With my sole lead gone, I headed back to Oak Grove. Salcedo had shouted a dictionary's worth of awful sounding words to me when I told him about Helena. I took most of them for curses, but I'm sure a threat or two made it into the salad. Luckily for me I took those types of conversations over the phone. Had I not who knows how willing he would have been to turn those words into actions. Men like Salcedo hate words. They only enjoying using them because they love the sound of their own voices. Actions are their preferred form of communication.
I didn't waste time telling Creel the whole thing. Once they patted me down and made sure I was sneaking something dangerous in like a tin of tic-tac's, they let me into the visitation area where Creel greeted me with a lazy wave and an annoyed face.
It was bullshit. He couldn't wait to see me. I didn't waste time telling him that either.
"Yeah, like I sit around here all day waiting for you to come say hi."
"Well," I said. "You're already doing the sitting around. Why not finish strong and commit to missing me."
He made a croaking sound like a frog choking on a fly and waved that lazy wave of his again.
"So," I said, getting down to business. "Salcedo's pissed."
"He gonna kill you."
I couldn't tell if it was a question or not. We'd been friends fifteen years. Partners for ten. I hoped it was, but knowing him, the fact that I felt that way meant he intended for me to take it as the opposite.
"He's thinking about it. That's for sure."
"Salcedo doesn't think. He does. You packing?"
I crooked my head. Gestured to our surroundings.
"I'd be packing."
"Then I wouldn't get to see your smiling face."
"Keep it up and you won't get to see Helena's either."
So, he knew. Son of a bitch. "Interested in looking over some papers with me?"
"What for? Salcedo isn't going to care. Even if you do figure out who stole from him, as soon as you let him know he'll kill you as quick as he kills whoever crossed him."
He didn't need to smile. I caught his meaning.
"If I'm dead there'll be no one to bring you this." I held up a can of deodorant and for the first time he looked interested in me being there.
He caught himself though. Instead of leaning forward onto the table like he intended to, he slowed down, lowered his feet to the ground and reclined once again. Though it was clear he couldn't take his eyes off the can.
"Roommate still smells that bad, huh?"
"It's not the roommate. Got a new one anyway. Tiny like guy. Used to own a picture shop."
"A picture shop?"
He waved his hands. "I don't know. Pictures. Like the one that used to be on Berber St."
I nodded. "He framed pictures."
If you didn't know Creel, and most people didn't, you wouldn't understand half the things he said. He was the only guy I ever knew who needed an interpreter around him at all times despite speaking English in America.
"He's no better though."
"What's he in for?"
"Tried killing himself. They found him hanging in his store."
"Rough way to go."
He waved that away, too. "Everything smells bad here. I think it's in the walls. The floors. Only way to make this place smell good again is to burn it down."
I cleared my throat. Whenever Creel got too worked up his voice raised. Whenever his voice raised that meant other people could hear him. That's partly how he got in this mess to begin with. Too many people who didn't know him getting to know him.
He understood this in a peripheral sort of way. Of course, in his eyes it was the world that was the problem. Not the other way around.
I pushed the papers to the side. "So, how you holding up."
"It stinks in here."
"Yeah, I know. That's why I brought this."
"You gonna let me have it or do I have to dance for it?"
I pushed it across the table. "No charge."
He let it sit there for a second before snatching it up, popping the top off and taking a whiff. Two years I've been coming here to see him and I've never thought it smelt as bad as he said it does. Creel claims it's because he has a heightened sense of smell. He doesn't. He thinks he does, or so the doctor's say, but they can't explain why. It's because they don't know him. At some point, I don't know when, Creel convinced himself that a heightened, more refined sense of smell was a sign of genius-level intelligence. He hasn't convinced himself he has a great sense of smell. He's convinced himself he's a genius. The smell is just a byproduct of all that.
When he finished sniffing he put the can back on the table and replaced the cover. "You want me to take a look at this."
I shrugged. He stared at the papers for a second then reached over and snatched them up. It was all very theatrical. I had him.
"So, this Helena, you definitely don't think she did it."
"I don't think she did it. But I'm not so sure she wasn't involved."
"It's possible. But unlikely
The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:
Begin Start typing to begin
Words Reach 50 words
Words Reach 100 words
Words Reach 200 words
Words Reach 300 words
Location An asylum
Event An important deal falls through
Letter Use the letter G
Prop Include a can of deodorant
Words Reach 400 words
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Words Reach 700 words
Character A lithe picture framer
Event Everything stops
Words Reach 800 words
Words Reach 900 words
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