It was closer to noon than we had hoped when we left the Sheriff’s office. We would have barely enough time to get across town and reach the Pawn n’ Prawn if Reggie was to keep his appointment to fall into a trap. Traffic conditions were less than accommodating.
“Where are all these people going?” I screamed to no one in particular.
“Hey, what did you and Banks talk about?” Reggie asked.
“Oh, ah, not a lot, actually,” I said. “She asked me a lot of things I didn’t know the answers to, and then things kind of spiraled out from the case. Apparently she doesn’t believe that the US ever landed on the moon. I’m not sure how that even came up.”
“Really?” Reggie seemed unaccountably gleeful. I got suspicious.
“Why?” I asked.
“Oh, no reason.” He laughed a little. “We’d better be sure she never finds out about me. She’d think all her conspiracy theories are justified.”
“I don’t see the connection between were-creatures, government conspiracies, and aliens.” I said.
“But she’ll see one,” Reggie said. “When someone is confronted with new and shocking information, it either fits with their worldview or it doesn’t. Her worldview is already so wedded to new age spiritualism and conspiracies that meeting a werecoyote wrapped up with secret societies will just make her feel justified in believing in things she can’t prove.”
“I don’t know if you’re giving her enough credit,” I said.
“We’ll see,” Reggie replied. “Or, actually, I hope we don’t.”
“What did you and Street talk about?” I asked. “You mostly, I suppose. Your past?”
“Not as much as you’d think,” he said.
“Not as much as you’d think,” he said.
“Really? What then?”
“She seemed impressed that I interviewed Salazar’s workers. Since Noah was found in Salazar’s lagoon, they’re beginning to pay more attention there.”
“Did you learn anything useful from the workers? I never asked.”
“Mostly gossip. Apparently Salazar is having an affair with someone. La Mujer Blanca, Muy Amorosa. And, of course, he treats his workers like they belong in the lagoons, makes all sorts of comments about them. Doesn’t speak a word of Spanish, except the colorful ones. Which he mispronounces. But keeps an all immigrant staff and pays less than the federal minimum. Sleeps alone in that big house except when La Mujer Blanca is there. So he has no alibi for either of the disappearances.”
“Actually,” I said, thoughtfully, “no one does.”
“Precisely,” Reggie said, a gleam in his eye. “Pat and Patty contradict each other. Salazar lives alone.”
“Hell, Patty said her husband killed a fox that night,” I said. “Could that have been Noah? Could it have been an accident?”
“I doubt it,” Reggie said. “You die a fox, you stay a fox. If Pat shot Noah, he wasn’t shooting at a fox, he was aiming at a human.”
“Where was Jack the night his son disappeared?” I asked.
“Oh.” Reggie looked worried. “I didn’t ask that.”
“It might be important,” I said.
“Yep, I should make a note,” Reggie said. “Hey, can I borrow a pen, while we’re at this light?”
“I don’t think I’m carrying one.”
“Check your inside coat pocket.”
“But I don’t— this isn’t mine,” I said, staring at the pen I’d discovered in my pocket. “This is one of those pens with the dictaphones inside.”
“Yeah, can you switch that off? You’re wasting battery.”
“How did this get here?”
“I told you I was sorry!”
“You bugged my interview?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“It would have made you jumpy!”
“You’re damned right,” I shouted. “I’m not a hundred percent sure that’s not a crime!”
“Hey, we’re here,” he said. I refocused, and brought the car around. Reggie crawled into the back seat.
“What in hell are you doing?” I asked.
“They think you’re my chauffeur,” he said. “Why give them the right impression?”
“But it’s a two door,” I pointed out.
“Just come open the door for me,” he said, pulling the lever to make the seat in front of him slide forward.
“Yes boss,” I grumbled.
He grinned at me as I opened the door and he scrambled out. He looked hungry. He cautioned me to wait in the car, and walked away. It was two minutes until noon.
Through the Jag’s tinted windows I watched him lean against a corner of the store, occasionally looking around in all directions. He loitered casually for a good ten minutes, and then began to pace up and down. He popped his head into the pawn store. He asked the fry cook some questions at the service window. He looked around for another five minutes or so before slapping his forehead with his hand, and racing back to the car.
“I’m an idiot,” he said, jumping in the passenger seat.
“I’m done arguing,” I said.
“It wasn’t a trap,” Reggie said. “It was a diversion. Drive!”