The dive-bar approaches, and there’s Alaia waiting outside.
As we enter, nodding our greetings to Lucan, Angel and Flames, Kev is boasting, “That night last week, I had five Long Island Ice Teas here, and I only had to drain the lizard once.”
“You were draining it down your leg and never noticed,” says Damian.
“I fucking wasn’t.”
“Damian’s right,” says Flames. “I should know, I had to mop it up, right there on the floor.”
“You are all so full of shit—”
“And to think,” says Flames, shaking his head sadly, “I even made the drinks weak, just for you.”
“You did not—they were full-strength and you know it!” Kev remonstrates. “I’m warning you, Flames…” His piggy eyes fall on Evelyn, as she leads Alaia and me towards the back of the room. “Hey Evelyn, wanna go halves on a bastard?”
“I’d rather suck on a urinal cake,” she calls, without looking back.
“She sounds like a beautiful sister, to me,” says Flames, watching her walk.
“I got the woofers in my jeep!” calls Kev.
Evelyn raises one finger at him without turning around.
“Damn, you have a way with women, Kev,” says Lucan.
“Damn straight,” says Kev. “Unleash the beast.”
“An incontinent Chihuahua?” says Angel with fatigue.
Ignoring him, Kev continues, “I have to store my briefs in the freezer overnight before I wear ’em, or else I just burn ’em off me.”
“I thought that frozen dinner tasted like cloth, last time we were at your place,” says Flames. “Now I know what I was eating…”
As soon as Alaia is back from the bar with the drinks, Lucan makes a leisurely but single-minded bee-line for us. “Hi Lucan,” I breeze.
“Hey,” he grins down insolently, then leans in towards us with one hand at each end of our table, his face close in to us. “Alaia, honey,” he croons, with a soft malevolence.
“I was talking to Evelyn on the phone.”
“Mm-hm.” He gives one of his wicked, deep-voiced laughs—the kind that always make Angel melt into a weak pool of hungry moisture. “And I worked something out!…”
“…Oh yeah?” she counters.
“Oh yeah. And I think you know what that is.”
“No, I can’t imagine.”
“You lie, Alaia, A-liar, you lie!… Well, I’ll tell you what it was, then, yeah? Shall I tell you what it was?”
She clears her throat. “I really don’t care either way, Lucan.”
“Mm-hm—oh, I’m sure!” Another deep wicked laugh, as he rubs his stomach in a slow, sinister fashion. “Oh, I see you squirm, Alaia! Well … I didn’t tell Evelyn this, but I worked out, from how she talked, that you didn’t tell her about that wrong DVD. Now: why didn’t you tell her about that wrong DVD, Alaia?”
Oh god, I can almost see her thinking, if Evelyn finds out I didn’t tell her about Lucan’s ultimatum asking the G.N. for a bribe, then she’ll know that I wanted to sabotage the spying deal by deliberately waiting long enough for Lucan to carry out his threat of going public about it—and she’ll know I wanted to sabotage it just because of my petty jealousy that I was originally left out of the deal. I can’t have her seeing that far into me…
“Wednesday night, on one condition: you get into Evelyn’s place, you hunt everywhere for wax-modelling stuff and you tell me what you find—plus the call from New York, both by Wednesday night. Or I’m gonna hurt you, Alaia. D’you understand?”
“I’m expecting your call.”
“What’s your number?”
“It’s listed: Abayomi.” He moves his face up and away from us. Then he holds my eye a moment, unspeaking, before suddenly moving his hands apart with a soft plosive out-take of breath, in a casual but powerful imitation of an explosion. I guess it to be a positive acknowledgement of Big Bang, though I don’t feel at all certain of this.
Then he’s gone. Alaia lets out a breath. “That calls for another drink,” I say, giving her some cash.
She gets up to go to the bar, which I can hear has become busy. A minute later she is back, without drinks. “You know, I think we should go now,” she says in a low voice. “Let’s quit while we’re winning. The bar was really busy, so Lucan’s crew didn’t see me waiting, but I overheard snippets of what they were talking about. I heard that Kev’s going to drive Angel home, but then there was also something about Kev coming back here afterwards to pick up Damian and then going off with Lucan to Red Bank, and I couldn’t hear the rest but I could tell I really didn’t want to know any more about it anyway—it sounded like some heavy shit, whatever it was.”
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