Where You Go
Copyright© 2011 by Robert McKay
That night Kim and I met at her office, which was closer to the bar than mine – though not all that close. We took her car – a Toyota, which sort of surprised me. I had expected her to have something nicer. She parked it by Trumbull Park, as I'd done six days before. She locked the car, and as we walked away pushed a button on her key chain which provoked the flash of lights and beep of horn that spoke of a car alarm.
"You ever know one of those things to do any good?" I asked.
"No, I haven't, now that you mention it. But I do like to be prepared."
I was in my usual clothes – bullrider hat, cowboy shirt, jeans, boots, and jean jacket. Kim had put on a pair of black jeans over white running shoes, a dark blue blouse that she'd buttoned up to the neck, and a brown parka that came down to her knees. It was the first time I'd seen her in a top that wasn't white. I'd seen her gun on her left hip before she'd put the parka on and asked her about it. "I always wear my gun when I'm working," she said.
I don't. My gun was in her car at the moment, since I'd transferred it from the Blazer, and probably 99% of the time the Blazer is where the gun stays when I'm working. I don't often wear it, and I've only had to use it once in all the years I've been working in law enforcement.
Perhaps Kim, being so much smaller, had more need of a gun. I'm not the biggest or toughest man in the world, but I am a man, and there are those who simply because of that would leave me alone but wouldn't hesitate to take on a woman, especially one as elfin as Kim. It just might be that what seemed like paranoia to me was in fact nothing more than rational self-interest from her perspective.
We'd decided that we'd talk to Teebeau outside, and that Kim would wait while I fetched him. Kim wasn't scared – not any more than I was, anyway – but that wasn't the point. As she said, if she went in, either with me or by herself, she'd be the focus of attention for her looks, but if I went in I'd just be the cowboy who wanted to see Teebeau outside. I didn't like the sexism that the observation noted, but that the sexism exists I couldn't deny – and I knew that the crowd inside would indeed be a mob of oinking pigs. Criminals may be many things, but respectful of women isn't one of them.
So I went in, and let my eyes adjust, and spotted Teebeau in the same place I'd seen him last time and wearing much the same thing. Neither now nor the time before had he had a jacket on. I've noticed that gangsters frequently wear sweatshirts when it's hot, and go bare armed in the winter. I don't even try to figure it out.
I stepped up to the bar, put money down, and asked for a Coke. When I had the glass in hand I turned to Teebeau. "Remember me?"
"Yes – you're the white guy who was asking me about some dead guy."
"That's me. I wanna talk to you some more 'bout that. Let's go out where we can hear each other."
He shrugged. He wasn't doing anything at the moment, and – as far as I could tell, anyway – I amused him. I let him lead me out the door, my Coke in my hand and his beer in his. There wasn't a Caddy to lean on this time, but someone's battered Jeep was under the single light and Teebeau leaned against that. "What do you want to ask?" he said.
I felt, as much as saw, Kim come up beside me and then move left so that she flanked Tibiae. She was left-handed, like me, and so it would be easier for her to swing her gun to the right than to the left. I ignored her, focusing on him. "You told me the other day you didn't know Larry Entragian."
"Yeah, so what? And who's the girl?"
"I can see where you might make that mistake, in the dark and all, but she ain't no girl – she's a grown woman and she's bodyguarding me."
Teebeau laughed, but I had the sense that it was as much acting as genuine. I'd said something that could provoke a laugh, so he laughed. For a crook, Teebeau was pretty smart. "She's guarding you, huh? That's a new one. I would have figured it the other way around."
I shrugged. "Yeah, people would. Might be a mistake, though."
He glanced over at her. Her parka was closed and so the gun wasn't visible, but I think he suspected it was there. As I thought about it I realized that I suspected her of having other weapons about her person as well – her left hand didn't seem as deep in its pocket as the right. Maybe she had something in there.
Teebeau looked back at me. "Maybe it would be a mistake. Maybe not. She doesn't scare me, either way."
"No reason why she should, I don't guess. How 'bout Larry Entragian?"
"I still don't know him."
"You know, that's kind of strange, 'cause Nacho Sandoval sold you a bad loan. Larry was the borrower."
Teebeau took a drink from his bottle. "What if I told you I don't know any Nacho Sandoval either?"
"I'd think you're not much of a liar."
"Are you calling me a liar?"
"I'm not calling you anything, just answering your question. So do you know Sandoval?"
He laughed again, with no more real mirth in it than before. "Yeah, let's say I do. Where does that leave us?"
"It means you know – knew – Larry Entragian too."
"Okay, suppose I did. What now?"
"Now I mention that not only does Sandoval tie you to Larry, but your fingerprints were in his apartment. And I've got witnesses who saw you go into the apartment the night Larry died." Actually Kim had the witnesses, but it didn't seem like a time for fine distinctions.
For the first time Teebeau seemed to really react to something I'd said. "You're driving at something here, and I'd like to know what it is."