A goddamn dress!
What the hell does Mendrick think he's doing?! And if that wasn't bad enough, I now have to act like he's my goddamn boyfriend. And interrogate Mrs Bell. Lovely.
If you laugh I will kill you.
I'm probably going to kill Mendrick anyway, but (and don't get this the wrong way) it's not so bad. Apart from the horrible feeling of being horrendously impractical. What the hell do I do if someone gets out a machine gun? Just hope my dress will dazzle him into submitting?
Not that it's very likely anyone here has a machine gun up their shirt. But it pays to be prepared.
Mendrick stared at me for about three days before he seemed to get the idea that I wouldn't fall to pieces if he looked away. I hope he's got a goddamn plan. If not I'm going to impale him on something sharp.
Oh! There she is!
Mrs. Bell comes round the corner, peers around for a bit, and then makes straight for our table. Oh shit. She's recognised me. I turn my face into Mendrick's shoulder. If we get out of this one I'm going to throw him all the way to Alabama. No joke.
She sits down opposite us, and gets straight to the point. You've gotta hand it to her - she doesn't shilly shally about.
'Did you leave this note on my door?' she asks, raising a little piece of paper. What? What piece of paper? Does Mendrick know about this paper?
'That's me. My name's Danny, and this is my...'
Why is he pausing? What's going on? Why didn't he goddamn tell me any of this before he got me dressed up in a goddamn monkey suit?!
Thank God. I thought he was gonna say something horrendous.
'Honey-' Urgh! Honey?! Couldn't he think of anything less cringe-worthy?! If I ever get called honey again, I'll punch someone.
'-I'm doing all the talking. You tell the nice lady your name.' Nice lady. Yup. Makes me sound like a three-year-old. Thanks, Mendrick. You're building yourself up a huge list of things I'm gonna do to you. Most of them include impaling you, roasting you over a spit, boiling you in oil, or just the old-fashioned bash your head in. I glare at him, before turning to Mrs Bell.
'Hey, I'm Cissy.'
Cringe cringe cringe cringe cringe. Urgh! If Mendrick ever breaths a word of this... ! Thank God he doesn't know it's my actual real goddamn name. My parents were mentally unstable, obviously. No one else would call their child 'Cissy'.
'What is this?' Mrs Bell asks, disgust and shock beginning to show on her face. 'You said something about my husband's death...'
Oho, so that's what the letter was about!
'I'm so sorry for your loss, Mrs Bell,' I say, trying to keep my cool. 'But before we tell you anything, you must promise that you will help us in return. Do we have a deal?'
Mrs Bell nodded timidly.
Thank God! 'Thank you, Mrs Bell. Now, does the name Exredge mean anything to you?'
She shakes her head. Dammit! She genuinely knows nothing about this, I can tell. So what if my story's wrong?
'Okay, can you tell us anything about your husband? Anything at all. What happened the day he died? The day before? How was he behaving?'
She looks coldly at me. 'I'm sorry. I don't understand. I was told you had information for me.'
I nod. Here's for the killer. Rob turned out to be much, much more helpful that I could ever have believed. And here I am in a goddamn dress, explaining it to a little woman.
'Yes, we do, Mrs Bell. We're just trying to work out if the information we have is true. I don't want to tell you something that's wrong, that's all.'
Mendrick's looking at me with a mixture of awe, annoyance and complete and utter bewilderment. I give him a look that says 'just goddamn shut up'. I think he gets it.
'Did he have any debts? A drinking habit? Gambling?'
'No! Nothing like that. But...'
'But what, Mrs Bell?'
'He never talked about money. I didn't really see him very much in those days, because he had the night shift at the zoo, and I work full-time as a secretary.'
My ears prick up. 'Can I ask where you work?'
'Oh - Laurel Bean &Co. LBC. The publishers?'
I nod, noting it down in my brain. A publisher? Where the hell does that fit in? 'Anyway...'
'Oh yes. So I didn't see him all that much. But we're usually together for about two hours before he has to leave for work. But recently he'd got into golf. He took me to see the golf course one weekend, but it was so boring I never went again. He spent his whole life there. I was really pleased for him - he's always lived for his work, and I said it wasn't healthy and all that.'
'What's the golf club called, Mrs Bell?'
'I can't remember. I'm sorry.' Her voice hardens. 'Now will you please tell me what information you have about my husband?'
I don't look at Mendrick. I know he's about to speak - he doesn't actually have any information. I do. I know. I heard what Rob told me. I looked up into the records of every dubious company I've ever been involved in. And it all points one way.
'Mrs Bell. Your husband was in debt to the sum of $78,000 to a number of different companies.'
'Why didn't you tell me?'
'I only just goddamn found out!' Mendrick's on the rampage all right. Here we are in his office, after official closing times, and he's still trying to get it all out of me.
'And who the hell is Exredge?'
I sigh. 'Exredge is an umbrella company that covers all the other businesses that Bell was indebted to. It's also called X-Rej, but that's the under-the-radar business that deals with the illegal side of things.'
His brow furrows. 'How illegal?'
'I dunno! I'm not a goddamn genius! All I know is that there's probably drugs, fraud, maybe smuggling, murder - I dunno!'
'And what about Lane?'
'Uh, well I think Lane was business consultant to Exredge. But he's in on it, I'm sure. I don't know how Bell got involved with him or Exredge. But I do know that X-Rej is out to kill me. So now can I get out of this goddamn dress?!'