It began with a note.
Iggy’s Buffet was strangely empty for 1:24 in the afternoon. A couple ceiling fans spun slowly as a strangely upbeat accordion version of Chopin’s Funeral March played throughout the dining room. There were a dozen booths and twice that many tables, with three buffet bars opposite the entrance. A lone waitress leaned against the wall by the salad bar, idly killing flies with a cricket bat.
“Nice place,” I said, as I slid stiffly into the chair opposite the Dame. “Orange and pink wouldn’t be my first choice for a color scheme, but I think it works.”
“What happened to your leg?” she asked. She was dressed in a dark blue business suit with big shoulder pads, her dark haired pulled back in a bun. I was wearing a full suit with a tie because it was laundry day.
“You shot me, remember?” She shrugged. “Where’s the cigarette?”
The Dame leaned back, staring down her nose at me. “There’s no smoking in here.”
“As if that would stop you.”
She looked away. “Trying to quit.”
“That doesn’t really work with the whole film noir theme we have.”
“I could shoot you again, if you like.”
We sat in silence for a moment. There were only two other groups there. A trio of men eating in the far corner and four others eating in the opposite corner. We were smack dab in the middle of an orange and pink themed game of Tic-Tac-Toe. The Funeral March ended, only to be replaced by the Macarena done in Hebrew. It wasn’t bad.
“So,” she finally said, after taking a sip of water. “What took you so long?”
“What do you mean? The note said ‘Iggy’s at 1:20.’”
“The note was put there two days ago.”
“Yes, really.” The Dame leaned forward and poked my arm with a finger. “How the hell did you miss it?”
“Well,” I began, shifting slightly. “It’s wasn’t a very big note.”
“It was in the middle of your computer monitor!”
“Which explained why I was sucking so hard at Minesweeper.”
“I can’t decide,” she finally said. “If you’re very, very clever or just really, really stupid.”
“Can I be both?”
She glared at me and then relaxed. “You did do an amazing job of disappearing. It took almost a year to find you.”
“You didn’t notice the U-Haul truck? The one that I put all my stuff in and then drove away?”
“We thought that was a distraction.”
A small group of doves fly silently by in slow motion as the waitress dropped a glass. The plastic mug bounced twice, a drop of water spraying from the lip. The doves, stark white against the orange and pink, flew into the kitchen.
“Crap,” I said.
“What? I haven’t shot you yet.”
“No, it’s just that I think we’re in a John Woo movie.”
Next: Part 2