“Pizza Hut.” I said as I picked up my buzzing phone. I was back inside Bertha on my way to the station. I took a sip of my freshly filled coffee to wash down the antacid tablets I had just chewed.
“Hey, it’s Isaac.” Came the familiar voice on the other end of the line.
“Hey!” I smiled and suppressed the urge to add little man at the end of my greeting. Isaac was almost twenty-one now; no longer the eleven year old kid that my mind conjured each time I spoke with him.
“Well, it looks like I’m in.” He said jumping right to the point.
“Yeah. Didn’t get the scholarship though, Dad’s probably going to want me to have some sort of religious epiphany.”
I laughed. Brigham Young University was probably the hardest college in Utah to get into. Being owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the LDS or Mormons) their tuition had 'member' and 'non-member' price tags. If Isaac got baptized it would probably save his father about two thousand dollars per semester.
Like Isaac, I would not be surprised that Brian Weston would expect his son to sell out his integrity at that price. I would be more surprised to find that Weston hadn’t sold his own for less.
“Does your heart fill with joy at the thought?” I asked.
“Oh it’s about to burst.” He laughed, “I figure he’s the one that really wants me to go there so he can foot the bill. If not, I’m more than happy finishing my Bachelor’s at the U.”
I shook my head. “Well you have my congratulations either way. We’re definitely going to have to celebrate.”
“See, now that’s why I call you about these things, you can read minds. I was thinking I could pick your brain at dinner tonight, Dad’s buying.”
I frowned. Pick my brain? Was Weston trying to get Isaac to drill me for info on the case already? I shook my head realizing that even if Weston tried, Isaac wouldn’t agree to it.
“Actually I’m not sure I’m going to be able to break away. New case just landed on my lap.”
“Unfortunately, it might be. Looks like a homicide in your dad’s neck of the woods.”
“Oh” Isaac paused, “Well…shit.”
There was an uncomfortable silence before Isaac gave a small cough.
“Yeah kiddo?” I said letting the kiddo slip in unnoticed.
“You’ll probably be dealing with my dad directly in the next few days, but could you not tell him about the BYU stuff until we’ve talked?”
I felt a familiar tingling moving up my spine. Something was up.
“Definitely. Don’t want to ruin your moment. Look, Isaac I’ll probably be busy with this case, but I'll have time later this week to get together.” I said. And if not, I’ll make some damn time, I thought.
“Sounds good. Just give me a call when you can.” He said.
We said goodbye and I hung up leaving me alone to think about what exactly this dinner meeting would entail. Legal advice crossed my mind, but Isaac was not the sort of kid who ever really got into trouble. It didn’t seem to fit.
Whatever it is, you’ll find out later, I told myself, best to think about the answers to questions that will not be as forthcoming. For example, who killed Emilio?
I pulled Bertha up to a red light about three blocks from the station. I was thinking about how to word my suspicions to Bishop when I began to feel a familiar rattle.
“O C’mon baby!” I pleaded to the car as I rubbed a caressing hand across the dashboard. “We’re so close!”
Bertha began to shudder and cough as she struggled to stay idle. I yanked the shift into neutral and tried to rev the engine, but with a final sputter, she died on me. I cursed and slammed my hand down on the steering wheel hard enough to send a spike of pain up my arm.
The light turned green and a large silver truck honked from behind me. I flicked on my hazard lights and waved him around. Three more antacids found their way into my belly as I tried unsuccessfully to coax the car back to life.
There was a flash of blue in my rearview mirror as a patrol car pulled up behind me. I placed the palms of my hands into my eyes and tried to rub away the weariness and frustration of the last twelve or so hours.
“Ha, looks like someone finally put the final stake in the ol’ girl’s coffin.” Gavin said putting his elbows on the window and giving me his goofy smile. “Looks like Jared wins the pot on whom her final driver would be. Though, I’m pretty sure he was thinking that her final moments would be spent in neutral as you shoved her off a cliff.”
“You know, I can’t say I disagree with him.” I conceded as I again gently caressed the dashboard. “Hell, it still might be an option.”
He chuckled, “Give her a proper send off, eh?”
“A proper send off would entail melting her down into weighted metal pipes. Then, those pipes would be given to officers to beat the living tar out of whoever kept signing her off as an active vehicle.”
I got out of the car and together, we began huffing and puffing to move the old heap to the side of the road. Two helpful pedestrians ran out to assist in the process and soon I was taking deep, strained breaths leaning against the brown Buick.
Gavin lifted an eyebrow and shook his head slightly.
“Yeah, yeah.” I waved him off, “You just wait twenty years when you’re my age. It won’t be nearly as comical.”
“Shit if I’m still here in twenty years I’ll be driving myself off that cliff.”
I placed a call to the city tow and told them what to do, and where to take Bertha. Then I reached inside and grabbed everything of mine into my arms.
“Need a ride?” Gavin asked pulling up beside me.
“We’re like two and a half blocks from the station. I think I’ll live.”
“That’s debatable.” He grinned.
“Ha Ha! You should be a comedian.” I said and started walking down the sidewalk. Soon I was chewing absently on a few more antacids, sipping at my coffee and wondering how much worse this day could possibly get.