Friday, June 12, 2009
“So what does the ‘G’ stand for?” I asked.
I was sitting in a bar on the ship, the phone pressed to my ear, enjoying an overpriced scotch.
“Who is this?”
“You know who this is,” I said. “I know you know…and I know you know that I know. I think we both know exactly.”
“What does the “G” stand for?” I demanded a little more harshly than I needed to.
“Greta,” she said.
It was the same slinky voice I’d heard in my office on Day One of this whole caper. I knew it belonged to the skirt who came in to hire me to follow Gerald. Remember her? Cool manner. Killer eyes. Legs that went all the way to her hips…
“G stands for Greta?” I asked.
“Is there something wrong with ‘Greta?’” she asked, that familiar pre-pissed tone working into her voice.
“Nah, Toots,” I said.
“Don’t call me Toots,” she said. Then: “How did you get this number?”
“It was on a scrap of paper in a torn open bag under my bed.”
There was a pause during which more than the long distance connection crackled.
“Was there anything else in the bag?”
“No,” I said. It occurred to me that Bogie would probably use as few words as possible in a situation like this, to flush out information. I determined to do the same.
“And your subject? Fitzroy. Where is he?”
“Tunnel. Slimy stuff. Undead creatures. Long sword. Bad bad sounds.” I was kind of proud of that summary.
“Do you mean there was a fight? And that Jennifer and Fitzroy…died?”
“Is that a yes or a no?”
“It’s a ‘probably,’ Toots,” I said. I was striving for the right ‘tired hero’ tone. I was thinking of Bogart in the Maltese Falcon. By a sheer act of will, I was able to keep the lazy “s” sound out of my ‘voishe.’
“You’re certain there was nothing left in the bag?”
“Yeah,” I said, working a little more gravel into my voice, since it was all working so well.
“No golden disc?”
“Gee let me think,” I said. It had been a long day spent running away from undead monsters and getting my room torn up and getting chewed out by my room steward. “Wait a minute. You mean a GOLD disc?”
Her voice was eager now. “Yes. A gold disc. Quite ornate.”
“Hmmm….” I pondered.
There was another pause.
“Well?” she prompted.
She called me a name that started with the letter “a” and finished with the letter “e” and had an “sshol” in the middle. I will leave the rest to your imagination.
“You’re the only one left,” she said. “It all comes down to you, then.”
She didn’t sound very happy about it. That made two of us.
“Listen carefully,” she said.
“Two things have been stolen. The first is a disc, gold in color. About five inches round. This is an item of legendary power. It’s critical it be recovered in the shortest time possible.”
“What is it?” I asked.
“You don’t need to know that,” she responded.
“Okay.” I said, easing into my tough guy personae as easily as I’d used to put on a cheap suit. “But I want to know. And something else, Toots, If you decide I don’t get to know, I walk.”
There was a pause and then: “In the hands of the right person, it controls the Stokers. We’re not quite sure how exactly. We need to study it. Fitzroy was bringing it to us.”
The tough guy thing was working: “Okay, sister. And the second item?”
“I’m not your sister,” she said, speaking slowly and verrrry clearly.
“Then you’re ‘Toots’ to me,” I told her.
“So what was the second thing?”
A sheet of paper with instructions on how to find the companion disc. It says “Seek the worshipping stone angel in a place of learning.”
There was still another pause as I thought this over.
“I hate that,” I said. “They never say: Look at 3425 Elm Road in the brown dresser on the second floor. It has to be all this “Seek the worshipping angel crap.”
“These were written a long time ago,” Greta said. “In the mid 18th century, I should think. They needed to write cryptically so their true meaning would not be found out.”
“Uh huh,” I retorted quickly. “Where is this angel?”
“Glasgow,” she said. “In the chapel at the University of Glasgow.”
“And what am I supposed to seek there?”
“A silver disc.”
“What does it do?”
“I’d rather not tell you. If you don’t know, they can’t make you tell them.”
She was silent again and I didn’t need her to draw me a picture. After a moment she said “Good luck, Sam.” Then she hung up.
“Not a problem, Toots,” I muttered into the dead phone. “I always wanted to go to university.”