Working my way through the residential area I made my towards City Park. I had an appointment with a young lady there at dawn. When I last spoke to her she had been scared and wanted to make sure meeting with me would be safe. We both figured dawn at City park Sunday morning would be safe. All the junkies and thugs would be asleep and hopefully everyone else would be asleep. Once I arrived at City Park I found some trees away from the road that would be strong enough for me to hide in.
After leaning against the tree for a minute and making sure no one was watching or at least looking in my direction, I left upwards. When I was younger I played basketball as everyone in my neighborhood did. When I stopped growing at 5’8 I kept trying to play. Spent years working on perfecting my jump shot and my vertical to make up for my stature. Even in my old age and condition my jump vertical is still pretty good. I left up and caught a branch about ten feet off the ground. Quickly pulling myself up I got comfortable. Getting here a few hours early allowed me time to get a feel of the park and watch the night life wind down. I had been coming here for the past few days sitting in different trees on the south side to get used to the rhythm. I knew who went jogging, about which dogs were walked, who got up early to goto work, and the police patrols.
I leaned back and watched as I replayed the events leading up to this meeting in my mind. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Before the accident my mind wasn’t that sharp but my memory was good. Now, my mind is a little slower but the memory still works…
“Hey Matt, there is some gal looking for you.” Daxx called down to me as I was finishing my fourth beer. It had been a tough day as I had spent most of it helping some friends transfer some goods from one trailer to another. Why one would move a truck load of goods from one working trailer to another? Well I do not ask questions like that. I looked towards Daxx to see if he was giving any indication as to where the lady was at. He was pointing towards a table in back. I looked at the nervous looking young lady trying to sitting elegantly at the table and gave Daxx a thumbs up indicating message received. Her light skin and blond hair made her look like a cheerleader from some 90’s film. I wondered if her dad dropped her off in the beamer.
Standing up I moved over towards the table and stood next to an open chair. “My name is Matt, mind if I sit?” I asked the lady sitting there. She was taking a sip of a glass of wine, it was after she finished she spoke.
“Have a seat please.” Her voice reminded me of a phone sex operator. Heavy and velvety, I wasn’t expecting that from a her. “You must be Matt.” She continued as I took a seat across from her.
“I am, Daxx said you asked about me?” I was worried she was after money though usually a collection agent doesn’t go searching for you at a bar. “Look if you are after money I aint got any.” She laughed at this, the type of laugh that was a gift of pure joy wrapped in sex. Before the accident it would have made my heart race and blood boil, I almost felt the same effects out of habit.
“Oh, no I’m not looking for money. I have a problem and a mutual friend said you helped her.” She replied and flashed me a secretive smile.
“This friend of yours what did I do for her?” I asked to give me time to think, if word was getting around of my abilities I may start attracting attention. The wrong people asking some questions and suddenly my second chance at life becomes a long stint in prison or buried out in a cornfield.
“Oh you found her ex husband’s new address and name so she could get child support payments.” She whispered as she leaned in as if it was a secret. I remembered that job, tracking down some loser who had a million dollar home up in Estes Park but wasn’t paying his $600 a month child support. Relief must have showed on my face as she smiled again that secretive smile and leaned back. “I take it you do not like to advertise.”
“I have some enemies who think I’m dead, I wish for them to continue that delusion.” I told her as I pulled out a little notepad and a pencil from an inner pocket. “Two hundred a day, minimum three days, if I have an expense I cannot recoup I’ll provide an itemized list at the end. Expenses that are more than fifty dollars I get your approval beforehand.” I wasn’t sure how much a private eye charged but the last job for her friend I didn’t state an amount and thats about what she paid me. It wasn’t the six figured I used to make as a driller but it was better than the current jobs around.
“Agreed, I can’t meet you here again though, and I can’t have you call my cell. My husband Sergei Tsepov is a good man but a little protective of me.” Her voice lowered as she said her husbands name. I almost missed it and was silent for a minute as my brain started processing the information. When the light finally powered back on I started to stand up.
“I can’t work for your husband, I think he would probably kill me for even talking to you.” I told her as I stood up, she quickly put a hand on mine and gave me a look that would have broke my heart.
“Please, he has nothing to do with this. I would hire someone legitimately but I do not want him to know about it.” She quickly said and I glanced around the bar, no one was looking towards us so I sat back down.
“Why not just tell him and have his guys do whatever is needed?” I asked looking for an angle to get out of this.
“Because he would kill my brother.” She sighed and took a moment to compose herself. “My brother Takahiro and Sergei would kill each other on sight. I need to make sure he is safe and not in trouble.” What she said made some sense, Sergei was the type of guy to bury problems.
“I gotta up my rate then, three hundred a day. Also you don’t look Japanese, is he a half brother?” I said as I crossed out the 200$/day on the notepad and wrote 300$/day, then flipped to another page and wrote Takahiro at the top.
“No, he just really liked Anime when he was younger and legally changed his name once he turned 18.” She shook her head a little as she pulled out a small purse and set it on the table. From there she produced a couple of pictures of a clean cut young man. She pushed them towards me and opened a checkbook.
“No checks, sorry, I don’t have a bank account.” I started to say but she kept on writing. Then once she was finished she handed me a cashiers check payable to cash for a local credit union.
“This will be accepted anywheres. It is payment for 3 days up front. I’ll give you a weeks worth when we meet next and hopefully you will find him by then.”
“As for the meeting place, I need you to start jogging each morning, is City Park close to where you live?”
“Its a mile or two but ok, why jogging?”
“Its good for your health and if someone is tailing you it makes it difficult. I’m hoping after a week of jogging they will stop tailing you and just wait for you to finish the jog.”
“Alright, City Park, what time next Monday?”
“Actually if you can 5am Sunday morning, I’ll be near some trees on the south east side and I’ll start jogging with you.”
“Five in the fucking morning!” she said loudly, if the bar wasn’t mostly empty I’m sure it would have gotten few heads turned towards us.
“Yeah, 5am on a Sunday morning, usually people are still drunk, sleeping, or too tired to give a damn.” I smiled as I said this, as the early meeting place would help protect my identity and will help ensure she was committed to this. I also informed her that if she needed to contact me she could leave a note and a twenty with Daxx and I’ll get the note.
“Just find my brother quickly and make sure he is safe, I fear he is or will be in trouble.” She said as she stood up to leave. I nodded, shook her hand, and then watched her walk away towards the door of the bar. Dear God, if things were any different I’m certain I would have killed if she had asked it. Even now I am not sure if I would refuse a request like that from her.