Monday, August 09, 2004

Keith is, uh, out of town, so we jacked something from his hard drive. Enjoy.

-the editors

He woke up to sunshine streaming through the window of his plush hotel room. Coffee, numero uno. Once a pot was brewing, he filled his cup and sat out on the lanai. The view was magnificent. Turtle Bay was the only major resort hotel on the north shore of Oahu, located right smack on the northern tip of the island. Somehow the locals had kept the Japanese investors and the corporate sharks out of this part of the island, for the most part. Just a few miles west was the famous miracle mile, six of the top ten surf spots in the world, if you believed the hype.

Time for a few days of chill time away from Honolulu, let it sink in with the locals that he’d really skipped town. They were good enough to know he’d gone to the airport, but not good enough to know he was still here. He hoped.

It was time to admit to himself he needed help on this one. Some local assistance. Dark didn’t have any hook-ups in Hawaii, but maybe he had a hook-up with a hook-up. There was really only one guy in the world he could trust right now, and his name was Joe Johnson.

That wasn’t his real name of course. Dark didn’t even know his real name, which made it seem weird that it was the only guy he could trust, but maybe that was the thing; there was a mutual respect of the other’s anonymity. Dark sure as hell wasn’t his real name.

Anyway, Joe had connects all over the globe. Dark had used them before. There was a price obviously, but he’d never been burned. Thing was, he’d never had people on his ass this hard before. And now this thing with the guys in Waikiki. They’d somehow caught wind of him snooping on Robbie Chan, but were they related to this other heat that was on him? Unlikely. The two guys in Waikiki had been poking him for information, trying to see what his story was. Whoever was after him, really after him, seemed they already had his whole M.O., and they would’ve grabbed him if they’d had him cold like that. He growled inaudibly, still disappointed in himself.

Fuck it, he decided he’d call Joe. Slurping down the last of his coffee, he threw on his swimsuit, grabbed a complimentary towel, and headed down to the pool area. In the lobby, he headed for the gift shop, bought a couple postcards, and asked for ten dollars in quarters. He sure as hell wasn’t going to use the phone in his room. There was a pay phone over by the bathrooms, time to let those fingers walk.

Dark dialed the number from memory. Some things you never forget. The last time he’d called this number, he’d been in a New Jersey pool hall, a bridge stick coming out of the left side of his belly, with three dead Italians sprawled across the floor, a half empty bottle of Jack Daniels in his left hand, already starting the healing, trying like mad to stay conscious. Scared shitless barkeep cowering in the corner, pissing himself. That little reach out and touch someone had been on a payphone too. Joe had been down in Tenessee, but Dark was about to pass out, and he didn’t want to call 911 if you know what I mean. He needed some discreet medical attention as well as a bus pass out of a fairly fucked up situation.

“Dragon’s. This is Pauline.”

“I need to talk to Joe, is he around?”

“He’s with a customer, may I tell him who’s calling?”

“Tell him it’s Big Jim Slade.”

“Hold on.” She put him on hold.

About thirty seconds later, Joe was on the horn. “Rion. My man. What can I do you for? Don’t tell me you’re playing pool again.”

“Hilarious. Actually, I’m about to go chill out pool-side and have a strawberry daquiri.”

“No shit. So what’s up?”

Dark held his breath for a second. He was risking a lot telling Joe where he was, but fuck, his cover had been blown here, God knew to what degree or perspective, and he wasn’t giving up on this Robbie Chan thing. The trail was warm, but he needed local assistance.

“I’m on Oahu. I need someone that knows the local scene, and that can get me some weapons and that won’t fuck me.”

“I know just the person. Hold on.”

Two minutes later, he was back. He gave him a phone number. “OK, the guy’s name is Reginald. He knows the score on everybody out there. I’ll let him know you’ll be calling. Gimme 24 hours to prep him, and then give him a call. I’d like to say he won’t fuck you, but you know how that goes. You should be cool though, we go way back. The guy’s a pro, and if you hook him up, he’ll do likewise.”

“Thanks Joe. I owe you.”

“And you know I’ll collect.”

“Peace out.”