Booker T. Toutant seemed to hibernate in that cave of his down on Sixth & Vine. I wondered sometimes if he had a home to go too. The boys that worked for him never came in or out of this shop at all, except the legit ones – the actual mechanics who worked nothing but the finest rods in town. No. He was smart enough to have others do all that kind of work outside the “keeper’s eyes” – as he like to call the Feds that seemed to have him perpetually staked out. If any of those boys ever did get caught he’d shine them on with some green to take care of them in the pen. But only through other intermediaries, unconnected to him back here in St.-Calais.
When I came up the back stairwell and through the door he’d already seen me coming on a set of tubes he’d had installed just for such an occasion. “Why, hello, Detective,” he said with that shit eating grin on his face. “What brings you to my modest abode?”
“Cut the crap, Toot, I’m not here for my health.”
“Well, well, if the big man ain’t horsey today, huh, Henry-Lee.” He looked at a young black male about twenty-five who was standing off to the side with a wrench dangling out of his back pocket. The boy nodded, but did not say a word. “Yes, sireee, we got a live one here, Henry-Lee, a real bonifide detective of the St.-Calais police right here in our midst.” He leaned over spit a slur of chew into a waste bin beside his desk, then choked down a cup of something in a small white cup. More than likely whiskey of some type.
“Except, as I hear,” he tried to finish.
“Cut it, Toot, I don’t give a dam what you hear? You hear it wrong.”
“My, oh, my aren’t we just a little put out today? What’s got you all sore now? I mean your the one shoveling your crap on my lady friend down town, huh? What’s with that? You think you’re tough shit?”
“What I think shouldn’t concern you, Toot. It’s what I can do that you should worry about. Words are words, but actions; now, that’s another matter altogether.”
I looked around and the boy had already gotten up and was trying leave. “Don’t you go just yet, Henry-Lee, we ain’t finished, you hear?”
“Yes, sir, Mr. Toutant. I’s sure do.”
“Ok, then just sit down there and I’ll be with you in a sec, huh?”
“Ok, ok, sure, Mr. Toutant.”
I looked at Toot again. “Family reunion? So tell me Toot your boys back east been out lately?”
“I don’t see why that should concern you, none.”
I’d already eased up on the edge of his desk and was sitting there like a fly. I pounced. Grabbed him by the cuff, strapped his necktie down through his chair and twisted it so quick he busted his cup. “What the hell you doing mother fuck?”
“I asked you a question, Toot. If I don’t get the correct answer that cup isn’t the only thing getting busted around here, you hear?”
The boy was squirming in his seat now. I gave him a look that said, “Get the fuck out of here, now!” And, he did.
I eased up on Toot’s necktie, let him sit back a bit in his chair, made sure he wasn’t carrying. He wasn’t. He sat back grinning again. “Like I says, none of you business about those east boys.” I pulled the glock and was about to back hand him, when he added. “But seeing how you are most persuasive tell me what you really want and maybe I’ll find some answers.”
I knew he could do that if anyone could. He had a pipe to the local State Pen. Knew the in and out’s of most of the low-life’s in Dubois parish. I threw the pictures down of the crime scene, showed him the darkness that was living in these parts. His eyes grew bigger and took it all in, and then he just shook his head.
“I understand, mon ami.”
I told him what I needed. He agreed. That was all that needed to be said. Even such men as Booker T. had a particular code when it comes to women. This was no exception.
* * *
– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.
Notes: word count so far 9400 – almost 1/4 done on this run… of course this is such a rough draft, so much work remains. I’ll not post my second draft because it will add in details of character (minor and major), setting, and the many psychological and descriptive effects that I’m leaving out in this dry run draft.
Read more: Flowers for Lobelia – Noir Novel in Progress