H Is For Homicide Page 44

’’Not what she says.’’

’’She said that? It's bullshit. What'd he look like? She tell you that?’’

’’She didn't have a chance. Squad car pulled up and she hung up. Said some chick was there, too.’’

’’She's blowin'smoke up your skirt. What a bitch! I was there by myself when Chago showed up with a gun. Maybe the guy was an off-duty cop or just your average citizen with a gun.’’

Raymond's face darkened. ’’That would really piss me off. What's the matter with people? Too many f*kin'handguns around.’’ He turned and looked at me. ’’Every day in the paper, somebody gets blown away. L.A. Times. You read Metro? Scares the shit out of me.’’ He held a hand up, blocking words in. ’’You know that slogan says, 'Guns don't kill people. People kill people.'? What a crock that is.’’

’’Luis has a gun,’’ I remarked helpfully.

’’That's different. He's a lieutenant. He's like a bodyguard to me. I can't believe some joker in a restaurant shoots my brother for no f*kin'reason.’’

All the little birdies had flown out of this man's tree. I sat with my eyes straight ahead and my mouth shut, remembering what Bibianna had told me about his temper.

Raymond turned to Bibianna and started kissing her, his hands moving across her breasts with an intimacy I found embarrassing. She was compliant, but she rolled an eye at me frantically across his shoulder. I looked out the window.

I leaned forward and tapped Luis on the shoulder, trying the only Spanish phrase I'm familiar with. ’’Uh, habla usted ingles?’’

’’Shit, lady. What do I look like, a retard?’’ he said. His English wasn't even spoken with an accent, and I had to wonder if the gangbanger outfit was an affectation.

’’Oh. Well, could you pull over at this next corner and let me the f*k out? I gotta make a quick phone call.’’

This did not produce the desired results.

I kept my tone conversational as I turned to Raymond, placing my mouth up close to his ear. ’’Excuse me, Raymond. Could you have the guy let me out up here?’’

Raymond had run his hand up under Bibianna's skirt, pushing the fabric back, running a finger under the rim of her underpants. There was nothing remotely se*ual about it. He was claiming his rights. I could hear her murmuring, ’’Fantastic... oh, baby, that's great,’’ anything to appease and placate his neediness. The driver caught my eye in the rearview mirror and winked at me conspiratorially. He flipped on the car radio to mask the escalating sounds. Salsa music filled the car. This was repellent.

I was fully prepared to fling myself out, risking concussion and broken bones, just to escape from this brothel of faux fur and religious artifacts. I waited until the car slowed as we approached the on ramp to the freeway, then I slid my hand under the door handle and gave it a yank. Nothing happened. Both of the window cranks had been removed in the rear. I leaned my forehead against the tinted glass, staring out the window. Behind me, I could hear Raymond fumble with his belt buckle and the zipper to his pants. This was worse than an X-rated video. I turned and stared at them.

’’God, Bibianna,’’ I said loudly. ’’How rude! How do you think I feel sitting here while you screw some stud! Why don't you keep your hands to yourself, okay?’’

Raymond turned a se*-groggy face toward me, his eyes at half-mast. His mouth seemed gorged, his chin laved in lipstick, his hair standing straight up. The whole car smelled like hormones, se* juice, and underpants. Luis, all a smirk, tried to peer into the backseat through the rearview mirror.

I turned on him savagely. ’’Hey, Jack. What are you lookin'at?’’ And then to Raymond. ’’I'm sorry, Raymond. I know it's not your fault how these people act.’’

Bibianna pushed herself into an upright position, doing what she could to pull her skirt back into place. She murmured, ’’Sorry.’’ She had a big hickey on her neck where Raymond had been slurping away on her.

Raymond actually seemed embarrassed, tucking in his shirt. He went through a sequence of behaviors that included the head jerking and the neck rolls.

I plowed right on. ’’I told her I got a steady boyfriend in the slammer,’’ I said to him. ’’The last thing I need is watching you two get it on. God. She's got no class.’’ I sat back in the seat, brushing imaginary lint off my black pants.

Raymond pulled out a handkerchief and wiped some of Bibianna's lipstick off his chin. His smile was sheepish. ’’Take it easy. It's not her fault. She can't help it,’’ he said.

’’Well, I get sick of hearing her brag about you. Why can't she keep her opinions to herself?’’

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