Home > Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23)(8)

Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23)(8)
Janet Evanovich

I gave Connie the body receipt for Diggery, took the outstanding FTA paperwork from my messenger bag, and read through the file. Eugene Winkle. Armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Nineteen years old. Two priors. His address was on the fourth block of Stark Street. Not a good address. His mug shot wasn’t good, either. He looked like an enraged bull. Smushed-in nose. Small, crazy, angry eyes. Thick lips parted enough to catch a glimpse of stainless steel caps. Undoubtedly could easily open a beer bottle with his teeth.

Lula was looking over my shoulder.

“Whoa!” Lula said. “That don’t look human. What is that?”

“Eugene Winkle,” I said. “He’s FTA.”

“And he’s gonna stay that way,” Lula said. “I’d rather face Diggery’s snake.”

“I was with Vinnie when he bonded him out,” Connie said. “The picture doesn’t do him justice. He’s actually a lot uglier. He’s about six foot five and weighs around four hundred pounds. Good news is that he probably can’t run very fast. Bad news is . . . well, you can see the bad news.”

“Maybe he’s a nice person under all that ugly,” Lula said. “He could be misunderstood. I bet he was bullied when he was a kid. They probably called him Winkie.”

“He robbed his grandmother, shot her neighbor in the foot, and ran over the family dog,” Connie said.

“That’s terrible,” Lula said. “What kind of person runs over a dog? I hope that dog is okay.”

“I think it lost part of its tail,” Connie said. “The grandmother put up Eugene’s bond. She said he was too mean to be in jail. She said if she could find him she was going to set the dog loose on him.”

“What kind of dog is it?” Lula asked.

“Chihuahua,” Connie said.

“Hunh,” Lula said. “Must be a vicious little bugger.”

I looked at my watch. Damn. Too early to quit work and start drinking.

“Vinnie isn’t back yet,” Connie said, “so I suppose I’m going to have to go into town to bond out Diggery. Someone’s going to have to babysit the office until I get back.”

“I’ll stay here,” Lula said. “I got a new copy of Star magazine that I gotta read. It’s got a article that Jennifer Aniston might get a tattoo of a unicorn.”

Connie took her purse out of her bottom drawer and stood. “What about you?” she asked me. “Are you going after Winkle?”

“Eventually. Not alone. And probably not today. I’m still looking for Larry Virgil.”

“Stephanie could stay here,” Lula said. “Just in case we get a rush of desperados.”

I cut my eyes to Lula. “ ‘Desperados’?”

“It could happen,” Lula said.

Connie looked over at me. “Good idea. Stay here and keep Lula from shooting the desperados if they show up. I won’t be long. Court’s in session. I should be back in an hour.”

Connie and Vinnie always park in the small lot at the back of the building. The lot had parking for four cars and opened to a narrow alley that bisected the block. It was hidey-hole parking for Vinnie, and it allowed Connie to sneak cigarettes.

Connie left through the back door, and Lula turned to me. “I bet she’s out there sneaking a smoke first. That alleyway and parking lot are like the safety zone for smoking without stinking up your personal environment.”

“Seems like it would be easier to just quit smoking.”

“You say that on account of you never smoked. Sure, it could shorten your life and give you lung cancer and heart disease and ruin your skin, but you ever see the look on someone’s face when they take that first drag? It’s like when you feel a orgasm coming on. Like you’ve been workin’ and workin’ at it and finally you know you nailed it and zow! you got yourself a orgasm.”

“Were you a smoker?”

“Hell, yeah. I was a big smoker, but I’m not stupid. I got this beautiful chocolate skin and I’m not going all crone with it because of smoking.”

“How did you quit?”

“I traded in my cigarettes for a vibrator. I got a dandy little battery job that I carry in my purse, and when I feel the urge to light up I just stick this thing against my lady parts and buzz myself into relaxation and happiness. Personally I don’t get the whole e-cigarette thing. I mean, if you’re going mechanical wouldn’t you rather put those batteries to work on your pleasure bean?”

I was speechless. I was raised Catholic, and this was way outside my comfort zone. Okay, so I know about the pleasure bean, but the last thing I wanted to think about was Lula’s pleasure bean. It was probably the size of a duck egg. I tried to shake the image out of my head, but it was stuck there. I was going to have to go home and pour bleach into my brain.

“So anyways,” Lula said. “Do you think Jennifer Aniston should get a unicorn tattoo?”

I didn’t have strong feelings about it one way or the other. I personally had never been a big unicorn person, but who am I to impose my views on Jennifer Aniston?

I settled into one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs in front of Connie’s desk and looked over Larry Virgil’s file. Nothing new jumped out at me, and the questions that arose weren’t about Larry Virgil. They were about the truck and the frozen man. Surely by now the truck driver had been questioned. Was he a suspect? Had he known there was a dead guy in his truck? How the heck could this have happened?

“You look like you got a lot of thinking going on,” Lula said. “You must care a lot about Jennifer Aniston.”

“I was thinking about the frozen man. It really bothers me that he was dressed up like a Bogart Bar. I know this is weird, but it feels like a personal insult. Like someone disrespected the Bogart Bar.”

“You don’t know that for sure,” Lula said. “Maybe it was a homage to a Bogart Bar. Maybe the killer liked this man and wanted to make him look like his childhood favorite memory.”

“The killer killed him! That’s not something you do to someone you like.”

“I see what you’re saying, but maybe being turned into a Bogart Bar is one of the hazards of working in a ice cream factory. Not that I’d let it stop me on account of ice cream factory employment’s on my bucket list.”

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