Before diving into Part 2 be sure to go back and read The Urn Part 1. # They’d made the first corner by the time my explorer was in the street. The tires of the
Before diving into Part 2 be sure to go back and read The Urn Part 1.
They’d made the first corner by the time my explorer was in the street. The tires of the van squealed as it missed the angle and its driver had to yank the steering-wheel hard to the left to keep it on the road. My explorer was like a young Pinto out on the range. It had grown up hard and was full of spirit. I took the left, drifting the back tires around and punched it.
Up ahead, on the other side of the Van, I saw the black behemoth swerving all over the tarmac, maybe because Overcoat didn’t normally do the driving or maybe because a goon dressed in black and wearing a beret was leaning out of the passenger window of the van firing his pistol at the back of overcoat’s ride. I wondered who’d be bold enough to make a hit on Overcoat. Everybody in this game knew he worked for Big Jimmy. Big Jimmy ran this town. Guys like me and Joey worked around him, solving cases or finding things like the urn lying next to me in the passenger seat.
“Look at that,” I’d said, holding up the cup. “The medicine works.”
Joey put his sandwich down and opened his top drawer. He put his hand inside and I knew it caressed his 1911 .45 Automatic Colt Pistol. Under my desk a Colt Python hung in its holster loaded with .357 magnum dumdum rounds. I kept it there for pests like the two that’d just crawled in.
We hadn’t drawn because they kept their hands by their sides and after a few seconds of nobody moving, Big Jimmy had walked in. He’d said, “Hello Marge,” and she’d said “Hi ya, Jimmy,” then he moved passed her through the second door and stopped in the middle of the room. He nodded to his men who walked back to the main hallway and Marge got up and slammed the door behind them. She yelled, “Were you raised in a barn? Shut the damn door,” as the wood rocked in its frame.
Big Jimmy laughed. It sounded like a big diesel engine trying to crank. “I’ve always liked her, Mac. Maybe she should work for me.”
I took a swig of my medicine, pulled its bottle out of my bottom desk drawer with another glass and poured one for Jimmy.
“Here. It cures what ails ya.”
He reached down and took it. “L’chaim” he said, and drained it.
“What do you want, Jimmy?”
He pulled the one extra chair in the room over and sat it in front of my desk. When he lowered his frame, half his ass hung off the chair. He was a big guy. He’d have to be to run his organization. But, he didn’t seem to notice.
Joey’s desk was on his left and he scooted his chair a little that way but continued to look at me. Or rather he looked above my head at something I couldn’t see, thinking,
“Mac,” he said, “you and I go way back. As far back as when we were kids at school. Do you remember when you pulled that stunt on the principal because you thought he’d spanked Jenny Marlow too hard? You sawed his paddle in half then used some kind of putty to keep it together. The next time he swung it, I think he was paddling little Bennie Pulinsky—I can’t remember—anyway, the next time he swung it, half of that paddle you’d cut went flying through the trophy case on the other side of his office. Christ that was good.” Big Jimmy laughed hard and pulled out a handkerchief to wipe his eyes. “He never did pin it on you, though he had his suspicions.”
“Sometimes I get lucky.”
“Yeah. But you got a conscience. You could’a gone far in my business if it weren’t for that, Mac.”
Joey looked over at me and I shrugged. It was Big Jimmy’s nickel. Joey relaxed and leaned back in his chair. He rolled a toothpick around his mouth until it found what it was digging for.
“Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Jimmy,” I said. “I appreciate it. Is there anything you needed or did you just stop by to reminisce?”
“The old man before me. You remember him?”
“Yeah. I do. His name was Dolly,” I said. “We called him Diamondback Dolly for obvious reasons.”
He nodded. “That’s him. He was as mean as a snake. I took over after his unfortunate demise.”
“I seem to recall,” I said. “You had about a hundred witnesses ready to testify you were nowhere near him when that hammer fell off the shelf and wound up in his head.”
Jimmy shrugged his shoulder. “Like I was saying,” he continued, “when I took over, I had Dolly cremated and his ashes put in a nice pewter urn. I put it on a shelf in the office. He’s been there for a long time.”
“So what’s the problem?” Joey had stayed quiet as long as he could.
“My question exactly,” I said.
“The urn is missing.” Big Jimmy stared, first at me, then at Joey.
When his huge head made the orbit back to me, I said, “So?”
“I want to hire you to get it back.”
I’d done all I could do for Big Jimmy’s guy. His driver in the parking lot was beyond help and Overcoat was on his own. I called Joey and told him I still had the urn, but the payday would have to wait. He didn’t like it, but shut up when I told him what happened. Next I called Big Jimmy and eventually one of his guys handed him the phone. I explained my end of it and he said Overcoat managed to call while evading the attackers.
“You wouldn’t try to double-cross me, would you Mac?”
“You know better than that, Jimmy. My word is good.”
“Everyone has a price, Mac. I’ve always wondered what yours is.”
“Do you want this thing or not?” I said.
“Yes, it has a sentimental value for me.”
When I pulled into the office, Marge had gone for the day and Joey was out making inquiries about beret-wearing douchebags who owned a van. My mind kept returning to what Jimmy’d said about the urn, all that sentimental value crap. Big Jimmy didn’t have a sentimental bone in his body. Rumor had it he killed his only brother to keep him out of contention for crime boss. That was right before Diamondback Dolly had met his own untimely end.
Inside my office, I studied the object of all this commotion. It looked normal, for an urn. Dolly’s name was engraved on a plate on the side along with the date of his death.
I picked it up. It was heavy enough. I shook it and it sloshed. I knew there would be a plastic bag inside, filled with ashes. I unscrewed the top and pulled the dark plastic bag out and put it on my desk.
There was a twist tie, like around a loaf of bread. I undid it and looked inside. There was nothing but ashes. I looked into the empty urn and that’s when I saw it, a small velvet pouch at the bottom of the urn. I reached in and pulled it out. There was some kind of adhesive holding it in place and some of the velvet wanted to stay in the urn as I yanked it out.
I opened it, already feeling the stones through the material as I held the soft bag in my hand. But, I wasn’t prepared for the sparkling pile of diamonds that spread across my desk like stars in the night of a dark desert sky.
To Be Continued…