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Christmas Noir: Day 12

After I had got Debbie back to the office and was back on my own I saw the man in the brown corduroy suit again. I walked past my car and towards the drug store on the corner. Instead of going in, I decided to walk past the doors and after turning the corner I leaned against the wall and waited. After a moment the man in the brown corduroy suit came around the corner and I grabbed him by the lapels of his coat. I spun his around and smacked his back into the wall I had been leaning against a moment ago. I pulled back my fist when he squeaked and I realized who it was.

“Wait Jack, it’s me!” He said in an alto voice that came close to a whine at times.

“Thanksgiving?” I asked, finally getting a good look at him. I lowered my fist and let go of his jacket.

“And it’s nice to see you too.” He said, brushing his white shirt and brown vest with shaking hands.

“What the hell are you doing?” I asked, “I might have beat you to a pulp.”

“I wanted to find out what you knew about this Christmas thing.” He said trying to straiten his bow tie, but all he did was set it further askew.

“So why not ask me?” I asked. “You could have called.”

“I didn’t know who you were working for.” He said, “As a matter of fact I still don’t. I’ve seen everyone but Christmas herself going in and out of your office the last two days.”

“Well let’s you and me go up there and you can actually fix your tie.” I said.

“Will there be anyone watching?” He asked looking around. “I don’t want people to know where I am. They’ve already tried once you know.”

“I’ll keep you safe.” I said as reassuringly as I could. “Let’s go up and have a talk.”

Five minutes later we were sitting in my office, a couple of mugs of coffee between us. He had straitened himself up and combed his hair in the bathroom and looked much more calm now than he had before. He drank some coffee and sat back in the big client chair that so many had occupied recently. That chair was going to break pretty soon, it wasn’t used to this kind of wear and tear.

“So why don’t you start by telling me where you’ve been the last few months?” I asked, trying to think of some way to start.

“Around.” He said setting the mug down on my desk. “Hotels mostly. A few nights here, a few nights there and every once in a while I went to a relatives house so they’d know I was okay. I had to keep myself hidden, but I didn’t want my family to worry, family is important you know.”

“So I’ve heard.” I said. “Why are you in hiding?”

“Someone tired to kill me.” He squeaked. “Didn’t I say that?”

“Yes.” I said. “I’m trying to get a picture for what happened.”

“I was doing some pre show planning in August, looking around turkey farms and things, you know?” he waved his hand to suggest that there was a great deal more to it than just that.

“Okay.” I nodded, pretending to understand what went into putting on a show like his. The closest I ever got was watching Christmas set up for her shows, which were a hundred times more elaborate than anyone else’s. I suppose that they must all think their show is very tough to put on though.

“I was getting back to my offices, when some one in a black car drove up and shot at me.” The look on his face said that he was having almost a complete and total replay of the events. “I don’t know how they missed me, but I got away. I just sort of fell into a ditch and just lay there waiting for them to come and really do the job. They must have thought they’d got me though and drove off.”

“And you slunk away after that?” I asked.

“Right.” He said nodding urgently, as if he needed to use the bathroom. “And then when I saw what happened to Christmas, well you know.”

“You thought they were after all of you.” I asked.

“Exactly.” He pointed at me with his extended index finger, which was shaking slightly. “And I figured that if I followed you, maybe you’d be on the case and I could find something out.”

“You could have just called.” I said.

“I didn’t know who you might be working for.” He said again.

“I’m working for me.” I said taking in a lot of air and letting it out. “Okay, first things first, lets get you safe.”

“How do we do that?”

“We call the man with the mercs.” I announced picking up my phone and pressing Frost’s number on the speed dial.

There were three rings, as there always are, before he picked up. There was then another moment’s wait while he languidly brought the phone to the side of his head. He had all these little habits and you just had to wait until he spoke or you’d look like a fool. Most days I was dangerously close to looking like a fool anyway, and I didn’t want to press my luck here.

“Yes?” Frost asked.

“He did not go to Israel.” I said.

“Didn’t he?” Frost asked.

“He’s in my office now.”

“Are you armed?” Frost asked, although he probably knew.

“Yes.” I said, admitting it if he was going to ask.

“Then watch over him please.” Frost said. “I will send some people to gather him in a few minutes.”

“Okay.” I said and we both hung up. “We’ve got a few minutes.”

“Have we?”

“Yes.” I confirmed. “So you might as well speculate on who tired to bump you off.”

“Well, the fat man, clearly.” He said, shrugging. “Who else?”

“Why him?” I asked.

“Because he’s been trying to run me out of town for years.” He said as if I had spent the last few years hidden away in my office away from humanity, which was quite a coincidence really.

“Why?” I asked.

“He wants to have the extra time for Christmas.” He said rubbing his hands over his hair. “He’s wanted to be able to extend her season out more for years, because he can sell more stuff then. If he could start selling in November, without complaints, then he’d have two full months to make even more money than he does now.”

“Why not extend into October to then?” I asked.

“Because he’s scared of Sam.” Thanksgiving said smiling. “Everyone’s scared of Sam, ‘cept me I expect. And it’s only because we’ve been neighbors so long.”

That was very likely true, most people were afraid of Sam Hain, but that was because he was a scary guy. Of course what most people failed to notice, when being so scared of him, was how much the kids loved him. To some, he was a better guy to have around than Christmas, or at least a good runner up. No one would have been scared of a little guy like Thanksgiving though, and his natural timidity had allowed him to be rolled over for years. The fact that someone had tried to get rid of him made this whole thing seem like something someone had been planning, rather than something that was just happening.

“So what do you think?” He asked.

“I think it’s a good thing Mr. Frost thinks highly enough of you to send people to keep you safe.” I said leaning back in my chair and looking up at the ceiling.

After a few more minutes of us sitting together in silence several armed men in uniforms came to the office, and after an exchange of passwords, escorted Thanksgiving to a large black SUV that drove away. I hoped that Frost knew what he was doing, I would hate for something to happen to the little guy. The idea that someone was gunning for him and the others didn’t make me feel terribly good at the moment. This might be a much larger job than I knew.

“Where is he?” I heard a voice shout from the front of the office.

I walked out to the waiting room and saw Smith with half a dozen agents and possibly another dozen in the hall. They were all carrying small machine guns on straps that went around their shoulders. As I swung the door open six gun barrels also swung and aimed at me. For a moment I considered diving and drawing my Marley, but it only had six shots and I didn’t really have anything like cover. I raised my hands and hoped they wouldn’t take that as a signal to start shooting.

“Aren’t you supposed to be eighteen before you can play with those?” I asked.

“Where is he Collier?” Smith yelled at me.

“He who?” I asked.

“Thanksgiving!” He demanded. “We saw him here a moment ago, where is he?”

“Now that is interesting.” I said. “Have you been looking through my windows? Bugging my office? Do you have a shorter than normal agent in my coffee maker?”

“We saw him come in here.” Smith hissed. “Where do you have him?”

“Tell you’re child prodigies to lower the pea shooters or I will take them away and you’ll have to ask your parents to come and get them back from me.” I said sternly.

A couple of agents, cowed by the threat of having their weapons taken away, lowered their guns lest they have to explain to their moms and dads why they lost them. Smith looked over his shoulder, sighed and made as close to a growl as a snake like creature such as him can.

“Lower your weapons.” He said.

“Good.” I said. “Now, if you wish to make an appointment.”

“Cut that out.” Smith said and I swear one agent reached for his boot knife before he realized it was a metaphor.

“You want to talk?” I asked. “Like civilized beings?”

“Collier.” He hissed again, even though my name really should be growled and not hissed.

“I realize I’m asking a lot of you, but I think given practice you can be a civilized being. This will be good practice.”

“Wait here.” Smith said shoving his pistol under his coat. “Collier and I have something to discuss.”

“Wait outside.” I suggested. “I don’t like leaving the door open and you can only lust over my secretary if you’re a paying customer.”

They left and Smith and I went into my office.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Dec. 12th, 2006 05:45 pm (UTC)
Sam Hein -- very cool. Great story, I'm really liking it.

I hope you feel better soon!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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