Frankly, I can’t believe I am awake.
Who the fuck gets out of bed during the day?
I really should have charged more for this gig.
The New Hope Taxi Service is owned by a guy called Jerry. Everyone knows him as “Panther”, which Jerry thinks is a pretty cool nickname.
No-one has the heart to tell him its because he always reckons that what ever you have, he has one that is bigger and better. You know… You own a cat… he owns a Panther.
He’s a funny guy, and completely untouchable because of the service he provides to the Cops and the Politicians. Money talks, always has, always will.
I get a strange look from Jerry when I arrive at his office. I’m not sure he knows what I look like in the sunlight.
“Tyler dude, what the fuck you doin’ up at this time of day? I hope you got sunscreen on, this much sunlight is gonna give you cancer for sure!”
“Yeah Panther, I had to go and buy sunnies just for this meeting. How’s it going?”
I must admit, the sunnies do look cool. I should start wearing them at night.
“We’re just getting stuff ready for another run to George Street.” Jerry means that its time to drop a big brown bag of cash up at Parliament House. “You wanna coffee? I can have one for you in a minute.”
Jerry knows my prediliction for caffiene. Short, black, 1 sugar. Fresh ground beans only. Panther makes the best espresso in New Hope. I always drop by during the night to get my fix.
“Thanks Jerry, that is exactly what I need right now. This daytime thing is too hard to handle without caffiene.”
“Cool, one syruppy Jamaican Blue coming right up!”
Christ, you gotta love a guy who knows his coffee beans.
“What can I do for you Tyler?”
“Mate, one of your drivers picked up a young girl at Central Station two days ago, about 3pm. I’m trying to find out where she went.” I replied.
“Well, you know we don’t exactly keep records, but I’ll check with dispatch and find out who was on. is it cool if I get back to you later today?”
“That’s fine Jerry, but pronto would be really appreciated”
Two hours later Jerry texted me the address where the girl got dropped-off.
The Sunset Pines Motor Inn on Mains Road.
Twenty minutes later and I pulled in to the carpark.
This is the sort of classy joint that is chock full of old-world charm. Old paint, old furniture, and even older bedsheets. I don’t think it has been cleaned since it opened back in the 60’s.
Shit, this place gives “dives” a bad name. It even has a flickering neon sign in the window. Nothing quite like a cliche, huh?
The reception was cluttered and the aircon wasn’t working. Fuck I hate the heat, its why god invented aircon. The girl behind the desk looked like she hadn’t seen shampoo and a hairbrush recently.
“Howdy Miss, I’m looking for a young girl who might have booked in here two days ago.”
“Who’s asking?” she replied. Obviously she was new here. She didn’t know me.
“The guy who’s gonna ruin your whole fucking day if you don’t answer his questions, now you seen her or not?”
“Hey, no problem, I was just asking. Yeah a young girl booked into room 82 ‘round the back. She hasn’t left yet.”
“Thanx dollface. Keep it to yourself ok!”
A quick call to little Miss Big-Tits to meet me at room 82, a short walk around the back and this job was CAA-LOSED!
Sure enough, the kid was there. Hell, she looked like shit. All sweaty and pale. She was shaking like a fuckin’ leaf. This kid needed help, fast. She was barely coherent. Fuck knows whats wrong with her.
“Help me mister, please, I think I’m gonna die” she coughed.
There was a knock at the door. That’ll be Miss Big-Tits. Fuck, that was fast!
“Don’t worry kiddo, that’ll be your sister. We’ll get you off to the hospital right away” I said as I opened the door.
“But mister… I don’t have a …”
I don’t remember the next bit. All I know is something smashed into my face, and the world went black.
Black, and that fucking perfume again.
Artemis Jones is a “Cleaner” for the crime bosses of New Hope City.
Think Film-Noir meets Sam Peckinpah.