There were semi-private booths in Lefty’s, and I grabbed one. I had started with a glass of ice-tea (I had good intentions) but segued to double scotch “on the rocks,” two of them, to be exact. With one sitting on the table staring me in the face, a pretty blonde about five foot nine and built for trouble slid into the booth and sat down. “Mr. Grit, I presume?” It was the voice I had heard over the phone, alright, but the cold, professionalism was gone. Now, it was somewhat warmer and softer if you will. Her big blue eyes were crinkled into a smile that stretched seemingly from ear-to-ear. I wanted to take her home.
“That’s me,” I said, extending my hand across the table. She gripped my hand firmly, still smiling as she shook it. “I’m Detective, Santos.” I nodded. Now, I’ve had handshakes from men that were less impressive. I liked her immediately. “Can I order something for you?” I asked, motioning to my drink. “I’ve already ordered something, but thank you,” she replied. She was well aware of my looking her over as she removed her jacket. “So, Sam. You don’t mind if I call you Sam, do you?” she asked. “Of course not,” I said, feeling a little less sure of myself as the scotch had slowly wrapped itself around my brain and was squeezing it like a fucking python.
Just then, the waiter brought Nikki’s drinks. Yes, I said, drinks - plural. I was impressed again. The waiter placed two of what looked like Martini’s on the table in front of her. She picked up the first and downed it. I thought, “I think I’m falling in love,” snickering inwardly. She gave me a quick smile as if she knew what I was thinking. “Aren’t you drinking,” she asked as I stared at my third scotch, which was now not only staring me in the face but was pleading for me to do what it was intended for. “I’m good,” I said, trying to look assured of myself, but feeling so less than that. “I, uh, just wanted to tell you how sorry I am about…Mike--” “Yeah, Mike was a nice guy,” she interrupted. “We were partners when we worked Robbery,” she said solemnly. I watched her down the second Martini. “I’m sure you probably heard we were also an item - sort of,” she said, staring into her empty Martini glass.
“Did you want to get something to eat?” I asked. I didn’t want her to get too sloshed before she could tell me whatever she could. “They grill a great ribeye, with all the trimmings. They also have a nice selection of fish here,” I said, feeling somewhat hungry myself. Plus, I wanted to mix some food with the booze. “Nah, I’m not really hungry,” she said while ordering a couple more Martini’s. We were able to get in some pertinent bits of conversation before the booze rudely elbowed its way into our conversation.
Before Nikki Santos slipped too far south, she hit me with some blockbuster shit that I was not prepared for. She said Mike Garcia was a bi-sexual and that he had continually tried to get her to join in a threesome, but she had no interest in that unless it involved another woman. “One on one, he was an absolutely outstanding lover,” she stated plainly. I almost felt jealous of Mike Garcia, but under the circumstances, that would be a wasted emotion. Then she dropped the big one!
Nikki said that Maggie O’Halloran had joined them in the sack numerous times. I almost lost it when I heard that, but I couldn’t show it. I immediately felt the heat, and the accompanying redness began to creep up my neck. No! No! I had to stop its migration to my face! I did all I could to look like I was “Mr. Cool.” I immediately picked up my drink and hid behind it as I swallowed a cube of ice in an attempt to cool down. She didn’t seem to notice anything, which eased my panic. I could actually feel the heat subside.
Then I thought, is there a video? I had to shake the image of Maggie O’Halloran and the blonde goddess in front of me, frolicking in bed from my mind, and it wasn’t easy. So, could Mike Garcia be the one in the supposed photo’s with Maggie O’Halloran that Momma Blue had mentioned? Wouldn’t Chief O’Halloran know Garcia? He would most likely know him by sight - if not personally. I had to wonder why Nikki was being so revealing with me. If any of what she had shared with me got around, her career would most likely be over. Then she addressed that concern.
“I asked around about you, Sam. I wanted to know who I was dealing with before I met with you, and the one thing that was of a general consensus was that you kept things close to the vest. That you’re not a blabber-mouth - I guess you could say.” She continued, “I want who’s responsible for the Chief’s death caught whether it’s my department who does it, or you’re the one solves it. I just want it solved, and I also firmly believe that Mike Garcia was murdered. There’s no way he committed suicide. No way! Her voice raised a notch as she said, “I believe that everything I’ve told you is a thread to the killer or killers, and that’s why I’ve shared with you what I have at the risk of losing everything. I hope I made the right decision.” I assured her that she needn’t worry. I pride myself on the character trait of never exposing a source. My other character traits? Well, let’s not talk about those. One thing I am not is a rat - unless, of course, its fingernail pulling time or electric shocks to my balls - then all bets are off.
She knew I lived on a houseboat and wanted to see it and apparently much more. Sometime later, I felt I had contributed all I was capable of as I lay there panting and sweating and feeling like I had just run a marathon when she climbed aboard for another trip. I thought this fucking broad was going to be the death of me. I had to dig deep for that trip.
To be continued…