– Episode 1 –
The phone rang like to raddle off the hook. It was one in the morning. It was becoming a habit.
“NO, I swear to GOD man, I never heard a NOBODY named Dolores. I don’t KNOW nobody who KNOWS nobody named Dolores. Now listen, ya been callin’ me in the middle of the night all week – so either tell me what the hell is going on, or leave me alone.”
There was a long quiet pause on the other end of the line. I could barely hear a breath, much less anything else. I started to let my eyes close, drifting back to sleep when –
“Marcello’s. Be there in half an hour.”
The hell was this?
“What?” I yelled into the receiver, “No man, you tell me right-“
I tossed the phone back on the hook and lay back on the bed for a while. I considered. I weighed options. It was a joke. It was serious. I could be killed, my body fished out of the river. I could be a hero, get back on the force. Nobody does this. I’m nobody.
I got up, threw on yesterday’s clothes, and was out the door.
Marcello’s is the kind of dive that was real hip twenty years ago, but now mostly you don’t wanna touch nothin’. I took an uneven seat at the bar and wiped the sleep from my eyes. The bartender studied me, real unapproving like. Must have looked off my head. I got whiskey in a dirty glass and found out my stitches hadn’t quite healed. Down four wisdom teeth and running a fool’s errand. Thirty-four has not been my year.
“Are you him?” came from behind.
“I dunno, who’s him?” I said on reflex. For the record, it is ill advised to be a smart ass in these kind of situations.
A small man in a large coat took the stool next to me. He placed an envelope on the bar and discretely slid it over. It wasn’t sealed, and not being particularly adept at intrigues, I went to open it. Inside was a long note a picture of the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.
“Yeah, that’s real nice doc, but what does this have to do with –“ I looked up and realized he was gone. Vanished. Nothin’.
The bartender grinned at me, confirming my idiocy. Stupefied, I tore out the note. It was a list. Names. Locations. Cryptic numbers and little diagrams. This was serious.
I looked around, suddenly worried that someone was watching. Or trying to read over my shoulder. Or worse. I stuffed the note back into the envelope, the envelope in my pocket, and hurried out.
I had made a terrible mistake.