4. Mr Jordan LLC and Two Visits to the Same Joint
Adams-Morgan is just along from Georgetown. You can walk down the sidewalk if you’re brave enough to walk through the one-time Murder Capital of the USA. D.C. hasn’t been that for some years, maybe since before Y2K. You remember those: the good old days. It’ll be another 900-and-some years before it gets that good again for Gee Oh Dee and by extension, yours truly. Even so, you need luck to avoid a Saturday night special in your face and a demand for your wallet. Two young men of about 15 wearing their grandad’s pants and stolen Converse asked for mine, and I showed them a little Muscular Christianity.
I was heading for 2311 Wisconsin Avenue, a club I knew. Sam Sara had taken me there my first time in D.C. We were on a case. It was one of my only jobs for Mr Jordan. Some guy had gone missing en-route to the Gates. Mr Jordan doesn’t exist per se, by the way. Gee Oh Dee knows what the company was called before that movie. If you’re wondering how some Hollywood hack writer got so close to the truth… Well, I don’t really need to tell you do I? Listen, you think Purgatory’s a real place? A lot of the Fallen end up as writers, K? Do you actually believe Bulgakov made all that stuff up? Puh-lease.
The club was Good Guys. That’s right: a strip joint. It was ‘99: Mr Jordan LLC was looking for a Kennedy. His plane had gone down with Lauren and Caroline and they duly turned up on time if a little wet. Peter let them both in, but then he was always a sucker for a blonde. Johnny Jr. was nowhere to be seen. No body turned up off the Vineyard. Since it was the Kennedys (again), they didn’t want a fuss upstairs. I’d just started D. A. Detective Agency and one of Mr Jordan’s junior guys turned up. He didn’t look like Claude, but hey, you can’t have everything.
‘Are you – ahem – Gabriel?’
‘You… that one?’
‘Do I look like it?’
‘No. What is it you want?’
‘I represent Mr Jordan LLC’
He wore pin-stripe pants, a vest and a long coat. I bet myself he’d pull out a pocket watch before he left my office.
‘That a fact? What exactly can I do for you, Mr…’
‘Mr? We use numbers on official business. You should know that.’
Everybody knew that, but I enjoyed watching the tic in his left eyelid.
‘Give me your number, I might want to make a note of that.’
The milque-toast turned bright, bright vermilion and mumbled 7013. Then he pulled out a pocket watch. I laughed fit to bust and almost knocked the highball of my desk.
‘Can I call you Edward?’
We did our business, and sometime in September 1999 I found myself eye to groin with a half-Chippewa dancer, whilst sitting alongside JFK Junior in Good Guys. He was three sheets to the wind before I sat next to him. His chin was resting on the edge of the dais. Minnie Ho Ho was getting intimate with a tomahawk, but Junior’s eyes were swollen and red, so I guessed he was seeing the dials of the Piper Saratoga and not Minnie’s moocher.
‘Hey, JFK, what’s up?’
‘Not my Saratoga.’
‘You know you gotta go too?’
‘I don’t mind. I kinda thought I might wake up and it was all a bad dream.’
‘John, you know that only happens in bad movies.’
‘And TV, don’t forget TV.’
I only had to buy him four more drinks before I got him to accompany me to the nearest Hellavator. Could have been three, but I waited to see what Minnie did with the tomahawk for her big finish.
Years later and I was heading for Good Guys again. There was a whole lot of bored woman on the ‘membership’ desk. Her teeth looked white against her skin as she bared them in a snarl.
’50 bucks, Junior’
She’d have been about mid-thirties in Earthbound age. I looked about the same. She accepted the crumpled note and picked up a cigarette. She saw me looking at her,
‘Ya want the smoker’s membership?’
‘Didn’t think ya looked like gummint folks.’
She looked familiar, somehow. Maybe the eyes. Maybe the sinuous movements of her impressive bulk reminded me of someone.
‘Ya got a nice smile, Junior. Looks familiar. Go on in.’
I headed on in to the bar with its small stage not much bigger than a dais. A tall black lady was taking the salute of the clientele with passionate moves and an impassive face. The club was crowded for 6 in the evening. The smokers generally had their backs to the stage: there were one or two women with them. Those watching the stage were single guys. This time I was looking for a smoker. A ‘gummint’ type.
There was a group, three guys and one woman over in the corner, as far from the stage as it was possible to get without being in the galley kitchen, where a fat illegal nuked buffalo wings to death. Clients were comped these as part of the smokers’ membership. No-one ate them. I was sure the illegal nuked the same wings over and over until they were too black to get away with sending them out to the bar. I walked over to the group in the corner.
‘Mind if I join you?’
‘Smoke do you?’ the woman said.
‘What do you want then?’
He was a big guy running to fat. He had politician’s teeth. They couldn’t help smiling, but they didn’t make him look happy.
‘Senator Buckfast, isn’t it?’
The fat guy’s smile stayed, but his eyes shrank like those of an Okie farmer asked for a dollar.
‘Who wants to know?’
Everybody Earthbound learned their dialogue from the movies. I could have claimed the subscription to TCM on expenses for the business.
‘Gabriel Chandler, P.I.’ I showed him a badge and a card, but he barely looked at it.
Then he said it,
‘Do you know who I am?’
‘Didn’t I just use your name?’
I looked at the others. The two guys looked away, I watched the sides of the woman’s mouth turn upward.
‘Senator, I’ve come to do you a favour. I won’t take your smoking habits to the Senate Committee or the Washington Post, how’d that be?’
The fat man sighed and said ‘Whadda ya want? Money?’
My laugh didn’t make his smile slip, but I thought his eyes might disappear altogether.
‘I need to see the First Lady in person. You’re going to take care of that for me.’
I leaned into his face, both hands palm down on the cheap deal table.
‘Yeah, Senator, you are. I’ll be in touch. Maybe here, same time tomorrow, huh?
Their eyes watched my back out of the bar and into the lobby. The big woman was still smoking herself. I tossed a ten dollar bill on the counter and said ‘Thanks.’
She gave me a wink and I wondered if she kept the Tomahawk on the wall of her apartment for old times sake.