O is for Outlaw Page 44

"One of those motorcycle types: studs and black leather. He had a cowboy mentality, swaggered when he walked. Made so much noise it sounded like he was wearing spurs."

"What was that about?"

"I have no idea. Dort didn't like him. He was very rude. He knocked her sideways with his foot when she tried to smell his boot."

Bel said, "Oh, dear. This card represents the King of Cups, reversed again. That's not good."

I looked over with interest. "The King of Cops?"

"I didn't say cops, dear. I said Cups. The King of Cups stands for a dishonest, double-dealing man: roguery, vice, scandal, you name it."

Belatedly, I felt a flutter of uneasiness. "Speaking of which, what made you think I was a cop when I came to t he door?"

Cordia looked up. "Because an officer called this morning and said a detective would be stopping by at two this afternoon. We thought it must be you since you were up there so long."

I felt my heart give a little hiccup, and I checked my watch. Nearly two o'clock now. "Gee, I better hit the road and let the two of you get back to work," I said. "Urn, I wonder if you could do me a little favor. ."

Bel turned up the next card and said, "Don't worry about it, dear. We won't mention you were here."

"I'd appreciate that."

"I'll take you out the other door," Cordia said. "So you can reach the alley without being seen. The detectives park in the front, at least, they did before."

"Why don't I leave you a number? That way you can get in touch with me if anything comes up," I said. I jotted down my number on the back of my business card. In return, Cordia wrote their number on the edge of the rental application. Neither questioned my request. With a tarot like mine, they must have assumed I was going to need all the help I could get.


On the way home, I stopped off at McDonald's and bought myself a QP with cheese, an order of fries, and a medium Coke. Once I'd picked Dorothy's hair off my lip, I steered with one hand while I munched with the other, all the time moaning with pleasure. It's pitiful to have a life in which junk food is awarded the same high status as sex. Then again, I tend to get a lot more of the one than I do of the other. I was back in Santa Teresa by four-fifteen. The only message on my machine was from Mark Bethel, who'd finally returned my Monday-afternoon call at eleven-thirty Wednesday morning.

I dialed his number, taking a moment to unzip my jeans and remove Mickey's mail from my underpants. Naturally, Mark was out, so I ended up talking to Judy. "You almost caught him. He left fifteen minutes ago. "Shoot. Well, I'm sorry I missed him. I just got back from Los Angeles. I have news about Mickey and I may need his help. I'm in for the afternoon. If he has a chance to call, I'd love to talk to him."

"I'm afraid he's gone for the day, Kinsey, but if you like you can catch him at seven tonight at the Lampara," she said, naming a downtown theater.

"Doing what?" I asked, though I had a fair idea. Mark Bethel was one of fourteen Republican candidates who'd be battling it out in the primary coming up on June, a scant twelve days off. I'd heard four of them had been invited to debate the issues at an event being sponsored by the League for Fair Government.

"This is a public debate: Robert Naylor, Mike Antonovich, Bobbi Fiedler, and Mark, talking about election issues."

"Sounds hot," I said, thinking, Who's kidding who? The California Secretary of State, March Fong Eu, was predicting the lowest voter turnout in forty-six years. Of the candidates Judy'd mentioned, only Mike Antonovich, the conservative L.A. County supervisor, had even a slim chance at winning. Naylor was an assemblyman from Menlo Park, the only Northern Californian in the race until Ed Zschau had stepped in. Zschau was the front-runner. Rumor had it that the San Diego Union, the San Francisco Cbronicle, the San Francisco Examiner, and the Contra Costa Times were all coming out in support of him. Meanwhile, Bobbi Fiedler, a San Fernando Valley congresswoman and a seasoned politician, had had the rug pulled out from under her when a grand jury indicted her for allegedly bribing another candidate into leaving the race. The charges turned out to be groundless and had been dismissed, but her supporters had lost enthusiasm and she was having trouble recovering her momentum. As for Mark, this was his second fling at a statewide election, and he was busy pouring Laddie's money into TV spots 1in which he touted himself for running such a clean campaign. Like anyone gave a shit. The notion of sitting through some droning political debate was enough to put me in a coma of my own.

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