Chapter Twenty Three: Rick's Proposition.
The next morning the sun was just as non-existent as it had been for most of the week. It may have been 10am but it felt like 3am with just how dark it was.
Mel stepped out of her car and locked the door.
Ooooh, what a capital little place this is! she thought to herself as she walked towards the hotel that she had heard so much about.
The moment she stepped inside a nice warm breeze seemed to surround her and she knew instantly that the owner had turned the heat on. Smart idea, she thought to herself as she approached the desk, noticing a beautiful brown haired lady standing behind it.
“Good morning and welcome to the Detende-Vous,” she said in what Mel felt was way too much of a chipper voice. “I’m Lauren, can...”
She stopped, looking around Mel, which in turn made the attorney a little uncomfortable.
“I was going to ask if Taylor could help you with your bags, but I see you only have one,” she giggled.
“Ah, so you’re Lauren,” Mel inferred smiling knowingly.
Lauren meanwhile was taken a little aback. However, all her years of professional service had taught her well how to deal with these situations.
“That would be me,” she confirmed, smiling.
“Hmmm,” Mel replied thoughtfully. “I get it now.”
“Well I don’t,” Lauren laughed. “Unless...does my reputation precede me?”
“When it comes to a certain man by the name of Andy Thompson it does,” Mel smiled extending her hand. “I’m Mel his attorney from Pittsburg.”
“Ah, Mel...the attorney from Pittsburg,” Lauren shook her hand struggling to remember Andy saying something about her.
What was it? she wondered. Something about her not liking a habit I taught him.
She let it go and cracked a joke at Mel.
“You’re not here to serve me are you?” she laughed.
“Oh, no, not at all,” she smiled. “I don’t think Andy would serve you anything unless it was a caffeine filled cup.” she laughed.
“Yep, that’s me,” Lauren smiled, raising a mug she just happened to have at the desk and taking a sip.
“Could you please let Andy know I’m here,” Mel asked really wanting to move this right along.
“Of course,” Lauren replied. “One moment.”
Lauren ducked away into the back room to contact Andy via the private intercom.
Andy meanwhile was upstairs preparing coffee for the long day he knew he had ahead. Mel had advised him yesterday not to go into work today nor to go home last night but rather to stay exactly where he was. When he had advised Mel that room service was provided in the hotel she had expressly forbidden him to even leave the room.
Jay had wondered what the conversation was about but Mel had advised Andy not to tell him. It was the hardest night of Andy’s life, not revealing what was going on to his boyfriend, but he knew he had to do it. It was fortunate that by now Jay knew that if Andy couldn’t tell Jay something, it must be serious and he wouldn’t put his boyfriend in that awkward position.
Not telling Jay what was going on definitely seemed to have helped the blonde who Andy noticed had had a proper night sleep, while he himself had only managed a total of an hour with 10 to 20 minute intervals here and there. By 8am, he had had enough and decided to get up and have some coffee. Now 2 hours later he heard the sound of the intercom bell ring. Andy sprang out of the dining room chair and hit the talking button.
“Yeah?” he asked.
“Andy, it’s Lauren,” she started.
“Morning sweetie,” he said, though still awake he sounded as tired as he felt.
“I have an ah, attorney here to see you? She says she’s not serving me papers thank god.”
“Oh no no!” Andy laughed slightly. “She’s here to give me some advice sweetie, send her up.”
Lauren gave Mel the security card and moments later Mel had made it into the Praeses Locus. Andy had just enough time to wake Jay and have him in the lounge, but there was no hiding this fact as he barely had enough time to get a dressing gown on, let alone do his hair.
“Hey Jay,” Mel smiled. “Sorry to wake you. I’m glad you’re here though as this affects you too.”
Now Jay looked rather nervous and Mel could tell Andy had kept his word and not said anything.
“Ok so what I’m about to tell you will be a little shocking but we will get through it, I promise.”
Jay eyes grew a little wider.
“There’s no easy way to say this Jay, but B’s here in town and he’s looking for Andy,” Mel finished.
That afternoon Rick was scrubbing away at a particularly stubborn stain that was refusing to come out of the carpet. Svedantcha, who had seen him as a sort of slave for her own benefit by now, had no qualms whatsoever in putting the boy to work on it, while she went out to fetch the groceries for that evening.
“Damn it!” Rick grumbled as his arm continued to ache, while the stain did not get any clearer at all.
“Rick!” came a voice from behind him and he swirled around to see Carmita standing there watching him. “Don’t speak like that,” she insisted.
“Oh I’m sorry,” he replied bashfully.
The kind Latina smiled down at him. She walked over and bent down to talk to him.
“It’s not that you said it so much that upsets me,” she replied. “It’s more the fact that you got caught. When I was a cleaner, I was very perceptive in knowing when people were around.”
She held out a kind hand and helped pick him up from off the floor.
“Ok, so…what is this mess all about?” she asked trying to hide the laugh that was threatening to come through.
“The Da-…” Rick caught himself just in time and rephrased what he was about to say. “It’s a stein and it won’t come out,” he finished.
“That’s because you’re using…” Carmita picked up the bottle that Svedantcha had handed Rick that morning. “Oh no, this will never work. That woman… I tell you, follow me.”
Rick followed her to her bedroom and she took out a shining silver pump bottle.
“Trust me,” she smiled, holing the bottle up as though advertising it. “This clears everything.”
They walked back to the lounge area together and Carmita wiped away as much of the solution that had been used as she could.
“Now then, one little pump of this and just a little pat like that,” she continued as though indeed a camera was rolling. “And your carpet will be as good as new.”
“Now available wherever Carmita’s favourite things are sold,” Rick cheeked.
The Latina elbowed him in the ribs laughing and she stood again.
“So now, you go away and do something else for five minutes, say like try on a new outfit,” she smiled pretending to look at herself in a mirror and pose, before turning back to the boy “And I promise you by the time you come back it’ll be gone.”
Confessing a moment later that trying on a new outfit would indeed be an ideal thing to do at that moment, Carmita turned on her heel and left the room. Rick meanwhile had been dying for a smoke all morning as Svedantcha had not given him a break. So picking up the supplies he hastily raced back to the cleaning cupboard, stowed them away and raced outside lighting up as he closed the door.
“Ah,” he thought relaxing as he exhaled the first drag.
He took a seat on the usual garden chair he used and reminisced. Despite the fact that he had only started yesterday he had already worked out the best place to smoke. Not only was it the most comfortable, catering for all weathers as it was protected by a roof of sorts but it was seemingly far enough away from prying eyes. Rick took another drag from his cigarette and was just about to exhale when he heard something, the sound of footsteps to be exact.
Thinking it could be Svedantcha, Rick threw down his cigarette, but just as he was about to stomp on it, he realized it was Bryce.
“It’s only me,” he smiled. “But come this way I know a better spot.”
Rick grinned and followed him around a corner of the huge grounds that framed the house. Indeed as Bryce had claimed this was a better spot. No windows, better shelter and indeed if he wasn’t quite mistaken a look-out to the drive way showing that Svedantcha was not yet back.
“So I don’t have long,” Bryce said. “I’m not here to see her.” He spat clearly referring to Carmita.
“What’s up?” Rick enquired, re-lighting his cigarette.
“Any chance you want to do some work for me?...it will pay nicely.”
Rick thought about it, for a millisecond.
“Yeah? How much?” he asked.
“I’m negotiable as this is very important,” Bryce said lighting his own cigarette and taking a drag. “I need to find someone and if you can help me, I promise you’ll be rewarded.”
Rick looked at the man as he said it. Despite the fact that he was 10 years older than him he was in fact very good looking. And…was he… was he actually checking him out? It certainly seemed so and the slight bite from Bryce’s top teeth to his bottom lip seemed to indicate he thought that way.
Well, Rick thought. Maybe I can use this to my advantage.
“Rewarded huh?” he asked. “How so?”
“Monetary,” Bryce replied, as Rick looked a tad crestfallen “And… who knows what else? Anything is possible when people work together,” Bryce smiled shiftily and moved closer to Rick, making him blush slightly.
“I’m in,” Rick said unconsciously thinking with another part of his body aside from his brain.
“Excellent!” Bryce replied. “Ok so you remember when you mentioned Andy Thompson yesterday?”
Rick frowned almost confused and yet, still very upset with the way Andy had treated him.
“Yeah? What about him?” he asked quizzically.
“I’m actually looking for a friend of his,” Bryce replied smiling. “He used to work for us back in the day, a great artist and I want to look him up but can’t find him.”
“So…what do you want me to do about it?” Rick asked.
“I want you to find him for me,” Bryce said. “I need you to locate his exact whereabouts for me. It shouldn’t be too hard, you knowing Andy and all.”
Rick considered it. It was almost like a cross between a deal with a mobster and a Faustian deal. But nonetheless Bryce was offering money and if anything, that is what Rick needed right now. So it was very easy to look at the situation like a business deal.
“How much?” he asked.
“500 for you to find him and take me to him. 250 now and the rest when it’s done.” Bryce replied, surprisingly nonchalantly.
Five hundred dollars?!? A voice in Rick’s head screamed. Yes, yes, yes! What are you waiting for say Yes!
“Deal,” Rick smiled shaking hands with Bryce.
“Ok,” replied Bryce taking his hand back and sticking it in his pocket. He pulled out a wad of cash and counted out loud as he placed it into Rick’s hands. “That’s one, two, fifty,” he finished putting the rest away.
Rick smiled folding up the notes and pocketing them.
“Pleasure doing business with you,” he couldn’t help but say. It was after all, the easiest 250 dollars he had ever made in his life.
“Likewise,” Bryce replied.
“Guess there’s only one thing left to discuss,” Rick said.
“And what would that be?” Bryce asked exhaling a puff of smoke.
“Ah, the name of the person?” Rick laughed. “Andy has many friends, who are you after?”
Bryce smiled, in truth this kid reminded him very much of himself in his youth.
“Many friends huh?” Bryce replied. “Well this one is the same age as him…”
Presently the sound of a car coming up the drive-way interrupted the pair and Bryce had just enough time to shove a folded piece of paper into Rick’s hands.
“I’ll be in touch,” he smiled rather suggestively and the next thing Rick knew, he was out of sight.
Rick shoved the paper into his pocket with the money and almost flew inside only to just about bump right into a very stern looking Svedantcha.
“Vell, Vell, Vell,” she said in a very thick very dark accent. “I suppose floor is clean yes?” she asked, narrowing her eyes assuming the answer.
Rick’s mind raced.
Yes Carmita had told him that her solution would work within five minutes, but would it? And had it been that long? Rick suspected it had been, but he was so scared of lying to this woman who almost looked ready to pick up a meat cleaver and slice his head in two.
Just then Carmita walked by and Rick caught her trying to get his attention by waving her hands around frantically, out of sight of the murderously glaring woman. As soon as he spotted her she gave him a thumbs-up and Rick smiled, trying his best to remain calm.
“Yes, it’s been done for a few minutes now, so I took my break,” he replied assuringly.
“Indeed?” Svedantcha replied petulantly. “Show me.”
Carmita flung herself out of the way which was easy to do as she was shoe-less and had only come down stairs to show Rick her new outfit. She quietly crept up the stairs as Rick and Svedantcha entered the lounge to see that, indeed the stain was gone leaving not even one mark making it look as though it was never there in the first place.
Svedantcha’s mouth just dropped, but she very quickly closed it. Surprised as she was she considered herself a very dignified sort of person. Fortunately Rick had been looking at her at the time and felt a shining moment of pride at the ghastly look on her face.
Now it was his turn to ask her something as petulantly as he could get away with.
“Is there anything else I can do?” he asked trying so hard not to smile and very nearly failing.
“Vat?,” Svedantcha asked, clearly still in shock at the revelation. “Ah, no, go have break now, be back in 30 minutes.”
And with that Rick bounded off to his bedroom light as a feather and as joyous as a child on Christmas morning. He closed and locked the servants quarters door, otherwise known as his bedroom and allowed a smile to fill him from ear to ear. He had not only received 250 dollars, but he had one-upped Svedantcha too! All in the space of 10 minutes together.
Thinking of the bills he took them out of his pocket along with the paper and flung himself onto the bed more satisfied with himself then he had been in a very long time.
He was just about to place the bills and paper into one of the clothing draws when he decided to quickly open it and at least discover the mark as he was humorously calling it. He knew Bryce didn’t intend to harm the guy, but only find him. Even so, it was like a little game that Rick felt he would quite enjoy.
However unfolding the paper Rick nearly fell-over in surprise and had to sit back down on the bed to keep from doing so. All the joy that he had felt had vanished in an instant. His smile had disappeared to be replaced with shock and fear when he read the name on the list.