THE DRIVE BACK to the House of the Moon gave me some time to think. I wasn’t in desperate need of the money, so I could hold on to the stones for a while and simply wait it out. I could keep them in my hidey-hole until kingdom come. Maybe help Ron and Juanita solve their murder. So far, so easy. The thing that worried me the most was the fact that Thomas ‘The Fence’ Cornelius III and his minions had me pegged for the crime and thought that I had stolen something special. He was turning the heat on, trying to flush me out. This was generally the first stage, blocking all traffic. But even Thomas would need to trade again soon or he would jeopardize his own network. His next step would be to resume trading but block me from it. He had the power to do that, for sure. If I sat still for a while longer, his patience would eventually run out completely and he would start getting physical, forget the old relationship we had. Better not think of that.
It had to be something big that Thomas was after; otherwise, he wouldn’t risk his network at all. But I still didn’t get it. The diamonds I nicked were a simple commodity, available in any jewelry store around the world, in any diamond dealership, from any decent diamond trader.
I parked in front of my parent’s house and got out, locking the car. I hadn’t noticed the brownish Oldsmobile parked on the other side of the street. My eyes registered the movement and I looked over to see Billy Bounce, the dumb executor, walking over to me, holding something furry in his giant hands. This time he was alone. The thin slimy man from yesterday’s encounter was nowhere to be seen.
Billy’s voice was a mean mumble, as if he had problems opening his mouth properly or his brains couldn’t coordinate the muscles necessary to form the words. “Miss Moo’shn.” Him being polite somehow didn’t make a difference.
I safely retreated behind the garden door of the House of the Moon, as if it gave any protection against a brute like Billy. I slightly regretted being a non-carrying pacifist.
He approached the garden door. “Me boss want s’mth’g you… got.”
I stared at the small cat in his hands purring away happily, his big index finger stroking it between the ears.
“Whoever your boss is, tell your boss that I don’t have what he wants.” Then I got a sudden inspiration and added, “The Fence should look at Andrew Altward a little more closely. He has something to hide.” My, what a feeble attempt to confuse the opposition, Calendar girl.
Billy looked at me with an almost sad expression; I wasn’t sure whether anything that I said registered in his pea-sized brain. If in doubt, repeat. “Excuse me, Miss. Me boss wants something you got. You know what you got.”
“Then tell your boss to forget it or come in person.” More courage delivered than felt.
Billy took the cat in two hands and twisted its neck until it broke with an audible crunch, the cat not even beginning the meow it had breathed in to make. He held out the quivering dead body in his open palms to emphasize his message.
Since I needed all my oxygen not to faint in the garden, I didn’t have time to fill my lungs with enough air to scream. The killing of the cat had been delivered so matter-of-factly; I just stood there rooted to the ground, not comprehending the situation.
Billy had already turned and walked across the street. He passed the neighbors trash can, pulled open the lid and threw in the dead cat. He got in behind the wheel of the Oldsmobile and started the car.
I heard the front door opening and my father calling out, “Calendar, is that you?”
I couldn’t answer, just nodded. Dad stepped out of the kitchen, went down the small front garden and put an arm around me; I held his big bear paw and pulled him close. We looked after the Oldsmobile until it was turning at a corner further down the hill, finally out of sight.
“Come on in,” Dad said without further comment or inquiry. I walked by his side, weak kneed.