45 A declaration of war against Kev
Downstairs is only half as busy as last night, but again I keep my head down as we enter, until I am seated facing across a table into a corner, away from the rest of the bar. This time it is not a table at the back but one tucked away at the very front of the establishment, beside a small grimy window onto the pavement. "Did you miss me?" Flames asks Evelyn, from behind the bar nearby.
"No," she chirps.
"Damn! There go the free drinks."
"There's no such thing as a free drink," she says. "Could we have a beer and two glasses of red wine, please. Is Lucan gonna be here tonight?"
"Probably soon." He peers towards her. "Hey, I remember that necklace! Let's see, who was it bought you that?"
"Yes, it brings back happy memories, Flames—what store did you mop it from, I forget?"
"They were leaner days," he shrugs. "Still, it's very telling that you wear it here for me. Very telling..."
She blows a kiss, turning away from him, and Alaia gets up from the table to pick up the drinks. Evelyn lowers her voice to me: "This place is quieter than usual because certain people don't want to risk being around any more trouble, after last night. If Lucan arrives, just nod and say hi, then I'll butter him up and we'll all just hang out here a while and then leave together, OK? Oh, and I need to tell Lucan it couldn't have been Shigem who planted that wax head. Kev told Flames that Lucan's toying with the idea of punishing Shigem for it, which is ridiculous."
"Yes, ridiculous," I say, and I could almost persuade myself I feel my pupils widening a fraction when I think of his face. "But Shigem was in Paradise when the head appeared. He was hosting in the club before we arrived there. There'll be dozens of witnesses to that."
"Yeah, but Lucan could still claim that Shigem was behind the head and got one of his friends to plant it here. Lucan just needs to find a culprit, because it's starting to look like he doesn't have a clue who left it, which he doesn't."
Returning with the drinks and hearing some of this, Alaia sits and quietly adds, "Kev also told Flames that he hears some of Shigem's friends from Paradise may have been in here last night."
"That's bullshit," says Evelyn. "Kev's just stirring up trouble and trying to keep the heat off himself. That is so mean. He is such a smear."
"Could Kev have planted the head?" asks Alaia.
"Let's keep our voices down," says Evelyn. "I don't know, it's not impossible, though the sculpting's got to be beyond his powers."
"Has Lucan approached Shigem about this yet?" I ask her.
"I don't think so, but Shigem will be freaked-out if he hears he's under suspicion from Lucan. Lucan's teased him and scared the shit out of him for his whole life. He's so sweet, I'd just hate to see him get hurt."
"Me too," I murmur, remembering my tune-in in to him and Kim, just before we came here—which reminds me, I haven't yet told Evelyn and Alaia about that mysterious figure at Pippa's apartment, as reported by Kim. He didn't say anything about its being secret and I don't see why it should be.
I therefore relay what he told me, with every detail I can recall, eliciting predictably horrified fascination from both of them—especially from Pippa's friend Evelyn. "I guess I'll tune in to Pippa tonight and see what I can see," I conclude.
"It's too late to visit her now," says Evelyn, "especially since we went round there late last night—and that only happened because I was making a delivery."
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THE IMAGINATION THIEF (mini-chapters 1-98)Fantasy
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