H Is For Homicide Page 81


’’Hey, yeah,’’ he said. ’’I got a problem. Somebody just stole my car...’’

I slouched down on my spine, knees propped against the dashboard, listening with wonder as Raymond availed himself of city police services in the matter of his missing Cadillac. From his end of the conversation, I gathered he was going to have to go over to the 77th division and file a stolen vehicle report, but he was the soul of cooperation, Mr. Righteous Citizen rallying the forces of law and order to his cause. He hung up and we drove in silence as far as Luis's place.

We pulled over at the curb and Raymond gave a quick beep. A moment later, Luis appeared with Perro at his side.

Raymond pulled on the emergency brake and got out on the driver's side. ’’You drive,’’ he said to Luis.

Luis put the dog in the front seat between us and got behind the wheel. ’’Where we going?’’

’’Police station.’’

Luis took off. Perro leaned against me, panting bad breath. I could tell he would have preferred the window seat himself so he could hang his head out and let his ears flap in the passing breeze.

Luis watched Raymond in the rearview mirror with guarded interest. ’’So what's happening?’’

’’Bibianna stole the Caddy. We gotta file a report.’’

’’Bibianna stole the Caddy?’’

’’Yeah, can you believe that? After all I've done for her? I called Chopper and sent him after her. I don't have time for that shit, you know what I'm talking about?’’

Luis made no comment. I saw him slide a look in my direction, but what was I going to say?

We reached the 77th division police station. Luis parked on the street and got out of the car, peering into the backseat while Raymond gave him instructions about the stolen Caddy. ’’What about the registration?’’ he asked.

’’It's in the car,’’ Raymond said irritably.

’’You want me to give 'em your telephone number?’’

’’How else are they going to notify me when they find the car?’’

’’Oh.’’

’’Yeah, 'oh,'’’ Raymond said.

Luis disappeared.

’’Guy's a f*kin'pinhead,’’ Raymond said to himself. He kicked the back of my seat. ’’I still got a gun on you,’’ he said. ’’I ain't forgettin'it was you helped Bibianna get away.’’

I waited in the car with Raymond, pinned in place by Perro's weight, wishing a cop would saunter by so that I could scream for help. Several patrol cars gunned past us, but no one seemed to realize that this tacky-looking Anglo was Nancy Drew in disguise. I stared out at the police station not fifty feet away.

Luis came back to the car and got in without a word. He took a quick look in the rearview mirror. I turned around and looked myself, realizing belatedly that Raymond had nodded off.

Once we reached the apartment complex, Luis had to help him up the stairs. I went up first, with the dog bringing up the rear. Raymond was awake but seemed groggy and out of it. When we reached the apartment, Luis unlocked the door. For a moment, the exterior lights fell on Raymond's bare back and I saw that his skin was crisscrossed with scars, like a webbing of white diamonds. The old cuts had healed but had never entirely gone away. The even spacing suggested quite methodical work.

Inside the apartment, I scanned the living room, searching for the handbag I'd left behind earlier. I spotted it on the floor, shoved halfway under the upholstered chair. It had apparently been kicked to one side during the struggle with Raymond and the top was now yawning open. Luis held Raymond's gun and he motioned me toward the couch. I took a seat. From that angle, the butt of the SIG-Sauer was clearly visible in the handbag. I willed myself to look away. I didn't dare make a move for it for fear Luis would catch sight of it. Raymond staggered off to bed.

I was forced to sleep on the couch that night. Perro guarded the front door while Luis dozed in the chair, keeping watch over me, Raymond's gun in hand. The kitchen bulb glowed like a nightlight. Now and then, Luis and I would stare at each other across the dimly lighted room, his dark eyes devoid of any feeling whatsoever. It's the same look you get from a lover when he's moved on to someone new. Whatever moments you might have shared get buried under layers of hostility and indifference.

I was jolted awake at eight by a banging on the front door. Perro started barking savagely. I swung my feet off the couch and got up, automatically moving toward the door. Luis beat me to it. He had the dog by the collar. He opened the door and I saw Dawna on the threshold in a nifty black suit. Oh, great. This was what Dolan and Santos called ’’Don't worry about Dawna, we'll keep her out of circulation.’’ Raymond emerged from the master bedroom, pulling his shirt on. He was still barefoot, wearing his wrinkled chinos from the night before. ’’What's happening?’’ he asked.


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