Chapter 23: "Square One"
Smith died on the lifeboat. They were in it for about 30 minutes before a Coast Guard patrol picked them up and carried them back down to Westport.
The rain still fell. At about three o'clock, they were back on land. They went inside the office, and Thompson filled out a form and arranged for Pierce County deputies to retrieve Smith's body. He telephoned Coroner Thompson, and gave her the bad news, and told her to send someone down to pick up Smith. The crew were pretty edgy, having just had the weirdest fight they had ever had. And they were sympathetic with Thompson's frustrating situation in losing his colleague. And everyone involved was quietly aware, after being harshly reminded, of how quickly things can go wrong, and that in the blink of an eye, the person right next to you can get harvested.
The Coast Guard had dispatched all sorts of assets—to scour the region, looking for any straggling wolfwomen-filled cigarette boats, or anything else. A murder, a vessel attacked and sunk—high crimes all, hanging offenses.
Thompson felt driven to get the hell out of there, so he did, but not without first thanking the Coast Guard crew for getting them out of the sinking ship, and for their general efforts in the last few days. They expressed their sincerest and subtlest regrets regarding the late Detective Smith. Thompson requested their presence at his funeral, and promised to get in touch regarding further details thereby.
At about noon on Tuesday, concurrent to the daytime-nightmare fiasco off the coast, Veronica and Becca Roller pulled up to the apartment of Sandy and Kitty Licker, having found their way to the apartment primarily by scent alone. The two Rollers had been in the car for at least 24 hours without rest since they left Lopez's office in San Diego, but in their newfound conditions they did not need regular rest; not as they once had.
Sandy opened the door before Veronica knocked, and waved her sister soul mates inside. They had never “officially” met, but they knew one another, inside and out. Old blood love rich as amber. They all exchanged enduring, open-mouthed kisses, then Sandy set them all down on her kitschy couch. She fretted her Stratocaster as her old friends talked.
“The dog whores are loose in your neck of the woods,” Veronica said. “In fact, about five minutes ago, one of them just killed your friend Thompson's sidekick, Detective Smith.”
“Yes, they have gotten somewhat out of hand, eh,” Sandy replied, nearly purring. “But you know they tend to flare up from time to time, like hemorrhoids, and we never have much trouble stuffing them. We'll just track them down, dog-by-dog, either forcing them back into the sewers, or if they remain up here we'll kill every last one of them. It shouldn't take too long, and it shouldn't be that difficult or dangerous.”
The four subtle sisters ate a big plate of noontime nachos, and then all crowded into Sandy's dark, curtained bedroom so the Rollers could get some rest from their last few days on the road. But there was not much sleeping going on in there. For four people with a sum of zero penises, it was still quite a rogering that the fair sisters were able to work out Tuesday afternoon.
A Pierce County ambulance arrived to pick up Smith's body from Coast Guard custody in Westport at about four in the afternoon. When Detective Thompson got back to Tacoma, he went straight to his apartment. He telephoned and had a brief conversation with the lieutenant, whom had already gotten the bad news from the coroner's office. At this point, they were all feeling just about hopeless. They had been fighting a losing battle since the whole thing began, and now they had lost one of their own. And they might have been right, if it were not for the Rollers and the Lickers forthcoming contribution to the fray.
The weather was dark enough to sleep, but Thompson did not. He just sat back in his bed, watching the old classic black-and-white movie channel. He thought about Smith, and Tina, and the rest of the bodies littering the last few weeks of his life.
At about 9 o'clock that evening, there was a knock at his door.