Tireless and Faithful Readers,
Finally, we come to the denouement of Rob's Russian misadventure, in which my lab assistant was first lured to a lowly pawn shop by a vixenish voice, then besmooched by a Belarusian beauty mistaking him for a high-powered lawyer of Russian extraction, and finally arrested for being said murderous attorney and taken to his home, where he attempted to demonstrate his own, true and innocuous identity, finally learning the strange dimensions of the investigation into which he had been sucked."So, crazy shit, right? This is why I came over to tell you about the crazy murder investigation that I got sucked into, right?" Rob smiled a broad smile.
I had to confess that I was intrigued by the unfolding sequence of causally linked events that he was relaying to me. More than mildly intrigued.
"Well, sometimes when you think you are chomping down on a Baby Ruth," Rob said, "it's actually a radioactive shit stick." And he turned his smile upside down.
"Five minutes go by, then ten, and Bill doesn't come to get me. Suddenly it dawns on me that I don't hear voices or anything, but I don't wanna queer Officer Jack's good work on my part, so I wait ten more, and finally I peek my head out of my kitchen. The motherfucking apartment was empty. I don't mean empty of people. I mean empty. I mean Grinch and the motherfucking Christmas empty. I mean picture wire on the wall empty.
"TV. Gone. Couch. Gone. Blue-ray collection, gone, video games gone carpet gone family photos gone trash can gone trash gone. Fucking REMOTE controls. GONE."
"The Kiddush cup I drank from when I was thirteen, that was wrapped in sack cloth, coated in lard, and buried in a Polish village latrine for three years. The Kiddush cup that Swiss experts verify was a presentation piece sent from the court of Emperor Rudolf II of Prague to my ancestors in the Jewish quarter.
"The cup my dad gave me when I stopped fucking up.
"Frankie came up. 'He, Rob,' he says.
"'What?' I says."
"'How much you make on that deal?' he says."
"'On what deal?' I says."
"'I helped your pals pack all that shit up, 'cause you were in the kitchen on the phone for some important deal; they said you were selling everything and moving to California to work for your uncle Lockard at that movie studio you told me about. How much you get? That cup alone, man, must have been worth fifty bucks. It was, like, silver and shit.'
"I sorta drifted to the floor as he spoke. 'You helped them pack?' I says.
"'Yeah, man, but don't worry. I needed to get rid of those boxes anyway. So, you know, you were doing me a favor, really.' Frankie smiled. He is such a nice motherfucking guy. 'Christ,' he said, 'They had a fucking incredibly crew; like, a dozen Mexican guys, quite like church-mice, and packed shit like they were on fast forward.'
"I couldn't help myself. 'Hey, Frank-o; when you were working in Hamtramck back in the spring, you were doing a refurb on some crazy ladies mansion, right?'
"Frank looked at me like I was nuts, then laughed. 'You've got a queer sense of humor, Rob-o; I was doing demos in Hamtramck. Remember how banged up and plaster-dusty I'd come home?' I didn't, but I said oh yeah, 'cause I just needed him to fucking leave.
"I was wearing a new hoodie, and so once the door clicked, I searched my pockets and set out a little display of my lone worldly possessions, which were, in order: an indestructible comb from a gas station men's room, a pretty little box with a very nice watch in it, a lighter with a naked lady on it, my cell phone, zig zag papers, sixteen cents, a Chick tract about gay people that is totally funny, and my car keys. Not even any tobacco, 'cause I'd left my pouch of drum on top of the shelf with my Blu-Rays.
"That was it, man. That was my worldly possessions.
"I picked up my cell phone.
"I end up sitting in a nice, well-lit room downtown, with my dad and his lawyer to one side of me, two African-American detectives across the table. They have very nice, expensive suits. Neither detective smiles, but neither seem mean either. Neither give fuck one about the story as tell it, and I can, for real, feel it like shrinking in my brain mind as they carefully write it down. I try to sort of speed i tup, because I start feeling bad about the amount of paper they're wasting on it.
"'Jack Brown did it," the first cop says.
"'Is he Haitian?' I ask, hopeful but knowing I sound like an asshole.
"The other detective barely cracked a smile. 'He's from Albion,' he said finally.
"'They're good, the Brown gang,' said the other detective.
"The first detective nodded. 'This one is my favorite.'
"'Your favorite?' I ask, and my voice climbs up despite me trying to be cool, and Da's lawyer reaches over instinctively to place a calming hand on my forearm.
"'Yes,' the cop says directly. 'It's an old Agatha Christie story. "The Mystery of the Spanish Shawl." The Brown gang executes it perfectly. I think its funny, is all, that it works so well.' The cop leaned back. 'Post-literate society, I guess,' he said to no one in particular.
"'Do you expect the Millers will see any thing returned?' The lawyer asked, but you could tell he was just asking because he felt bad about charging us $250 an hour without asking anything.
"'This was a short story?' Da' asked.
"And then, man, in my heart, I totally felt the weight of the truth of the moment, you know?
"'This is a story, Dad. We're in it. Word for word.' I don't know why, but I pull that little box out of my pocket, and reach around his lawyer to put it in my father's hand.
"The first cop looks at the lawyer like they're the only two people in the room. 'No,' he said. 'I wouldn't count on finding anything. These guys are conservative. Even when they take high priced jewelry, they melt it down for the metal prices rather than risk selling a high quality piece. They deal in commodities, they sell to a few different gypsy outfits in Toledo and in Ontario. When they have time to work, out in a nice suburb, they strip the house of copper, fixtures; they've cut antique stained glass windows right out of the wall. Jack works with different crews for different jobs. He was raised by missionaries.'
"'What?' the lawyer asks.
"The other cop leans in, and says sarcastically, 'He know what kind of negro a white man will like. He know the perfect negro for each and every white man he meet.'
"'That's really the best way to put it,' the first cop says with a shrug. 'But this one is simple. It's a mystery story. And even then, it isn't original. It's a Spanish Prisoner con. Oldest con there is.'
"Outside, on the street, me and Da' and the lawyer, we all just stare at our shoes for a while.
"My dad had opened the box from the pawn shop and pulled out the watch; he felt the heft of it, then looked at the back. 'Who's D'Shane, Rob?'
"'Me, Dad. He's me.'
"And my Da', he just nodded, and reached over, and squeezed my shoulder, and says 'It's a nice watch, son. It's a nice watch.'
And I share this with you, my Dear Readers, so that we can all reflect on the thin margin of fortuitous luck separates us from the locusts who would strip us of our riches. Until our lives have run their course without sorrow and molestation, who among us can say, with confidence, that we are not D'Shane as well?
Yet I Remain,
Your Giant Squid
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