For those who have tried to get to my web site lately I was shut down. I'll be moving my stories to Archerland, which can be found at

The Witness

Chapter 7

His hand steadied me, locking his fingers around my arm.

"You seem like a man in a hurry."

"I need to go find out if my damned truck is still parked in the village. If it got towed I am going to be so pissed --"

"That's what I'm here for." He dangled a set of car keys in front of him. They weren't mine. "I figured the least I could do is drive you back to your car."

"Thanks. I appreciate that."

"That all your stuff?" He eyed my ruined Armani jacket bundled up in one hand. I had left my laptop case in the Escalade.

"I didn't exactly leave the house yesterday expecting to spend the night."

"Funny." A small smile played around David's pockmarked face. "You always struck me as the type who comes prepared for anything."

Why did I get the impression David was flirting with me? I met his gaze and stuck my chin out.

"I usually do. IDing Bank robbers with guns and bullets somehow got left off my to-do list."

"Hmmm," David said. "Those things happen."

He took my arm and led me toward the swinging outer doors. "Come on, I'm double parked. Let's rescue my junk heap before some parking Nazi decides to make an example of me."

His junk heap turned out to be an ancient Volvo which smelled of too much fast food and old sweat. Too many stakeouts? The gears protested and the car jerked away from the curb when he threw it in gear. Then he roared out of the parking lot moving ten miles over the posted speed limit and after a few twists and turns shot onto Sunset going west.

Driving with one hand on the wheel he kept the other on his knee, tapping out a rhythm to the tinny sounds of Garth Brooks coming out of his radio.

"I saw the sketch. You did a good job of describing the perp."

"Thanks. I'm not likely to forget his face for a while."

"Did talking to Claire bring any more memories out?"

I frowned, trying to avoid watching as he ran a stale yellow and zipped past some guy trying to parallel park his Eldorado in a space barely big enough for a Volkswagen.

"I don't know if it means anything." I smoothed an imaginary wrinkle out of my dress pants. "But it seemed to me he had a light tattoo on his neck. Something crude looking. Not like some of the professional work you see on the kids today."

"Like an amateur job?"


David's tapping changed in tempo. "Could be a prison inking. Gang stuff. Maybe our guy's been in one of the aryan rings out of the state pen. That could narrow down the search. Means he's going to go away too, if he's past his third strike."

"So that's a good thing? That I remember it, I mean."

"Could be." David smiled, lighting up his face in a way that made my heart beat faster. "Could very well be. Did the tattoo say anything?"

"Couldn't tell. It really was very pale, washed out. Which would concur with it being a homemade tattoo. I don't imagine they use the best inks."

"You're right there. It's a wonder half of them don't croak from gangrene or blood poisoning. Ah, here we are."

David whipped through another yellow turning red light and slammed on the brakes in front of the bank where it had all happened yesterday. There were still signs of the incident: yellow crime scene tape, a few faint marks on the pavement that might have been James Ronald Overland's blood.

There was no sign of my Escalade. A Honda Civic was parked where I'd been the day before.

I swore under my breath and glared at David.

"Don't worry," he said, snapping on his blinker and pulling back out into traffic. "We'll find it."

He cruised down Melrose.

"Want to go back to your place?" He looked up from maneuvering past a busload of uniformed private school kids. One of them leered out the window at us and gave me the finger when he caught me looking. "You probably want to get cleaned up and changed. I can make a couple of phones calls and find out where they took your vehicle."

"Thanks. Sure, that sounds good."

I told him how to get to my place. He whistled when we pulled up in front of it.

"Computers pay well, do they?"

"Computers pay very well, especially when they don't work." I climbed out of his car and pulled my keys out to let us in the house. "But it also helps to have an inheritance from an indulgent grandmother."

I guess I could see what had impressed him. The house was built in from the road and was set down on the hill, the back half was all flagstone and old brick, pretty impressive even is the strong light. A wooden arch led us into a path that either took you to the terraced backyard or the front door.

I deactivated the alarm, let us in and shut the door behind me. The front foyer was a shallow alcove of white and black marble. Three steps led down into the livingroom where more white and black dominated. The furniture was all white leather and black steel. An enormous marble topped coffee table lay between two couches that faced each other. Underneath, a sizeable Navaho rug covered a large portion of the livingroom floor. A black marble fireplace I hadn't used in years covered part of the nearest wall.

Two hallways ran off in separate directions. The back one led to the bedrooms, the right one to the kitchen. To the left a floor to ceiling window looked out over the L.A. side. Currently a blanket of brown air curled around the distant towers that marked the downtown city center. L.A. at its finest, smog and all.

I caught him taking in the view. I came to stand beside him.

"At night it's pretty spectacular. The lights seem to march on forever."

"It's a big town," he muttered and turned away. "So, where's your phone?"

I showed him then went down the hall to my bedroom, where I stripped, took a quick shower where I managed to avoid getting the bandage on my head wet, though it meant not washing my hair. I toweled dry, slipped on a pair of black cargo pants and a white Izod shirt and headed back out.

David was on the phone, his back to me, staring out the window at the city below. He wasn't saying much so I assumed he had entered the purgatory of hold.

Finally he slammed the phone down and growled something before turning around to find me watching him.

"It's apparently sitting out in a lot near Century City. I can give you a lift there if you like."

"Thanks. I'd appreciate that. Sure I'm not taking you away from work?"

"You're part of my ongoing investigation. I'm obligated to stick with your until I extract all the relevant information."

"Ah," I said, stepping closer. "As long as it's relevant."

Then I leaned in and kissed him.

[More to come]

If you like this story so far, let me know at Patrick's email I'm always happy to hear comments, suggestions, anything.