Rollie and Benny dashed down the alley and rounded the corner. Of course Bobby Sniffen, with the momentary roadblock provided by the meat cleaver mama, was nowhere in sight. No knowing which direction he’d gone, either.
“Shit, man,” said Benny, “we almost had him. Now what are we gonna do?”
Rollie thought for a moment. “If he weren’t so smart,” he said, “maybe he’d go straight home.”
“But we don’t know where he lives, man.”
“Hey, Benny, that’s what phone books are for.”
They went to the payphone out on the street. Rollie flipped through the directory pages and found the address. Sniffen lived just a few blocks away.
“Hey, hey, hey, man” Bobby cheered, “let’s go see if he is that stupid.”
The two put on speed and arrived outside the ramshackle apartment building a few minutes later. They checked the mail slots and found Sniffen in 302.
Bobby asked, “What next? Just go up and knock on the door?”
“Wait right here.”
Rollie ran down the street and turned up an alleyway. He came back quickly.
“There’s no fire escape, and I doubt he’d jump three floors, so yeah, let’s go up there.”
The two ran the stairs like track stars. They paused for a moment.
Benny asked, “We gonna knock or just bust in?”
“Hold on.” Rollie tried the doorknob very carefully. They heard a small click, and Rollie pushed the door. Thankfully it swung open quietly. It was a small room with a bed a table and two chairs. A hotplate, some cups, plates, a pot and a fying pan sat on another table. Other than that, the place was empty.
“Shit, man,” said Benny. “What the fuck do we do now?”
“Eh,” said Rollie, “we don’t need him. We need the book.”
There was a good place to look. They went to the chest of drawers and opened the top drawer.
“Son of a bitch!” said Benny.
Rollie grabbed the book. Mission accomplished. They would get it to Po and the payoff would be good. Great even.
Rollie didn’t know how Benny might feel about it, but he was relieved that Sniffen hadn’t been there. The idea of confronting him had not appealed to Rollie, and he especially didn’t like the idea of Benny maybe having to produce the gun.
Out on the street, Rollie headed for the first phonebooth he saw. He looked up Po’s place in the directory and called.
“I’m sorry,” the woman answering the phone said, “he doing inventory at the warehouse right now.”
Rollie asked, “Do you have a number for there? I need to talk to him.”
“Sure.” She told him the number. He hung up and dialed.
Po answered the phone.
“We have the book,” Rollie said. “Should we bring it to you at the restaurant?”
“Oh, no, now is good. Please to bring to me now.”
Po gave them the directions to the warehouse.
“Eh,” Rollie said, “let’s take the bus. That’s a little farther than I want to walk right now.”
They headed to the bus stop. The bus arrived shortly, and they hopped on.
Rollie opened up the book. “Wow,” he said, “it’s a stamp collection. Weird. Must be worth a lot, huh?”
“Yeah, I guess,” Benny said. “To someone, maybe, but not me, man.”
They watched the addresses on Queen and arrived at the stop. Heading down the alley as Po had directed, they came to the warehouse door.
Po opened it, and without even so much as a hello, grabbed the book. He flipped it open, chuckled with glee, then took it to the desk.
Rollie and Benny followed him in. The place was dirty and messy.
“Did that little punk give you trouble?” Po asked.
“No, Mr. Po,” Rollie said, “we didn’t even have to talk to him.” He told the old Chinese man about how they’d found him at the Follies, just as Po had predicted, and how they at first chased him and lost him, then went to his home and found the book.
“He is even more an idiot than I thought,” Po said. “I will have someone I know teach him a lesson. You have my gun?”
Benny handed it over and Po placed it on the desk.
Rollie asked, “So this collection, it’s valuable?”
Po automatically rubbed his hands together. “It is most valuable to the man from whom it was stolen. I have called him and he will be here shortly to collect the book.”
“You got our money?” Benny asked.
“Stay,” Po said. “He will pay me and I will pay you.”
There was a knock at the door.
Po opened it and stepped back as two very large Koreans stepped through the doorway. Each gripped one of Bobby Sniffen’s arms.
Then in walked Korean syndicate boss, Yu Byung Ki.
Po bowed deeply, even though he thought as much of Koreans as he did of the rats that would run through his restaurant kitchen. No use stirring anything up.
The two muscle men threw Sniffen to the floor in front of Po.
Ki walked up behind the cowering man. “As you can see, Po, I have your dog.”
Rollie wondered where they’d nabbed Sniffen, but was not about to ask.
Yu reached back toward one of his men and was handed a gun.
With a quick motion, he fired a bullet into the back of Bobby Sniffen’s head.
Po, Benny, and Rollie jumped back as the gore splattered over Po.
Yu said, “I dislike very much people who break into my home. It disturbs me to no end. I really should look into installing some kind of burglar alarm. Honolulu is becoming more dangerous by the day.”
He handed the gun back to his man.
He continued, “It seems you have a problem, Po. There’s a dead man in your warehouse. I wonder if you caught him breaking in?”
Po stared at Yu. Yu smiled back. Po’s jaw dropped and his eyes opened wide. <snip>
* * * * *
Today’s word is
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