Text from Reade to Zapata: i'll be here another hour, maybe two. u
going home, or hanging out?
Zapata to Reade: 🏰...see u there?
Reade to Zapata: 👍
After waving goodbye to Patterson and Stuart, she accompanies Jane and
Weller, who are also on their way home, in the elevator to the lobby.
After they part ways, and after retrieving Ed's vehicle from it's parking space,
a quick trip to the nearest branch of the Federal Employees Credit Union. Leaving
there (with $8,030 withdrawn from her 401K she withdrew), her next stop is an
alley near the edges of downtown. In a darkened little dive, near the entrance to
the litter-choked alley, she is literally shocked out of her high-heeled boots at what
she finds there: various miscreants and evil doers occupy the grimy tables and stools,
including one in a far corner where Albert "Al 88" Rizzo holds court.
Even in the poorly lighted gloom, Natasha can see that someone (or someONES) has/have
battered the squat bookie about the head in a "not very nice" fashion. Taking a second
glance about the room, all of the other five occupants also bear the evidence of a severe
beating. Bookie War? she wonders absently, picking her way across the filthy
floor (one hand on her sidearm, her head on a swivel) to where the toad of a bookmaker lolls
in his seat, resembling a...crushed toad. "I have your money," she reports coolly, holding up the
bank pouch in her other hand. "I have only $8,030, it's all that I could get."
Very (VERY) surprisingly, the ugly little man waves a bandaged little hand frantically in the negative,
unable to hide a grimace of pain as he does. "'S'okay", he mumbles through broken teeth. Some big
NIG-I mean, COLORED Guy come in here, busted the place up, roughed me and my guys up. Said
because of my harassment of you during my collection efforts, he's settling your debt
at 10 cents on the dollar. Gimme EIGHT G on an EIGHTY G debt...FUCK ME-eight gee won't even cover
mine and da boys hospital bills...told me if I send anybody else at you, or contact you in any way...even
park on the same side'a the street as you...he'll come back here and BLACKSIDE me...whatever the fuck
that means. Some NIG-Colored Jakes lingo, I guess."
READE..."Tall, close cut beard, nicely-dressed?," she asks.
"Ye-eah, I guess."
"He was alone?"
"NAH..big guy, white...had a beard too. Deep, kinda raspy voice."
The Latina beauty grins from ear to ear. "My MARKER...hand it over."
Al fumbles in a leather pouch, extracts the marker, and tosses onto an empty spot on the otherwise
trash-filled table-top. A brief examination to verify that it is what she seeks, and Zapata backs out of
dive, slowly bit deliberately, until she is once again on the street. Even the reek of un-collected garbage
smells better than that place! Heading home, Natasha grins again; at a stoplight she first texts Weller:
THANK YOU!🤗...to Edgar Reade: TE AMO 😍...just before the light turns green, Reade texts back: 😴
She is giddy the rest of the way to the mid-town condo she shares with Reade.