I pulled the car into the lot at the corner of 16th and Pine. There was an OPEN sign slipped in between the window and the shade. I pushed through the door into the lobby and looked for a phone.
“Can I help you, mister?” said the man behind the counter. He was about 45, probably short, though he was sitting down so who knew. His grease-stained paisley tie did not go with the pinstripe dress shirt, which did not go with the frumpy maroon Cardigan. “Another winner,” I thought.
“I need a phone,” I said. “My son’s in the car having some kind of attack and I need to call a doctor.”
“There’s a clinic about 5 blocks from here,” he said. “You could be there is two minutes. What’s wrong with him?”
“I don’t know. Can you show me which way the clinic is?”
He stepped around the counter. I had been right. He was very short, mostly in the legs which were stumpy like a dwarf’s. He grabbed my elbow and hustled me back outside.
“If you go down Pine for another three blocks there’s a four way stop. Take a right and you’ll see the building on the right-hand side.”
“Thanks, buddy,” I said.
“Where’s your boy?” he asked, turning away to look at my Buick.
“Sorry about this,” I mumbled as I cracked him over the head with the butt of my automatic. It turned out I hit him too hard.
I took a quick look around. No one was on the street. I grabbed him under the arms and dragged him back into the office. I shoved hiim into a corner and went around to the till. There was 37 dollars and change. He had a small cooler under the counter, too. It had a sandwich I didn’t want and a can of Miller which I took for later. Then I started looking for information.
The ledger was fairly new. It only showed records back to mid August. I rooted around in the drawers looking for the old one. I was coming up with it just as Joey walked in. He’d wiped the spittle from his mouth and was daubing the cut on his forehead with Kleenex.
“You dumb bastard,” he said, walking up to the counter and grabbing me by the collar. “Who taught you to be charge?" He glanced at the corner. "Is that guy dead?”
“Well, hell, I don’t know, Joe. I’m knee deep in cleaning up your mess here. You’re so all-fired concerned, go nurse him back to health.” I slammed the second ledger down on the counter, raising enough dust to make us both cough. Then I opened it to the middle and started searching. Joey walked over and gave the dead runt a nudge with his foot. He was a dead runt.
“Great, Lamont. You’ve officially joined the murdering class.”
“Joined it back in ’78,” I replied. “Your buggering uncle.”
“Hey, no family.”
Joey looked like he might actually be getting heated so I shut up and started scanning the book. The dates on that page were all in May so I turned back a few. I saw ‘July 7’ and then ‘Miller, Scranton.’ “Bull's-eye,” I said, swinging the book around and pointing out the entry to Joey. He grinned and nodded. “Too bad for Scranton,” I thought.