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Jack Collier: Private Eye (Chapter Nine)

Jack Collier: Private Eye

A Jack Collier Story

By Brett N. Lashuay



Chapter Eight can be found here.


Chapter Nine: Personal History


            “This was years ago, when you were still in college probably,” I said.


            “I’m not that young,” she complained.


            “But I never went, and this was when I was much younger. Let’s see, adjusting my age, I am now thirty four,” I told her. “So it was probably nine years ago now.”


            “Yeah, I was in school then,” she agreed.


            “A woman named Char Webber has a niece who was engaged to a guy who vanished in the Balkans,” I told her. “The guy I was working for at the time offered to poke around a little, but when it got to sending people to Europe to look a little deeper he dropped the case. By that time I had gotten to liking Willie and decided that I’d go with her and a couple of other people. Bascome said if I went I was fired. By that time my buddy Chuck had already left to form his own company and I was thinking of leaving anyway so I quit. Turns out her beau had been kidnapped and we followed the kidnappers into Romania, and then we... uh, we dealt with them.”


            “Dealt with them?” she asked.


            “A few people got killed,” I said. “They decided to kidnap Willie too and we ended up having to rescue both of them.”


            “You killed someone didn’t you?” she asked.


            “A couple someones,” I said. “It was a mess, a pretty big one by the time we were done. Not a huge international story, I don’t think it got to America, but it made a lot of papers in Europe. A lot of things happened on that trip and I was pretty raw afterward, as a reward for saving her niece and soon-to-be nephew Char set me up in business. She felt responsible since I’d initially only taken up the whole thing as a favor to her.”


            “Why did she rate?” she asked.


            “Oh, we were good friends,” I said. “Yes. That’s it. Friends is a word we can use.”


            “Isn’t she like fifteen years older than you?”


            “Twenty actually,” I said, “yeah.”


            “And Christmas and Liberty too,” she said. “I didn’t realize the problem was I’m so much younger than you.”


            “It just looks that way when you clump them like that,” I told her. “I’m just good with women.”


            “Are you?” she asked.


            “Excellent,” I said. “It’s about the only thing I’m good at. Getting girls to go to bed with me and giving them a good reason to let me have a return trip with them is pretty much my one marketable skill.”


            “No it isn’t,” she said. “I can’t do this whole mirror thing you did, which I think was an unfair trick by the way, but I can tell you that people don’t see you the way you do.”


            “That’s nice of you to say,” I said. “But I should tell you that while I can get the bed part right, I screw up everything else.”


            “You do not.”


            “I’ve screwed up most things in my past,” I told her. “I have not had a relationship that’s worked out well for me yet.”


            “I’m sure you’re exaggerating.”


            “I’m trouble Alice,” I said. “I’m nothing but trouble for everyone. Every time someone comes near me, they get killed or hurt, or their life is turned upside down.”


            “I don’t know,” she told me. “Can you back that up with anything?”


            “Do you have time to listen to a long story?” I asked her.


            “Yes,” she said.


            “Okay,” I said, and I told her the story.


            I told her everything. When I met Debbie, when I met Karen, how Becky figured into things. I told her all about our summer of love and about how I screwed it up. I explained how I met Liberty, how I started with Liberty, how I proceeded with Liberty and how I ended with Liberty. I even explained how Jen figured into that story. I told her about Char and about Char giving me the money to start up. I explain about how Debbie needed a job after school and how I was able to give her one. I told her about Christmas and the bits she didn’t know about Columbia and what eventually happened to Becky and her father. After that I skipped right to the adventure with Jill and what happened there. Finally, I explained the situation as it currently stood. When I was done I felt like I’d told my entire life story to her, or at least enough of it for a good sized book, but I felt she deserved it. She needed to know what she was getting herself into.


            “And, I think that’s everything,” I said as I came to a close.


            “That’s a lot,” she said. “It’s going to take some time for me to digest all of that. Going to have some questions too I think.”


            “That’s understandable,” I said.


            “Did you notice something about your story?” she asked.


            “A lot of people died in it,” I said.


            “The other thing,” she said. “About the women?”


            “That most of them were killed?”


            “I meant the other part.”


            “Other part?”


            “You don’t have to play the innocent with me Jack,” I could just about hear the smile on her face. “If you’re going to tell me secrets, why try to keep that one?”


            “I have no idea what you’re referring to,” I lied like a badly placed rug.


            “The sexual preference of all your play partners,” she said, and my ears pricked up.


            That was some specific language coming from a nice suburban girl like her. Her biggest flaw is that she doesn’t reserve herself very well. She has no idea how good looking she is, or how the things she does attracts men’s gazes. Either that or she’s so adroit that she’s been screwing with me from day one. Either way, the phrase ‘play partners’ was either an interesting slip or a careful insertion.


            “You mean how every woman I’ve been to bed with was bisexual?” I asked


            “You did notice that then,” she said. “Now I’m going to be really worried about telling you what we talked about in the hospital.”


            “What, are you going to tell me you’re a bisexual who’s into this poly thing? You’ve been dying to join a group and you think Debbie is just the cutest thing?” I asked, and in many ways I should stop trying to be sarcastic because it only causes trouble.


            “Not exactly,” she laughed at that, which was nice to hear. It wasn’t exactly the tinkling of silver bells, but it was a nice sound.


            “Alright then…” I said.


            “I mean, I’ve never actually done the group thing,” she said. “I don’t know how into it I’d be.”


            “Huh,” I said, because I noticed something about that sentence. “I don’t hear you denying the bisexuality or the wanting to join a group grope or anything like that.”


            “No,” she agreed, despite the negative connotation of that word. “You don’t. And Debbie is pretty hot.”


            “Do you want to come out and say it, or do you want to play coy while I assemble the pieces?”


            “You’re a detective,” she said.


            “Yes,” I said, “I am.”


            “I’ve spent most my life not being definite about it,” she said. “There are enough problems with being me.”


            “Okay,” I said, “but you need to understand two things.”


            “Okay,” she said. “What are they?”


            “I will never make you feel bad for being who you are,” I said. “And I value honesty in a person.”


            “Do you?”


            “I value anything rare,” I told her.


            “Okay,” I heard her take a deep breath and release it. Then she took another. “Okay, I’m... ah. I’m bisexual, and I’d like to try the poly thing out sometime, if I found the right group. Is that honest or is that blunt?”


            “I think it’s blunt,” I told her. “That’s okay though. I like bluntness too.”


            “Is this where I start telling you a story?”


            “Do you want to tell me a story?” I asked. “I’ll listen to a story.”


            “Yeah, I think I want you to know,” she said. “I started dating a girl in high school. I identified as lesbian for about five years or so. I never went in for buzzed hair or wife beater shirts or anything like that, but I dated a girl who did in my freshman year of college. I started considering the idea of bisexuality when I was about twenty and started noticing that I thought boys were cute too. I lost a few friends that way. They thought I was just playing around like a lot of girls were at the time. It doesn’t help that I was always a very femmy sort, you know what I mean?”


            “I think I may have spotted a certain amount of femininity about you,” I said.


            “Well, lots of other people did too” he complained. “I was sort of labeled as someone who had been just going through a phase by everyone when I started dating a guy. I didn’t wear lipstick for three years because I feared the label of lipstick lesbian. Pretty girls aren’t supposed to date girls unless they’re just playing around you know.”


            “I’ve heard that fiction,” I said.


            “Yeah, you’d know all about that one,” she said. “I’ve seen your secretary.”


            “Debbie,” I said. “You used her name a little while ago.”


            “Yeah,” she agreed. “Debbie, she’d know all about it. Well, the point is that I quickly learned to be underground about it. I’ve kept my private life very separate from my professional life. I don’t talk about it, and I keep harassment about my sex life to a minimum.”


            “So, you don’t date anyone from the office?”


            “No,” she said. “Never. Then they’d start talking about that thing, you know? About how pretty girls aren’t supposed to do certain things.”


            “The main problem with that is that a woman that looks like you can only be bisexual,” I said. “Your looks preclude you from being anything else.”


            “Can you explain that?” she asked.


            “I can.” I said and marshaled my mind in order to begin.


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