Big Dick Rides Again
Towards the end of the chapter, there's some dialogue from Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang.
Much as I'd like to pretend that I'd planned that all along, I'm not that egotistical. I'd worked out my plan, such as it was, between the time Dr. London called me and the time I walked into Dr. London's office – 20 minutes, all told. If Lamb was going to look into Felix's death, then I was going to encourage him just enough. And once we saw the proof – I'd known there would be, I trusted Dr. London – that's when everything fell into place. Don Lamb may be lazy, but he's not going to ignore an obvious murder shoved in his face, even if I was the one doing the shoving.
Everything had worked out perfectly. Good.
The rest of the day? Anticlimax. Thank goodness. I got home and Dad wasn't there, leaving me to walk Backup – who was in the mood for a brisk hike – and fix dinner.
Dad got in a bit after 6. “Guess where I've been?”
“The dark side of the moon.”
“No. And there is no dark side. You should know that.”
“The light side of the moon?”
“Nowhere on the moon,” Dad said.
“Well then, I just give up.”
“I've been over at Lynn's, meeting with Woody Goodman and his campaign manager.”
“What campaign?” I asked. “Woody Goodman's running unopposed. Their slogan is 'vote for Goodman, 'cause there's no one else out there'.”
“Yup. The man’s bored out of his skull. Not that he doesn’t like the five figures Goodman’s paying him –“
“Five figures? We’re not going to blow our whole budget on this guy, are we?”
budget?” Dad said amusedly.
“Yup. You’re not shutting me out of this.”
He chuckled. “I’d never planned to, sweetie. No. Woody’s lending him to me. I’m giving him $500 to comply with campaign regulations, but that’s the only money I’m giving him.”
“Any ideas from the guy – and really, I should know his name.”
“His name’s Archie Boudreau,” Dad said. “You’ll get a chance to meet him later this week. Tuesday night at 8 we’re having a meeting at Lynn’s. Boudreau wants you there.”
“Really?” I asked. It was one thing to expect Dad to informally consult me, and another thing entirely to expect a pro to want to meet with me officially.
“Yup. You won’t believe this, but he liked your billboard idea.”
“Why wouldn’t I believe that? It was a good idea!” Okay, I hadn’t thought it was the kind of idea a professional political consultant would like, but I’d still thought it was a good way to stick the knife into Donnie again.
“That it was,” Dad said. “And that’s why. He actually wants to hear what you have to say – figures you might be able to get young people to vote for me.”
“He does realize I’m too young to vote, right? And so is pretty much everyone in my class?” A few of them weren’t, of course, but in general, there are very few 18-year-olds in high school when election day rolled around.
“You’re close enough, sweetie.”
One more thing hit me: “Tuesday night? Aren’t we usually busy Tuesday night around 8?”
Dad asked what I’d done with my afternoon; I told him I’d spent most of it with Meg, and the rest plotting the overthrow of an evil overlord.
I don’t know why he didn’t believe me; it’s not like that’s a lie, or anything.
I gave Meg a quick call before dinner; she was fine, and she thanked me for my homework help, and didn’t bring up Peter and Marcos at all. A sure sign at least one of her parents was listening in.
After Dad and I ate, I went back to my room and called Weevil. I’d tried earlier, of course, to let him know that Lamb was also on the case, but he hadn’t answered.
“Yo, V,” he said when he picked up. “Got your call. Haven’t had the chance to get back. What’s up?” So I explained to him what had happened that afternoon. As I expected, he wasn’t thrilled. “Lamb’s in. That ain’t good.”
I didn’t think he’d be interested in my Machiavellian manipulations, so I simply said, “Dr. London and I were with him the entire time. He sounds like he’s taking it seriously. Well, for him, anyway.”
“You know how he is. He saw that the guy who came in looked Latino, so he’ll just shake down the PCH’ers and pick the one who looks most like the killer.”
“Does the description fit anyone on the Red Diamonds?” I asked.
“They’re a mixed crew. Mostly Anglo, but they got a few folks who ain’t. They’re regional; there ain’t enough of them out where they base to be too choosy.”
“Lamb knows I’m looking over his shoulder.”
Scornfully, Weevil said, “Yeah. Like that’s ever stopped him before.”
“Look, I don’t have high hopes for him either. The man’s an incompetent, lazy, grudge-holding jackass. But look at it this way: Either he gets it right, in which case they’ll have caught the bastard who killed Felix, or he gets it wrong, and he’ll look like an even bigger jerk, publicly, than he already does, and then I’ll swoop in and solve the crime. Win-win.”
“That sure you’re going to solve it? This ain’t something you should be cracking jokes about, V.”
Why does everyone think I’m joking? “Yes, I’m sure. And as far as taking this seriously goes, do you think I would have spent an hour inside a small room with Don Lamb if I wasn’t sure? I wouldn’t spend five minutes in a gymnasium with the man if it wasn’t for a damn good reason.” Then, slightly changing the subject, I said, “Any news from the Red Diamonds?”
“Yeah, they want to have a clambake,” he said sarcastically. “Bring your board and your suit.”
“That’s a no.”
“That’s a hell, no. They ain’t interested in any conversation I got anything to do with.”
Damn. “So they’d rather you come gunning for them?”
“Guess so. Maybe they think I ain’t going to be fair about it. Truth be told, they got no reason to believe me.”
“It’s either me or Lamb,” I said. “Try one more time. Hell, give them my number and tell them to call me directly.”
“You ain’t doing this on your own,” Weevil said, like that was an established fact or something.
“How am I supposed to figure out what happened, then?” I said. “Because you sure as hell know I’m not getting the full story from your boys, there aren’t any security cameras, I’m not Batman to beat the answer out of them, and I’m not a time traveler so that I can go back and look for myself. You want me to to guess, or you want me to know?”
“And if I said fine, take your fee, we’re done?” Weevil said.
Overprotectiveness. Everyone’s selling. But who’s buying?
“I’d keep investigating,” I said. “You know that. If nothing else, someone has to keep Lamb in line.”
“Shit. I believe you.” An audible sigh from the other end of the phone. “How about this, then? We go talk to the bartender.”
“He spent the entire fight hiding behind the bar.”
“Yeah, that’s what he says, ‘cause he’s afraid someone’ll kill him if he says he saw something, because then maybe he’ll have to talk to the cops,” Weevil said. “That a good enough compromise for you?”
I suppose it couldn’t hurt. It would still be dangerous, but probably less so than actually trying to sneak into wherever the Red Diamonds were hanging out.
Unless, of course, they were hanging out there that night, in which case I was screwed. I’d have to make sure Mr. Taser was fully charged, just in case.
“When does this place open?” I asked.
“’round 4. Why?”
“Good. Then we’ll head there right after school tomorrow and be there when they open. That way we’re less likely to catch anyone else hanging around. Last thing we want is a handicap match, you and me vs. every Red Diamond there is.”
Weevil said, “Didn’t realize you were a wrestling fan.”
“I am a woman of mystery,” I said, well, mysteriously.
A laugh. “That you are. See you tomorrow after school, V.”
And that was about it on excitement for the weekend. But I’d say that’s enough, wouldn’t you?
Next day, it was time for fun, if by fun you mean “extracurricular activities.” Apparently my newspaper work wasn’t quite enough, and it had been suggested that I might want to “beef up my resume.”
Note to self: Another reason to try to get the Kane scholarship, so I could stop doing things like this pretty much just for the exercise.
Alas, that was in the future, and it was assuming that the Kanes lived up to their word, instead of the idea of handing me, Veronica Mars, a scholarship being more than they could bear. So here I was, during “free” period, sitting in a classroom with other people in the same boat: College applications due in three months, scholarship applications in six. Since most of my extra-curricular activities cannot be divulged under state law, that leaves me with this. As of now, I'm a Future Business Leader of America.
Apparently Mr. Pope was waiting for me to show up, because he started the class the second I sat down, next to Logan, with Duncan on the other side. He said, “I''d like to begin our local profile series by introducing the CEO of Casablancas Enterprises, Mr. H. Richard Casablancas.”
Terrific. Big Dick Casablancas.
He was just as thrilled to see me, because as Mr. Pope was saying, “All right, Mr. Casablancas,” Big Dick said, “What's she
No points if you think the “she” was anyone but me. From the tone in his voice, it was like I was a rapist, or something.
No, wait. That was his son.
In any event, considering that this was the man who'd raised an asshole, in Dick, and a monster, in Cassidy, I felt absolutely no obligation to be nice to him. “She's a Future Business Leader of America, Mr. Casablancas. I'm bright-eyed, bushy tailed, and eager to learn.” Butter, in my mouth, would not melt.
“You're not going to learn a damn thing from me,” he said. “Look, Pope. Either she goes or I do.”
Okay. This? Not quite what I'd expected today.
But then,when are things ever?