Chapter 4

  • Chapter 4

    When they arrived at Pagosa they were both ready for supper, but where to eat.  “How about that place,” she asked.  It was a small place called the Rose.  Olivia didn’t wait for a reply, she made a left so as to be on the right side of the street and avoid the parallel parking. 

    The first parking lot she came to was a store that advertised ski equipment, she hadn’t thought about how good the mountains around here would be for that in the winter but it made sense.  They got out and walked up the street to the diner.

    Olivia ordered a salad and Alec, the chicken fried steak. 

    “Seems like it’s been a long day,” Olivia said.

    “I’m tired too,” Alec agreed, “You want to get a place to sleep here tonight?”

    “Sounds good to me,” she replied, “Maybe we can make Santa Fe by tomorrow.”

    “I’ve been dying to ask you about what happened with the box.”

    “I saw a child,” she whispered.

    “On my end you were just sitting there in a trance,” He said.

    “I didn’t know what to expect, I thought maybe I’d see spirits from the past wandering around or something like that, but there was only a child and the place was the same but it seemed more real than before, does that make sense?”

    “Did you talk to the child?”  He asked.

    “I did but I couldn’t talk long, he said he was like a librarian for the place, keeping the memories from there for the people.”  She said.

    “Did he say anything special?”

    “He told me I was going to the council of one.” 

    Alec’s eyes lit up and he slightly smiled.  “Sounds like the place to be.  Did this child have a name?”

    “It seemed he was more interested in his duty than his identity, so no, and if he did, he wouldn’t tell me.”  Alec looked satisfied.

    Their food arrived and they took their time eating.

    The waitress brought the bill and Alec asked if there was a pub nearby anywhere.  “Sure,” she said.  “If you cross the street and walk down the Riverwalk to the right just a little ways, you’ll find the Tequila right next to the coffee shop.”

    “A Riverwalk,” said Olivia.  “That sounds nice.”  This time she had some cash to pay her bill.

    They crossed the street and walked down the hill to the Riverwalk.  She’d seen a fancier path but the sound of the rushing water and the feel of the night was cozy.  They turned to the right at the bottom of the hill and made their way to the Tequila which was a small bar that had seating outside.  The coffee shop was next door, Olivia wondered how late it might stay open.  She liked her wine, but she liked coffee too.  They went inside and there at the bar sat Angus, draft beer in hand with Shep at his feet.

    “I didn’t know they let people bring in their support animals,” Alec said to Angus.

    “I was halfway expecting you Casper,” He said.

    Alec chuckled, “its Alec, you might as well join us at a table.” 

    Alec ordered a pitcher of beer and Olivia ordered a Bailey’s on ice.  The redhead behind the bar brought her a tall beer glass with Baileys on ice.  Olivia looked surprised and the lady smiled, “Honey, I detect your gonna need your liquor tonight,” she said and giggled as she walked away.

    Olivia looked at Angus and said, “What did you say to her?”

    Angus smiled and said, “She knows me.  It ain’t nothing personal.”

    They settled in a corner booth in the back.

    “Alec tells me you’re tailing us,” Olivia said.  “How much did he pay you?”

    “Why don’t you guess,” Angus replied as he nursed his beer.

    “He took three thousand from the account,” she said.

    “That and expenses,” Angus offered.

    “Where did he get the money to pay for expenses?” Olivia was irritated.  “He won’t even pay for me a small meal.”

    “If you can only eat as you travel, you’ll be home sooner,” Alec offered, “His expenses would be less.”

    “I guess that makes some sense,” Olivia sighed.  “I bought the first rose he ever gave me, I love the irony.”  Alec smiled, Angus looked away.

    “Why did you shake down Alec?”  She was angry, “He’s not my lover, just a traveling companion, which MEANS, you are pretty much unneeded.”

    “I like to diversify.”  Angus sounded irritated.  “I guess you had to tell her,” he said to Alec.

    Alec sipped his beer.

    “So you spend your life digging up dirt on failing marriages?”  Olivia asked.  “I bet you know the best ambulance chaser in town, don’t you?”

    Angus laughed, “As a matter of fact, I do. You don’t like me very much do you?”

    “He’s been seeing someone himself, you know.  She’s come to the door of the house twice pretending to sell something once,” she pulled a watch out of her pocket, “I brought it with me,” she said, “see?  And then,” she continued, “his woman came to the door to anoint our heads with oil.” She was nodding vehemently.  “And then,” she said, “then, the bitch left some socks in the bedroom one day to prove she existed when he stayed home from work.  Those are in the car.  I kept them as a reminder.”

    “Lady, I don’t work that state but I can get you a number.” Angus said sympathetically.

    “I guess you would have to have a license, wouldn’t you?”  She pondered.  “It doesn’t matter anyway, I left everything behind and it’s all his as far as I’m concerned.  I just wanted the car; I’m the one who saved up to buy it in the first place.  I’m not spending my precious money, assuming he leaves me any, on a P.I. for divorce court.”

    “So you aren’t going back?” Angus asked?

    “And break up a happy couple?” She said sarcastically.  “Not my style.”

    “So what do you think about this guy?” Angus tipped his beer at Alec.

    “I haven’t known him long enough to decide, besides, I’ve had a lot on my mind.”  Just then Lunatic fringe interrupted.  Olivia answered the phone, “Hi, mom,” she said.

    “I thought you might be nestled in for the night by now so I thought I’d call and see how you are.”  She hesitated, “where are you Olivia?  I hear people and music.”

    “I’m in a bar.”

    “Olivia I wish you’d have more discretion than that considering you are alone on the road and anything could happen.”

    “Mom, its fine.  I’ve picked up two men.”

    Her mother gasped, “I hope you’re joking.”

    Olivia laughed with glee, “I’m joking mom, it’s just me and I’m not driving far after and besides, you can’t get drunk on Baileys.  I’m people watching, that’s all.”

    “What would your father say?”

    “I guess you can tell me after you tell him.”  Olivia knew the routine.  “Listen, I gotta go mom, someone just asked me to dance.  I’ll talk to you later, love you.”  And that was that.

    They were playing a slow rock ballad and Alec said, “Don’t lie to your ma,” as he stood up and offered his hand which she accepted.

    Angus seemed content to pet Shep and slip him some of the pretzels here and there as the night went by.  They talked for two hours in the bar.  Olivia thought about her situation.  If she called Ed and complained about Angus, he might pull the rest of the account, if she interfered with Angus doing his job, he might call Ed himself, besides, it never hurt to have someone there to make sure you were safe even though Alec was with her and she decided wasn’t going to tell Ed about Alec either.  “Time to play it by ear,” she thought.

    “Well it’s been nice getting to know you but it’s time we find somewhere to sleep,” Alec told Angus as he petted Shep’s head.

    “See you tomorrow,” the big man grinned, “You gonna leave Ed with that tab?”

    Alec and Olivia smiled, “Might as well,” she said, “I don’t know where he’s gonna find the money at this rate.”

    “Maybe his girlfriend gets a good price for her watches,” Alec muttered as they turned and winded their way through the crowd and out the door.

    “Do you think Ed is gonna believe a man like Angus drinks Baileys?”  Alec said once they were out in the night air.

    “I don’t care what Ed believes,” she said.  They walked back toward the road and Olivia wished she felt like exploring.  “Why not,” she thought, then again she remembered how dangerous walking in places like this could be at night so she didn’t say anything as Alec led her back toward the car.

    They were almost to the parking lot where the car was when they heard people talking in the dimly lit lot.  “The last time you cut it too much and my customers weren’t happy,” said someone.  Then he said, “This time I ain’t payin’.”

    “Says who?” The other voice sounded nervous but firm.

    They walked a little closer to the entrance and Alec put his arm in front of Olivia as they stopped.  There were three men facing two men, half of them were sagging and one of the men out of the two had on a heavy blue jean jacket, the other was wearing a wife beater.  She couldn’t see the faces of the three men because they were facing the other way.  “I have to make my money too,” said the man in the blue jean jacket, “You don’t pay, you don’t play, I have people to answer to and I ain’t going back empty handed.”

    “What do you think your dealer will think when they find out how bad you are cutting their stock?”  His voice was deadly calm.  “If I wanted it cut, I’d cut it myself.”

    “I guess I could knock some off the price, or find someone else to buy it.”  He sounded tense.

    The man in the middle of the three men reached behind him and brought out a gun.  “I think you’ll do just what I told you and hand it over and tell your connection they need to quit cutting their stock.”

    The man in the blue jean jacket raised his hands waist high and out to the sides so they could be seen as he faded a little to the side, the other man reached slowly back behind his waist.  Alec was watching intently taking in the situation, Olivia wanted to run, but she knew not to make any noise.

    “You need to chill, if you kill me you won’t be finding another connection anywhere in this town,” He slowly started taking his jacket off to hand it over.  The man on the right of the three took the oversize jacket and put it on, it fit him perfectly.

    “You can’t just let him take it without paying like that, Jeeves,” the other man of the two was now holding his own gun and the man in the middle aimed for him.

    “Put it away.”  He said.

    “No doing jackass.  You leave now and I’ll just find you later and take it out of your hide, one of you will NOT walk away from this parking lot tonight unless we have that money.”

    Alec had been inching closer using the shadows, he was close enough to spring into action.  He kicked the closest guy on the right toward the one of the pair holding the gun and they collided, fluidly he grabbed the hand of the guy with the other gun bringing it down, then elbowed him in the throat and pointed the gun at all of them.  Olivia backed up and hid behind a car as she watched the one who had been holding the gun writhing on the ground trying to get his breath as he held his throat.  The others had backed away but not far enough, all of them were on the defensive.

    His voice sounded different somehow, “You fellas are annoying me and you picked a bad place to do business tonight.”  He looked at the one now wearing the blue jean jacket and said, “Hand it over.”  Two of them were looking at the other gun that was now on the ground.  “Don’t think about it.”  Alec said, and he meant it.  “Hand over the jacket or hand over the money,” he said, “buyer’s choice.”

    “I didn’t bring the money.”  The leader said gruffly, still holding his throat as he finally stood.

    “I didn’t think you did,” Alec replied.  “Now give the guy his jacket.”  The guy tossed it back to Jeeves who smiled.

    “I ain’t your friend,” Said Alec, the smile faded.  “Now I want all of you to back slowly out of here until you reach the road, then I want you to go your separate ways and don’t look back.”

    “Who do you think you are?!”  Said the guy who had possessed the other gun.

    “I’m a fucking tourist and I’m pissed.”

    “I want my gun back.”  Said the leader of the three.

    “That’s no surprise, you’ll find it in the river tomorrow,” Alec said, “it’s probably stolen anyway.  Now LEAVE!”  Alec didn’t want to fire a warning shot so close to town.

    The three backed out one side of the parking lot and the two watched for a minute.  The one with the other gun was staying put, “I want my gun, I didn’t start this.”

    “Back up then till I say stop.”  The men complied.

    Alec walked over and opened the revolver and emptied the shells into his hand and put them in his pocket, and then he tossed the gun to its rightful owner who slowly picked it up and returned it to the back of his belt.

    The two men looked confused, “Thanks?”  Said the one with the jacket.

    “Don’t thank me, I don’t have any use for your kind, but I’m too tired to help a cop fill out an incident report.  Now go.”  With that, they backed to the edge of the parking lot and left.  Alec put the nine in his waist band and said, “You can come out now.”

    “Who the hell are you,” Olivia asked, “Charles Bronson?”

    The lines on his face softened, “No, just some random guy with good training.  Let’s go find somewhere to stay for the night, uh, somewhere further down the road.”  They walked over to the car, examined it before they got in, and left.

    Alec drove and Olivia put Robert Plant on, she was in the mood for a melody after what just happened.  The GPS said take highway 84 so they did.  Three miles south they found a bed and breakfast with a wraparound porch.  “Tired,” he asked?

    Olivia nodded so they got a room with two beds.  “Where did you learn how to do that?”

    “Too much TV,” he said with a smile.  “I wasn’t sure it would work, I’m glad it did.”

    “You said the gun was going into the river Alec.”

    “I guess I did, but I feel better for having it.”

    “Well I don’t,” she said.

    “Olivia,” he paused.

    “What?”  She was tired.

    “It’s a long ways to Mississippi.  I’m keeping the gun.”

    “Keep it then,” she said, “but how are you gonna hide it?”

    “I’ll buy a blazer tomorrow.”

    “Tomorrow,” she whispered.  “It’s only a day a-way.”  Olivia turned out the light and dozed off.  She wasn’t asleep long when John Cougar signaled her on her phone that Ed was calling.

    She was drowsy but answered anyway, “What is it Ed?”

    “You should have been to Mississippi by now, why are you still in Colorado?”  He asked.

    “I’m a tourist right now Ed, what does it matter?”  She fished.

    “Until you are with your mom I’m gonna worry.”  He said.

    “How did you know where I was?”  She asked.

    “I pay the phone bill,” he said smugly, “I can check your phone anytime I need to with an app.”  He continued, “It sounds like you’ve been drinking.”

    “I had a few, but at the moment I was trying to sleep.”

    Alec came out of the bathroom clad in shorts with a towel draped over his tattoo, “They have a good hot water heater here Olivia.”

    “Who is that?!”  Ed sounded angry.

    Olivia was wide awake now, “He’s nobody, just a friend.”

    “I thought you said you were sleeping, how many friends do you sleep with?”  He was angry.

    “We have separate beds.  I gave him a ride because I didn’t want to travel alone.  Besides,” she added, “if YOU hadn’t sanctioned my CARD, then I wouldn’t have owed him a ride to begin with.  One could say that you are the one who set all this up in the first place.”  She felt satisfied.

    Ed hung up on her.  She waited to see if he would call back.  Alec looked perplexed, “What did I do?”

    “Nothing wrong,” she told him.  “He just can’t handle the shoe being on the other foot.  I’m not messing around, he was.  Had I been messing around he should be man enough to recognize that he would have had it coming to him.”

    John Cougar started singing about being a young boy again and she waited before she answered.  “What, Ed.  What do you want?”

    “I don’t know,” he said.

    “I’ll call you when I get to Mississippi.” She said and hung up.

    Just then there was a knock at the door.  Alec walked over and looked through the peephole.  He looked at her and said, “You aren’t gonna believe this.”  He opened the door and Shep ran in and jumped on the bed next to her and laid down. 

    Angus filled up the doorway and then said, “Well, you gonna let me in?”

    Alec ducked his head and motioned with his arm for him to come in.

    “Well it appears there ARE two beds.”  He chuckled.  “I just wanted to verify since the desk doesn’t reveal who is where, it’s a good thing I’d know her voice anywhere.”

    “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Olivia was mad.  “How old do you think I am?”

    “Ma’am,” he said, “it’s just a job, it’s not personal and since Ed did pay for your Baileys……..hey, can I sleep on the couch?”

    “Are you for real?” Asked Alec.

    “Well I’m damn sure not Memorex.”  He said.  “Word got back to me that you two had an encounter, some local punks would like to find that car you left in.  I figure you might be better off if someone stayed handy if you need them, that someone being me.”

    “Word gets around fast.”  Said Alec.

    “It’s a one horse town and I know the best bartender here, I promise to snore.”

    “Maybe we should leave now,” Olivia said out loud.

    “They’ll be too busy looking for a high tonight.” Alec said.

    “It’s Jeeves who wants to find you.”  Angus said.

    “How did you hear?”

    “Seems that gun you took is stolen and was used in a murder.  Jeeves wants to put the other fella away for life.  Seems he didn’t make it back to his hacienda with everything he left with.  Johnny law stopped him on the way home, he thinks it might have been the guys who tried to jack his load tonight.  He’s sitting in jail but his parents have the bond money, he’ll be out within the hour.”

    Alec ran his fingers through his hair, “So that’s how you know what happened.”

    “Sometimes a P.I. needs a little help, I know folks on both sides of the isle.  Now Alec, I’d love to know which side of the isle you stand on, considering how you resolved the situation.”  The big man sat down on the couch and waved Shep over to him.

    “Seeing as how no one can charge me with anything, I don’t think I owe any explanations.”  Alec said as he looked the big man in the eyes.

    “You have to give them the gun,” Olivia said, half grateful it would be gone.

    “I know that Olivia, but can I do that without having to answer any questions?”  He looked at Angus.

    “Well, can he?”  Asked Olivia.

    “I’d just like to know why you don’t want to answer any questions?”  Asked Angus.

    “I don’t want to have to wait around on a trial, I’ve got limited time off from my job and I’d kind of like to see Olivia reach her goals before I have to go back.”  Alec said.

    “Tell you what,” Angus said, “You give me that weapon and I’ll give it to the detective, tell him I found it close to the river, and everyone will be happy, well, everyone except the thug who’s wanted for the stolen gun that is.”

    “If you’ll get your own room I’m fine with that.  Would have been nice to have a weapon though.”

    Alec wiped the nine clean and handed it to Angus.  Angus nodded at him and signaled Shep.  Then they were gone.

    “I’m glad the gun is gone,” Olivia said.  “I don’t like handguns of any kind.”

    “I just hope we don’t regret losing it later,” he said.  Then it was lights out.


    Outside Angus watched until the room went dark, then he went to his Sedan and opened the door and let Shep in.  A voice from the back seat said, “Well, did you get it?”

    “I got it Slick, but you better promise me you’ll leave them alone, they won’t be in town but overnight anyway.”

    “Yeah,” he said, “Well the next time you hire us for a job you better make sure it’s with someone who’s softer than that, I’m still pissed.”  He rubbed his throat.

    Angus turned his large frame around in the seat, “I didn’t know, he don’t look like much.”

    Slick rubbed his throat that was still sore, “What do you know about him anyway?”

    “Precious little,” Angus said, “which makes me more curious about him than I am about the girl.”

    “Give me my money and I’ll be on my way as soon as you drop me off downtown.”

    The Sedan started with a squeal and in a matter of minutes, they were gone.


    Alec stepped back away from the window and took the other bed.  “Funny,” he thought, “I didn’t know he had company in the car.”  Alec had a hard time sleeping that night.