“Kinko's in his Kinko car, pockets full of change
lots of dirty pictures and sticky candy canes.
All the kids love Kinko for the presents that they get
silly leather clothes to wear and happy cigarettes. "
-Sung by Ogden Edsl
(“Kinko the Clown”)
Nathan was still in bed at home, which made me feel a little sorry to call him, but I had to have his permission.
He wasn’t happy, but he had me hand the phone to the desk sergeant.
“He says you can talk to the prisoner,” the gruff man behind the desk told me, “Then he said you should take the phone and put it…”
I was already walking away before I got instructions that neither of us wanted to see me try to follow.
Lawrence Pressman looked like a bird in a cage in the midst of a clowder of cats. He recognized me at once, and was glad to see a mildly friendly face. At least I was someone who didn’t want, right away, to collect the reward that had undoubted been put on his head.
“You’re Savage, right?” he said, raising his head about an inch from the nearly fetal position he had been in probably since I left.
“Yeah, I want to ask you if you would like to collect some pay for the hazardous duty you are serving.”
He looked around and leaned in to me, “Can you get me out of here?”
I shook my head, “That’s not going to happen, but I can put a great deal of money in an account you can get to when you get out, and then I can hire the best lawyer in the country to make sure you will.”
He was loosening up as I spoke.
I’ve always found if you don’t try to bullshit people they know it. A man who knows he’s getting the truth is more likely, if he doesn’t think you are just stupid, to negotiate.
“What do you want?” he started, then interrupted himself, “First, how much?”
“How does a quarter mill sound?”
A real smile played across his face. It was like he was imagining all the things he wanted to buy, all at once.
“What do you want?”
“You got paid to do the theater job. I know the money came from Walter Simonson, but he didn’t hand it to you. I want to know who handed it to you. I also want to know where he gave it to you. I also want to know anything else you know about the organization.”
“Ooooh, no,” He withdrew into the corner of the cell, “Those mothers are crazy. They would kill me as soon as look at me. Hell, they had cops try to kill me when I got here. I wouldn’t last ten minutes in a holding cell waiting for trial.”
“They plan to kill you whether you tell me anything or not,” I moved in, right in his face, “Don’t tell me and you will be in the general population and dead before lunch. Tell me what I want, convince me it is everything you know, and I’ll see you are segregated and safe. I will make sure you are set up for life when you get out and that you will get out. That’s your choice. Live and live well, or they will kill you, talk or no.”
“Damn,” he laughed. “What do you sell? That’s got to be what made you rich, right? You sold something?”
“No, I never sold anything,” I sat back, “Sometimes I killed bad guys, sometimes I protected good guys. I’m much better at the latter.”
His chest went out, thinking I had placed him among the good guys. I hadn’t, but he wouldn’t think that. No matter how awful people are, they usually think of themselves as the good guys in their own stories. No one, in their heart, thinks of themselves as the villain, much less a super-villain. Dr. Doom just thinks he can run the world better than those in charge are doing it now. Maybe he’s right; he’s just going about it the wrong way. Like killing everyone in an opera house.
No matter how he sees himself, you can’t forget who he really is. We want to see the “nice person” in his heart, but you cannot forget he murdered people for money. When he was dead I would shed no tears. But I could not let him die until I got enough information to end the threat from the Church and its leader that hung over my head and everyone around me. Hell, he was a threat to everyone living.
So I will “happy face” with a paid assassin.
“So Larry, do we talk?”
He talked. Like a college freshman on his first cramming session after taking his first speed, he talked.
© C. Wayne Owens