“Hi Sas, quiet night again.”
“Nick, I heard you were in hospital?”
“I got out.”
“Then the drinks on the house – what’ll it be?”
“Usual – like I said, quiet night.”
“You don’t even have the two heavies in the corner to make sure I hit my cues tonight do you?”
He stopped pouring and turned around to look at me.
“I don’t know what you mean?”
“Sure you don’t – just like you don’t know anything about this.”
I pulled the photograph out of my pocket and turned it around so that he could get a good look at it.
“You know Sas, for someone who’s been retired for as long as you you’ve kept your hand in when it comes to photographic forgeries.”
He bolted for the phone, it hurt me but I got there first and pulled it out of the wall.
“Thing is, you should have made sure she knew where it was taken – a day like this you don’t forget – thing I can’t work out is which one of them paid you?”
“Now look Nick, it was just business, you know how it is…”
“Sure I do – business – bit like this is all business?”
I gestured towards the bottles on the back of the bar.
“Thing about business is that you can become so reliant on the little things can’t you?”
I tipped one of the bottles off centre, its contents crashed against the floor.
“Now Nick, be reasonable!”
“Reasonable? Reasonable! You make sure that two gorillas are able to use me as a punch bag – I should have figured out that something was wrong from how fast they found the door – and are probably working for the woman who just shot me, don’t talk to me about reasonable!”
I took and armful of bottles in my sweep and continued forward, Sas was visibly shaking by now.
“So which one paid you off for the photo? Was she after a way to ditch her husband or as Madame Absinthe trying to play an angle as well.”
“Neither of them paid me!”
“Bullshit Sas,” I grabbed him by his collar and pulled him closer, “You telling me you did a job like that out of the kindness of your own heart?”
I threw him to the floor.
“What I can’t figure out is why she didn’t just have you fake some prescriptions instead of risking bringing another woman into this?”
“Who are you talking about?”
“The Tooth Fairy! Who else do you think I’m talking about!”
“But she didn’t ask me to do nothing…”
I grabbed him off the floor and pulled him up again.
“Then who did!”
I let him go.
“The DE’s behind this?”
“She’s been behind this since day one.”
I grabbed the phone from its cradle behind the bar and dialled.
“Rudy – listen – I’m over at Sasq’s, he’s a turned again good citizen who I need you to bring in, off the record. Keep it off traffic and be ready for another call soon, I just need to get some proof one something.”
I placed to phone back in the cradle and turned to Sas.
“I need a copy of today’s paper – you try anything and you’ll be picking up teeth.”
Outside I found Sas’s car and drove away, Rudy would have men on the scene soon but I was banking on Sas phoning the DE in the meantime which would mean that the warrant for my arrest would be broadcast again if what he’d said was right. A couple of blocks down I stopped and found a payphone.
“Good afternoon, you’re through to the Office of the Las Vegas District Elf, how can I help?”
I scanned the front of the paper for a name under a column.
“This is Phil James over at the Vegas Tribune, I was wondering if you could confirm something for me ahead of tomorrows edition?” I lied.
“Certainly Sir, provided that it doesn’t compromise one of our current investigations.”
“Thank you – we’ve heard a rumour that the Tooth Fairy’s husband tried to contact the DE before he died, do you have any idea what it was about?”
“I’m sorry Sir we cannot divulge that information.”
“Can you at least confirm that there was a Phonecall?”
“Yes Sir we can – three days beforehand Sir.”
I put the phone down and walked back to the car. Sas had been telling the truth, all I had to do now was put the pieces together and prove that it was all right.
I drove off looking for a bar that wouldn’t report me to the police the moment I showed my face.
Inside I grabbed a corner table and tried to blend in, the Phonecall had confimed my worst suspicions – she was involved in Richard’s death and Madame Absinthe and Tink’ were involved in it as well. I just had to figure out the reasons. A man shuffled up to my table and sat down.
“No thanks – beat it!”
“No, you got any?”
He got up to leave. I held out a note to get his attention.
“But I can help you get some.”
He talked, I listened.