Sitting in a chair in Scarlet’s living room, Sam Barton was exasperated. He had searched the entire place and found nothing. Not one scrap of evidence to suggest what happened to her. Sam had tried her cell phone several times with no answer. As he sat and thought about the whole thing he had to admit that he didn’t know her that well. The times that they spent together were fun but not very deep. Their’s was more a physical relationship. They drank, made love, saw some movies, listened to some bands play and that was about it. No deep conversations or secrets were shared. In fact, when Sam made a move to get closer by getting to know her better she became somewhat distant and their relationship slowly dissolved. Remaining friends was easy because they hadn’t been that close. And now it seemed, she was in trouble and Sam was completely unable to help her. Hearing the sound of someone coming through the door downstairs and thinking it might be the cops coming back, Sam got up to leave. As he reached for the door, it pushed open at him and he ran right into Scarlet coming in.
“Scarlet? What’s…where have you been? I thought you were…”
“Whoa Sam, what are you, what’s with the crime tape and… what’s going on here?”
“That’s what I’d like to know,” said Sam. “I came over to check on you. You didn’t go to work last night, your door was smashed in and you were missing.”
“Did you call the cops, Sam?”
“Yes. It looked like something bad had happened here. You had me worried.”
“Well that’s just great Sam. Thanks for that,” Scarlet said, sarcastically. “Now I’ve got to contend with the cops. Great! What were you thinking?”
“What was I thinking? Your door was smashed in, you didn’t go to work and you were missing! What was I supposed to think?”
“Oh I don’t know, maybe that I have a life of my own and I can do as I please without interference from you? Maybe that’s what you should have thought. So I lost my key and I didn’t want to call you in the middle of the night for your key, which reminds me, I’ll take that key back now that you’re here,” Scarlet said, holding her hand out. “So I kicked my door in and I,” she hesitated, “I’ve been out of town.” Gesturing with her hand she said, “My key, please.”
Sam was floored. This was not the Scarlet he knew. She was extremely agitated, and downright angry with him. Had he made a mistake? Was there really nothing going on here? Sam didn’t think so but neither did he think that this was the time to press it. Taking out his keys and removing hers from the ring Sam said, “Scarlet, you know you can trust me. You can come to me with anything. If, if something’s going on here, if you need help…..” Scarlet waved him off.
“Nothing’s going on here Sam, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Taking back her key, she softened her tone. “Look, I’ve got some things to do Sam, so maybe I’ll see you later. I ah, yeah. I guess I’ll be busy for a few days so we’ll talk again next week or something.”
Sam reached up to pinch the bridge of his nose. “Alright Scarlet, I’ll leave you to it. Do you want me to call the cops and let them…”
“No Sam, I’ll take care of it.”
“You know you can call me, right?” Sam said.
“Yeah, Thanks.” And she shut the door in Sam’s face.
Sam stood outside the door for a few moments wondering what the hell just happened. None of this made any sense at all. As a detective, Sam was pretty good at knowing when people were hiding something. And Scarlet was defiantly hiding something. She was tense and defensive, as if she just got caught doing something she shouldn’t. Her eyes had kept shifting around while she talked, barely looking Sam in the eye. And now he knew the truth. He really didn’t know her at all. And also as a detective Sam knew, he couldn’t leave this alone. He’d have to get to the bottom of whatever this was. Great, he thought. Another case I won’t get paid for. But it was more than that. Scarlet was his friend. Whatever it was she was into, as long as she was hiding it Sam knew it wasn’t good. He’d have to figure it out and help her if he could.
As he drove away, Sam decided to play dumb with the cops. If they contacted him he would say that Scarlet said she would clear things up with them. He wouldn’t reveal his suspicions about what might be going on here. That way he’d be free to investigate without them knowing. After driving around town awhile thinking things over, Sam almost got hit at a four way stop. He realized he wasn’t paying attention to his driving and so he went to a local watering hole to drink. Sam was a regular at this place and knew the bartender, Andy.
“Jameson?” Andy asked as Sam sat on a stool.
“That’ll do,” said Sam. The place was dark and quiet, just the way Sam liked it. A jukebox in one corner mostly played blues and Jazz tunes. A few other regulars were scattered about, minding their own business.
When Andy brought Sam’s whiskey he said, “You look like you’ve got a lot on your mind today, Sam. What’s the trouble?” When Sam told him what the trouble was, Andy remarked, “You know it’s funny. I just saw that woman the other day.” Sam raised his eyebrows, questioningly. “I remember you brought her in here a couple times. She seemed nice, and she does that radio gig, right?” Sam nodded. “Yeah, I saw her getting into a car. Nice one. I mean really nice, like a Bentley or something. Like a, like a limo type. Couple guys in suits with her. Nice suits ya know? Like ah, silk or something. All dark windows on the thing so I couldn’t see inside, but the driver, he held the door for them all, and he was a big dude. Dark glasses. I was walking past ya know, and because I remembered her I guess I was kind of watching ya know, and that driver, he gave me a look like, mind your own business buddy, ya know? I just looked away and moved along. Don’t want no trouble, ya know?”
“Shit Andy, Why didn’t you tell me?” Sam exclaimed.
“What do ya mean, why didn’t I tell you? I’m tellin’ you now! I haven’t seen you in a couple weeks and this just happened the other day.”
“When and where, Andy?”
“Jesus, Sam. Calm down!”
“You know what Andy?” Sam said loudly, rising from his stool. “No one in whole history of being told to calm down has ever actually calmed down! Where and when?!”
“Alright! Christ man!” Andy said. “It was ah, two days back. Yeah, two days. And it was ah, on 2nd Avenue downtown. You know, down where all those office blocks are at.”
“What were you doing down there?”
“Nevermind, Detective, I got my reasons, he said, defensively.” Andy walked away to wait on another customer while Sam thought about what he said. What the hell was that woman into? He never imagined she would have friends that dressed in silk suits and rode around in limos. Unless, unless they weren’t friends. Sam called Andy back over, apologized for getting upset with him and then grilled him for another half hour on everything he could remember about Scarlet, the car and her new friends. And then he left the bar. He had a few scraps of information but nothing too solid. But he knew one thing for sure. He wasn’t going to figure this out sitting at a bar. He needed to be out on the streets.