I find myself sitting in a comfortably appointed office beneath the street. The couch is rich, Corinthian leather and I nuzzle the irony deeply. The walls are a mannish maroon, possibly owing to Willy’s father’s alma mater status at Texas A&M. The walls sport framed paintings of impressionist flowers that seem unobtrusive notwithstanding the fact that they are conspicuously arty and we are beneath a dumpster.
Willy LaForge sits behind a glowing white desk that is fashioned out of glass brick. Closer study reveals that it has been fitted with LED lights throughout. A slab of polished green marble rests on top of it to keep the glare from distracting him. The result is a pleasant, ambient lighting as well as the overall impression that Willy, himself, is a god nestled in a glowing white fortress. He looks down at me and a faint smile spreads across his face.
“Good afternoon, Ramdas. It’s been a while. I almost wouldn’t recognize you.”
“Good to see you, Willy. This is some office.”
“Thanks. I had it made custom,” he says, as if there were other offices hidden under dumpsters in the backs of alleys scattered throughout the DFW metroplex, but none had seemed quite right to him.
I nod to show I understand how important it is to be comfortable in your secret drug-ring management office.
“I see you got my note.”
“Indeed,” I say. “Took me a moment to realize you weren’t just trying to annoy me.”
He smiles. “So what brings you by?”
“You tell me,” I say.
“I’m in hiding and just wanted someone new to talk to. You?” he says.
“Well, the short version is that I need some space and time to regain my top speedbathing form, have to avenge the murder of my brother Apollo, and I need to raise $75,000 US to buy my wife some designer cheese made from the bacteria of Brooke Shields and the yeast of Helena Bonham Carter—”
He slaps his hand on the desk. “Celebritycheesehuntersdotcom! I know, right?”
“Yes, that’s the one.”
“I was eyeing that cheese myself. They say it’s pleasantly tangy, and I had a monster boner for both of those ladies when I was a kid.” He reflects. “Truthfully, you’ll need more than seventy five. Last I heard the auction price was up to a buck ten.”
“One ten? Damn,” I say. “That’s some expensive cheese.”
“Well, you go try and score a bacteria sample from Brooke Shields and see how far you get. Bitch got CRAZY security..”
“I guess so,” I say.
“So what can I do for the late great Ramdas Bingamin? Surely you would not turn up here wanting to do something for me.”
“I was going to see if you had any work I could do to raise some cash. But one ten is a little more than I had bargained for.”
“Perfection has its price. And word is it is gonna go higher. Some fucker in Japan just dumped a bucket of Bitcoins in the mix, and it’s making a splash in the dark web.”
“Damnit,” I say. “That always drives the price up.”
He nods sagely. “And as far as work goes, now isn’t the best time. You know about all the trouble with the Gartelos Cartel, right?”
“No,” I say.
“Well, let’s just say it is best not to be me or move for me,” he says. “Not for a while, anyway.”
“Is there any way we could steal it?” I ask.
He laughs in his throat. “Sure, sure. It’ll be easy to stealth him. A man with the skills to get that close to both of those celebrities? Forget about it! Better yet, I bet he lives in his mom’s basement in Skokie, and we can just break in through the garage one day while they’re all at work.”
I don’t appreciate his tone, but I need him. “What do you know about him?”
Willy thinks about it for a moment. “He posts under the screen name Hammond Wry, but nothing else really. I could find out for an old friend, I suppose.”
“I’d appreciate that,” I say and mean it.
“You still making porn?” he asks.
“Not in a while,” I say. “After the feds started cracking down, I checked out.”
“Don’t blame you,” he says. “Drugs are easier.”
“Hence I am here.”
“Damn shame, because I DO have some work for you in the adult films industry.”
“How much does it pay?” I ask.
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Editor’s note: Technically it is her vulva, not her vagina.