Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin.

Religious fundamentalists are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Fixer: An incident in a bar

The setup: Kathy Varis is currently wearing a t-shirt with a picture of a gun-toting butterfly with the words "Anti" above the butterfly, and "Social" below it, bell-bottom jeans, and sneakers. She has tracked down a professor who is reputed to have contacts in the Russian underworld. Said professor denied everything, but Kathy bugged her. Unfortunately, because Kathy didn't know what car she was driving, Kathy couldn't tag her car, and she managed to lose the professor. So now Kathy is visiting bars in the general direction the professor was last headed in the forlorn hope that maybe the professor went to meet somebody in one of them...

There was no signal at the first two that I visited. The next bar was a biker bar. Oddly enough, I got a signal here. I pulled over and listened. And got absolutely nothing, because it was all in Russian.

I sighed, and dug in my glove compartment for the microcassette recorder. I got a tape in it and started recording. I'd have to find someone who knew Russian to translate it. Someone who wasn't Dr. Carmody or her son. I knew just who it was that I needed, a Russian who I'd met through one of my hacker clients. He was in Russia, but he had a web site selling software that he'd written, so I could contact him pretty easily.

I listened to talk I couldn't understand for a while. Then there was the sound of sniffling. Then a nose being blown. Then... "What is this?"

Then my bug went silent.

First I got out and tagged her Mercedes with a tracker. I stood there for a second debating what to do. But there was only one thing I could do, of course. I needed to see who she was meeting with. There was only one way to do that, and that was for little ole' me, all five-foot-one and 110 pounds wet and still wearing my butterfly t-shirt and bell-bottom jeans, to walk into a biker bar. I started getting into the zone, bouncing up and down on the balls of my feet a little. That was a little something I'd worked up with Coach Davis to get me mentally prepared to go into action and win, to get my mind in that zone where I was the wind. What worked on the track worked elsewhere too. I prepared my mind. I was going in, and I was going to find who I needed to find, and I was going to arrange what I needed to arrange. I was going to win. Because I wanted it more. And if anybody got in the way... I pitied the fools.

This bar was so half-assed it didn't even have a bouncer at the door. I blew through and quickly glanced around to find my missing professor. There were a bunch of old booths, looked left over from the 1950's but patched with duct tape here and there, and a worn bar with some old stools, similarly patched with duct tape here and there. A few people looked around at me, and one biker started coming towards me, but I waggled my finger and shook my head at him and he stopped and decided to go elsewhere. Finally I spotted the professor sitting in a booth near the back corner, her back to me, across from a man I'd never seen before. The man was slender and pale with black hair, and dressed all in black like some Hollywood vampire and with much the same sex appeal as a Hollywood vampire -- he was a pretty boy indeed. He had a look of bemusement on his face, as if tolerating a dottering aunt who was saying daffy things.

A waitress started approaching me, and I waved her off, saying "I see my friends."

The guy sitting behind the table saw me coming, of course. I gave him a cute little smile and wave that made me look about as harmful as a purple stuffed dinosaur. Then I slid into the booth next to him, and said, "I'm here!"

Dr. Carmody looked aghast. "You!"

"Hi, I'm Kathy Varis," I said to the man, who looked amused. "And you are?"

"Just call me Kiril," he said.

"Okay, Kiril. So, I don't speak Russian, maybe you can fill me in on what lies the good Doctor here was telling you, then I can tell you the truth?"

"Truth? What's that?" Kiril quipped.

I grinned. "I think we understand each other, then."

"I like your shirt," Kiril said.

I leaned against Kiril's shoulder, incidentally making it harder for him to move if he wanted to. "Yeah, it's really me," I said.

Dr. Carmody started talking rapid-fire Russian, sounding rather urgent and irate. At least, that was what her body language was saying. You couldn't tell it by the dude sitting beside me.

"She says you are dangerous," Kiril said.

"Gee, I don't know where she would get that idea," I said happily.

"She says you kill people."

"Darn. Not that again! I don't know what to say. It's just a bad habit I have sometimes. Hmm..." I snuggled up closer to Kiril, turning the "cute" up a few notches by flipping his left hand over with my right hand then fitting my palm inside his. "Ooh. You're pretty."

"You told her a story, You had what she thought was a Homeland Security guy with you. He was not, I suspect."

I looked up respectfully. My nose was near the tip of his chin. "Hmm. That makes you a lot smarter than she is."

Dr. Carmody was looking offended, as much by being left out of our conversation I suspect as by anything I was saying. She let out another barrage of rapid-fire Russian.

"But he never stated he was a Homeland Security agent, did he?"

"No, he didn't," I said happily. I flipped his hand back over and patted his hand. "And what would I be doing hanging around with a Homeland Security agent anyhow?"

"I told her that, but she does not believe."

"I noticed that about some of my professors," I said. "They were so full of themselves they refused to believe anything other than what they wanted to believe." I suddenly leaned towards Dr. Carmody and said "Boo!", and she jumped.

"She is dangerous, you idiot!" Dr Carmody said to Kiril.

"Of course she is," Kiril said, reaching over and patting Dr. Carmody's shoulder. "Why don't you go home and let us talk?"

"She kills people!"

"I'm sure she does," Kiril said patronizingly. "Go home."


Suddenly I jumped across the table and grabbed her collar and pulled her face to within an inch of mine. "Are you hard of hearing?" I said into her suddenly-bloodless face. "Get out of here. Now. Before I hurt you. Understand?" I slid back into my seat and glared at her. Dr. Carmody opened her mouth to say something, saw my expression, and instead slid out and waddled off as fast as professorial decorum would allow.

Kiril clapped. "Most excellent," he said. "You switched from happy coed girl to scary girl in half a second. Do you practice that?"

I smiled. "Nope. It's all me. I'm the whole package." I switched sides of the booth so that now I was looking at him. "So... I'm looking for someone to do a job. Someone who is not, let us say, a nice person."

"An anti-social butterfly, in other words."

"Exactly!" I beamed. "Someone willing to get a little crude. Smash and grab. I do good at the subtle stuff, but... " I shrugged. "I don't do crude."

"Why crude?"

"Client," I said. "I suppose he wants to make a point."

"I see. And this client went to you anyhow?"

"What can I say? He just adores my pretty little face and worships the bullets I fire from my Glock. I guess he just thinks I look trustworthy. I've done work for him before. He's cool."

"And the story you fed the professor?"

I laughed. "C'mon. You think I'm going to tell a college professor that I'm looking for someone to do some bad stuff for me? Especially a college professor who already thinks I'm Satan's spawn? Get real!"

"I know someone who could probably find someone like that for you," Kiril said. "But what's in it for me?"

"What do you want? My client has some flexibility money-wise. I can funnel some to you."

"Money," he said. I reached in my bag and shoved a Franklin at him.

"A few more of those, and an hour in the sack with your hot sexy bod."

"I only do the last one with girls," I lied. Under other circumstances, I might like some athletics with Kiril. But prostitution isn't my thing. "You're pretty but you're not feminine enough, sorry!"

"Pity. Okay, make it an even five."

I shoved another Franklin. "The rest on delivery, my friend. So who can I talk to?"

"It'll take a couople of hours to track him down," Kiril said. "Do you have a secure phone?"

"Yeah. Uhm, don't tell him I want him," I said. "I have my own method for, let us say, closing a contract, and it works best cold."


I grinned. "Hey, what can I say? I wasn't born six feet tall and two hundred pounds, so people need a little bit of, let us say, warmup, before they take me seriously. And it's fun."


"Awe. Poor baby still wants Kathy wathy to pet him? Shall I get you a warm saucer of cream?"

"What in the world? Are you nuts?"

I clapped and laughed. "You got it! So anyhow, do me a favor. Tell me who I need to talk to, and where and when I can find him, but don't tell him anything about me. Not my name, not what I look like, nothing."

"So why would I do that?"

I sighed, and shoved another couple of Franklins his direction. While I was billing Sybil for all this, my stash of hundreds from the Akilna Software job was sinking fast. "That motivating you any?"

Kiril smiled and said, "I feel more motivated. Six more of those on delivery."

"You got it," I said. "Now give. Who do I need to talk to?"

"I don't know," Kiril said. "But give me a couple of hours, and I'll know. You have a secure phone?"

"Yeah." I got my latest disposable out of my bag and looked up its phone number, wrote the phone number onto a napkin, and gave the napkin to Kiril. Then I leaned over towards Kiril, no longer smiling. "One thing, though."


I lowered my voice and talked real softly. "If you're fucking me over, I'm going to hurt you. Bad. And that's a promise. Ask around. I keep my promises. Got it?"

"Don't worry," Kiril said solemnly. "I'm not interested in having my balls cut off."

I sat back, letting the air out of my lungs. He'd heard of that? I wondered... did he know anything about how poor Jimmy ended up dead in the trunk of Frey's car in my driveway? But this wasn't the time to ask him that. I needed him to finger a thug for me. A thug who, unlike Jimmy Rodriguez, was still walking this Earth.

"We have an understanding then," I said. "I'll expect to hear from you." I left off the "or else". But Kiril apparently heard it anyhow, because he nodded as I slid out of the booth.

Posted by: BadTux / 6/01/2006 11:07:00 PM  


Interesting, but there's a continuity issue or two. In the header, you say "Unfortunately, because Kathy didn't know what car she was driving", and then, in the story, you say "First I got out and tagged her Mercedes with a tracker.". How'd Kathy suddenly figure out what car the prof was driving? There probably aren't many cars in the parking lot of a biker bar, but there should be more than one.

As for the line "This bar was so half-assed it didn't even have a bouncer at the door.", bouncers at the door are more for collecting cover charges than anything, and most low-class bars without entertainment won't have a cover charge. The real bouncers for those bars are 350 pound guys named Tiny who sit in the back of the bar watching for trouble with their leaded club.

Oh, well, at least it wasn't a topless bar. Kathy might have really felt out of place in there. Or, maybe she wouldn't have, and would have enjoyed the show. ;-)

Otherwise, most excellent!

# posted by Anonymous : 2/6/06 9:47 AM  

The story itself has no such continuity error. She doesn't know what car the professor was driving until the professor got into it a few blocks from the downtown restaurant where they met, at which point it is a case of, "Hmm, how does a low-paid college professor afford a big black Mercedes?". Before she could get back to her Toyota (downtown parking in San Jose is rather, uhm, dispersed) the professor drove off and Kathy lost her.
# posted by BadTux : 2/6/06 10:03 AM  

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