Noir – Chapter Five

April 7, 2014 at 1:49 pm (Noir)

Someone was in his room and he could only think of one person that that might be. The only person who had been able to breach it before. Unlocking the door, he swung it in but remained outside. She wasn’t lounging on his bed as she had been earlier that day. Instead she stood near the window, her arms clasped together over her chest in a protective gesture.

Eldon stepped into the room and closed the door. He removed his jacket and hung it in the closet. Ignoring her, he removed his boots, placed them in the closet next to his sneakers and then closed himself in the bathroom. Leaning his back against the door, he tried to get his anger under control. It had slapped him in the face the minute she’d turned those big blue eyes on him.

Running the water in the sink, he splashed his face several times to wash the dried blood away. His lip had scabbed over and puffed up. His left eye was almost sealed shut. Pressing the towel to his face, he dried off the last of the water and hung the towel on the shower rod. The walk hadn’t been long enough to completely clear his mind. He had no real course of action. His investigation, such as it was, had stalled. And he didn’t much care.

Eldon opened the bathroom door and flipped off the light. She hadn’t moved from her spot near the window. The warm glow from his bedside lamp created attractive hollows in her cheeks. She still hugged herself, as though she was no longer certain of her welcome.

“Sit.” He didn’t want to get too near her. He had questions he wanted answered but his cock had other ideas. When she’d settled on the edge of his bed, he sank into his chair. “Now, how about you tell me what you’re doing here?”

“I didn’t know where else to go.”

Eldon raised a dubious brow, but remained silent.

Huffing out a frustrated sigh, Ms. Nolan leaned forward, placing her elbows on her thighs. It was a calculated move, one meant to draw his attention to her glorious breasts, but Eldon ignored the distraction. Sort of. “Why would you have nowhere else to go?”

“I didn’t know if Jeff or his henchmen would track me down if I went somewhere they were familiar with.”

“Jeff was the guy with the gun?”

Veronica nodded. “The other two are Kenny and Hank. They do whatever Jeff tells them to do.”

“Not anymore, at least not in Kenny’s case.” Eldon filled her in on the change in Kenny’s team status.

“But why would he do that?” she asked.

“Who are they to you?”

She tossed out a pout, but when it didn’t interest him, she smoothed out her expression and considered his question.

Eldon waited to see what lie she’d tell him next. He didn’t believe she had nowhere to go. He didn’t think she had to worry about Jeff or Hank turning up. Something about that warehouse meeting wasn’t adding up for him. He needed to distance himself from her to clear his head. He had three-quarters of his brainpower focused on her mouth, her breasts, and just pushing her back on his bed and stretching himself on top of her.

“They’re the guys I hired before I hired you.”

Pulled from his erotic reverie, Eldon tuned in to her words. She’d hired them to find Jack. They hadn’t had any luck at it, or they wouldn’t be asking him what he’d found. But that couldn’t be all there was to it. Jeff wouldn’t have shot Kenny and attempted to set Eldon up as the fall guy just to keep a job. The pay wasn’t so outrageous to warrant such extreme behaviour.

“What about Toby?”

Ms. Nolan frowned. “Who’s Toby?”

“Toby’s the guy hired before me. He was looking into Jack’s past and it got him killed earlier this evening. I have to wonder if that won’t be my fate if I continue with this investigation.”

“I don’t know who Toby was or why Jeff had him killed. I just need Jack found.”

“What else?” he asked.

“What do you mean, what else? That’s all there is.”

Eldon stared into her eyes, but they told him nothing. “That’s not all there is and don’t go lying to me. Why would they shoot Kenny and set me up just for a job? What about this job makes them willing to do that?”

Ms. Nolan examined her cuticles, twirled her hair around one finger, and stroked her neck, all in an effort to distract him, or so he thought. Maybe that’s just what she always did when she was thinking. It was distracting, but not enough to pull him off the scent. There was more to the story and he needed to get it out of her before he got killed trying to figure out who Jack was.

“I think Jack might be my father.”

Eldon waited for her to continue, but it appeared that that was all she was willing to say. “I figured it was something like that. You have similar features. And?”

She sighed, annoyed. “And I took the idea of finding him to Jeff by mistake. He’s always wanted me and figured if he helped me out with this, he’d get me.”

Guys had done dumber things for a woman. And vice-versa. He could see killing competition, as in killing Eldon if Jeff thought that Eldon was moving in on his territory. But there was no way he’d have thought the same of Kenny. Even Kenny’s poor mother would be hard-pressed to find any redeeming qualities in her son. And what of Toby? Had Jeff hired him? If so, why kill him before he’d completed the job?

No, there was more to it, but Eldon didn’t figure she’d fess up. He’d have to circumvent her and figure it out on his own. “Why were you at the warehouse?”

“I went to talk to Jeff. I tried to get him to leave this alone, but he’s not going to.”

The finger twirling the hair brushed the side of her breast once, twice. Her soft breathing pushed the flesh up over the edge of her lacy bra. Somehow, without his noticing, another button had come undone. If he waited long enough, he figured she’d remove all her clothes and save him the effort.

“They were expecting me. How did they know to expect me?” He’d finally put together what he hadn’t liked about that meeting. There was no reason for them to have been waiting for him on the warehouse floor. Though he wasn’t a super silent ninja, he knew he’d made very little sound entering the building or coming down the stairs. He’d left them at Toby’s and they’d had no reason to believe he would figure out where they were.

“They weren’t expecting you, but Hank smokes and they make him go out the back door to do it. He saw you as you came in the window.”

“Okay, so they waited for me to present myself as a target and used you as bait. Then they cracked me on the head and tied me to a chair. Why didn’t they just kill me?”

Ms. Nolan shrugged. “I have no idea what’s going through Jeff’s head.”

Her blasé I don’t know response to each of his questions was an attempt to make him think she didn’t have all the answers, but it was having the opposite effect. She was hiding something from him and he wanted to know what it was. Something about this search for Jack wasn’t above board. Who was Jack and why was everyone so interested in his current whereabouts?

“What made you scream?” When she frowned, he clarified. “At the warehouse. When I was losing consciousness, I heard you scream. Did Jeff hurt you?”

“No, he hurt you.” She got up off the bed and approached him. Bending over, giving him more than just a healthy view of her assets, she feathered a light touch across the scab on his lip. “I’m afraid that my reaction to your predicament may have resulted in more trauma to your person than you’d have received otherwise.”

Question time had ended. He pushed her finger away from his mouth and stood. She didn’t move back, crowding him with her body. If she’d given him some space, he might have made a move, but she was trying to take the choice from him. All that did was annoy him and cool his jets. He took two steps over to the door, opened it, and gestured her out.

“Where am I supposed to go?”

Her tone had turned quite petulant and he found it rather amusing. “I’m sure there are other people who would be more than happy to put you up for the night.”

Grabbing her purse off the bed and shrugging into a light coat, she walked through the door and stood in the hall. “It’s two in the morning. Aren’t you going to see I get a cab?”

“No.”

She harrumphed and scowled at him. “Will you keep looking for Jack?”

“Yes.”

“Well, what’s your next move?”

“To get some sleep.” He shut the door in her face, turned the lock, put the chair under the knob, and dropped face down on his bed. Her scent rose up from the pillow to taunt him, but he fell asleep before it could bother him.

***

He rose six hours later, on the dot. After a quick trip to the john, he donned his sweats, laced up his sneakers, and headed out the door. He tried to run several times a week, to keep his cardio up. The physical exertion also helped clear his brain. He wasn’t sure what his next move was going to be, so he’d put it off for a few miles.

He wasn’t the greatest long-distance runner, but he did try for a minimum of ten kilometres each outing. Adanac Street, just a few blocks south of his building, had a bike path and less traffic, making it great for running. He didn’t have to worry about some stupid driver not looking close enough and cutting him off, or worse, hitting him.

If he headed east, he got a decent hill to tackle, which blew out his lungs. If he headed west he’d hit downtown before too long and then he’d be cursing all the pedestrians. Plus, east would put him close to the Red Wagon and he could always sit at the counter and have breakfast after his run.

Thirty minutes in, with a good sweat going, he remembered that the cops had picked Jeff and Hank up. He’d left them both unconscious on the floor of the warehouse, with the body of their crony lying right there. Even if they could lawyer up and talk their way out of it somehow, which Eldon doubted they had the skill to do, the cops would hold them overnight until a judge could hear their case. Assuming they weren’t considered flight risks, bail would still be pretty high.

Eldon wondered if Ms. Nolan would pay for their bail. She’d hired them and Jeff could point the finger at her, not that they could implicate her in Kenny’s death when she hadn’t even been there. But the prosecution would want to take a close look at her to determine if she could pose a threat to his case. Assuming she had the cash or bond to make bail for them, they still had to appear before the judge and have the bail limit set.

If they made first out of the gate, they’d get a judge at nine, the lawyers would read the particulars, and the judge would set the bail. If payment occurred immediately following, they could be out on the street by ten that morning. Unless the cops had it impounded, they’d want to get their van back.

Eldon changed course, heading further east toward Rupert Street and the warehouse, rather than looping back for home. As he neared the correct block, he cut over to the alley he’d run through, thinking that perhaps there might still be cops processing the scene. He could view the rear of the building and its parking spaces from between the houses. They’d parked the van away from the building, closer to the Laundromat. If the police had shown any interest in it, it didn’t show from the outside.

Eldon found a patch of grass where he could do a few stretches to ward off muscle soreness. He had over an hour to kill, at a minimum, so he set off in search of the nearest Starbucks. It took him almost twenty minutes of backtracking to find one just three blocks away from the warehouse. He ordered a coffee and a breakfast sandwich and enjoyed them both from the comfort of the air conditioned cafe.

He had no idea what he’d do when they showed up. They’d have the van and he’d be on foot. He had forty dollars on him and no bank card. He didn’t even have his cell phone with him, not that he had that many people he could call for a ride. If his hunch didn’t pan out, he’d use the money to get home and then he’d figure something else out. Lumley had said his mother would be back on Saturday. If he didn’t come up with any other ideas before then, he’d be sure to talk to the lady at the B&B.

At ten, Eldon left the Starbucks and returned to the warehouse block. The Laundromat had no back window in the main area and there were several people doing their laundry. He didn’t have any clothes to clean, so couldn’t use it as an excuse to chat with the manager in the back office.

The hair salon was for ladies, so that was out, even though his hair could use a good trim. He could return to the next street over and hope none of the neighbours noticed him loitering in their yard. Trouble was, he had no way to know how long it might take Jeff and Hank to arrive.

They’d locked their van, so he couldn’t hide in the back. He thought about hiding in the Dumpster or burrowing under some cardboard, but didn’t want any of the building owners to come over and give him a hard time. Their alley was quite clean and he suspected they took pride in that. In the end he settled on buying a book from the second-hand shop across the street and settling on a patch of grass just beyond the alley, but not on the property of the houses behind.

Shaded by a large evergreen tree, he had a perfect view of the van without being right out in the open for Jeff or Hank to spot. By eleven, he was completely engrossed in his book. He had to remind himself to keep an eye out for movement by the van. At twelve he was wishing he’d used the bathroom at Starbucks. One ‘o clock rolled around and he wanted another coffee. At quarter to two, Hank walked straight up the alley, got in the van, and drove out nearest to Eldon.

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