That night, after Lenny got home, he couldn’t sleep. But not for lack of trying.
He tossed and turned. He watched TV. He smoked a joint…
He did some soldering on the sub-woofer of his surround sound. He vacuumed his fish tank. He got Griffin stoned by blowing smoke in his face and pestered him with the laser pointer…
Finally he threw in the towel. Even though he knew it was wrong–in fact, it was possibly the worst thing he could have done at that particular moment–he drove to Trish’s apartment. But he didn’t take the Ranchero. He drove his crappy Dodge Intrepid instead.
But before he did that, he did the absolute worst thing he could have done at that moment, or whenever…he triggered the fake panel in his bedroom closet where the safe was and grabbed his 92G Beretta. Just in case…
So when he gets there–Trish’s apartment complex–he backs into one of the furthest parking spots, but where he still had a good view.
John Garabedian’s Open House Party was on. It was about 2:30 a.m.
He could see Trish’s bedroom window. Her light was off.
He was in that netherworld between consciousness and sleep when the sweep of intense headlights jolted him. A car slowly passed. The driver pulled up, not far from where he was parked, and backed into a parking place.
Lenny slid down in his seat. He watched the car, waiting for the dome light to come on. It didn’t. A figure in a dark hoodie suddenly stood up between the cars.
Lenny felt–like a lurch–of ice water course through his guts and run down the nerve endings of his legs. The sensation shocked him. He had felt this feeling only once before–when he was magnet fishing in a business park on South Main and almost stepped on a copperhead.
The figure quietly shut the door and emerged from the cars dressed from head to toe in black. It was obviously a guy…a guy on the smallish side.
Before he walked across the road toward the apartments, the guy stood perfectly still except that his head moved as he scanned his surroundings. Then he started walking in the direction of Trish’s apartment.
Lenny eyes were glued to the guy’s every move, even though he told himself that there was no way he was going there. No way. The guy was going someplace else. To his own apartment…or to a friend’s.
Lenny told himself that until the guy walked up to Trish’s stairwell and began to climb the stairs.
“What the hell?” Lenny said out loud.
She had debated with herself about whether or not to have a big presence. Ultimately she decided to go it alone. Well, almost alone.
She looked at the enormous man; his left arm was in a cast from his hand to his elbow, which she didn’t understand. He had just screwed up his hand.
But Fletcher insisted that he needed surgery. And she guessed he really did…since Fletcher was only a family doctor. If he’d been an orthopedic doctor she would have demanded a second opinion.
“Jo Jo, when they buzz the door, you buzz me before you let them in.”
Jo Jo fiddled with the console to the security screen.
“Are you listening to me?”
“Yeah. You’ve said it a thousand times. I’ll buzz you before I let them in.”
She poured the vermouth into the Gordon’s and stirred. “And if you hear anything, shouting…whatever, you let whoever they leave out here have it. You understand?…Then you go pick up your girl and your mom and you get the hell out of town.”
Jo Jo nodded. “But nothin’s gonna happen,” he said.
She picked up the martini glass and walked through the curtain. But before she did she told him, “I’m sure you’re right. We just have to be prepared. Like I said, your mom and your girl. No one else. There won’t be time.”