The quality detective work I strive to provide my clients with often involves thinking outside the box. Only a rookie would waste time trying to think up ways to get through a thoroughly guarded police perimeter during an active investigation. As I slowly became aware during my third ill-fated marriage, my best thinking tends to get done at bars. The closest thing I could find in this neighborhood was MacDougal's Hot Wings Irish Sports Pub. While authentic Irish hot wings were a luxury I seldom indulged in, my stomach was still feeling a little woozy from Wang's egg rolls. I decided to stick to unfiltered mind lubrication.
I sat down at the bar next to the most desperate-looking unaccompanied woman in the place. She was closing in on fifty and not wearing a ring, but her hips said that she'd squirted out a kid or two in her day. The way her lips caressed the mouth of her beer bottle made me think of Dakota Fanning. I'm not sure why.
Beyond her slutty display, I caught the bartender's eye. A young black kid, barely looked old enough to drink, much less tend bar. He certainly didn't look Irish. Nothing about this place did. There wasn't a leprechaun in sight. No rainbows, no pots of gold, not even a purple horseshoe or red balloon. There was just some big picture on the wall behind the bar of two snakes performing some kind of weird sex ritual. They had themselves tied up in a complicated knot, each of them biting the other's tale. It was disgusting. People come to this place for booze, Irish hot wings, and football. Not for deviant snake porn.
“Would you like to start a tab, sir?”
“That sounds good.” I pulled out my wallet, making sure my collection of credit cards was visible to the adequate piece of ass sitting next to me, so she knew I was a man of means. I was pretty sure the VISA wasn't maxed out just yet, so I pulled that one out and handed it to the bartender.
“I'll also need to see a photo I.D.”
I sighed. Here I am handing my credit card over to a black man, and yet I'm the one who can't be trusted. I held up my wallet for him to look at my driver's license through the clear plastic. “Satisfied? Am I old enough?”
His gaze darted back and forth from my credit card to my license, then he smiled. “Thank you very much, sir.”
“Say, buddy,” I said now that we'd established some rapport. “I thought St. Patrick drove all your people out of Ireland.”
He'd looked amiable enough at first, but his sudden change of expression suggested that he had no sense of humor at all. You never can tell with these people. That was fine with me. The crack was more for the lady's ears anyway.
With an icy cold stare, he said, “I believe you were thinking about snakes.”
“Jesus fucking Christ!” I blurted out, thrown off by his sudden display of psychic powers. How the hell did he know that? It's no wonder St. Patrick wanted to drive his people out of Ireland.
A number of people were currently staring at me, including the woman next to me. That was my in.
“Sorry about that,” I said. “That was just really impressive. How about this fine young woman right here? What's she thinking?”
“I'm thinking you're a racist prick,” she said. She turned to the bartender. “Thanks, Jimmy. I'm going to go find a seat at the other end of the bar.”
I shook my head. “Women. What a mindfuck, right? I admire your people's psychic abilities, which I hadn't even been aware of, and suddenly I'm a racist.”
“Would you like something to drink, sir?” Jimmy's tone was unprofessionally curt.
I sighed. “Fine. I'll have a double shot of your cheapest whiskey.”
“I'm sorry, sir. We only serve beer.”
“What kind of fucking Irish hot wings restaurant is this?” I looked down the bar to see if I could catch him in a lie. “What's that guy drinking?” I asked, pointing to a man with a glass of something darker than what was in most other people's glasses.
“That's Guinness. An Irish dark beer. Would you like a bottle of that?”
“I guess I better,” I said indignantly. “I can't have people thinking I'm racist toward beer.”
Jimmy poured the beer into a glass for me, like I was some kind of retard. Didn't even ask me if I wanted a glass. Just plain bad customer service.
The first sip was frothy, then it got bitter. Not a completely unpleasant experience, but a little too ethnic for my taste.
Now that Jimmy and Cocktease McSaddlebags had left me in peace, I could finally focus on the case. I sipped my beer and honed my mind into razor-sharp focus. The Belmont house was sealed off tighter than a virgin butthole inside Fort Knox. Getting in was going to require imagination. It was going to require finesse. It was going to require... Shit, it was going to require another beer.
Jimmy was on the other side of the bar talking to that bottle fellating whore. I considered shouting for him, but then I remembered his special power.
I placed my forefingers on my temples and closed my eyes.
Jimmy. I need another beer.
When I opened my eyes, he didn't even acknowledge my existence. I tried again, thinking harder and willing my thoughts in his direction.
Dammit, Jimmy. I know you can hear me. That whore ain't going nowhere. Now get back over here and do your goddamn job, or else –
“Excuse me,” said an older man's voice in a strange accent. “Is this seat taken?” He wore a tweed jacket, bushy grey sideburns, and a flat cap, like he'd just arrived here from the Shire.
“What the fuck is wrong with you, Dildo Faggins? Could you not see that I was trying to order a beer?”
“Is that what you were doing?” The creepy old man climbed up onto the stool next to me, and I hoped some of that whore's gonorrhea was soaking into his pants from the stool. “It looked like you were trying to hold in a fart.”
“What's with that crazy accent of yours? Where the hell are you from. Indonesia?”
“Ireland, actually.” He was a smug little bastard, like he was some kind of geology expert for being able to tell those two accents apart. “I come here for the hot wings.”
“Hmph,” I said. “Good luck getting the bartender's attention. One little remark taken out of context, and suddenly black people aren't telepaths anymore.”
The little old man raised his hand, and Jimmy's head turned our way as if pulled there by sorcery.
“Ian!” said Jimmy as he hurriedly walked back our way. “How you been?”
“I can't complain. Hills and valleys, you know. All part of the Good Lord's –”
“Excuse me,” I said, giving Jimmy a good hard glare. “I've been trying to get your attention for some time now, and you've been ignoring me.”
“I apologize, sir. I must not have heard you over the crowd. Can I get you another Guinness?”
I didn't need to take this shit. Not in America. I slid off my stool and stood tall. “Don't do me any favors. I'll take my business...”
In a flash of brilliant detectiving, I knew how I could get into the Belmont house. I'd have to call in some favors.
I walked briskly across the bar to the pay phone on the wall between the bathrooms, then paused to breathe after exerting myself so hard. Once I had my breathing under control, I picked up the receiver and dialled 9-1-1.
“9-1-1. What's your emergency?” said the operator. She sounded black, so I had to rethink my plan on the fly.
“I'm at MacDougal's Hot Wings Irish Sports Pub. A gang of... um... Eskimos are raping a white girl.”
“Who is thi–”
“Oh shit! They saw me. They said I'm next. Help! They're not fucking around, and they're hung like walruses! Oh no! Please, sir! I didn't mean –” I slammed the phone down on the receiver.
Judging by the expression of the woman just exiting the bathroom, I had delivered a solid performance. It wouldn't effect the detectives, but it should draw enough of the perimeter officers away from the house to allow me to sneak in.