The Big Dayz
BRRRRNNNGG BRRRRNNG! BRRNNG! BRRNNG!
I didn't know who was calling me at 9am but I knew it wasn't Mamma telling me the pancakes were pilling up. Mamma died before I learnt the two step and I never did like pancakes anyhow.
"Yeah waddya want?"
" Mr Palisade? This is Katy at Dayz Recruitment we recently received your CV and we have a temporary opening with Islington Council we think might be suitable."
She sounded young maybe 20 or 22, but they all did nowadays. I pictured a blonde maybees 5 '3, 12O pounds, tortoiseshell glasses sliding down a button nose...
"Mr Palisade...Mr Palisade?”
"Yeah I heard yer, no need to wake the zookeeper.”
" Ok Mr Palisade Could you come in tomorrow at 9am for an informal chat?"
" I'll be there lady, informal chats are my milk and sugar, and my first name’s Sam by the ways or if that’s no good call me sleuth, or schamus or gumshoe like the boys down the Yard."
" Err, okay but its says on Terry on your ..."
I hung up and searched for my Malboros, looked like I picked the wrong week to give up smoking.
I’d had nuthin in two weeks, just a handful a crumpled c’s and some wrong numbers, been hitting bum notes since and the Excel Admin case dried up. I was outta leads, fast running low on juice, and the cheesebox looked like a anteaters napsack; there was only so many beans a rattlesnake could count before the priest got his kinder suprise. It could turn out to be nuthin but in my line of work nuthin was mostly all I had.
I dressed, grabbed the keys to the Oldsmobile and stepped outside. The heat hit me like a jealous lover. It was hot, so hot even the stray dogs were singing the blues and the cats were playing hooky. I felt like a baboon on stilts lookin for apple sauce, only the stilts were made of muesli and I didn't eat apples. I felt like a central park pretzel vendor whos gone one too many with the de-salter; like some pachucho chicken plucker without a dime for the shoeshine man. I slipped the keys into the olds hoping she’d purr for poppa one last time.
I found a diner and clocked the waitress, she gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket, a smile like the broken cadillac that you still aint paid for. I ordered some ham and eggs. She wasn't much of a cook but I guess thats why god gave us TV dinners. The day was limping by like a racoon after a syrup fight. I had some time to kill, but it seemed maybe time had some Sam Palisades to kill too. I found a bar and ordered a bourbon and then another. I caught a look from one of the steady girls at the end of the bar, the kinda look to make a bishop kick a bucket through a butchers window. This broad was a pure cold killer, and it looked like I was heading for an early grave. She reminded me of Peggy Mingles before she got the cowpoke from the Kowolski twins. I was usually working a thing or two with some dame or another but recently it seemed they were working me.
I figured it about time I did some digging on this Dayz gig, so I took a look around and clocked some familiar looking douchebag seeming about as inconspicuous as choirboy wearing the parsons slippers; kinda reminded me of Jimmy Pickles when he used to run battenburgs outta Waitroise in the 80's. I took out my wallet and slipped a crisp fin onto the bar.
" Hey mac, seen much of those Peach Tree girls? They still doing outa-town favours for the Kronkites?"
The guy gave me a look like a paving slab on a rainy maunday tuesday. I ordered a bourbon and one for Coco the clown here. I pushed the fin a little closer.
" You still got that anklesock hustle down Lazonby bay? Seen much of Nelson Gravy over at Sandcastle City?
"What fuck you talkin man, fuck off"
I could see this cat didn't dance, but I’d met one just like him back in the Twin Cities and lets just say he don't eat Toblerone no more.
" I seen yer mac, you're a stringplucker, well why don't you play me a little number called 'Dayz recruitment agency' if you catch my glissando."
"I tell you fuck off, you talking bullshit... I'm Russian this is a Russian bar, you fuck off"
" Oh Russian! Sure, you're all Russian that figures, HEY RUSKIES! YEAH! ALL YOU RUSKIES, THATS RIGHT! HOWS MOSCOW THIS TIME A YEAR? YOU KNOW MOSCOW!!! THE FUCKING KREMLIN YOU DUMB FUCKS!!!"
Last thing I felt was the cold floor on my temple, I came too on the sidewalk, my head pounding like an Eisenhower high hat. I got myself together piece by piece and fell into the Olds.
The phone woke me around 10.am it was one of the Dayz girls giving me a nickle ribbing, so I made my way out like a prizefighter about to take one more dive.
The office reminded me of Caninos flophouse but withouth all the hatracks. Katy was sitting at large desk her legs crossed high over sheer silk stockings, her hot black eyes gave me a look that was supposed to make me roll over with four paws in the air, but my ribs was hurting too much to turn tricks.
" I was expecting you at nine Ter...er Sam"
" Yeah I was expecting myself at nine too, only I ran into one of your goons, and I aint quite worked out how to bribe the clock, but I'm working on it"
"Oh you've already seen one of my colleagues?"
" I wouldn't say I saw much of him but I know he doesn’t wear slip ons"
"Err ok Sam take a seat. What are you like with Access and Confirm packages?"
" Well dollface its like Mozart, you know Mozart? Too easy for beginners too difficult for the virtuoso, if you catch my drift."
" Riiight, so what skills would you say you had, its just that this booking requires..."
" Well sugar I'm like that cat on the hot tin roof... Just trying to stay on kid... just trying to stay on."
"I see, well I think we'll leave this booking for now, but I 've got something quite central tomorrow that might be more suitable, its a packing job at a clothing wharehouse in Victoria. Do you mind packing?"
I struck a match of my thumbnail, and for once it lit, I took a long drag and let it out.
"Sam you can't.."
"Sam you can't.."
"Sugarcake if you’re paying I'm packing, and if I'm packing someones gonna end up paying."
I hit the sidewalk, hitched up my collar and turned into a alley that looked like my kind of hole, dark with something more than just shadows, piles of wine bottles filled with all the cities dumped sorrows. I could feel the weight of a hundred stale kisses on my lips. I needed a drink.
I ordered a scotch and found a corner where I could lay low and try to find some missing pieces. The bar girl kept 'em coming, all the while giving me looks that from where I came from meant political suicide. The girl was built to last - magna cum laudae –the kinda redhead that makes a grown man blush like a widow with a mouthful of pastry. Just as I was about to buy her a hootch and play her a tune I saw Katy from Dayz out the corner of my eye walking past in a real hurry. I thought I’d better start to earn my stripes, so I tailed her for a block or two.
She got on the 38 to Victoria, so I did likewise. I figured she tailed me to the bar and wanted me to follow, trying to tell me something. Things were starting to make sense. The wharehouse in Victoria, the russian goon, it seemed this case was piecing itself together like a shattered vase in a house of mirrors, all I had to do was find the glue, and the other pieces of the vase. I didn’t know much about pottery but something told me I was gonna learn, and learn fast.
To be continued ...