I left Bailey’s office when he started yelling at Raj. I don’t think he even noticed me going out the door. From Bailey’s office it is two floors up to the office cube I share with Larry Wells. Larry wasn’t there, no surprise, so I called him on the phone and told him that we needed to talk.
“I’m in the middle of auditing the cashier’s cage. Can’t it wait?”
I grimaced. “No Larry. It can’t.”
Something in my voice must have caught his attention. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
“Meet me at the Sunset.” The Sunset Bistro is an automated coffee shop in the ‘Farm 1’ module just west of the office module. I checked and it was empty right then according to the security cameras: I needed some coffee bad, but I also needed to talk to Larry somewhere with more privacy than an open-plan office with shoulder-high cubicle walls.
He got there just as I was setting two cups of coffee down on a table in the back. I asked him to sit down. It wasn’t a fun conversation from there.
Like I said, Larry has a blind spot where Shelly was concerned. Their single mother had been a dancer in Las Vegas, a bit of a party girl, so Larry had raised his little sister mostly by himself. He ended up the responsible one, Shelly ended up like their mother, even if Larry thought differently. She even looked like her. I’ve seen pictures: a statuesque black woman in one of those peacock feather outfits, lovely brown eyes staring right into the camera and capturing your attention away from those beautiful, long legs. Shelly had inherited her mother’s eyes and legs and everything else too, except her hair was long and straight and she bleached it to within an inch of its life. Had bleached it…
Larry probably took after his father, whoever that was. He was lighter skinned than either his sister or mother and built like the halfback he had once been. His face was broad and open, with a nose that rivaled Bailey’s for size, and it was usually smiling in a way that made people like it. People didn’t like Larry’s face so much when he stopped smiling, it was one of the ways he kept the croupiers in line as his only other expression was one that belonged on the football field. People didn’t like that face at all. They usually worked hard to keep from seeing it.
Right then I could see that face, exposing Larry’s usually suppressed rage and this time competing with contortions of grief. Larry was standing feet apart, his enormous arms akimbo and his fists knotted into two bludgeons of meat and bone. His chair was laid over behind him and both cups of coffee were in my lap, untasted, after Larry had leaped up when I told him about Shelly. I stood up as well, watching warily. Larry was a friend, but I’d never seen him so upset. I realized I had no idea what he was going to do.
What he did was fall to his knees sobbing.
“I thought it was done. Over. I thought he would never come back.”
“Who?” I was confused. “What was over?”
“Nothing.” Larry forced himself to his feet. “I’ve got to go.”
“Go where? Larry, if you know anything about what happened to Shelly you need to tell me.”
“I don’t need to tell you nothing. It’s all my fault anyway. I killed her.”
I had no idea what he was talking about and I’m not sure he did right then. I couldn’t believe Larry had killed his beloved little sister and stuffed her body into a garbage capsule. “Larry, look man… I know you’re upset right now, but it’s my job to look into this. Just tell me what’s going on.”
Nothing but the rage came through right then, blazing out of his eyes and sweating out of his skin. “What’s going on is my business and none of yours. I’m gonna find that sonafabitch.”
“Who? Larry, let me handle this.” I put a hand on his shoulder, but he batted it away.
“You can’t handle this. You’re just a glorified hotel dick. Out of my way!” Larry pushed me hard, and I stepped back putting one hand on my Taser holster and unsnapping it.
“Not gonna happen Larry.” But he kept coming, fists up. I backpedaled again and drew the Taser just as a haymaker whistled by my head. The next punch would have connected, but I backed into a table and fell over onto it, crashing to the floor when the table collapsed under me. I lay there with the wind knocked out of me as Larry stalked by, heading for the door. The Taser took him in the meaty part of the shoulder and he jumped forward, striking his head hard on the door jam before collapsing into a shuddering heap.
WIP: Graveyard Orbit
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