This is the continuation of a story. You can read the rest here.
With fresh drawers and coffee armor deliciously wafting vapors towards by snout, I feel about ready to get to the bottom of this case that’s already destroyed my car, my suit, my night’s sleep and almost me were it not for my unkillability. Bets likes to remind me that I’m not really unkillable; I just like to think that I am. Also, unkillable is not a word. To which I say pfft and I’m still breathing. Proof!
What to tackle first? The missing girl or the missing client? Or perhaps the goons? Too many pieces to this puzzle and they’re all rotten. Well, Macky’s out looking for the client, so I’ll get on the girl. I have a strange sense of déjà vu since this is almost exactly how yesterday started, but yesterday, I had a car, a client and unbroken ribs.
In a subconsciously superstitious effort to not have today be an exact copy of yesterday, I decide to screw the girl. Not literally. I am angry about being stuffed in my car and thrown off a cliff. I want the goons. I pick up the phone to call Oren.
Oren has his fingers in every pocket in this city. Nobody knows more about goons than he does. His legal businesses are night clubs. His illegal businesses include high-stakes gambling, gun running, information retrieval and trading, and making people disappear. Not the magic trick type of disappear where they’re just hiding in a small compartment inside the box (tada!), but the disappear forever type. If I wanted to hire some goons, I’d go to him and so would everyone else in the know. If these are hired goons, he’ll know about it.
As expected, Fifty, Oren’s second in command, answers the phone. His voice says, “Cump,” neither as a question nor a statement of fact, but more like a condemnation, which is rather impressive with only four letters. Fifty thought it was hilarious when Bets started calling me Cump, so he picked up the habit. Always the innovator, that Fifty. “I’m going to punch you in the face one of these days for your chirpy attitude in the morning.”
“It’s barely even morning anymore!”
“Nightclubs generally operate at night, hence the name. It is not now night. It is day, which means, to those of us in the biz, it is morning.” I’m assuming the air quotes around “biz” were implied.
There are lots of rumors about Oren and Fifty. It’s whispered in back alleys that they’re superheroes, mafioso, Jimmy Hoffa’s ghost–you name it. Few of the rumors are true. Some don’t believe that they actually exist; that they’re urban legends like The Slender Man. They exist alright. However, very few have ever met Oren. Most people only get to meet Fifty. Not me though. I knew Oren before Oren was Oren. We grew up together. I could give him a wet willy and he might not even kill me. I’m special that way. I’m one of the count-on-one-hand people who Oren trusts, as far as Oren’s job allows him to trust, that is.
I know that Oren’s a huge Star Wars dork who dabbled in fan fiction, he cannot resist the cuteness of puppies, he still has a huge box of Legos in his closet, and he dressed up as Admiral Akbar for Halloween when he was eleven. I have photographic evidence. Bets and I laughed over it one night. Oren trusts me, because while I know all of this, I’ve never told anyone except Bets, but she would never tell anyone either. Besides, it’s not like I was cool at eleven either; I was friends with a Star Wars dork.
There are just as many rumors about Fifty and his nickname. The most common story is that he always has fifty thousand dollars and fifty weapons on him at all times. It’s not outside the realm of possibility, particularly if you count each bullet as a weapon, but I happen to know that Fifty’s real name is Sherman, also after the Union general. He let it slip when he heard about “Cump.” He’d kill me if I told anyone that and not in a nice, quick way, but in a slow, awful way. I still have no idea why he’s called Fifty, mostly because I don’t care enough to find out.
“Goons, Fifty. Goons!” I shout into the phone and give highlights of the last twenty-four hours. I left out the part about peeing myself, and passing out on the road and in Betsy’s Lilliputian car.
Fifty says he doesn’t know anything–”Really, Cump, anyone we send out would finish the job”–but he promises to look into it. “Anything else?”
“The girl… Oh. Never mind. She just walked into my office. Thanks, Fifty. Talk to you later.”