Dwayne groggily answered the phone and rubbed his eyes. The red glowing lines on his clock read 3:07 AM. When he hung up he had an address and a promise of double his usual consulting fee. The money was irrelevant. It was the hint of something supernatural that dragged him out of bed at this ungodly hour. With a phone call and drive through a part of the city he always made a point to avoid he picked up Lisette. Little was good with reading people, possibly the best, but he rather liked to have some backup if anything went physical. Unfortunately Lisette was unable to get ahold of her friend Berkeley. They headed to the junkyard Peterson had told them about.
Gustav had been staring at the metal cube from across the room for hours, sleep evading him. The phone rang and on the other end was the echoey distant voice of an acquaintance of his, maybe you’d call him friend. A fellow puzzle enthusiast. Alan seemed confused and excited. Told him to “look in the oven”. Told him he’d find a marvelous puzzle there.
Quin pretended to be asleep on the couch when he heard Rodney come in but that didn’t stop his brother from shaking him awake and ordering him out to buy a bottle of bourbon. Rodney had some kind of meeting happening tonight and any meeting that happened at 3 in the morning was not the good kind. Usually it involved men with thick accents and guns. Pulling back into the junkyard he found three cars blocking his parking space, one of them a police cruiser. That was bad news.
After a tense standoff with the police officers Rodney begrudgingly let Quin lead them deeper into the junkyard where they investigated a newly abandoned car. 1995 Chevy Impala, nice car, probably someone’s project. There was blood and signs of a struggle, something like blade marks or claws (the thought sent a hot shiver through him) marked the ground and gouged into the steel car door. On the hood was a black spot, still smoking from some unknown burn. Foreign but not unpleasant scents surrounded the scene. Nearby through a tunnel of rubble a dog with gold locket guarded the door of an old oven embedded in the junk heap. The oven was stuffed with stacks of twenty dollar bills. Quin had no idea how much was there but something in the order of thousands, not hundreds. This made him nervous, but then one of the cops, an Officer Peterson, popped the trunk and found it full of illegal drugs. That made him terrified. Whatever Rodney had gotten them into it looked like this was going to be the end. Quin’s head started swimming with plans to flee the city, running through various places he could go and how to stay on the lam. God damn Rodney.
Not much later the group was scattered, half investigating the Impala and half back at the office when a sleek black car pulled up and two men with automatic weapons stepped out. Both emptied their clips at the nearest targets which happened to be Sgt McGrady and Gustav. McGrady went down and Gustav took a bullet into side. Mike and Rodney returned fire and the two gangsters fled. Either they weren’t expecting any resistance or they felt they had made their point.
An hour later the medics had come and gone taxing McGrady to the ER and Manny’s Salvage was infested with a forensic team poking around the Impala. The sky was starting to lighten and the adrenaline had all burned off. There was a brief exchange of ideas and phone numbers and the group split off. They agreed to meet in the afternoon to ask some questions of the wife of Gustav’s friend Alan, at least they should return her dog. A woman named Megan McDonald. Mike just wished the itching pain deep in his urethra would subside, maybe if he did some writing he could edit it away.