it I tugged at my collar and swallowed deeply.
"I'm heading to Columbia University to talk to Mrs. Williams and Dr. Charleston, I'll let you know what I find."
I started turning thinking smoothly how easy that went, when she stopped me with her rich throaty voice before I reached the door.
"I'll make sure to call in advance Cat, otherwise you may find they will not see you."
I was now promoted to just plain "Cat" and I knew I was heading downhill at breakneck speed with no brakes. I stopped and turned around, trying to look as cool and collective as I could.
"That won't be necessary, I have my ways."
She quirked her lip at me in amusement and I could tell it was her subtle way of insulting me again. I stared at her and stood my ground as she continued to rake me with her icy blue eyes. She jutted her chin out and spun gracefully, giving me her back.
"As you wish detective, I wish you luck."
I could tell I managed to get a rise out of her and to tell you the truth it felt damn good that I could knock her off her game. Though I had a sneaking suspicion I was still stuck holding the short end of the stick, I also noticed I was downgraded back down to detective again.
I quickly opened the door and left her standing in the middle of the room, I saw her shoulder sag as I started closing the door. Tuvo was leaning against the wall and I gave him one of my death stares, he started laughing loudly and I just shook my head.
"I thought you were my friend?"
"I am Cat, I'm looking out for your best interest here" He was still laughing loudly.
"Yeah, well why do I feel like you just fed me to the wolves."
He was walking along side of me now, dabbing at the tears that formed in his eyes. I was glad I was able to amuse him although it was at my own expense.
"I wouldn't exactly say a wolf is an accurate description, I think she is more like a Tigress, Grrrrrrrr"
He made a deep roaring sound with his voice and I stopped walking long enough to stare him in the eyes he was taller than me, so I had to stretch my neck up to look at him.
"I'm so glad I was able to offer you some cheap entertainment, honestly Tuvo you practically handed me over to her."
"I didn't exactly drag you kicking and screaming, a smart girl like you would have figured a way out."
"I did, I asked you to join us, you traitor"
"Now Cat, hasn't your mother told you threes a crowd?"
"Very funny, Tuvo."
"Don't worry Cat, I'm sure you'll come out on top, no pun intended of course."
I heard the second roar of laughter as the elevator appeared and we waltzed in, I know that my eyes were spewing daggers as I stared menacingly at him and succeeded in making him laugh harder instead.
We exited the Ritz and entered the car were he made sure to bring Miles and Jimmy the Gimp up on what happened. There I was sitting in a stifling car with three overgrown gorillas and me as their only form of entertainment it just couldn't get any worst than that.
We made sure to nod at Tiny and Eugene as we slowly passed by them, I had to hope and pray that Tiny and Eugene would be able to tail the kitten.
We headed uptown towards Columbia University and Tuvo and I managed to layout a plan of attack. Through a contact of his at the University, he was going to get me in to see Dr. Charleston. We decided that maybe we should drop in on the Williams dame first she might be easier to rattle.
We quickly exited the car, headed towards the main building it was a hot and humid day, and the air inside the building was stifling to say the least. We went to the sublevel of the building and approached a brown nondescript door labeled Laboratory room 12.
I knocked on the door and no one answered, so being naturally curious we both entered, the room was empty and I could tell by the dead flowers sitting in a vase this must be the Williams dame, desk. I ambled over and took a quick look-see at the items sitting in her desk.
The broad was a clean freak and there wasn't an item out of place, to tell you the truth I was surprised a dame like this would let dead flowers sitting in stagnant water lying about. I opened the top draw and rumbled through the files while Tuvo played chickie at the door.
I opened the third file and found something that caught my attention, it was some notes written in the skirt's handwriting, and I was able to tell because she had a distinct way of looping her "R's." I took a quick look and nodded over to Tuvo.
He immediately swapped places with me and started reading the notes, I could tell by the changes in his face that we found something. He nodded over to me and I left the door for a moment and crossed over to him.
"These are quantum singularity equations."
He pointed to a hand-scribbled note on the side, nodded silently with his chin, this is German, and I'm not sure what it all means. I took out a pen and pad and quickly jotted down the note, I figured we could find someone later that could translate it for us.
We heard the shuffling of feet just outside the door and Tuvo handed me the file, which I quickly returned to its appropriate place, I closed the top draw and straightened up just as the door opened.
A large brooding older woman with white hair and much resembling Broom Hilda stepped in and eyed us both menacingly, I noticed she lingered on Tuvo longer and snarled as she raked him up and down. She had a hairy mold on her right cheek and I shivered inwardly as the picture of Quasimodo entered my mind.
"Who are you and what are you doing in my office?"
Her voice was deep and masculine and for a minute I felt a shiver go down my spine. It occurred to me that at some point in life two people met fell in love and this was the spawn of their union, I shuttered to think what her parents looked like.
"I'm detective Cat and this is my assistant Tuvo. Dr. Hansen hired us to help her locate Dr. Janeson."
I was hoping to appeal to her inner sense of loyalty to her former employer, I noticed as her features soften, which I found quite remarkable having sworn a moment ago her face was etched in granite.
"You can stay, he must leave."
She pointed towards Tuvo without ever shifting her eyes towards him, as if his very presence affected the air she was breathing. I was ready to file my protest when I was interrupted by Tuvos soft voice and I could tell it was his way of telling me he understood.
"I'll wait for you outside."
"See that you do and not outside of my office either"
Broom Hilda hissed at him as she watched his retreating figure exit the room. I could tell by the heat rising from my toes to the top of my head, that I was getting real pissed. I took three steps towards her and gazed into her crystal pale blue eyes.
"Has anyone ever told you, you require lessons on your etiquette."
She grunted at me as if I was some annoying little gnat standing in her way. Then she walked around me and settled her fat form into a narrow chair that squeaked and groaned in protest. I noticed when her eyes leveled evenly with her draw and I somehow knew she realized her desk was rifled.
She turned a little red and I could tell she was trying real hard to control her anger, evidently Broom Hilda didn't like anyone invading her territory, I suspected she probably went around pissing on all the doors and pieces of furniture that belonged to her.
"Out of courtesy to Dr. Janeson, I will allow you ten minutes, I recommend that you make the best use of it"
She had a thick German accent and I could tell she meant what she said, at the moment I was wandering what the hell made me think she would be the more easier mark to break down, the intense midday sun from the Sahara dessert couldn't melt this iceberg down.
I decided this Gretchen dame needed a good lesson on humility and I was the right person to dole it out. I was still sore over her treatment of Tuvo and I had no intention of letting that one go by.
"I'm sure courtesy is a concept that has escaped you completely, however since I'm far better schooled than you, I'll forgive you this slight indiscretion. Don't for a moment believe however, that I will lie down and roll over like everyone else."
I made sure to give her my old you just pushed the envelope look and I saw the slight flicker of fear flash through her eyes. I could tell I made my point and I was now on the move with no intention of stopping.
"I noticed that you left shortly after Dr. Janeson was declared missing, is there any reason for that?"
"Yes, I have an innate desire to eat and live comfortably."
I could see she was trying to reassert herself and I had no intention of letting her get away with it. That was the one thing about this case that was beginning to bug the shit out of me. Everyone thought they could push me around.
"I can tell by your size that in itself is a full time career. Now if you don't mind, answer the question I neither have the time or the patience to dance this little dance with you."
"I left because the OSS had determined that Dr. Janeson defected to the German, but I know that is a lie, she would never do that."
For a minute, I saw Broom Hilda crack and I wandered if the old broad actually had a heart after all, I'm not quite sure what this skirt was about. Nevertheless, it appeared to me that she had a knack for creating true loyalty and devotion among her employees.
"By birth yes you are correct, however I am of Jewish descent and if you are not aware of this Detective, we are not well received in Germany."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
For a moment, I took pity on the old crow and I decided to lean a lighter on her, after all I wasn't some kind of heel or something.
"Dr. Janeson went through some considerable risk to bring me with her, she smuggled me out of Germany via Switzerland."
"I see, so why did you come to work for Dr. Charleston? According to her assistant you were well aware that they were less than friends."
"Because I suspect that he is somehow responsible for this."
" A little over a month ago I found Dr. Janesons notes in his possession and I mailed them with a note to Annia."
"You mailed them?"
"And you identified yourself and that you located the notes in his possession?"
"Yes of course, why do you ask if she is the one that hired you?"
I could see Broom Hilda started to get suspicious and she began leering at me, as I ran her statement through my mind. If what Broom Hilda said was true, than that meant the kitten, purposely lied to me, something that was not sitting well with me at all.
"I will need to see some identification" She growled at me.
I noticed Broom Hilda turned ghost white and I could tell that she must have thought that I was some OSS spook or something. I blindly reached into my pocket, pulled out my PI shield and ID, and handed it to her. She read the ID carefully and turned it over several times, holding it to the light before returning it to me, talk about suspicious.
"I am sorry detective, but the events surrounding Dr. Janesons disappearance have left me suspicious of all."
My mind was still spinning a mile a minute and I was quickly trying to figure out the angle, then I remembered something and thought it would be wise to ask the old crow.
"Dr. Hansen stated that you overheard Dr. Janeson arguing with someone over the phone. Do you know who it was?"
Her answer came too quickly and I knew she was lying straight through her teeth. I quickly moved in for the kill and changed my posture to enforce it. I rolled my shoulders and snarled my lip slightly as I lowered my voice dangerously.
"Why is it that I have a feeling you're lying?"
I saw her flinch and I knew I pierced through her armor. I sat staring at her relentlessly and continued to do so until she finally cracked.
"It had nothing to do with the research, it was personal."
"Personal, like in someone she was seeing personal?"
I tried not to seem surprise, but this was certainly news to me, I had assumed the good doctor was involved with the kitten and with all the time they spent together I figured the doctor would be to preoccupied to pursue anything else.
"Yes, but I do not know who it was"
"Then how do you know it was personal?"
"Because she kept making a reference to the person as her love."
"Did you take the call when it came in?"
"No, it was on the doctors private line and I never answered that."
"Do you know if Dr. Hansen was aware of her personal life?"
"That I do not know, you must ask her that yourself"
"I think I will, thank you Gretchen."
"You are welcome, detective"
I started to leave the office with the wealth of information I was just given and couldn't wait to see the kitten. I now had a better subject to discuss with her other than Spain I was opening the door when I was stopped by the pained raw voice of Broom Hilda.
"Detective Cat?" I turned around slowly.
"Please find her detective, please find my Katrina."
"I'll do my best."
I gave the old goose one of my more enigmatic smiles as I slowly closed the door behind me, I heard her small whimpers and the squeaking of the chair as she sat down and began to cry behind closed doors. I caught up with Tuvo, who informed me Dr. Charleston was enroute to Princeton for a two-day lecture.
I scratched the doctor off my list and made it a point to see him on his return, I found that Tuvo had already made an appointment for me to see the mad scientist, as he was known. I brought Tuvo up to speed as to the information Broom Hilda laid on me.
He was as shocked as I was to discover Dr. Janeson had a little number on the side that may or may not be the kitten. We both had to admit that the plot continued to thicken and not necessarily in a good way.
It was already 6:30 PM and I just finished unpacking a few items at my new digs that Tuvo was providing. Instead of letting me return to my apartment, he took me shopping and we didn't return until I had a completely new wardrobe to last a month. He made sure guards were posted both outside and inside the joint.
We were sitting in the living room that was decorated rather tastefully and delicate and waiting for Tiny and Eugene to return, we figured the kitten would have to return to the Ritz eventually, seeing how she had a date with me at eight.
A short time later we heard the rumble of Tiny's deep baritone voice and the walls began to shake, as tiny pieces of plaster rolled down and fell inside the walls.
Tuvo merely shook his head in dismay it was a known fact that Tiny has broken his share of steps and furniture along the way, they both entered fighting to be the first through the door, needless to say, Tiny won hands down.
'Watch it white boy, you ain't a match for Tiny"
"There's something I never knew" Eugene added in disgust.
I noticed that Eugene had un-cuffed his long sleeves and rolled them up to his elbows. It was obvious from the dark stains underneath his armpits that he was uncomfortable in his attire all day. His eyes gleamed a bright baby blue. For once, they had a bit of a sparkle to them.
"Boys, what do you have."
I indicated for them to both sit and Eugene and I laughed out loud when we heard the wood in Tinys chair split and he went crashing to the floor.
For a moment, he looked like an octopus out of water as he struggled to lift his massive frame between a tangle of torn fabric and wooden legs.
Miles came rushing in his weapon drawn and his eyes dangerously silted, until he noticed the commotion occurring on the floor and burst out laughing. Tuvo was staring at him in both dismay and then disgust.
"That's coming out of your next paycheck Tiny, I've warned you about breaking any more furniture with your fat butt"
The three of us were still laughing as Tiny tried to stand and was tossing the pieces of the broken chair away from him, he managed to sit up straight and he had a wounded and embarrassed face.
"Damn Tiny, what the hell has Lucille been feeding you boy?"
Miles was laughing loudly as he re-holstered his rod and wiped the tears from his eyes. Eugene was crying and wiping at his eyes with the sleeve of his long sleeved shirt, I dabbed my eyes and attempted to compose myself.
"What you laughing at White boy? You think that was funny?"
Tiny found the weaker of the pack to pick on and in true fashion Eugene immediately stopped laughing and started fearing for his life, whoever thought Eugene was a fool was mistaken.
"I'm not laughing at you Tiny."
Now Tuvo laughed himself as he took a distinct pleasure in seeing Eugene squirm. That was the one thing about Tuvo he hated to see weakness in people. Tuvo wasn't exactly compassionless and immediately went to Eugene's defense.
"Tiny, get up off the floor and leave that white boy alone. We need to move quickly here, Cat has a hot date tonight."
I noticed the edge of laughter in his voice when he mentioned I had a date, I was hoping we weren't about to have a repeat of the caddy scene all over again.
"Sure all right Boss."
Tiny lifted his massive frame and was about to plant it on another chair when Tuvo stopped him immediately.
"Don't you dare sit in that chair, you either lose weight or you'll be standing from now on."
"Alright boss, alright."
I decided we had enough fun at Tinys expense and decided to throw him a bone and come to his rescue.
"Alright Eugene, where did the kitten go today?"
"Let's see, she went shopping along Madison and Fifth Avenue, stopped in a few boutiques. Had lunch at the Twenty-One club and then went to see a movie. Yeah she leads a real exciting life our client."
"What did she see?"
"The Petrified Forest, a Bogie flick, pretty good too, wouldn't you say Tiny?"
"Yeah, I love that Bogie."
"Did she have any company?"
"Nope, she got a lot of looks but no one approached her, she carries some package though."
"Alright, thanks Eugene, take the rest of the night off and I want you back on her tomorrow, you understand?"
"Don't you worry Cat, Eugene will be staying with me and Lucille tonight."
"Aw come on Tiny, you know your house is too damn small"
"Maybe for you white boy, but not for me, come on lets go."
Tiny grabbed Eugene by the arm, headed towards the door, the three of us remained smiling, and I'm sure we were all thinking the same thing. Poor Eugene in an apartment way too small with over 2 tons of bodies swarming around him.
If you weren't prone to claustrophobia, then you would be quickly after spending one night in the Tiny household. We watched as Eugene left dejectedly after conceding no one was coming to his defense.
Miles and Tuvo stood smirking at me as Tuvo pulled out his gold pocket-watch that dangled from his vest pocket. Then he gave me that ever smug smile and quirked his eyebrow, I just knew what was coming next.
"Well Cat, we'll see you tomorrow, I want to make sure you have enough time for your date."
He said it while smiling all along, as Miles snickered on in the background and popped a fresh toothpick into his mouth. He took his time before he chimed in.
"Yeah and make sure you bring her home before midnight."
"Very funny, you know it suddenly occurred to me how pathetic your lives must be if I'm your only form of entertainment."
I had every intention of gaining some ground here, though it was obvious I was being tagged teamed by the two worst teasers I ever knew.
"Yeah Cat, our lives pale in comparison to yours, that's why we live it so voraciously through you."
They both started laughing out loud as I shook my head and stood, I headed towards the bedroom and yelled at them to both leave. I started shifting through my new wardrobe and suddenly noticed that Tuvo was very tactful in choosing tasteful clothing.
I sucked in my breath and quickly resigned to my fate, as I choose a beige little number that actually came with wide legged slacks. I figured if I was going to have to dress, I would at least wear the less revealing outfit and the frumpiest.
Continue to Part Three