Taylor fills Artie in on the kidnapping and its aftermath, upholding his dignity with evasions. His story was punctuated by the clink clank and woosh of Peace Love & Coffee at high buzz.
Artie sips cappuccino. “World Tour, it’s like a date rape drug now. That’s probably what they gave you. Market’s flooded with that shit. There’s no trademarks and copyrights.”
“Copyrights?” Taylor says. “I thought you were a Libertarian?”
“It’s criminal,” says Artie. “You can buy it in gas stations now.”
Ox Man’s Razor
“So help me make sense of it Artie.”
“Ox Man’s Razor,” Artie said.
“You mean Occam’s Razor.”
“Whatever. The simplest explanation is the best. The Bulgarian’s running a whore operation. Adora’s his girlfriend-whore. The driver’s his errand boy. And Cammie is their latest recruit. You’re a math nerd. Solve the equation for X.”
Penny the Barista sweeps by on a mission to wipe down tables.
“What they’e doing is illegal and you’re spooking them, obviously,” Artie says. “So stay the hell out of it. What’s this Cammie chick to you anyway?”
“She’s not right in the head, Artie. I can feel it. They’re taking advantage, mentally, she’s a child.”
“And legally, an adult.”
Penny carries a bus tub past them, and both men watched her. Taylor well remembers the sight of her nude on Babe Beach.
Penny, all caffeinated energy, whirls up to the table. “Are you doing okay, Taylor?” she asks. “Do you need anything?”
He shook his head. She smiled and whirled away.
“See that?” Artie squeals. “Are you okay Taylor. Like I’m not sitting here too. You could probably hit that right now. She’d do you in the back room.”
“She knows me because of Dad,” Taylor says. “She’s taking his police science class.
So Taylor takes Penny to lunch, downtown at Author’s Park, where the business crowd met the lunch trucks.
Taylor lobbied for pulled pork sliders. But Penny didn’t eat meat on Fridays, so Taylor gave in to a plate of Thai Veggie Noodles. They scampered to claim a bench under a huge shady oak tree.
Penny flashes him a coy smile. “Your dad is such a cool guy.”
Taylor nodded. He wasn’t going to correct this girl he barely knew. Dan Burns could charm people, but had a mean streak that not many outside the family had seen. There were stories Taylor could tell, but not without betraying his family.
Penny made the Sign of the Cross over herself, touching head, lips, shoulders.
Great, Taylor was thinking. This gorgeous woman is a holy roller, and she’s got a fixation on my dad.
After lunch, Taylor walks her to an overlook, where the Destiny River flows toward Shipwreck Bay. He asks if she wants to go to the theater with him.
“Oh, sorry, not this weekend, I’m busy with the Turtle Guardians, you know about the Turtle Guardians, don’t you?”