And other than that, I posted "The picture blog" from the last couple of days-- I really love the aquarium shot at the top, by the way. Is why we like going. And it's funny-- I just CAME from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and I was looking at the way Pixar had imagined the "Morro Bay Aquarium" thinking, "Wow, that place would be nice--we should visit it!"
And I finished a book called Bonfires. Which I really sort of love. And that's exciting--but also exhausting, if you think about going from recital to vacation to finishing a book with two edits on your desk.
So given that the last two weeks have been mostly about fish, I'm going to leave you with a teaser for Fish Out of Water-- where we meet Jackson the PI and Ellery the defense attorney--in a less than perfect moment:
Jackson let out a reluctant chuckle. “You all have been schooled by a man in a suit,” he said with cheerful rancor. “And he’s right. I’ve been humoring you bozos, but you’ve got my official statement—several times. Now either take me in or let me go—but I need some water, and a Band-Aid, and a fucking chair. If you’re not willing to offer me any of that shit, you’ve met my lawyer. He just made you all look like assholes.”
Jackson turned his back on them, damned near kicking the grass backward like a cat pleased with the dump he’d just taken.
“You ready to go, Mr. Cramer?” he asked, heading for Ellery’s car.
“I am indeed. Which towing service do you use?”
Jackson looked at him with a truly ferocious grin. “Don’t need one. Saunders over there”—he jerked his chin toward Dead-eyes—“ran my plates and realized they were obligated to tow the thing anyway, on account of too many parking tickets.”
Ellery groaned. Of course. Of course Jackson would land on his feet.
Except he really wasn’t walking too well.
Ellery clicked his remote so Jackson could get in and then swung into the driver’s seat while Jackson orgasmed over the all-leather interior.
“Oh man,” the guy purred. “This is… mmmm….” He made kneading motions with his fingers and everything. “Is this sort of thing even legal?”
“You should feel it in the winter, when the seats heat,” Ellery said dryly. “Do you need medical attention for your knee?”
That opened Jackson’s eyes right up. “Do you got any ibuprofen, Princess? I don’t want a doctor, but I could seriously use a painkiller and some ice.” His voice sank to a grumble. “Of course I have both a bottle of Motrin and an ice pack in the damned car, but was I allowed to touch it? No-ooo!”
“Part of the evidence too?” Ellery asked, not without sympathy.
“Yeah—all sorts of stuff from my car that they decided they needed. My sports jacket, water, my painkillers, my fuckin’ Taser….”
Jackson was starting to sound loopy, and Ellery asked, “Your insulin?”
He got a grunt in return. “I’m not diabetic,” he muttered.
“Not diagnosed,” he admitted grudgingly. “I just need a fuckin’ granola bar or something. God, that would be awesome. And some ice. And some Motrin. And some—”
“Jack in the Box,” Ellery muttered with distaste. “We’ll have to settle for that.”
Jackson grunted and threw himself back against the seat. “Chipotle?” he asked plaintively. “I’ll buy.”
“If you walked into a Chipotle right now, you’d scare the customers,” Ellery said. “I’ll buy. Where do you live, and where’s the one nearest your house?”
Jackson groaned. “Ugh…. Okay, where the fuck are we again?”
“Well, we just passed a junior high—”
“Fuck—can you find Northgate? Take a right on San Juan and a right on Truxel. There’s probably one closer to my house, but—”
“Yeah, thinking’s a problem right now.”
“It’s been a day!” Jackson snapped. He took a breath. “How’s K?”
“A lot calmer than I would be,” Ellery admitted. “His sister got a chance to visit. They’re sweet together.”
Jackson gave a half laugh and tilted his head back. “Yeah. J and K—always had each other’s backs. Good people.”
“Grade school,” Jackson said, his voice going sour. “We just passed it. I’m going to close my eyes for the rest of the tour if that’s okay.”
Ellery swallowed. He should just stay quiet. He and Jackson had a lot of business to take care of that night. Once Jackson got some food and some first aid, Ellery needed to run a lot of shit by him, because his conversation with Arizona made no goddamned sense and Jackson might have some insight. So yeah. Long night. Leave the guy a—
“This is sort of a rough neighborhood.” Apparently keeping your mouth shut was not the hallmark of a great defense attorney.
“This is a garden spot right here,” Jackson snorted, eyes still closed. “You should have seen it in the nineties.”
“Tell me.” Because the neighborhood had shaped them, hadn’t it? Jade, Kaden, and Jackson. Had made them the tight-knit little band of musketeers they were.
“What’s to tell? Bad neighborhood is bad. The nineties were… well, drugs, gangs, guns—that was the nineties. I mean, they’ve cleaned it up some. The schools started working with the parents who started working with their kids—there’s a whole new thing going on. But back then the good parents were just, you know, good parents. Jade and Kaden’s mom was one of the best. Me and Kaden had each other’s six all through school, so she was good for me too.”
“What about your own—”
Jackson grunted. “Cramer, you know, I got shit for sleep last night, okay? Do I have to tell you about my day? And you and me got shit to sort. I have basic needs right now. I’ve got to fucking eat or I’m going to fucking kill you right fucking now. Some water would be perfect. Motrin would be better. Ice would be icing. And I need to feed my fucking cat, because he got left inside this morning, and if he hasn’t crapped on my bed, he’s probably eaten something I cherish.”
“You have a cat?”
“I’m turning right—are we a grown-up now?”
And that, apparently, was that.
Ellery left him to bleed in the car while he got them food, sodas, and a couple of bottles of water. When he stopped at the gas station for painkillers, Jackson handed him his takeout wrappers, neatly and psychotically rolled into the little round balls, and asked him nicely to put them in the trash.
He came out with a cup of ice, a towel, and Motrin, and was greeted with a genuine—if tired—smile. One that had teeth and made the little crinkles in the corners of those green eyes bunch up. It was just wide enough to show off a slightly crooked front tooth and a quirk to Jackson’s upper lip.
“Thank you,” Jackson breathed, downing about six painkillers before wrapping the ice in a napkin and resting it on his knee. “This is amazing—you’re a totally decent human being and I owe you.”
“You’re very welcome,” Ellery said dryly, starting his car and trying not to fuss too much about the blood and water stains on the gray leather upholstery. “Where to now?”
Jackson grunted. “Do you have a creature or anything? Dog? Cat? Fish? Plant?”
“I have a fish tank with a fake fish and plastic plants. It looks lovely.”
“Well it can feed its goddamned self and it won’t crap on the rug. My place, then—don’t worry, it’s not a shithole. Anyway—get on 80, take 5 to J Street, and I’ll walk you from there.”