Friday, September 26, 2008

Jack Chance Case Files - Part 4: On The Lake

I gave Beth a call to see what she could shake loose about Robert Wallic but there was no answer at the office. The girl must still have been out on her errands. Thoughts from the morning rolled through my mind as I ate my eggs and sipped my coffee at the diner down on third. There wasn’t much to go on so far, but that was to be expected this early in the game. If it was any easier then any schmuck could do this job.

The afternoon was spent combing the streets of the neighborhood asking around if anyone had seen poor Robert. Every pawn shop and dive bar gave me the same response, they didn’t know no nothing much less recognize the face in the picture I swiped from his place. Leg work is the long boring part but it passes the time. It also gave me a chance to re-familiarize myself with the lay of the land. By dusk I had done my fair share of busy work and made my way to Mike’s on the Lake.

It was late enough that the dinner crowd was starting to thin but early enough that the regulars had yet to show. By passing the dining room I sat at the bar, ordered the fish fry, and listened in to the conversations that welled up around me. By the time I finished my meal I gathered that Julie was the usual weeknight bartender and that the billiards league was in the toilet.

Julie was a good bartender. She paid attention to the regulars, pouring heavy, and kept her eyes on the lowlife scum that wandered in. Chatting her up and tipping well got me an in or two. She remembered Robert, quite fondly actually. He usually sat at the bar with a notebook and wrote poetry all night. Every night that he was in he would buy her a drink and slipped her a poem with the tip. She saw their petty banter as a little game, a little back and fourth to pass the time until closing. He had stopped showing up a while back and she missed the entertainment.

“You asking about Robert?” A tall skinny guy asked me as Julie finished her story. I nodded and Julie went back to her business. “Robert’s a good kid. Doesn’t talk much, but he’s a good kid. It’s funny how he sits here night after night pretending to be a writer but you talk to him and he can’t tell a good story to save his life.”

I bought my new found friend a round and inquired as to what he meant. “Well,” he continued between sips, “take the last time I saw him for instance. We got to talking about my last trips to Vegas and New York. Clients were tripping over themselves to take me out to bars and strip clubs, trying to butter me up for their next purchase. Robert tried to compete. I’ll never forget the conversation. He tried to tell me that some smoking hot blonde was all over him and got him a new job. It was funny how he kept tripping over his words. He kept leaving out details and interrupting himself to try to put those details back in. it was a mess. I told him that if he wanted to snag that blonde he was talking about that he should work on his storytelling more than his poetry.”

I asked my new friend if he knew what the new job was, he said that it was Humboldt’s something or other. It was at least something to go on. I bought another round and listened in to his tales from Vegas and New York. Any further work would have to wait until morning.


  1. Was I supposed to say I read these things? Oh yeah, Am I Robert? I think I am flattered, maybe a little angry.

  2. I think that your the only one that reads these things. My Friday and weekend visitor hits have a huge nosedive.

    As for if Robert is baised upon you or not. Hmmmm, I haven't baised him upon anyone yet. I could base him on you, or on my dad (Robert), or even on Robert Goulet. Most likely it depends on if/when he (or his body) turns up. Unless you do want to be written into a story as the dead guy in a ditch, that could be arranged. =P