I was sitting out on the back deck, getting a little sun and watching the surf, when Tosh came up to me. I had taken to sitting out there lately; the roar of the ocean was soothing, and the cool air off the water offset any heat from the sun; it made for a nice combination. Somehow trying to work in our room had become difficult for me; with Tosh working away over in the corner, I kept getting distracted. Not his fault; I was the one who was getting twitchy. In any case, I was spending more time on the deck, or downstairs in the living room, or even up on campus.
I looked up at him when his shadow occluded the book I was reading.
“What's up?” I said.
He was in an odd state. He seemed both excited, but reluctant. I had never seen him like this before. After a moment he said, “You still have your service pistol, right?”
“Sure,” I said. It was kind of an odd question; he saw me strip it and clean it almost every week—an old habit, and a routine that I found soothing. I keep the ammo locked in a suitcase that I had shoved under my bed. ”Why so? You want to go shooting?”
He winced a bit, like I had said something a bit too close to the truth. ”I hope not,” he said. ”I need to go to Elf Land.”
“I'm hoping to catch the kidnapper there tonight.”
“Seriously?” I said.
“Seriously.” He nodded his head in the direction of the garage. ”Get you gun and a couple of clips, and meet me in the garage.”
I climbed to my feet and followed him back into the house. ”I'm going to be waving my gun around in broad daylight?”
“No,” he said. ”We'll go out and get some food first, and then head on up to campus and set up our ambush.” He grimaced. ”Well, 'ambush' is a stretch. You get the picture.”
“I really don't.”
“I'll tell you on the way. What major food group do you want: Mexican, or Chinese?”
“How about Las Palmas?”
“Sounds good.” He headed to the garage while I clumped up the stairs.
I slid the suitcase out from under my bed, unlocked it, and took a look inside. I didn't let other people into my things, so even Tosh wasn't aware of just how much ordinance I had handy. The gun itself I kept strapped in a holster to the underside of my bed. In the case were several clips—all clean, well-oiled, and fully loaded—some boxes of ammo, my knives, and a few other odds and ends that Uncle Sam probably wouldn't appreciate my having since my exit from the Corps, but which made me feel safer to have handy. Yes, squawk on about PTSD all you want; we all learn to handle it better or worse when we hit civilian life, and this was one of my little adaptations.
Of course, Tosh wouldn't give me a hard time. Aside from the fact that “giving people a hard time” really wasn't in him, given that he had throwing stars and a fucking katana, it seemed unlikely he would sneer. But still.
I took out two clips, and a nice hip holster that I liked. I looked at the knives but decided to forgo them this time. I strapped on the gun, pulled on a light jacked to help cover the bulge and headed out for the Rabbit.
Las Palmas was on the other side of town, on Mission Street in the same complex with Skyview Video. It had become one of my favorite places; it was the Mexican food equivalent of a 40s greasy-spoon diner. The furniture was cheap, there weren't a lot of fancy decorations, the menus were plain old paper, and the only music in the place was from an ancient transistor radio back in the kitchen. The food was almost certainly horrible for you, but it tasted damn good, was filling, almost insanely inexpensive, and went well with the Negra Modelo that Tosh liked to get. I got chicken enchiladas; Tosh got a combo plate.
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A Study with SlugsMystery / Thriller
It is the early 1980s, and women are disappearing from the university campus in Santa Cruz, California, home of the Fighting Banana Slugs. The local police and state investigators are baffled, and so solving these crimes is left to a dope-smoking...