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D Is For Damien: Chapter 13

A Visitor

DAMIEN DROVE HOME that morning in a light rain. All that he had just read kept running through his head. "71% of this world"? What was that supposed to mean? Scorpio had to hate the whole world. Obviously it had to mean something, though, else why would Morris lead him through all of that just to let him know it? He doubted even Morris was that diabolical.

It was about five-thirty when he got home. Dawn was quite near. He parked the Countach and looked around the house a little, just to make sure everything was all right, and then, stretching, let himself inside with his key to go catch a few hours of sleep. It had been a long night.

He awoke around eight, half in a stupor, but feeling better than he had before he'd slept. For a moment or two he just lay there, staring at the posters on his ceiling. It took him another minute to figure out that he really hadn't awakened himself, but had in fact awakened to the sound of someone knocking softly on his door. An unusual thing for him, he yawned and called, "Come on in."

The door opened and Harvey peered in timidly. "Really? No kidding?"

"I said come in, didn't I?" Damien asked, rubbing his eyes and swinging his legs over the side of the bed.

Harvey entered the room and shut the door softly behind him. He stood before Damien for a moment, looking around the room, while Damien tried to wake himself up completely. Damien finally looked at him and gave him a stern frown. "Harve, I didn't let you in here for nothing. Speak up before I change my mind and throw you out."

"There's some guy here," Harvey said, shuffling his feet against the carpet. "He says he's a detective and knew somebody named Morris. He wants to talk to you. Luce tried to get somethin' outta him, but he won't talk."

Damien sat there rubbing one eye, growing suspicious. Morris had never said anything about any other detective, and even if he would have, he seemed to be--have been (Damien found himself to be having a hard time adjusting to the past tense in this case)--more of a loner. So where did this guy come from so suddenly, and why now? Still, his curiosity was burning--maybe the guy had more info that Morris hadn't told him. In any case he had to find out. He put his hand on Harvey's shoulder and got up. "Okay, Harvemeister. Show me the way."

Harvey left the room, Damien following. They passed through the kitchen out to the utility room. As soon as they got to the porch Damien put his hand on Harvey's shoulder again and Harvey, understanding, departed, shutting the door behind him. Damien gave him a moment to leave the utility room, then turned around and looked out the porch window. The detective was standing there, waiting for him. He pushed the screen door open and skipped the steps outside to meet him.

"Lieutenant Dick Mabarak," the detective said as soon as he saw Damien, stepping forward and putting out his hand. Damien shook it. "You're Damien. I know you from your file."

Damien nodded. "All you cops do. What do you want to know?"

Lieutenant Mabarak leaned against his car, playing idly with a switchblade knife. Damien had a sort of sixth sense which allowed him to quickly judge the temperament of most people, and Mabarak was no exception. He could tell that this detective wasn't at all like Morris--he appeared to be curt, to the point, and was rather stern looking. While Morris had been short and snappish, Mabarak was taller, had a hawkish look to his face, and kept quiet. Damien noticed that there was a toothpick, not a cigarette, sticking from his mouth. Now he stood up straight again and spoke.

"There are mysterious circumstances surrounding Detective Morris's death," he said.

"No duh," Damien replied. Wow, were these guys sharp or what? "The guy was shot. Who's to say this is just some normal, everyday way to kick the bucket?"

Mabarak snorted, closed the knife quickly and put it away--only to pull it back out and start flipping its blade again. He seemed to be a rather nervous sort--maybe not quite nervous, but perhaps a little irritable. Probably too much coffee, Damien thought with annoyance. "Seeing as you're the only one who witnessed--as much as you can call overhearing on the phone witnessing--Morris's killing, you're the only lead we have in finding out just who killed him and why." He looked at the switchblade thoughtfully and ceased talking for several moments. Damien, growing edgy, shifted from foot to foot, hands in pockets.

"Hey, you want anything?" he asked, to break the stillness filled with nothing but the droning of cicadas. "Drink, food, smoke?"

Mabarak shook his head and removed the toothpick. "Don't smoke. Bad for the lungs. And it's too hot to eat."

Damien shrugged. "I don't smoke, either. Just thought you might...." His voice drifted off as he thought of how much Morris had smoked. Bad for the lungs, he thought. How about bad for--? "Okay, you took the time to get here. Now what is it exactly that you want, anyway?"

"I want to get to the bottom of this," Mabarak said, steadily fixing his eyes on Damien's and again flipping the knife. They both stared at each other. "Something's screwy in this town and it needs to be fixed up. You're the man I need to do just that."

Damien said nothing for a moment. Something seemed out of place here. He finally just shrugged. "Sure, I'm game if you are. What, you got something against Scorpio too?"

"You could say I got something to do with them," Mabarak replied, putting away the knife again and going around to get in his car, an old, dusty thing which Harvey and the kids would probably call a land barge. "My number's in the phone book. I'm going to be there for a while. Call it vacation. I'll see you soon." He climbed in and the motor started with a loud, rusty roar, and the car pulled out in a cloud of dust. Damien waved it away as best he could with his hand, trying to see the license number of the car. He only succeeded in discovering that the sides of the car weren't the only parts that were so dirty. The plate was nearly invisible. Coughing, he headed back inside.

He met Harvey just inside the door as he entered, brushing dust from his clothes. Harvey tugged his shirt with a strange look on his face. "Hey Dami, that detective guy--what's his name?"

"Mabarak Something-Or-Other," Damien replied, heading for the kitchen to wash his hands. "Police lieutenant or something like that. What, you suddenly interested in police work?"

"Was that his car? The real dusty one?"

"The land barge as you'd call it? Yeah, I suppose that was his." Damien was barely listening to his nephew now, heading for the sink and already planning what he was going to say to Mabarak when they met again.

"Hey Dami, I got somethin' to tell you," Harvey said, following like a puppy and tugging his shirt again as Damien reached the sink. "You see, that car--"

"Dami!" There came a thudding sound of small feet running and Cynthia appeared in the doorway. "Dami, can you get Woogie for me? Mommy put him up on the shelf an' I can't reach him up so high."

"Sure, Cynthia, sure," Damien said, turning off the water and shaking his hands at the air. "Just hold on a sec."

"Dami, about that car," Harvey started.

"Yeah yeah yeah, what about the car?" Damien said, not really listening, searching instead for a towel and a stool to stand on so he could reach Cynthia's toy.

"That Mabarak guy. You say that dirty car was his. Well, the other day when we were out at the tree--"

"Dami!" Cynthia called, running back down the hall. "Woogie's scared of being up so high! He wants down!"

"Yeah Cynthia, I hear you!" Damien shouted back, growing exasperated as he quickly dried his hands and grabbed a footstool. "Go tell Woogie help's on the way, okay? Just hold on."

Harvey pleaded, "Damien, I have to tell you--"

"Listen, Harve, can it wait till later?" Damien asked, heading for Cynthia's room. "I'm in the middle of a crisis here. Tell me when I'm done here, okay?"

"But, Dami--"

"Later!" He disappeared in the direction of Cynthia's and Timothy's room, footstool in hand. Harvey, left behind in the kitchen, sighed dejectedly and turned to go outside. He knew that this news shouldn't wait.

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