Billie and Jackie
It’s cool and dark in the Cornacopia, a restaurant and bar, where Billie sits watching the DJ set up for Karaoke night. She is waiting for her sister Jackie to show so they can go over the day’s business. They don’t have a formal office for their detective work, most clients know they can be found sitting at the corner table affording a view of the entrance. Jackie likes it because she can watch the singers and follow the lyrics on the widescreen TV overhead while Billie prefers to keep her back to the brick wall, a habit from her military police training.
The place is funky and comfortable like a family room with wood paneling and neon signs hung on the walls instead of pictures. The metal lamp shades keep the lighting mellow and the wooden straight back chairs complain with a growl as they are pushed across the blotchy concrete floor.
It’s still early as the fading light of day filters through a window. The crowd is small, a few late diners and a few early drinkers dressed causal in jeans and tee shirts, several women wear flowery summer dresses.
Billie shifts impatiently, propping a foot on the rung of the nearby chair and glances at her watch. Jackie arrives late and they spot each other immediately. Jackie plops down in the chair dropping her voluminous purse on the floor while her huge key ring clanks loudly on the table.
“ I can’t believe the traffic on the Beltline, is there a Duck game tonight?” she says. Her shoulders sag as she removes her stylish coat and hangs it over the chair.
“No, probably just the construction work on the I-5 on ramp,” Billie answers and sips her water.
“How would you know?” Jackie asks, as her sister does not drive.
“There’s this thing called the news on TV,” Billie retorts.
“At any rate Mrs. Audrey is fine, her daughter and granddaughter are fine and I’m tired of the three generations soap opera,” Jackie sighs as the waitress brings her a glass of water and refills Billie’s.
Detective work can be trying, looking out for an ex addict and her children isn’t glamorous but is part of the job.
“Better you deal with them then CSD or the Springfield cops,” Billie says as consolation to her sister’s thankless work. Jackie shakes her head but is grateful for the faint praise.
Billie smiles at her older sister as the petite woman tosses her long blonde hair over a shoulder and removes large horn rimmed glasses in order to touch up her make up, squinting in the tiny mirror.
She is an attractive woman at forty five and Billie can’t figure out why her sister has not snagged a husband. She looks out the window to hide her brooding. Oh yeah, that’s right, Jackie has bad luck with men. More like poor taste, Billie amends but does not want to judge her harshly because she is lucky enough to have a great partner like Wally.
Her attention is snagged by a man standing outside of a bar across the street.
“Good God, is that Kohler?” Billie blurts out and Jackie puts her glasses on to take a look herself. They watch the man sway unsteadily as he gestures wildly in animated conversation with another man.
“Yeah, well let’s get this over with while the night is still young,” Jackie says in mild irritation. Billie rises marginally faster than Jackie.
Kohler makes his way to a worn out black pick up truck, fishing in his pocket for the keys. When he looks up there is a woman in glasses, a long denim skirt and a flowery blouse leaning against it.
“Oh jeez, not now,” he groans, knowing what she wants.
“ Hi Fred, what’s up?” Jackie says with false sincerity.
“Come on, don’t be busting my balls again. I got no money to pay Grace this month.”
“Fred, if you can afford a new truck and go out drinking with your buddies, you can afford child support. Don’t be an asshole and we won’t have to do this anymore,” Jackie says with arms crossed.
Leaving your wife is one thing, leaving your kid is unforgiveable to Jackie and she tries to keep her fury in check.
“It’s a used truck and I deserve a beer after a long day’s work. Give me a break,” he explains as he tries very causally to unlock the truck.
“ You are behind on your payments Fred, just deal with it,” Jackie says, unimpressed with his pleas.
Fred is tired of the game his ex wife is playing and advances on Jackie who takes a defensive stance.
“You can tell that bitch I’m not giving her or that screaming brat another dime. She can go to hell,” he pulls himself up but Jackie knows he’s all bluster. She takes off her glasses and stashes them in her pocket. She is not afraid of confrontation but she can feel the adrenaline flowing. Fred misreads her body language and takes a threatening step toward her. The sound of the hood slamming stops him and turning around he sees another short but stockier woman holding his keys and the coil wire.
“ You really shouldn’t drink and drive,” Billie intones like a PSA.
He cringes, remembering the key in the door before he was deliberately distracted. Billie tosses the keys to Jackie.
“You drive when you pay up,” Jackie smiles as the two walk away leaving Fred dejected but too tired to argue.