Monday, April 13, 2009

Danger is Not My Middle Name #4

The sun is beating down on me like a thousand tiki torches held just a few inches away from my skin. I’m looking around me, making an effort to look everywhere except at the subject – so whenever my eyes would ordinarily pass over him, I shut them tight. It’s the old ‘if you can’t see me, I can’t see you’ strategy. It’s a little something I picked up in the Ray Hunker Correspondence School of Detection of Des Moines.

There’s a guy beside me. Curly hair steadily crawling up his forehead. His chest is covered in hair too (maybe he’s a bear?) and while he sleeps there’s a little trickle of drool running a little rivulet down his chin. He’s snoring softly.

I do what the tourists all do. First I turn down the thirty-seven offers from various service staff to fetch an over-priced drink. Then, I stare at a single twenty-something in a very brief bikini walking slowly around the pool, pretending she doesn’t know every mug in the immediate vicinity isn’t imagining a moving violation with her. She moves like a cat, if this cat had a body designed by teenage boys and a face so beautiful it makes your eyes ache. I cover my interest by scratching my belly, which I suck in as far as possible as beach bunny girl saunters by.

Even our subject is entranced. I see him undressing what little she is wearing and then something happens. Her eyes meet mine and she half smiles. What do I see there? An unspoken question? It’s certainly not the standard “oh…it’s just YOU” dismissal I have come to expect. I look around me casually. Can it be?

Only the drooling sleeper and I are in this direction so there’s a pretty good chance she is actually smiling at me so I half smile back. I hold off on my sexy bedroom eyes because I hardly know her and have no idea how much unexpected white hot desire she can stand.

I need to switch gears here...much as I hate to divert your attention from a pretty girl to cat puke. It’s important. Trust me. I once had a cat (for about four days) that made these wet sounding compulsively belching noises just before horking a hairball onto the carpet. I hear one of these nearby – which I ignore since I am still looking at Blonde Bunny Babe, totally forgetting I already have a girlfriend, which I don’t. Not really. Actually.

A voice near my ear surprises me so badly that I nearly swallow my tongue.

“Do it now,” she says.

She? Who she, I wonder.

“Do what?” I ask through barely moving lips – another skill I have Mr. Ray Hunker of Des Moines to thank for.

“The narcolepsy,” she says. The “She” (in case you haven’t been following this tale) is Jennifer Jonas…a fellow dick, operating under cover of being my girlfriend as we track the mystery man on board the ship.

“…what?” I ask. The Bunny Babe is still looking at me. I am only foggily aware of anything else on the planet. A pretty girl is smiling at me and I’m not even wearing my fedora at a rakish angle. Holy crap!

“Fake an attack now, while everyone is watching .The medical officer just came on deck. He’s watching you.”

“Right now?” I ask. Bunny Babe is going to think I am a geek. No. She’ll KNOW I’m a geek. Damn damn damn.

“Yes. Now.”

I sigh and breathe one word “No.”

“Time for your medication now, darling,” says Jennifer in a way too loud voice.


“Do it NOW,” she hisses, and spills half a glass of ice water on me. My body wants to jump out of the chair, arms waving, legs jerking. Beach Bunny Babe, who has the body of a goddess and the reaction time of a sloth, is still looking at me. But then so is everyone else. I fall back against the cushion and try to lie still. I don’t make little mewling noises as the ice water passes through the trunks. I am, after all, a pro. Instead I lie perfectly still, like a man in a coma.

Jennifer slaps at my cheeks a little too hard and I make a show of slowly coming back to consciousness. Being a trained observer – I notice three things:

1) Beach Bunny Babe is gone.
2) So is our subject and
3) The sleeping drooling guy is dead.

It is number three that concerns me the most. I can tell he’s dead because he is no longer snoring and the little river of drool has been replaced by a tinier river of blood. His head is at a near impossible angle. I point and Jennifer follows the direction of my finger.

She takes a sharp intake of breath as she puts the pieces together.

Then she reaches down and lifts a wallet out of a bag beside the body. She grabs my arm and together, with a parting nod at the medical officer, we exit the pool area.

“Did you see the…ummm….subject leave?” I ask.

Jennifer shakes her head. The movement is tight.

“Did you see what happened to…y’know…the dead guy?”

Again she shakes her head.

“This just got a whole lot more dangerous, didn’t it?” I say.
This time she nods. She holds her lower lip between her teeth.

“I think now is the time to tell you some things you need to know,” she says with the air of someone who has made a decision to step way over the line. “These are things you should have already been told. Let’s go back to the stateroom. These are things you really need to know, Mr. Sam D. Diamond.”

“The ‘D’ stands for ‘Danger’ you know,” I lie.

“Uh huh,” she responds, trying hard not to be too impressed. “Hurry up. I don’t think we have much time before it kills again.”

“It?” I ask.

She nods. “It.”

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