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– 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-“

Click.

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.

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