The Holmes Files - Roller Skate Roundup

by Lubrican

Chapters : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4-11 Available On

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Chapter Three

I have to admit I was a little embarrassed, even though there was really nobody around to see it. This woman, who I'd thought would be such an easy touch, was turning out to have more on the ball than I had expected. That she'd just call the cops like that, even though I KNEW she had dope in the house, suggested she was either crazy or had an in with the department somehow. I'd seen stuff like that before. More than one bad cop has stolen "product" during a bust, and then turned around and sold it himself.

But besides being embarrassed—or maybe because of it—I was pissed off too. I wasn't about to go back to that sweet, dangerous-looking woman in Chicago with the half crew cut and half dog ears hairdo, and tell her that her mother was smarter than I was. I was beginning to get a glimmer of why Ronnie had that dangerous, smart aura about her. She might not like her mother, but she was a product of the woman's genes.

So I opted for plan C.

I was tempted to give it a day or two. I mean she HAD called the cops and all, and sometimes they had this bad habit of actually keeping an eye on someone who made a complaint like she had made. I had no idea what cockamamie story she'd cook up to tell them when they answered the 911 call, but I didn't need any extra vigilance on their part when I executed plan C.

On the other hand, she might actually give them a description of me. I'm burly, and that face full of hair isn't the cutesy little goatee that most men who sport facial hair have these days. I’m more the Grizzly Adams type, and fairly recognizable, even sitting in a car. The last thing I needed was a run-in with the law where I didn't have any friends.

I could just see it in my mind:

"Hello officer. I'm confused about why you stopped me. I know I wasn't speeding."

"Driver's license and registration, please."

"Do you mind if I ask why you stopped me?"

"You match the description of a man alleged to be impersonating a police officer and threatening people."

"Hahaha. That's a rich one. Here you go, officer. I'm just Joe Average. I'm not a threat to anybody.

"I see, Mr. Holmes, that you're from Chicago. You mind me asking what you're doing in Dayton?

I couldn't lie to him. They have ways of checking these things. I thought about saying I was a consultant in the information sector. That's a little like calling a janitor an Environmental Sanitary Engineer, but sometimes it makes people nod, like they know what that means, ‘cause they don't want to look stupid. I didn't think that would work with a cop who was already suspicious.

"Well, I'm a private investigator, and I'm on a case," I'd have to admit.

"What kind of case, Mr. Holmes?"

"I'm trying to recover some very valuable property for a client."

"What kind of property, Mr. Holmes?"

"'s a pair of roller skates."

"Step out of the car, Mr. Holmes. Keep your hands where I can see them!

I was pretty sure it would go something like that so, instead of hanging around Dayton, waiting for said scenario to play out, I went shopping for what I'd need for plan C.

I waited until an hour after I saw the last lights go off in the house and then eased out of the car, not closing the door completely. I'd already taken the bulb out of the dome light. The breezeway that separated the garage from the house was enclosed. There was a storm door that led into it and, once you were through that, you could turn left to go into the house, or right to go into the garage.

I wasn't surprised to hear Muttley stirring around in the breezeway when I approached. Some people leave a dog in all night. For those people the dog is just part of the family. But I suspected any woman who'd kick her own dog just for doing his job wasn't going to be that type, and would put the animal out so it couldn't bother her during the night. I was prepared for that eventuality, though, as long as I could keep the dog from barking too much initially.

Muttley had given out two nervous barks before I opened the storm door and tossed in $11.56 worth of beef chuck blade roast which, besides having nice red meat on it, had a bone, to keep Rover happy after his snack. The light from the street lamps was good enough that I could see Muttley happily go for it. I slipped in and went for the garage door immediately, while he was celebrating his good fortune.

I didn't want to draw any attention from the neighbors by turning on the lights, so I used my flashlight to begin my search. I understood immediately why the car was parked outside.

If you've lived in your house for four or five years, take a look around. See all that junk you've accumulated? Now, multiply it by four. This woman had lived here for twenty years or more and the place was crammed with lawnmowers, a garden tiller, and...of course...stacks and stacks of overflowing boxes. Still, I didn't have to worry about making a mess. Who'd notice in this clutter? I just had to make that mess quietly.

I dumped one box and started transferring stuff from a second into the empty one. I was on my fourth box when Muttley started barking. I hurried to the door and opened it just enough to speak to the dog in a whisper.

"What's wrong, boy?" I said in my best pet-friendly voice.

He was standing over that bone, which had been cleaned up nicely and fairly shone, white in the dim light. He looked at the bone and then back up at me, and barked some more.

"Eat the bone, you stupid dog!" I urged him in baby talk.

The furry fucker actually dipped his head and moved the bone with his nose, before looking back up at me and barking some more. Apparently Muttley wasn't interested in bones. He wanted more meat. He barked some more. It was dog language for "You didn't think you could buy me off with that paltry offering did you?"

A light went on in the kitchen and I ducked back, closing the door. Muttley started barking up a storm now, so that his mistress would have no doubt whatsoever that he was doing his duty, despite the fact that there was a nice fresh bone on the floor that she hadn't given him and must have come from someplace else.

"SHUT UP, YOU FUCKING MUTT!" She was so loud I could understand her clearly, through two doors and twelve feet of air.

Muttley came to the garage door and barked even more furiously. It was dog language for "You don't understand, Mama, there's an INTRUDER here! I'm doing my JOB!"

She yelled again, and was loud enough now that I knew she was doing that yelling from an open door. I heard Muttley scratch at the door to the garage and bark, if it was possible, even more furiously. I went to the sectional garage door and attempted to lift it. It was stuck fast. My flashlight showed there was an electric garage door opener that was keeping it that way and, of course, the emergency release rope was missing from the damn thing. I was on my way back to where I hoped the button was when dear sweet Maddie came storming through the door with a baseball bat clutched firmly in both hands. She was choking up way too much, but I wasn't in the mood to give her a lesson on how to properly hold a bat. So I did the best thing I could think of. I tried to blind her with the beam of my flashlight and slide by her so I could seek the only egress easily available to me.

She was quick for an old broad, let me tell you. She blinked myopic eyes and swung that bat like Barry Bonds on a whole shitload of steroids. She punctuated her swing with a grunted "Bastard!" I leaned back and heard the swish of air as the bat went within an inch of my nose and slammed into a vacuum cleaner that was sitting atop a stack of boxes. Plastic parts flew every which way.

I ducked away from the vacuum cleaner and tried to push past her, but she must’ve watched Conan, The Barbarian too many times or something, because she used the bounce from the vacuum cleaner to swing back the other way. I went to all fours, doing something like a bear walk and heard the bat slam into the wall. I realized that now the flashlight was telling her where I was. She was standing over me, and I hoped like hell that the bat had gone through the sheet rock and stuck, because if she brought it down now she'd break my spine clean in two.

"BASTARD!" she screamed. Muttley barked right in my face.

I have to admit I panicked...just a little...and my instinct was to roll against her legs and knock her down. The only problem was that her instinct was to kick the shit out of the intruder at her feet. So when I tried to roll, all I did was move my ribs right into the path of her foot. I thanked my lucky stars that she was barefoot, but it still hurt, and elicited an "OOF" from me. Meanwhile I grabbed for Muttley's collar and pulled hard, jerking him past me and crawling for the open door. He yelped, more from surprise than pain, in my opinion.

"MUTTLEY!" screamed Madeline. Great. Leave it to now for her to give birth to concern for her canine companion.

I had both feet under me and was in the act of jumping through the door when that fucking bat connected solidly with my left side. Pain shot through me like fire and every bit of air left my lungs. I saw stars and it was only by adrenaline rush that I kept going. I lurched to my right, propelled by the force of that strike, and bounced off the wall. That was fortunate, because it bounced me toward the storm door. I put a shoulder into that and fumbled for the handle. My weight was too much for the latch, though, and the door sprang open.

From there, at least from the neighbors’ viewpoint, I must have looked like know, Dr. Frankenstein’s hunchback assistant...shambling down the walk toward the street. I was reduced to that bent-over one-legged loping kind of gait that Igor would use when he was trying to hurry to do his master's bidding. The pain in my ribs was overflowing down my left leg, making it impossible to actually run.

She didn't chase me, but Muttley did. I heard her scream, "SIC 'EM!" as loud as was humanly possible. The saving grace was that Muttley, bless his black little soul, just wasn't an attack dog at heart. He was a good guard dog, but as he scampered around me in circles, barking like crazy, his tail was wagging. It was like he was saying, "This is fun! I LIKE you! You brought me a treat and now you're playing this neat running game with me!"

Thank God I'd left the key in the ignition. I slid through the door. My left arm wasn't working too good either, and when I tried to pull the door closed it was like a one year old was doing it. The latch caught, but the door didn't close all the way. I twisted the key frantically, gunned the engine to life, and would have left ten feet of rubber except that my '95 Contour just didn't have the guts to spin the tires. It was good on fuel economy, but not so much on power.

I left Dayton as if I had urgent business elsewhere. I did, actually. I was pretty sure that, at a minimum, I had a couple of cracked ribs, and it was agony to breathe if I did anything more than suck in enough air to stay conscious. All that frantic activity had encouraged my lungs to expand as much as they could and quite often to boot, though, and I saw stars again for the next ten minutes as I made my way to I-75 and north toward Toledo. I knew something was broken, but I didn't know how bad it was. If the tip of a fractured rib was making me bleed, I wanted to pass out on an interstate highway, instead of some back road where nobody would have a chance to find me before I bled to death.


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