Well . . . let's just say I caught up. Rather spectacularly, but I did catch up. (I don't know if I'll ever get these stains out . . .)
After MacLeod picked himself up off the path, all I could do was flail around rather picturesquely and wheeze. Well, you try having a 175-lb. man take a header over your prone body! With your face in the mud, yet. You'd have the wind knocked out of you, too. I must say, the guy certainly has a decisive way about him. Before I knew it he'd sat me up, shoved on my diaphragm so I could start breathing, then set me on my feet and held me up until I realized I was both breathing and standing. Which at this point I figured was my great accomplishment for the day. Surely it could only go downhill from -- uh, forget I said that. I'm not too enthused about hills at the moment . . .
So, there was my subject scowling down at me while I was gaping up at him. (He has the most incredible brown eyes . . .) And while we were both covered in mud, on him it managed to look good. You know; artistic, like someone with a sense of style had painted it on him. (How does he do that?! What, he carries a whole invisible team of makeup specialists around with him or something?) So, while I'm still sort of opening and closing my mouth like a kissing gorami fish -- which wasn't a bad idea, now that I think of it -- well, what does he do? He pushes up both my sleeves and looks at my wrists, like he's searching for needle tracks or something! Which ticked me off; I mean, geeze, I don't consider someone tripping over me on par with a formal introduction, you know! No matter how cute he is. Even if he does land right on top of me, which might be considered as already having acquired a pretty intimate knowledge of me, awfully fast. Besides, it's kind of rude, making it that obvious you think someone's either insane and on Thorazine, or a junkie, on first acquaintance.
Well, you know me. My temper is not my best asset. So I come out with, "What are you, nuts?" And he shoots me an even more suspicious look and asks me what the hell I'm doing tailing him.
Oh geeze -- I nearly died!! Of course the first thing I said was that I wasn't tailing him. Meanwhile my mind is scurrying around frantically trying to think of what I could tell him I was doing. Yeah, right. Practicing my bat-flying technique? Mud-skiing? An original method of self-flagellation with trees?? Somehow I didn't think any of those would go over too well.
Fortunately, luck seemed to have taken notice of me for once. Remember those weird people I saw on the Day of the Dumpster? (Wednesday; I'm sure it was Wednesday.) Well, just as MacLeod's scowl is growing really thunderous and I was starting to do the gorami fish-thing again, there was this startled whoop from up the hill, and an enormous crashing through the trees. Well, we both knew what that meant; we moved, fast, and got out of the way. Good thing we did, too, because who should come slippety-sliding, bam-crashing onto the path but good ol' Green Robe -- only minus the fuzzy slippers, he must've lost 'em on the way down the hill. Not surprising, that mud's pretty slick.
Well, Green Robe did still have his sword -- not that he was in any condition to use it; even without someone falling over you that ride down the hill wasn't fun, and that last step is a doozy -- and I had the presence of mind to latch onto MacLeod's arm like an 18th century fainting heroine, and in best hysterical B movie fashion, I pointed at Green Robe and yelled at the top of my lungs, "That maniac was chasing me, HELP!!!" In true Memorex soprano, high enough to shatter any glass for 15 miles around. Then I clutched MacLeod even closer -- which I didn't mind at all -- and pretended to gasp in fear while he winced and shook his head with this dazed expression on his face. Guess I shouldn't have been looking at him when I screamed . . .
Fortunately he apparently didn't figure it was a good idea to try and deal with a possible maniac (and sword) with a hysterical (hah, that's what he thought!) female clinging to him like a leech. It may have helped that the guy wasn't wearing -- uhhh, well, let's just say it was a 'free' day. Either that or his slippers weren't the only thing he'd lost during the trip down the hill. Which made even me wince, and I'm not a guy. But having only moments before acquired the same intimate knowledge of that hillside . . . well, I was sympathetic. Quietly, in my head, while MacLeod turned right around and we went running back up the hill. Oh, my poor legs and lungs . . . of course he wasn't gonna let go, no, he was 'saving' me -- as I said, a nut, though gorgeous -- and he dragged me willy-nilly, bag and baggage (the trenchcoat, remember?), all the way back up that damned hill. Using the path this time. Where I promptly collapsed and began wheezing again, complete with the kissing gorami bit thrown in again for good measure. Real attractive, that, I'm sure.
However, the man turns out to be an absolute sweetie! (Despite the unavoidable fact that people do seem to lose their heads -- literally -- around him. Well, maybe he's a homicidal maniac with lots and lots of charm??) He apologizes all over for being suspicious -- I smile and pretend I'm brain-dead and assure him why no, it was a perfectly reasonable reaction to someone falling flat in front of him! And I apologized for tripping him. You should see him when he laughs! Then he escorts me back to my car -- conveniently parked right next to his -- and I babble on innocently about crazy people, and what can a poor girl do, trying to get (ugh) exercise at an uncrowded time of the day, and my, what a gorgeous car . . . I almost made myself sick.
It was worth it, though, because he apologized all over again, and ends it up with asking me if I liked the blues! Well, of course I said yes -- hey, I'm not stupid, and besides, I do -- thinking this has got to be connected with that J person. Right? Right. So he says can he make it up to me for ruining my coat -- ignoring the fact that I was already facedown in the mud when he fell over me, plus, of course, I'd taken that little purler down the hill . . . so it wasn't his fault I had mud everywhere. Except for the fact that I wouldn't have had mud everywhere if I hadn't been tailing him. (Including my hair, and boy, was that fun, trying to get dried mud out of 2 feet or so of hair when you're going out on a date the same night. It was even between my teeth!! Oh gawd, and I smiled at him-!) I pretended not to notice; after all, it's not the worst pickup line I've heard. Anyhoo, the upshot was that I said I'd go out for drinks and some music with him that night.
Well, to make this quick -- my head is pounding again, and things are getting a little fuzzy around the edges -- I pretended to drive off, then circled around, saw him safely back inside residence -- watched with interest as the Beak arrived, stayed for a couple hours, then tailed him when he left. And that's how I found Joe's. Which, ta-daaaa, is where we went last night! Quelle surprise.
Oooohhh, lordie, I have got to go lie down. I'll finish up later . . . soon, I promise. Well . . . sometime. As soon as I can get the ice bag to stop slipping off my head and it actually does something for me!!
Case Study & Surveillance Report DM4, 02/97:
Man, it's amazing what 15 hours sleep can do! I feel much better tonight -- except for the stiff muscles from that dratted hill. I can tell you this, I have no desire to take up real skiing or anything like that.
Well, to continue . . . After much effort, cussing, and waiting around for the blasted water heater to fill up again twice, I managed to come clean -- although somewhat wrinkled from staying in the shower so long. I still don't know about my ACME SUT; I think it's a little more creatively camouflaged than even the manufacturers intended, that mud seems to be particularly tenacious. But since I didn't need it that evening, I decided not to worry about it. You don't try to hide from your date! Well, only after the first one, maybe. So I pulled out your standard little black dress guaranteed to knock 'em dead and proceeded with preparations. Fortunately the school's wire equipment is very advanced; in that dress, the only places to put the wire where it wouldn't show is in your cleavage or in the back somewhat . . . forget it. I stuck with the frontal cleavage and hoped MacLeod wasn't too fast of a mover.
We'd agreed to meet at Joe's, and he'd given me the address, so I didn't have to mention I'd been there before that day; and it's a good thing I was on time, 'cause that lot was filling up fast. But when I went inside, there was my subject sitting at a nice, cosy table with a perfect view of the stage. Which made me think, yeup, Joe has gotta be that J person; who else but the owner of a joint like this would save such a cushy spot for a favored customer (i.e., friend)? Or maybe blackmail victim, I reminded myself; J could be figuring that music might soothe the savage victim, or something like that.
As it turned out, J was indeed Joe -- and he is a blues musician, plays a mean guitar! What was funny though -- and yes, I was keeping my eyes open for other things than MacLeod, I'm a Detective 2nd Class! (Almost.) Anyway, what was funny was when he came over and Duncan introduced us, I noticed that he had a tattoo on his left wrist!! Which made me think odd thoughts about MacLeod checking my wrists. Then I almost forgot it when Joe went up to play and I had another couple of excellent beers. (Microbreweries, y'know; we've got a lot of them up here, we started that whole trend.)
Well, Joe and the band had finished their set, and Duncan and I were having a few more beers (really excellent beer!) and a nice, quiet conversation -- I was casually pumping him for info, y'know, and getting quite a bit, although I don't think he really noticed, he seemed to be somewhat abstracted -- or maybe I still had some mud down around by my navel or something. Plus I think he was still startled at how nice I cleaned up, I guess -- when who should come in but . . . yep, the Beak himself!! Who turns out to be named Adam Pierson; he came barrelling over and just casually plopped himself right down at our table and flings this supposedly charming smile at me. Like he can get away with barging in on people by acting cute or something. Then he asked Duncan if he was going to buy him a beer. (Now I know who drinks all that beer Mac's buying -- it's Pierson, the man practically inhales it!! And with a nose like that, he can do a lot of inhaling . . .)
Yeah, Duncan bought him a beer. Several beers. (Did I mention Duncan is a real sweetie -- for a possible homicidal maniac? A possible homicidal maniac with a Gold Card yet -- I wish I could figure out where he gets the money!! I don't think he's a drug dealer or arms runner or anything like that, although there is a certain dangerous air about him.) Then some more beers. Even more beers than I had, and I think I got up to around ten or so . . . well, it was really good beer. In other words, the guy hung around us for the rest of the evening! Despite Duncan hinting pretty heavily that we'd like to be alone, now, Adam . . . Pushy. You know the type. Those guys who haven't quite grown up enough yet to realize there are times to leave people alone.
The one good thing, though, was that he was wearing a really gigantic sweater -- talk about taking NW grunge a little too far -- and he had to keep pushing the sleeves up. Especially after he draggled 'em through his beer a couple of times. And wouldn't you know it, Pierson has the same tattoo that Joe has? Two of them, no less -- one on each wrist! Which of course snaps me instantly alert; even if I haven't got my certificate yet, or my license, I mean, a 2nd Class Detective sure notices things!! Although at the time I was kinda seeing two Adams . . . but I'm sure that was only the dim light, I nearly got lost on my way back from the ladies' room a couple of times. But Duncan kept waving frantically when I took a wrong turn, and I always made it back safe. Well, more or less safe; there are a few somewhat suspicious bruises I have today that don't quite look like the kind I would have gotten from tumbling down a hill.
The evening took an even stranger turn when the ol' Missing Person himself turned up -- yeah, Ryan!! Actually, Richie. The guy still looks pretty much of a kid, even though he's in his early 20's. And he's not really that slender any more, like in the picture I saw; he musta been pumping weights, 'cause he's definitely filled out. Looks a little more hardened, maybe it's the haircut. And of course he came and joined us -- what is it with these guys, they all belong to a club or something? Maybe they swore a blood oath to keep each other from getting involved with women?? Altho he doesn't have any tattoos. Neither does Duncan. Well, not that I could tell with them having clothes on, who knows what they've got hidden under there, you know guys. Although Duncan's clothes don't disguise all that much, especially the pants . . . I mean, they fit beautifully, he obviously spends $$$ on clothes, too!
So there I was, sitting with all four of my mysterious personages -- Joe kept drifting over and staying, his barman must be stealing him blind, no wonder he's worried about his pension fund -- but he seems pretty good friends with Duncan, so there goes the blackmail idea -- and do I find out any worthwhile info beyond the tattoos and the fact that Richie actually does exist? No!! Oh, I did find out they can all drink like fish. Or like fish would if fish drank, which they don't. (Look it up.) Though I have no idea how the drinking info will help me in my investigation; although it might help on other occasions . . . if I pretend to be drunker than I am, which I wasn't doing last night. I really was that -- I mean, they got so tiddly I didn't have to keep up with 'em like I thought I would.
The only other slightly mysterious thing that happened was that Richie actually left before we did. I mean, he seemed to be bound and determined to keep up with the rest of us drink for drink, until he slid to the floor or we did. However -- remember that girl in the gold catsuit with the roses, talking to Green Robe? (I wonder how he's doing; I feel sort of guilty about him . . .) Lo and behold, who should walk in the tavern but her!! Wearing another outfit that looked like it was sprayed on. Yet she manages to keep this demure, sweet-innocent-thing look somehow, I dunno how she does it. Wish I could, but- Oh, well. Each to their own tactics.
Anyway, Richie perked right up as soon as he saw her -- and he wasn't in a down mood before that, by any means -- and practically flew over to her. She gave him this shy little smile, and the guy practically dropped one wing and ran in circles like a rooster trying to impress a hen. (I think he has more brains than that . . . but you know men.) They talked for a few minutes then left, with her snuggling up to him under his arm. Which made me worry about Richie a little, for some reason. I know, he's old enough to take care of himself . . . but I still wonder about her, and what connection she has with Green Robe. I mean, the guy carries a sword, for heaven's sake! And she sure as heck doesn't look like a street person! I'll have to see about those two. At least the redhead with the Groucho glasses didn't put in an appearance!
After that, with Pierson and Joe still hanging around us -- you'd think they were Duncan's guardians or something, or were jealous because they hardly ever got a date -- the evening kind of wound down fast. I didn't object when he suggested we call it a night. I did, however, wrinkle my brow doubtfully (gag, that looks sooo idiotic, but it works, unfortunately) when Duncan asked me if I was ok to drive home -- and of course, he offered to take me after that. I mean drive me, drive! (He is so sweet!) And a perfect gentleman; no wrestling at the front door, just a nice little goodnight kiss . . . and ohmy, was that an experience, glad I got all that mud out of my teeth . . . although he did sneak a peek down my cleavage when I started looking for my keys. (I'm also glad the wire is flesh-colored!)
He patiently held me up while I continued searching for my keys, and waited until I managed to find the keyhole and actually open the door, which took a while. And it wasn't his fault that he thought I was safe after I got inside and locked the door and he saw the lights come on . . . how was he supposed to know that I was going to catch one of my high heels in the hall rug? I had to crawl upstairs after that, which was interesting. For some reason I kept getting turned around and went down the stairs . . . or something. Must have, 'cause I found myself back at the bottom several times. And I kept giggling like a hyena; weird.
While the evening was, overall, a success, there are still several more trails to pursue. Like those bloody tattoos. Rosebud and Green Robe. Where the heck Duncan gets his money -- ditto on Richie, since's he's never working either! And unfortunately, something seems to have damaged the wire, and I have a bright blue bruise in its shape on my sternum, like I repeatedly fell down on a hard surface, such as a floor, while I was wearing it. Plus the tape, although clear as a bell, isn't much use; the band was too close and too loud. *sigh* (Great music, though, I think I'll keep it just for that.) Except for the end of it, when Duncan was driving me home. And that was mostly me giggling, followed by a rather long silence -- make that very long, I timed it; it was over 5 minutes! - apparently from when he kissed me goodnight. Funny, it seemed like it only lasted a few seconds . . . Oh well, it was all good practice, and the wire's still under warranty from the ACME Detective Student Shop.
So I've got to get this report out to Prof. Karoly tonight, then back to bed after I eat something. I've wasted the whole day, of course, but hey, I need some time off for R&R after all that hard work. Especially the hill; down and up. Plus, after all, I managed to get close -- very close -- to my subject, and can now do some really intensive digging. Oh, and I have to go get my car back -- although that won't be a problem. Guess who called today and asked me if I'd like a lift to go pick it up? Uh-huh, sweetie pie himself . . . Although I told him not today, I was too sore from that little trip down the hill. He sort of choked, then said it was okay -- and I didn't lambaste him for laughing, pretended I hadn't noticed. Yeah, I'm sure it was a memorable sight . . . whatta way to meet someone! 'Sides, he offered me a massage tomorrow. I'm still thinking about that one . . .
Uh, Professor Karoly? Can I open up the packet for the lesson on "Getting to Really Know a Subject" early? I think I may need to do some quick reading, the test may be coming sooner than we thought. Lemme know, huh? Thanks!