Monday, August 9, 2010

Oak Cliff Confidential: Chapter 12

  Sharon and Hexom thundered down the slightly-rickety outside stairs of Salon Building #3, their journey only made slightly more complex by the vodka lemonade flowing through their excited veins. Hexom had an issue with depth perception about halfway down, and they both nearly tumbled to their deaths, but corrective measures were taken and they soon arrived safely at the lower landing.

  They raced through the small pseudo-Zen courtyard and around the corner of the building, where they narrowly avoided slamming into April Wild as she struggled to get back into her flimsy shirt.

  “Well, then,” said Hexom, catching his breath. “Are we to presume that Momma got into the cookie jar? Speaking of, where is Alejandro? Did you wear him out?”

  April grimaced as she finally got an arm through the appropriate hole and then arranged her chemise into a more modest presentation. “Girl, ain’t nobody had any cookies, even though Momma did everything but bake ‘em herself.” She turned and pointed at a nearby fountain. “He’s over there. You weren’t kidding when you said he liked water. More than my twins, apparently.”

   Sharon and Hexom turned as one, and spied the still-shirtless Alejandro sitting on the rim of the water pool and apparently speaking in an avian language to three ducklings floating in a row. They were gazing at him in absolute love and adoration, proving that even lower life forms have an appreciation for a finely-chiseled naked torso, especially if the warmth of the day has resulted in a light sheen of sweat for enhancement purposes.

  “Alejandro!” barked Sharon, “quit screwing around with the ducks and get over here. We’ve got places to be.”

  Alejandro glanced at Sharon, then turned back and quickly leaned down to whisper parting words to the trio of admirers. They all made cute little quacks of departure, and then sped happily to their mother on the other side of the fountain. Alejandro walked up to Sharon. “And where shall we go now, queen of everything there is. More vodka?”

  Sharon slapped playfully at his chest, making sure a slight tweak of the left nipple was part of the process. “No, Allie. We’re going to a cemetery. I’m going to show you where I’m having you buried for your impertinence. Now, have Hexom explain that big word to you while I give money to the slut for cutting my hair.”

  “I prefer ‘ho-skank’, actually,” clarified April, reaching over to tweak Alejandro’s other nipple, because she was all about equality in the workplace. “And you don’t need to pay me. I’m sure I’ll get a check in the mail.”

  “Really?” asked Sharon, pausing with billfold in hand. “So you do this enough that there are payment arrangements? Fascinating. And how often do you transform people into someone they despised in high school?”

  A familiar beeping noise came from inside one pocket of April’s skin-tight, carefully-shredded jeans. April automatically reached down and hit a button on the phone.

  “Let me guess,” said Sharon. “You’re not allowed to tell me. Interesting, though, that you are playing the game as well. Can you answer this question: How many people are playing the game over all?”

  Both April’s and Hexom’s phones beeped.

  Sharon sighed. “I really hate that horrid little monotone man and his phones. Seriously.”

  April laughed. “I’m not actually playing. They just tell me what to do, and they pay me. I don’t ask, and I don’t care.” Her eyes drifted to Alejandro’s chest. “About most things, anyway.”

  Sharon’s eyes widened. “You don’t care that people are getting killed? That you might be helping these people get killed?”

  April’s eyes shifted from Alejandro’s glistening chest to Hexom’s stoic face, then quickly dropped.

  But Sharon caught it. She whirled on Hexom. “What was that? People ARE getting killed, aren’t they, Hexom? Like that Sara Lee person? Although, now that I think about it, that’s a pretty bogus-sounding name. Is anybody really dead?”

  Hexom coughed. “Well, we are on our way to a cemetery.”

  Sharon scoffed. “That’s not an answer. Those people have been dead for a long time. Is Sara Lee dead or not?”

  Hexom sighed. “Yes, Sara Lee is dead. But that’s not her real name. We use code names in the newspaper ads. Just one of the rules.”

  “One of the rules, eh?“ Sharon, her temper beginning to get the best of her and realizing it, started digging around in her purse for a cigarette. She found one and popped it in her mouth, then started a second quest for a lighter. She suddenly remembered her half-finished glass of vodka sitting on one of April’s tables, and regretted the error in not dragging it along. “Alejandro, please run upstairs and get my drink.” Sharon glanced briefly at Hexom’s mouth, then: “It’s the only one with lipstick on the rim.”

  Alejandro dashed forth and, from the sound of it, took the stairs two at a time. You can still do such things when you are young and pretty.

  Sharon finally located the lighter, and soon had her cigarette glowing with an expedient and practiced flick of the device. “Now, this is all starting to really get on my nerves. I don’t know what is real here, and what is the game.”

  Hexom tried to stop her budding rampage. “Sharon, Sara IS dead, or at least the person that played Sara. But to be fair, she didn’t die because of the game. Unrelated. Something about bad shellfish in the Cook Islands.”

  Sharon blew out a stream of smoke with an alarming amount of force. “See, THIS is what I’m talking about. You told me that Sara died because of this dumb-ass game and-”

  Hexom held up his hand. “I never said that.”

  Sharon blew another stream of smoke. “You implied it, Hexom. Same damn thing. So I want to know. Is anybody really in danger that’s playing this game, or is it all just for fun? Is there somebody in this game that’s actually trying to kill you, Hexom?”

  Hexom was silent for a moment, and then nodded his head. “Yes.”

  Sharon flicked away her ash. “Great. Now we’re getting somewhere. And who would that be? Mr. Roboto? Another pissed-off shellfish?”

  Hexom shook his head. “No, Sharon, neither of those. It’s actually…”

  Sharon flicked again, then held both hands up in a questioning stance. “Who, Hexom? WHO is trying to kill you?”

  Hexom looked directly into Sharon’s eyes. “You are. You just don’t know it yet.”

  All three of their phones instantly beeped.

  Alejandro bounced around the corner, still glistening, and held a glass toward Sharon. “Your drink, Your Highness. Will you be requiring anything more?”

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