In the Wash: The Rona Shively Stories

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Chapter Three

Every day I have doubts about my sanity. I seem to get myself into some of the damnedest situations. It’s really something of a miracle that I haven’t been killed. My name is Rona Shively. There’s nothing special about me other than the fact that I often work with individuals in strange situations and I rarely complete a job without injury. I am thirty-eight years old, fairly attractive, never married,

and considered to be somewhat of an asshole by those who know me. I can’t help it, it just comes naturally. I do have a few friends, though. That’s how I met Gilbert Delvecchio. He contacted me at the suggestion of my closest friend, Norman Dent.

When I arrived at my apartment this evening, the light on my answering machine was blinking. I walked over to the desk and pushed the play button. A man’s voice said, “Ms. Shively, I got your name from Mr. Dent. He said you might be the right person to help me with a little problem I got. I’d appreciate a call when you get this message. The number is 555-2199. I’m in all evening.

Thanks.” The dial tone was interrupted by the clicking of the machine and the message ended. I picked up the receiver and dialed the number. One ring, two rings, three rings…I waited, holding the phone loosely until someone finally picked up on the other end.

“Hello,” a voice said sharply, sounding out of breath. I wondered for a moment if I had interrupted something.

“Uh, hello, this is Shively; I had a message to call this number.”

“Hold on, just a minute,” the man said. I heard him lay the phone down on the other end. Faintly, I could hear a female voice in the background. She seemed to be panting. A couple of minutes passed as I listened to them apparently finishing up whatever it was that I had interrupted. I let my imagination run away with thoughts of what might have been happening on the other end of the line.

Finally, the man picked up the phone again and said, “Yeah, the name’s Delvecchio. I’m a friend of Norm’s.” I snapped out of my daydream long enough to respond to the guy.

“This is Rona Shively, I’m returning your call,” I said flatly. “Right, yeah, sorry about that, we were trying to move this damned desk and it weighs about a ton,” he explained, “Is there somewhere we can meet and talk about the situation? I don’t like doing business over the phone.”

I was a little disappointed in him for not being the super stud I had built him up to be in the entire four minutes I had known him, but I answered, “Sure, you familiar with Stoney Park Circle area?”

“Yeah, I live near there,” he said.

“Well, there’s a bar on the corner of White and Blair Courts,” I said,

“Meet me there in, uh, twenty minutes.”

“No problem,” he said, “I’ll see you in a few.”

The bar, affectionately called, “Hell’s Hole” was really not as bad a place as you would think. It was small, dark, and usually filled with the same four or five old drunks. Ordinarily, no unsavory types hung out there and I knew the bartender. This was the safest place I could think of to meet any of my clients. If anything crazy happened, Ramone would have my back. I picked up my purse and keys and headed out to the bar. I locked my door behind me and when I turned around, I was standing face to face with my neighbor, Charles. He was so goddamned nosy. He looked at me, standing too close not to be considered a boundary violation, and said, “Where are you headed at this hour?”

“When did you get your operation?” I snapped.

“My what?” he said, confused.

“Your sex change operation, you know, the one that made you think you’re my fucking mother,” I said and turned on my heel as I made my way down the steps. I’m sure he was offended. He was always offended.

“Fuck you, too, Rona,” he whined after me. I heard him slam the door to his apartment. I could picture him sulking around, slapping at the pillows on his couch angrily. He was in that stage of denial that gay people sometimes go through before they step up to the plate and claim their place among the homosexual population. He usually cried a lot and got pissed off whenever his manliness was in question.

I shrugged the whole episode off quickly, as I often do, walked towards my car and got in. To accurately describe it, I drive a shitty blue sedan. This car does not fit my personality by any stretch of the imagination, but it does keep me from being noticed. That is essential in my line of work. Although I am not really sure what my line of work can be called, I do know that I don’t want to be easily spotted when I am in the midst of doing whatever it is that I actually do. I started the car, pushed in the cassette that was hanging out of the deck and turned the volume down to a reasonable level as I pulled out of the lot. I could have walked, but I’m basically lazy. I listened to a Kinsey Millhone cassette as I drove down the block to the bar. This chick was funny. I wish I could say that I had as much class as this detective, but I can’t. My motivation is similar; however, I’m caught up in a world where legitimate clients are a luxury. Being a private detective in Nevada is not exactly a classy vocation. Most of the time, my clients are wayward prostitutes and underworld thugs who want to make sure that their ill-earned wealth stays secure. I’ve been in my share of trouble with the cops and am trying to keep a low profile for what it’s worth.

I pulled into the first free spot on the curb, staying in the car until I scanned the street for strange people. Perhaps I should rephrase that. There are always strange people on the street in Nevada. I scanned the street for people I didn’t know. I saw a large man, sitting in a white convertible down the street. He seemed to be sweating profusely as he kept wiping his forehead with a handkerchief. He was probably about three hundred pounds. He was fairly attractive for a big guy. He had dark, curly hair that was cut close. His brown eyes were set close together but not so close that the effect was unpleasant. He opened his door and stepped onto the street. He was at least six feet tall, towering above the little car he had been driving. I wondered how he had managed to be comfortable in such a small vehicle.

He walked over towards my car, gave me a curious look, and then passed my car up to enter the bar. He looked behind him a couple of times before he got to the door and then he pushed his way into the place. I figured this was the guy I was here to meet so I got out and locked my car. I straightened my clothes as I walked up to the door.

I might as well look presentable; the guy wasn’t bad looking and if this was, in fact, Delvecchio. The worst-case scenario might include a roll in the hay. I’m a liberal girl. I’ll take good sex where I can get it. Not to make you think that I do this all of the time, but I like to keep my options open.

I walked into the bar and looked back over the rows of booths along the wall. The place was about twenty feet wide with a bar at the very back. There was one restroom that was considered unisex. There were about six booths lined up one behind the other. The booths had high backs so that you couldn’t really see who was sitting behind you. This allowed for some degree of privacy. I spotted the guy from the convertible in the third booth back. He had a tall glass of beer and he was smoking a cigarette. He was still sweating and wiping his forehead. I walked over to the table and said, “Hi, are you Mr. Delvecchio?”

He looked up at me, puzzled. “Delvecchio?”

“Yeah, I’m Rona,” I said, “I was supposed to meet a Mr. Delvecchio here.”

The guy ran his hand through his hair and looked at me again. “Oh, yeah, I’m him,” he said, “I’m Delvecchio.”

“Do you have some identification?” I asked, “I like to be sure on these things.”

He fumbled around looking for his wallet. He seemed really shook

up.

“I’m sorry, I must have left it back at my apartment.”

I pondered this situation for a moment. I was pretty sure this was the same guy I had spoken to earlier, but why was he so damned nervous. I had no idea what a Delvecchio looked like, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and sat down in the booth. I slid a business card across the table to him. He picked it up and studied it carefully before sticking it in his shirt pocket.

“You had something you wanted to discuss?” I asked.

“Yeah, I guess I did.”

The big man ran both hands through his curly hair several more times before he straightened his shirt and looked me in the eye.

“Is something wrong?” I asked, “You seem a little preoccupied.” “No, no, I’m fine. Except that I got this problem,” he said nervously. He shook his head and said, “You don’t look like the

type to...”

I cut him off right there. “Believe me, I’m the type,” I said, “I may not be the toughest looking broad on the job, but I find ways to get it done. Please go on...” I’m tired of trying to convince people that I can handle this line of work. It happens all the time. To look at me,

I don’t seem at all threatening. I’m about 5’4” and 125 pounds and I kind of resemble Sally Field, only with shorter hair and a permanent scowl. In truth, the only way I can bring an assailant to his knees is with a stun gun or a swift kick in the nuts.

“Uh, oh-okay, well there’s this guy I need to find,” he said.

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