3rd day | excerpt chapter 7
“We have a common goal, remember that,” Jake says surly to Zoe as they sit across from each other in the Red Ninja in Palomino Town. They had been arguing all morning about the commotion in the media over Soleil, the dead women and the Church of Bells.
The atmosphere in the only Japanese restaurant in town is breathtakingly mysterious, Mr. and Mrs. Saito have truly created an otherworldly experience for their guests. Burgundy walls are painted with cherry trees, and in the corner near the door towers an impressive statue of a Japanese warrior. Near the opposing wall a fountain splashes soothingly as tea lights illuminate the rippling surface of the water, and as befits a true Japanese establishment, there is a huge aquarium in the middle of the room that acts as a room divider. Girls in pale blue kimonos serve artfully prepared dishes, accentuated by the gentle light of lanterns above the tables. They walk around inconspicuously, with demure smiles that cannot be wiped from their carefully made-up faces, not even if a complaining customer were to try.
The first few times they visited, Zoe couldn’t take her eyes off the Japanese Warrior who seems to be watching the guests from his corner, or maybe he was placed by the door for protection, she had mused. But this time, Zoe and Jake have little regard for their surroundings; they only have eyes for each other and continue their war with words.
Zoe shrugs and looks at Jake coldly. “I found the body, remember, I had to deal with the police and all that.”
“Um, didn’t you agree to take that adventure upon yourself?” asks Jake haughtily. “So, stop complaining.”
With a vengeance, Zoe puts her glass of wine down on the table. She is so tired of this bickering; every time she and Jake sit down to discuss something, they end up arguing, like a bad habit.
“Why couldn’t you have found the body, since you like being in the spotlights?” says Zoe with that defiant look in her eyes that Jake can’t stand.
“Because I can’t let Theodore out of my sight. And believe me, I have enough trouble with the police as it is. They are keeping an eye on me because they think I assaulted Soleil.”
Zoe raises an eyebrow and stares hard at Jake, “Maybe you did.”
Jake is about to explode, now she’s going too far, way too far. It is none of her business what strategy he used to get Soleil out the door. But he puts on his poker face; he doesn’t give his wife the satisfaction. Instead, he smiles and asks with over-the-top politeness if he should order another carafe of wine.
“Okay, maybe it’s good if the police follow me, and if they aren’t doing that already, I’ll get them to follow me,” Jake says.
“Forgive my ignorance, but why on earth would you want that?” Zoe rolls her eyes, this confirms it, her husband is nuts.
Jake says nothing. Let her figure it out. He looks around and raises an eyebrow, this crazy expensive Japanese restaurant hired students of all ethnicities and dressed them up in kimonos. My God, I paid for the Japanese experience, where is it? he thinks when a Polish girl with chopsticks in her hair approaches their table. You look idiotic, Jake mentally tells the diligent girl.
“You know, Zoe, you need to be a little louder, because over there in the corner is Miss Stone from Stone Revelations,” Jake says, pointing with his head to where Samantha Stone has just sat down with her colleagues.
“Oh shit,” whispers Zoe, “I wasn’t paying attention.”
“I’m not kidding, you need to raise your voice. Let them think they’re getting some good intel,” Jake says conspiratorially.
Zoe shakes her head, she can’t follow her husband today. “Have you been drinking wine with Theodore?” she asks incredulously.
“Well, no, Theodore is on a diet as far as alcohol is concerned. He’s taking an experimental drug for Alzheimer’s.”
“How is he, by the way?”
“He’s fine, I have to listen to endless stories about the past, but I sit it out; the more information the better”.
“Does he talk about Shannen often?” asks Zoe, closing her eyes for a moment.
“Yes, babe,” says Jake with sudden empathy, “lots of stories about Patricia, Shannen and the baby, and the good old days at Coply Classics. But we shouldn’t talk about that now.” Then he raises his voice; “Zoe, did you check up on Ben and Carlita?”
Zoe gets the hint, so much the better, she can’t bear to think about Shannen right now.
“Sure. After I showed the police where the bodies were, I took Harley home and then went straight to Carlita’s. Too bad Ben wasn’t home. We sat down and she told me she had just had a visit from two detectives, then I tried to touch upon Ben’s special day, but she was too eager to watch the police dig up the bodies. Oh please, that woman is all over the place, no wonder Ben never brings her to his church events. Anyway, I couldn’t get her to focus and tell the whole story, so I went with her and we watched the squad’s activities. The officer who took my statement saw Carlita and me together.” Zoe sighs.
“Aha, all the better I would say,” Jake says contentedly, “let them speculate.”
Zoe chuckles. For real, she had expected Jake to be annoyed, but apparently he likes it if things get complicated. “And what about your assignment, did you talk to Joseph Brand?”
“Of course, I have spoken to him on the phone several times at his request. He says it is not safe to meet in person now. He is busy studying old books and documents and he is optimistic, he feels he is beginning to understand the principle behind the ways of old. He is ready to approach Ben, he says.”