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Cook, Glen - Garrett 11 - Whispering Nickel Idols

Cook, Glen - Garrett 11 - Whispering Nickel Idols -...

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WHISPERING NICKEL IDOLS A GARRETT, P.I. NOVEL By GLEN COOK This one is for my mom, who was a rock in a turbulent stream. With thanks to Jim K. and Ellen W. 1 There I was, galumphing downstairs, six feet three of the handsomest, ever-loving blue-eyed ex-Marine you’d ever want to meet. Whistling. But it takes me a big, big bucket to carry a tune. And my bucket had a hole in it. Something was wrong. I needed my head examined. I’d gone to bed early, all by my own self. And hadn’t had a dram to drink before I did. Yet this morning I was ready to break into a song and dance routine. I felt so good that I forgot to be suspicious. I can’t forget, ever, that the gods have chosen me, sweet baby Garrett, to be their special holy fool and point man in their lunatic entertainments. I froze on the brink of my traditional morning right turn to the kitchen. There was a boy in the hallway that runs from my front door back to my kitchen. He was raggedy with reddish ginger hair all tangled, a kid who was his own barber. And his barber was half blind and used a dull butcher knife. There were smudges on the boy’s cheeks. He stood just over five feet tall. I made him about twelve, or maybe a puny thirteen. His tailor was a walleyed ragpicker. I assumed he had a pungent personal aura, but wasn’t close enough to experience it. Was he deaf? He’d missed the racket I’d made coming down. Of course, he had his nose stuck in the Dead Man’s room. That view can be overwhelming, first time. My partner is a quarter ton of dead gray flesh resembling the illegitimate offspring of a human father and pachydermous mother, vaguely. In the nightmare of some opium-bemused, drunken artist. “Makes you want to jump in his lap and snuggle up, don’t he?” The kid squeaked and backed toward the front door, bent over so he sort of probed his way with his behind. “And you would be?” I asked, more interested than I could explain just by my finding a stranger marooned in my hallway. The kitchen door squeaked. “Mr. Garrett. You’re up early.” “Yeah. It ain’t even the crack of noon. Clue me in, here.” The party exiting the kitchen was Dean, my live-in cook and housekeeper. He’s old enough to be my
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grandfather but acts like my mom. His turning up explained the kid. He was lugging something wrapped in dirty old paper. Dean collects strays, be they kittens or kids. “What?” “You’re up to something. Else you wouldn’t call me Mr. Garrett.” Dean’s wrinkles pruned into a sour face. “The sun always sets when there is fear of saber-tooth tigers.” That means you see what you’re afraid to see. My mother said it a lot, in her time. “This house is safe from tigers.” I stared at the boy, intrigued. He had a million freckles. His eyes sparkled with challenge and curiosity and fright. “Who’s this? How come he’s poking around my house?” I kept on staring. There was something appealing about that kid.
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