Who are you?
As you will recall, Rob was recounting to me an involved tale of a mysterious cell phone call, work neglected, and a serendipitous assignation with a Russian "hottie." When we set our hero aside, he was just mounting the steps at the back of a pawning shop, with the intent of going on to mount the denizen of those cramped upper quarters."So I creep up the stairs and find a small apartment above the shop, right? I'm, like, exactly one foot in the door and, BAMN, there's this fox in the threadbare old blue-and-gold velveteen chair. She's practically dancing in her chair, and as soon as I close the door she's got these long Soviet arms around my neck, and I swear to fucking god, she snakes a leg around the back of my leg before I am even standing properly in the room and she has her cheek pressed to mine, 'Oh, Daniel,' she moans and starts nuzzling my neck. 'You are here,' she keeps saying, over and over, her hot breath running down my spine in bursts.
"Then, as quickly as she's got me in her arms and at half-to-zero-hour, she steps back, all fake-shy and shit, but with a smile, all playing with her hair.
"'I confess,' she purrs, 'I never would have recognized you.'
"'Really,' I said back.
"'You are much the good looking man. So much the more better than he promised.' She added, taking my hand, 'And I am glad for it, Daniel.'
"'Well,' I paused, 'cause I had, like, no clue where to go from there, so I said,'Well,' again, just to break up the pauses.
"'May I kiss you now?' she asked, quietly.
"And that shit was good.
"'You were not followed,' she said suddenly pulling away. She led me drowsily to the small day bed in the back of the efficiency. We sat on the edge.
"'Followed?' I asked, trying to guide her slowly down into a reclining position. You know, friendly and conversational like, on our sides, or at least on our elbows.
"She stood then and marched to the window, peering out. 'Boris is terrible. A monster. A villain. Blood cutting dangerous is he. We must hurry.' She ran to her desk and she pulled this tiny little automatic out of the bottom drawer, a bad Eastern European knock-off of an ugly little H&K. Even though I was comfy on the bed, that put me back in the middle of the room before I even realized I was getting up.
"'So, Katrine,' I said, as a way to reopen discussion of things. But she stepped right into my arms, which had been open in order to start a long discussion of guns and violence and gun safety. She pulled me close and I could feel the entire topographical map of her frontal areas. She was warm.
"'We can handle Boris,' I murmured into her pale hair.
"Her hand explored the small of my back.
"'What was that!' she said suddenly, darting to the door.
"There was a mumbling exchange from the shop below, followed very quickly by the thump of feet up the stairs.
"She pressed the pistol into my hand, I pressed it back into hers.
"'The police!' She hissed.
"'You want me to shoot a cop!' I ran with the gun to the window. I saw a patrol car double parked at the entrance of the shop. The thumping came closer. In a panic, I ran to the restroom and dropped the gun in the toilet. It sank in the water, hammer in the drain hole, barrel pointed up into my face. I came back out, pale and sick, into Katrine's arms as the door swung open. 'You are so brave, my Daniel,' she whispered as the men stepped in. 'They will beat you for sure. Deny everything, it is our only way.'
"She pushed me toward the men. Deny everything, I thought. That shit is done.
"So, two guys come in wearing suits. Cheap suits like you see on narcs. They own the room the way cops do. Both of them are black, the little guy is milk chocolate and he wore a fade that was way out of style. The tall guy, though, had a very good Men's Warehouse suit, a shaved head, and he was deep black. Looked Haitian, if a Jew from the north suburbs is allowed to make a distinction like that.
"The little guy casually shifted his shoulders and unlatched the snap on his shoulder holster.
"The big guy, natch, spoke with a clean accent from the islands, 'Daniel Radosky, you are under arrest.' He presented his badge to me politely. 'Sir, we're taking you in for the murder of Margaret Corbin. You've the right to remain silent. You've the right to an attorney.' He was stern, but not aggressive.
"The girl sat dejectedly on the bed and started to cry silently.
"The little guy just grinned, coming around to the back of me and zipping my wrist together with a black plastic tie. I stood very still, very calm. I was beyond this shit, I said to myself. I did nothing, I got lawyers, this shit will clear up. If it had only been me and the little guy, though, with his sneer and that fucking fade, I woulda cracked a bit. I might even of pissed myself. But I had that cup on my fucking mantle, right? I had made something out of things. And besides, the tall guy seemed straight.
"'Officer, there's been a mistake,' I said. 'My name is Robert Miller.' It was the very best impersonation of a normal person I had ever done. I was the fucking Rich Little of doing a regular guy.
"'We'll see about that shit,' the little guy said. He pushed me out of the room, one hand on my bound wrists, the other on my shoulder.
"Katrine held her face in her hands as the cops lead me down to the car on the street.
"When we hit the street, as I was being pushed toward the car, I said, 'Hey, c'mon guys, my apartments like, three blocks away. We can stop there and I can prove I'm not this Daniel guy.'
"Without missing a beat, the short guy stuffed me through the smallish backdoor of the patrol car and slammed the door behind me. The two men argued quietly on the street. I starred up at the window of the apartment above the shop. The girl stood at the window, breathed on the glass, and carefully inscribed in shaky letters: 'Even if Robert I still [heart]. Remember.'
"She got all the letters backwards, except for the Rs, of course." Rob paused, and grinned through damp eyes, "Even though how it all ended up, I still think that's fucking adorable, you know.
"Anyway, finally, the cops got in the car. The little guy drove, and the tall guy sat sideways in the passenger seat staring at me, considering his options.
"'You say your name is Miller?' the tall man said finally. The little guy snorted.
I told them yeah, then waited, then took the plunge: "Listen, Detective? I'm not a perfect guy, okay. You can look me up. I got MIPs, petty drug shit, the whole juvenile thing. But you'll also see that shit stops four years ago. I work for my Dad now, Miller Companies, Inc. I got my own place, I got a fuc—. . . I have my own water bill and everything. I mean, I know guys like me say 'I Swear' all the time, but I swear I am just a regular guy. I've never killed anyone, and I never heard of lady named Cobain or whatever."
"'Double negative,' said the tall man, and my heart just, like, sank to the floorboards.
"The short guy sighed. 'Ah, shit Jack, let's just take this shitpot in and go home.'
"Jack looked deep into my eyes, and then I felt good, you know, like someone else was really seeing me for who I had become. For who I am. He said, 'Ain't never notwithstanding, I don't see the harm in checking your story out.'
"Fade laid his head back against the backseat cage and said, 'Ah, shit man. We gotta roll this guy's crib? The female called the man 'Daniel'. She whispered it in his ear and everything.'
"'And what do you say to that, citizen?' It was totally clear that Jack wasn't gonna buy my line direct. But I had faith now, so I smiled it up aw-shucks style, but he didn't back down. So I explained, about how I got this mystery cell phone call while I'm waiting for my dad to come back with the truck so we can haul these display cases and taxidermy moose into storage, and the call is some Ukrainian sex kitten with a 1-900 voice, and she says the password is moose, and, you know, what are the odds? Like, with the ratty old moose looking at me while the mail-order hottie is all "secret word is moose"? And Jack, the Haitian cop, he says 'Synchronicity is the word you're searching for, Daniel' and I say, just absentmindedly, 'My name's not Daniel—' and I stop when I see the cop smiling with his eyes twinkling, and he says 'Of course, Mr. Miller. My apologies.'
"And so, in the end, I just make my point, which is that anyone would have ditched the moose and the display cases right there; if door #1 is moldy moose, and door #2 is hot-sounding-Russian-lady-and-funny-coincidence, everyone goes with door #2, and right until the part where the cops came in, my choice was the good choice.
"'She kissed me, like, man, like . . . like her choice was kissing or breathing, and she was already at the bottom of the fucking river, so why not go all in, right? She's hot; even if she'd been ugly, she'd have still been a hot Russian lady.'
"He nodded. 'She's Belarusian.'
And I'm all like, 'Below Russian? What the hell's that supposed to even mean?'
"The fade looked over at Jack. 'You are not buying this cracker crumb bullshit, Jack.'
"Jack says to him, 'Bill, just think of the paperwork if he is telling the truth.'
"Bill slumped in his seat and shook his head.
"'What's the address?' Jack asked me."
And although Rob paused in his tale so that he might "totally just like tend to some mad-urgent lizard-drainage issues," his tale, like his law enforcement coterie, continued on to his modest apartment.
I Remain Returned,
Your Giant Squid
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