Dillon shook his head. “A’ight, gimme the damn thing an’ get outta my face, dork. Jeez, ya make me speak geek like you t’get it through yer head that I get it. An’ you say I’m dumb? Dude.”
“I … never said you were …”
“Dude, just gimme the shit.”
JD handed it to him and swallowed. “Uh … good, okay.”
Wendy sat up and wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. “Oh, man … oh, Dilly, that was great. Great. Whew! JD, what about me? You only have two meters.”
“Yes … yes. You’ve got the most important job of all.”
She sobered, and looked up expectantly. Dillon stopped playing with the meter and watched too.
“I need you to get the name of the psychic from the Kileys. And a contact number or address if you can.”
“Okay. That’s not exactly like breaking into the Pentagon to steal government secrets.”
“Dude, I thoughtcha was gonna give her somethin’ hard t’do.”
“Well, it is going to be hard. I need her to do it so Phoebe doesn’t suspect we’re verifying their story.”
“JD, quit being so cloak-and-dagger. They already know you want to talk to the psychic. It’s no big deal.”
JD nodded. “All right, then you should have no trouble. While you’re at it, see if you can arrange to meet with the maid that was with their son when he died. That would be helpful, too. She’s the only eye witness to that event we have, as far as I know.”
“Will do.” She bounced up from the bed. “Oh man. That picture’s lousy.”
JD turned to the laptop. The grainy, snowy camera images weren’t sharp, but were steady.
He sighed. “Yes, they are. But it’s more than I hoped for. I just hope it’s clear enough if something happens.”
“Okay, so I go get the psychic’s name and number from Phoebe and try to set up a meeting with the maid. What else?”
“I can’t think of anything right now. I guess we’ll just go with these steps first.”
“We gotta write shit down, too, dudes. Write down everything.”
“Good point, Dill. Make sure you take something to write on, Wendy.”
She diverted her path toward JD’s night stand and took the notepad and pen in the top drawer. “Got it. I’m off. Love ya.” The door banged behind her a moment later.
“Yeah, dude, I’m outta here too. But I don’ love ya or nothin’.”
“Do you have something to write on and with?”
“I’ll get somethin’ — DAD.”
JD sighed. Dillon shook his head and turned.
“I’m … I’m sorry.”
Dillon stopped. He turned.
“I said I’m sorry. For not giving you enough credit. You’re … you’re a grown man and my friend. I wanted you along on this trip. I’m sorry, I should trust your capabilities more.”
Dillon looked at JD for long moments. He cleared his throat.
“It’s okay, JD. I guess I don’t give ya a lotta reason t’ believe I’m anything but a moron. I was mostly jus’ givin’ ya a bad time, bro. We’re all good.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah … yeah, dude.”
Dillon turned to go again.
Dillon sighed loudly. “Now what?”
“I’m not going to let anything bad happen to you.”
Dillon froze again, turned and strode back to JD. They stood eye to eye for a moment. Dillon threw his arms around JD and hugged him hard. JD chuckled and grunted under the pressure of Dillon’s grip, then embraced back. Dillon pulled his face back.
“Y’know what, bro? I don’t know if I’ve ever felt safer ‘n I do now thatcha said that.”
“Yeah. I dunno why, but hearin’ you say that just now … man, it … I just don’t feel scared no more. I know when ya say somethin’, y’mean it. If ya say y’ain’t gonna let nothin’ happen, y’ain’t.”
They separated. JD wasn’t sure what to say. Dillon wafted through the door like a puff of smoke.
“Thanks, JD,” he called as the door slammed shut behind him.
JD shook his head and smiled, gathered his meter and rifled through the dresser for his notebook and pen. When he absently opened the door, Dillon was standing in the doorway, inches away.
JD jumped and shouted. “Dillon! What the … what’re you doing?”
Dillon clutched his heart, a pained look on his face. “Dude! You tryin’a gimme a heart attack an’ shit?? Jeez!”
JD chuckled. “What are you doing?”
“Oh … well, you didn’t say where t’go with this thing, dude.”
“Oh, yeah. Well, why don’t you check out the hallways between here and room 3126? I’ll do the same between here and the Kiley’s old suite.”
“Oh, yeah, ‘kay. See ya.”
“Okay.” JD watched Dillon disappear before proceeding in the opposite direction. He’d had more than enough adrenaline for one day.
He started around the corner to his right at the end of the corridor, but voices carried from behind a door. One of them sounded like Hank.
He stood in front of the stairwell door. The voices were clearer, though he couldn’t make out words. He slowly opened the door, and found Hank standing beside a ladder. Atop the ladder was a beefy, pot-bellied blob of blubber and beard dressed in gray work clothes, heavy, battered work boots, a stained and ragged leather tool belt crammed with hand tools. His beat-up chinos clung desperately to his waist and hips under the weight of his paunch and the belt, but were losing the battle. Only the rumpled shirt tail prevented the unwelcome dawning of the plumber’s smile. A huge retractable ring choked with tarnished, worn keys jangled at his waist. A huge, industrial battery-powered drill hung in a sagging metal loop on the belt and an oval name tag trimmed and lettered in red on his shirt read “Wayne”.
Hank stopped speaking when the door opened, and he peered around as JD emerged from the hallway. His face burst into a warm smile.
“Hey, it’s my hero! How are you, JD? You need to get through here? Are we blocking you?”
Wayne looked down and thrust his matted, tangled chin at JD in greeting. JD waved back and smiled.
“No, sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. I heard voices and … well, with what happened this morning …”
“God, JD … good God. I owe you, my friend. I owe you big time. If you hadn’t been there …” Hank’s face dropped and he put his hand over his eyes. When he looked up, they were red and moist. “I don’t think I could survive losing them both, JD. Thank you.”
“I didn’t do anything, Hank. I just … screamed for help.”
Hank chuckled. “You did more than that, JD. Whatever happened to Phoebe, whatever was going on … you being there stopped it. I’m sure of it. So is she. She’d like to thank you too, when she’s feeli