I parked on the far end of Bryson Avenue. Once I had locked the car, I turned and walked quickly through the crowded plaza. I was on my way to see my friend, Kimball McInaney. Kimball had been at county the same time as I had. She had been picked up on a bogus drug trafficking charge. This hadn’t particularly bothered me. I knew a lot of people who were involved in drug trafficking. I was pretty sure that the charges against Kimball hadn’t been legitimate. Kimball didn’t seem like the type. She was a small woman, about 5’2”, 110 pounds with wispy blonde hair and big brown eyes. She was fairly intelligent and seemed to know everyone in Vegas. She had been my cellmate for about three months and then they had released her after her case won at appeal. There hadn’t been sufficient evidence to convict in the first place and there were suspicions that the judge in her case was on the take. She had gotten out and I had kept in touch with her because she was able to give me so much dirt on the local crime scene. As I approached her door, I looked behind me to make sure I hadn’t been followed. There was still a possibility that the guys at the bar might be trying to figure out what I was doing for Delvecchio. Apart from that, the guy outside the bar hadn’t identified himself, but I was pretty sure he was part of the same bunch of creeps. He could be lurking about somewhere too.
No one was around so I knocked on Kimball’s door. A few moments later, she opened the door a crack and then flung it open excitedly to greet me. “Girl, what the hell are you doin’ here?” She smiled as she threw an arm around me and dragged me inside.
“Just thought I’d drop by and see how life’s been treatin’ you,” I said as I looked around the tiny apartment. There was very little furniture and it looked like Kimball had just sat down to dinner. A plate of spaghetti and a basket of bread lay on the table. The smell of tomatoes and garlic faintly floated across the room. I remembered that I hadn’t eaten dinner and I found myself looking around the room to see if there was any more spaghetti to be had. Kimball caught this immediately and she offered, “Hey, I got some more over here if you’re hungry. It ain’t nothing special, but you’re welcome
“Great, thanks.” I said, “I’m actually starving, and this stuff smells great.” I followed Kimball into the kitchen where I was given a plastic plate that didn’t match the one on the table, a Scooby-Doo tumbler of ice, and a rather non-descript fork. “Help yourself,” Kimball said.
I scooped up some noodles and then a ladle full of sauce and took my place across the table from Kimball. There was a pitcher of iced tea on the table and Kimball poured some for me. I started eating and then noticed Kimball staring at me. “What?” I asked. “What, nothing. You didn’t just come over here for a half-assed plate of spaghetti.”
“Well, no. I didn’t really know there would be spaghetti,” I said sarcastically, “That was a bonus.”
“Well, what is it that you need?” Kimball asked, “Who you looking for now?”
“I don’t know if you can help me on this, but I figured you might be the only one who I could trust to give me information.”
Kimball nodded, “Yeah, I guess that’s true. What’s up?”
I took a drink of the tea and started telling Kimball about the missing dry cleaner. I was careful not to say too much about Luther’s history with Delvecchio. I only wanted details about Gofski and what might be going on with Bubbles & Steam. I didn’t want to get sidetracked by trying to explain the rest of it. Kimball nodded and started shifting in her seat when I mentioned Gofski, but she didn’t offer any other affirmation. She waited for me to finish my description and then she started talking.
“Gofski, now that’s some shit you don’t want to get into.” She paused and took a bite of garlic toast before trying to continue. She chewed thoughtfully and shook her head. “Nope, you don’t want to work on this. You’ll end up in the bottom of a lake somewhere.” “Look, I know there’s a risk here and I’m trying to keep a distance from these guys. So far, they haven’t approached me and I’m hoping I can find the guy before they figure out I’m looking.” “What’s your motivation here?” Kimball asked, “Is this some old boyfriend bullshit or something? You wouldn’t take this kind of case on just for the cash.”
Kimball was right. I did enough work to stay afloat and I didn’t like risking my neck unless there was a really good reason. The last missing person’s case I had taken was on a kid who had been abducted by his father. The client was a friend who had been beaten up by her husband a couple hundred times before she finally got a divorce. The husband had told her that he would take the kid as soon as she wasn’t looking. And that’s what he did. He took the boy right out of the front yard one afternoon when Lila had run in to answer the phone. I had tracked him down and taken the boy back in much the same manner. This guy was truly pissed and when he figured out what had happened, he showed up at my office and threatened to kick my ass. I reminded him that I could have him arrested for abduction and trespassing before he could cross the room to hit me. And then, I shot him. It’s kind of a long story. “Well, actually, I don’t know the guy,” I said, “His story was just really convincing and I feel like he needs help on this.” That sounded lame. I wasn’t exactly the sweet and helpful type, but for some reason, I felt like I needed to take this on. Delvecchio couldn’t do this alone and there was a good chance Luther would end up dead before he had a chance to explain himself.
Kimball started pouring more tea. She filled her glass and took another drink. She was quiet for several minutes and then she offered, “How do you know they aren’t already onto you? Just because they haven’t contacted you doesn’t mean they aren’t planning to do something.”
“I’m hoping that they’re spending more time trying to find Janetti than they are trying to figure out what I’m doing,” I said.
“You’d better hope so, ’cause if they catch up with you, your ass is toast,” Kimball said matter-of-factly. She tore off a piece of bread and shoved it into her mouth. I was about to get up and leave. It didn’t look like she was going to be able to help with this one. Suddenly, she stood up and went in the other room, returning a moment later with a large binder. She laid it on the table and opened it up to what appeared to be an index. Running her finger down the page, she stopped when she got to the middle and quickly flipped through the binder until she reached the page she was looking for.
The title across the top was labeled, Rita Gofski.