Taylor visits Artie’s condo to invite him to the Wonder Bar. Artie says no thanks. He figures that after he made time with Billie, the Bulgarian is looking to whip his ass.
“What’s this girl Cammie to you anyway?” asks Artie.
“She’s in trouble,” says Taylor, “I know it.”
Artie keeps turtles, creatures he admires because they can protect themselves by pulling into their own shells. Besides, he claims, they can feel no pain.
“I feel like you’re frustrated by what happened to your mom,” Artie says. “You’re obsessed with this Cammie. You should be more like a turtle. Pull your head in.”
Artie says the Sheriff has new information in his mom’s disappearance. The deputy is bugging Artie because he was the last one to see her alive.
“The deputy was a she.” Artie said, and dug a card out of his wallet. “Bonnie Blanchard. We pay these cops’ salary? God knows why. They’re useless, except for busting in on honest citizens. Here. She keeps asking questions about you, Taylor.”
The police believe Artie had a reason to resent Liz Burns, and possibly a motive to harm her. But Artie is keeping that a secret from Taylor.
Wall of women
Taylor goes alone to the Wonder Bar, where he runs into a wall of women. One of them is Steffie. His female friend tease him for attending Ladies Night.
“How awkward to see you.,” Steffie says.
Taylor too felt embarrassed, since just a few nights ago they were in a sweaty drunken tangle at the beach cottage. Intimate then, ironic distance now.
“So you’re here shopping for companionship?” he asked.
“No, I’m a girl on a budget. The cocktails are half price, and the pupus are free.”
Sitting alone and looking miserable in one corner is Adora. She always orders the a glass of the cheapest wine, and never even sips it.
Taylor finds it curious that Adora is supposedly the girlfriend of Nick the Bulgarian. But he didn’t bring her to the party on Poke Island.
“Hello, you’re Adora, right, I’m…”
“So you’re the one calling my cousin. She does not want to talk to you.”
No doubt Cammie had sent Taylor sexy signals. But he wasn’t going to reveal that to her older cousin.
“Her father rules our house,” Adora says, “and we must marry the people like us. I am not good with words. Stick to your own type. Watch out. Cammie’s father is very mean. Stop calling. Cammie does not like you. She does not even know who you are.”
Well, that was a lie. Thanks Adora. You bitch.
Maggie, boss of the Wonder Bar, knows Taylor’s living in the Heartbreak Hotel. Karen Slater, who’d dumped him, was her lifetime friend. “Sorry, Taylor. I know you’re down. But there are a lot of single women in this town. Maybe Karen did you a favor.”
“How’s she doing out in California?” Taylor asked.
“Pretty good,” Maggie lied.
Tasha is the afternoon D.J. on The Messenger, 88.6 on your radio dial. She not only spins tunes and blathers into the mic, she gathers crime reports, keeps the FCC log, and on occasion rewires the failing equipment. She’d shot to the local fame with her reporting on the Jefferson Road Strangler. Six females had gone to their watery graves, the police and public asleep until Tasha broke the story.
The case was finally solved not by the dopey cops but by Taylor’s father, who’d been hired as a private investigator.
Steffie sees Maggie and Tasha talking with Taylor, and in a fit of jealousy declares her intent to marry him
“So, Tasha, I see you’ve met my husband.” Steffie kisses Taylor on the cheek. She wraps a bar straw around her finger. “See my wedding ring? Jealous yet?”
“Yeah, this Nick,” Tasha says: “He’s a pimp.”
“So I’ve heard,” Taylor said.
“He runs some dive out on Airline Road,” Tasha says “I can find out more from my cops. They owe me, the bastards, for all the bullshit they put my family through.”
Tasha was bored by the bouncing Bulgarian and his behemoth boner. She was committed to Joey Warkowski, the most famous fellow ever to escape the foggy little city of Shipwreck Bay.
But with Nick dancing, most of the other women at the Wonder whooped it up. A few, including Steffie, danced with the Bulgarian. But when Nick dropped his trousers, the freckled blonde college girl leaped up and ran for the exit.
Finally the red spotlight dimmed and the sweating Bulgarian stepped down from the stage and into his shirt and trousers. The lanky Asian woman, the one Maggie had called Lady Sourpuss, strode for the exit. But she stopped in the shadows to whisper to Nick.
“That’s Adora, right?” Tasha asks Taylor. “That’s the woman you came here to see.”
“He’s the pimp,” Tasha said. “So who is she?”