Jeff was taking an awful long time to show up outside the Witch’s Brew. He and Mouse had a routine going where they’d meet bi-weekly to exchange information, Jeff giving her heads up on major happenings around town and Mouse helping him put away criminals far worse than her. The man was never late – if anything, he was usually the one waiting on her. She decided to pass the time by forming a dose of mescaline to chew on.
About half an hour later a shiny black Corvette pulled up to the curb. “About time,” she called as Jeff got out. “You get lost on your way here, rookie?”
“Ha ha.” Jeff made sure his car was locked before sticking his keys in his coat. “Had to deal with half the Vitelli family getting locked up. Turns out Shortcircuit was right about the cartels supplying the drugs, so that’ll be fun…”
Mouse smiled. “Did our mutual electric friend tell you that I gave him that info? You’re welcome.”
“Tsk, go figure.”
Jeff squinted. “Is that mescaline on your breath?”
She stuck her tongue out. “You want some?”
“No, no, I’m good. Did you tell him to tear the place apart? He was like a bull in a china shop.”
She shook her head. “No, I just gave him the tip. Can’t blame me for that. Now, I’ll tell you what I know about the Mexicans, but first…”
“Right.” Jeff stuck his hands in his coat pockets. “I’ve been continuing my investigation into Skinnyman. He’s been more active than usual as of late. Areas to stay from are anything north of Harris Ave, Rockport Lane, Kingston Road.” He adjusted his hat. “And especially the old Scholz chemical factory in Olympic City.”
“Shit!” Just the name sent chills down her spine. The first forteen years of her life were spent in that godforsaken building, forced to make concoctions for hours on end. Not once did Skinnyman reveal his face to her. She spat her mescaline onto the ground and paced a little, garnering a few onlookers. “What are you staring at?”
Jeff sighed. “Yeah. I wasn’t able to get a good look inside before his thugs threw a bag over my head, but whatever’s going on it can’t be good.”
Mouse revealed all she knew about the Cortez Cartel as fast as possible. Jeff had definitely killed the mood, no more drinks for her. Once that was finished she paid her tab, went straight to her apartment and crashed.
As usual, Mouse didn’t bother waking up until eleven. Her landlord was a pretty swell guy and didn’t ask questions about where his money came from. She shuffled into the main room to make herself some coffee when she noticed Jessica sprawled out on her couch. Jessica hadn’t had a place to stay since she and her mother fell out, so she usually spent the night at either her place or whatever guy she was seeing that week. Mouse leaned over her face and snapped her fingers.
“Hey dipshit, you’re drooling on my pillows.”
She swung a pillow at Mouse. “Cut me some slack,” she grumbled, sitting up and rubbing her eyes. “I was up all night scooping up dealers from the greaseballs. I’ll buy you ten pillows…”
“That’s good, because I know where not to deal now.” Mouse scooped some coffee grounds into the machine. “He’s active again.”
“Hmph. Judging by the pronoun game you’re playing, I’m guessing it’s Skinnyman?”
Jessica buttoned up her flannel. “Shit, why don’t you sic Scholz back on him?”
“Because I want him alive and keeping the streets safe for business, not dead, or getting his organs rearranged. Besides, he saved you from those aforementioned greaseballs.”
Jessica shrugged. “Hey, he’s the one who wants to play hero. The whole city will want to jerk the dude off if he takes out Skinnyman.”
Mouse began pouring herself a cup and rolled her eyes. “Fine, I’ll give him the idea, but I’m telling him it’s yours.”
Mouse gestured towards a stack of boxes in the corner with her mug. “I’ve got a couple hundred tablets of X ready to go. You can go ahead and start distributing it now. Buy me some pillows and maybe a Corvette while you’re at it.”
Jessica shambled over to the boxes, leaving Mouse to give Wilbur a call. He picked up rather fast.
“Hey Nisa, what’s up?”
“I’ve got some more work for you. Jeff knows where Skinnyman is active. Jessica’s idea.”
“Oh boy. Can it wait? I have a board meeting shortly.”
“Meet up at the usual spot, one thirty?”
“You got it.”
At least Wilbur got the memo on how to dress. He showed up outside the Brew in a TF2 t-shirt, jeans and sneakers. Mouse had to admit though, it was strange seeing a multi-millionaire tech CEO in such casual clothes – but not in a bad way.
“Hey.” She pointed at his shirt. “What’s your favorite hat?”
Not missing a beat he replied “Stout Shako.”
He shook his head. “Come on, cut it out. That’s too silly for you.”
“You best believe it. Potassium’s good for you.” She opened the door and gestured him inside. Wilbur took a seat at the center of the bar and ordered some kind of German beer.
“What do you want?”
She shook her head. “Shit, just get me whatever. You’ve given me enough money.”
He shrugged, turned to bartender and pointed at her. “She wants dog water.”
Snorting, she lightly punched him. “Just get me a Guiness you prick.”
“Hey, you said it was up to me. I’m just a blue-collar working stiff trying to make my way in this crazy crazy world.”
“Jessica’s right, you are a blowhard.”
They got their drinks before Wilbur asked “You got those addresses for me?”
She slipped him a folded piece of paper. “Just – be careful, okay? You know what he’s capable of.”
He nodded. “So what is the deal with Jessica anyways? How do you two know each other?”
She took a long time on her next sip. “We met when we were younger.” It wasn’t a lie.
“I see. How old are you anyways?”
“Asking a woman her age?” the bartender quipped. “Smooth.”
Wilbur waved dismissively. “Pheh.”
She smiled and folded her arms. “Twenty-five.”
“Twenty-seven,” he answered. “Were you born here?”
“Not sure actually. It’s complicated orphan stuff.”
Wilbur raised his glass. “To dead parents.”
She raised an eyebrow.
“I mean. In their honor, not celebrating them dying.”
They clinked glasses. “You’re one weird ass dude, Wilbur. But you’re alright.”