Sunday, September 13, 2015
DRAGONFLY: PART FIVE
By Daniel Skye
PART FIVE: THE OUTSIDER
Tuesday, November 4th, 2008.
When Richie Carter woke that morning, the first thing he tasted was whiskey and cigarettes. His breath reeked like a pub ashtray. He rolled over in bed and found the culprit, an empty bottle of Maker’s Mark.
He got out of bed and tried to shake it off. Bleary eyed and still a little drunk from the night before, he stumbled around as he tried to pull his cell phone from his pocket. It was one of those cheap prepaid phones you can buy in convenience stores and put minutes on. Drug dealers refer to them as burners. Richie Carter refers to it as being poor.
He dialed his brother’s number and Anthony picked up after two rings.
“You got something for me?” Anthony asked, not even wasting time with a hello.
“Actually, I need you to get something for me. I need any and all information you have on Nico Cirico and Mac Wilson.”
“Are we talking suspects?”
“Potential suspects. Just get me what you can please, including an address on Wilson, if you can.”
“What about Nico Cirico?”
“Don’t need his address. Nico is dead. Drug overdose. His brother, Dominic, came to my office when he heard I was asking questions about his brother. But information on Nico could lead me to others. I also need anything you can find on a girl named Nadia Sanborn. She…I mean, I think she might be the girl on the tape. But I can’t be certain. Not yet at least.”
“Christ on a cracker,” Anthony said. “This is big. Sit tight and I’ll get you what you need.”
“I’m afraid I can’t sit tight. I’m heading out to Fairview today.”
“To look for Mac Wilson. I think that’s where he might be. Just try and get me an address and in the meantime, let me do my thing.”
Zack Garton stopped in late at Joker’s Pub. He didn’t acknowledge the late crowd that had gathered for one last beer or game of pool. He didn’t approach the bar or order a drink. And he made sure to avoid eye contact with the bartender or any of the bar flies as he walked casually to the back.
He knocked on the office door several times before Meeks reluctantly answered and Garton forced his way in. Closing and locking the door behind him, Zack grabbed Meeks by the throat and tossed him over his desk.
Someone had put a few quarters in the internet jukebox and the music of The Rolling Stones drowned out any commotion that could be heard from the office. Garton walked around the desk and clasped his catcher’s mitt sized hand around Fenton’s throat, slamming him against the wall and delivering several crushing fists to his ribs. Then he pressed his trusty 9mm Luger to Fenton’s temple and cocked back the hammer with his thumb.
“Kirk Warwick,” was all Garton said at first. Then he added, “Tell me everything you know about him and maybe I’ll let you live.”
“I never heard of him, pal,” Meeks said, catching his breath. “I swear.”
“That’s not what I heard. I understand you and Warwick had an arrangement of sorts. What was it?”
“Warwick was a man just like any other. He had needs and desires. So I helped him fulfill those desires.”
“You’d get girls for Warwick?”
“Yes. Because of his relationship with the church, we had to keep it quiet.”
“Is that all?”
“He used to hang around with two younger guys. They had a nickname for him. Called him The Outsider.”
“Who were they?”
“Mac Wilson and Nico Cirico.”
“Where can I find them?”
“Nico is dead. Drug overdose. Mac is out in Fairview, I think. But I can’t be sure. Last I heard, he was in jail. But he’s probably out by now.”
“What did Warwick do?”
“What do you mean? You mean with the girls?”
“No. He must’ve done something terribly wrong at one point in his life. The man fears hell more than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s not just an act either. And I don’t think it has anything to do with his preacher gimmick. So whatever he did, it must’ve been bad.”
“I don’t know, man. I swear. I just scored him girls. That’s it. Ask Mac if you can find him. That’s how I met Warwick. Through Mac and Nico.”
“I will,” Garton assured him. “And if Mac tells me a different story, I’ll be back to collect your heart.”
It took several cups of coffee for Richie Carter to sober up before he hit the road. His car, a gray 1987 Oldsmobile, smoked and the engine squealed and shrieked whenever he fired it up. But it still ran. The engine was in such bad shape that when the car was motionless, it would vibrate. Kids would pull up alongside him at red lights, point and snicker.
But today, the ridicule didn’t faze him one bit. He was a man on a mission. He didn’t know how he was going to find Mac Wilson when he arrived in Fairview. He didn’t even know if Mac was in Fairview to begin with. But it was a start. And judging by what he had heard of Mac, this guy wasn’t the type to frequent five star establishments. So his plan was to check some of the local dive bars and seedier establishments and ask around.
Somebody was bound to know something about Mac. If he had a past in Fairview, a criminal record, people would probably be familiar with the name.
First things first, Richie thought as he saw signs for Fairview. You need to find a place to hang your hat for the night.
Fairview was a small Long Island fishing community with a rapidly declining population. As the state continued to change laws, add regulations, and raise prices for fishing licenses, many of the local fishermen had hauled up their anchors and set sail elsewhere.
Richie passed an independent gas station, a few bars, a bait and tackle shop, an abandoned strip mall, and a vacant hotel with a glowing neon sign that advertised low rates and cable TV. Richie was disappointed with the lack of a pool in their advertisement, but he supposed the place would do for the night.
He pulled the Oldsmobile into the empty lot of the White Lodge Hotel. The name reminded him of a show he had watched as a teenager. He couldn’t recall the name, but the main character was this clairvoyant detective who used to rave about coffee and cherry pie like it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
The character, with his upbeat attitude and squeaky clean image, reminded him of his brother, Anthony. He was surprised that Anthony hadn’t gotten back to him yet, and so he phoned him from the parking lot.
“Hey, broski,” Anthony answered after two rings.
“Hey yourself,” Richie said. “What’s taking so long?”
“Sorry, been meaning to get back to you. It’s just been a zoo down here at the station. You got a pen and paper?”
“Yeah, go ahead,” Richie said, taking out his notepad and a pen.
“Nico and Dominic were both born and raised in Dorchester. Mac Wilson’s real name is Charles. He was born and raised in Fairview. Did some time up in Riverhead for solicitation and battery. He and Nico were up there around the same time. Nico got popped for breaking and entering. He was robbing to support his drug habits. Nico is deceased, but you already know that. And Mac, or Charles I should say, got out of jail a while ago.
The word on the street is he settled back down in Fairview. He also has a boat out there somewhere. Or he did at least. Don’t have a name for the boat though. No address for Charles Wilson either. He’s not on parole so he doesn’t have to check in with his parole officer. Last time he saw his P.O. he was living in a halfway house. We checked it out and he’s not there anymore. And Nico and Mac have no connections that I’m aware of outside of Fenton Meeks.”
“What about Nadia Sanborn?”
“Nothing on the girl. No criminal record, no family history, not even dental records. Whoever she was, someone knew she wouldn’t be missed, that her disappearance wouldn’t bring about many questions or leave a trail.”
“Thanks, Anthony. I’ll let you know what I find out here. I’m checking into the White Lodge Hotel as we speak.”
“Oh, man. That place is a dump.”
“I know. It’s perfect for me. Talk to you later.”
Richie hung up the phone and walked into the front office. The clerk was a young man in a Pink Floyd T-shirt. His bloodshot eyes, sticky fingers, and malformed grin all indicted that he was stoned. Richie could smell it on his clothes.
He approached the counter and asked, “How much for a room?”
“How long you plan on staying?” the clerk asked in a daze.
“Just the night,” Richie answered.
“That’ll be sixty bucks,” the clerk said, dragging his words.
Richie opened his wallet and dropped three twenties on the counter. The clerk took the cash and gave Richie a key in exchange. With all those plastic sliding cards hotels have nowadays, Richie thought the key was a nice tough. It felt nostalgic. He accepted the key and the clerk told him it was room four.
“I gave you the suite,” the clerk grinned. “We had a fire here not too long ago. It was a meth lab explosion. All the rooms had to be redone and painted again. Room four is the only one that doesn’t smell like paint or chemicals.”
“Why thanks,” Richie nodded.
“Yeah, it actually smells like cat piss. Don’t know why. We’ve tried everything to get the scent out. It’s the strangest thing.”
“Wonderful,” Richie rolled his eyes. “Before I retire to the litter box suite, I have a couple of questions I need to ask you.”
“I have a question too…Are you a cop?”
“I’m not a cop. I’m a private detective.” He almost slipped and said private dick instead and silently cursed Anthony in his head. “And I’m working a case that has no relation to you. Have you ever heard of Mac Wilson? His real name is Charles.”
“Yeah I’ve heard of him. Never hung out with the guy or anything. Mac was a rebel, always getting into trouble, starting fights. I heard a lot of stories about him from my brother.”
“Your brother knew him?”
“He knew of him.”
“What about Nadia Sanborn? That name mean anything to you?”
The clerk chuckled. “Oh yeah, I remember Nadia. She was the old town bicycle, if you will. Hell, everyone had a turn with her. Even me.”
“Uh huh,” Richie said, unimpressed. “Where can I find her?”
“Beats me. She left Fairview a while back. Haven’t heard her name uttered since then Not until this moment.”
“Was Nadia turning tricks?”
“Nah, she just couldn’t stick with one guy. That was her thing. She never stayed with one guy for too long.”
“Thanks for the help,” Richie said and dropped another twenty on the counter. “Buy yourself a gram.”
As Richie left the front office and walked to room four, he remembered the name of the show this place reminded him of. “Twin Peaks,” he whispered.
Richie dropped his bag off in the room and got settled in. Then he hit the town, visiting a few of the local bars he had passed on the way in. Everyone he talked with seemed to know the name Mac Wilson, but they had little to share about him and no one claimed to know him personally. Until he stopped in at the bait and tackle shop as they were closing up.
The owner knew Mac, said he used to come in to buy bait. Anthony said Mac owned a boat, and the owner confirmed that Mac had, or used to have, a houseboat docked at Bennett’s Marina. He even knew the name of the boat: The 4-Play.
Yeah, sounds like Mac to me, Richie thought as he thanked the owner for his time. It was getting late and Richie figured he could stake Bennett’s Marina out in the morning. Better to do it in daylight. So he left the bait and tackle shop and returned to the hotel.
When he turned the key in the door and opened it, he saw a lone shadow cast over the floor. Someone was sitting on the edge of bed, waiting for him to enter.
As a private detective, Richie was permitted to carry a firearm. He drew his pistol when he saw the shadow of the gun and kicked the door open. He marched in, Colt. 45 aimed towards the bed, his finger wrapped around the trigger.
It was the desk clerk, clutching a semi-automatic pistol. His Pink Floyd shirt was stained from profuse sweating. His hands were trembling. Richie assessed the kid had never fired a gun before in his life. He wasn’t even accustomed to the weight. He had to use both hands just to hold the thing up.
Richie let the silence fill the room. He stood his ground, finger still on the trigger, but he didn’t make a move.
Neither did the clerk, unless you count his involuntary tremors. His didn’t even have his finger around the trigger, but it was close enough. Too close for comfort.
“Easy, kid,” Richie finally broke a long and bitter silence. “You don’t want to do this. I can see it in your eyes. Somebody put you up to this. Was it Mac? Fenton Meeks?”
“I can’t turn back,” the clerk said. “It’s too late.”
The clerk’s index finger reached the trigger just as Richie fired two shots. One to the chest, one to the face. The hotel was deserted and nobody had heard the shots.
Richie examined the semi-automatic pistol as best as he could without touching it. He noticed the serial number had been filed off. He had a feeling if the cops dusted it for prints, they’d all belong to the clerk. They wouldn’t find an additional set of prints. Whoever set this up, they made sure to cover their tracks.
Richie fished the clerk’s wallet from his pocket and checked his ID. Jacob Price.
Richie had two options; cover his own tracks and run, or call it in to his brother. It was self-defense after all. Fairview was still a part of Dorchester County and fell under its jurisdiction.
So he called it in.
Anthony made the drive down to Fairview to meet with the local police and speak on Richie’s behalf. The cops didn’t charge him with anything. They wrote it off as a clear cut case of self-defense.
In the parking lot, Richie asked Anthony to run Jacob Price’s name when he got back home. “He knew Nadia Sanborn,” Richie added. “He might have been one of the four men on that tape. But I seriously doubt it. You should have seen the fear in his eyes. I don’t think he ever fired a gun before in his life. Someone paid him off and gave him the gun.”
“Mac Wilson, maybe. He’s out here. Has a boat docked at Bennett’s Marina. The 4-Play.”
“That mother fudger,” Anthony said. He refused to curse other than when he referred to Richie as a private dick, so he used substitutes. “I got to call this one in.”
“No, hold off on that. Let me check it out first.”
“After everything that’s happened tonight?”
“I can take care of myself. Trust me on this one. It’ll be better if I go alone. A bunch of cops all swarming in at once is a dead giveaway. And if he put Jacob Price up to this, that’s what he’ll be expecting when he hears the news about Price’s death. He won’t be expecting me to come alone.”
“Alright, if that’s how you want to play this out, I’ll trust you. But watch your back.”
“Hey, after tonight’s episode, what’s the worst that could happen?”
Zack Garton knew something Richie Carter didn’t know. He knew the secret identity of The Outsider. Kirk Warwick. A dying preacher with a soiled, checkered past. And a man who unnerved the usually cool and collected Garton to no end.
Before he did the job Warwick had paid him to do, he was going to find out everything there was to know about the old man. Starting with Mac Wilson.
It was around midnight when his headlights beamed off a road sign that welcomed him to the town of Fairview.
To be continued…