the Goliard
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To No Avail Slaps the Tale - A Jordan Dane Mystery
* Chapter One
* Interlude One
* Chapter Two
* Chapter Three
* Chapter Four
* Chapter Five
* Chapter Six
* Chapter Seven
* Chapter Eight
* Chapter Nine
* Chapter Ten
* Chapter Eleven
* Chapter Twelve
* Chapter Thirteen

 

 
 
 

To No Avail
      Slaps the Tail -  Chapter One

"Don't ever trust a trustafarian?"

Mike Hacker aimed the words into the girl's ear as she passed near him. His observation gave her pause and she stopped staring at the dreadlockers in question long enough to peer at Hacker suspiciously before continuing her fight towards the bar. The peer was encouragement enough for Hacker who, just minutes earlier, had finally been able to claim a seat at the bar himself. It was towards that seat that he attempted to herd her now, staying just aft of her ample stern and using the energy of the encroaching crowd to jostle them both towards his stool. Just when he thought momentum might carry them through however, a logjam of revelers brought them up short.

As they waited for a hole to open, he startled her a second time by tapping her on the shoulder. Leaning in towards her ear again and ignoring her recoil, he added in a throaty conspiratorial voice, "I wouldn't trust them any farther than I could throw them myself." She looked confused but not away and he continued on conversationally. "Not that I'd consider actually throwing a trustafarian. I probably couldn't throw much of anything these days as a matter of fact. I was a heck of a ballplayer at one time, but after my shoulder injury…"

Her expression changed and she began looking him over in a manner that checked his banter. Her expression made it clear that any self-deprecating assessment he might be about to make regarding his physique wouldn't be met with any disagreement from her. Hacker regrouped, and glanced clandestinely about the room as if it was important that what he might say next not be overheard.

With her hopes of ordering a beverage momentarily delayed by the wall of more fortunately positioned drinkers, she crossed her arms to give Mike Hacker her full attention and, he sensed, appeared as well to be on the verge of some sort of fulmination directed at him. At this point, Hacker felt he was in the door.

Hacker had noticed her immediately as she swished in off the street and through the doors of the Tips Up Saloon. He had been observing her since her arrival, furtively at first and then more obviously, trying to catch her eye once he determined her to be unaccompanied and yet, not unattractive. She was no Jordan Dane, he was acutely aware, but she did have a trashy, big bottomed, big city look to her that had made Hacker immediately nostalgic for his old big city life. It was sort of an "in town for a jeep tour and barbecue" look that Hacker hadn't encountered often enough in this playground for the beautiful and physically fit. Hacker had a jeep himself and hoped it would provide him a chance to bandy his new local's advantage over someone who wouldn't immediately be put off by his lack of mountain physique or his big city bad habits.

Like Joe Camels. Finally maneuvering back to the spot he had abandoned at the bar, he wedged his bottom between two encroaching anoraks and up onto the stool. He grabbed his smokes off the bar top and, as he had hoped, she stepped into the space he vacated. Offering her a Joe C from his crumpled pack, he lit it for himself after she took it, looked around discerningly, and handed it back to him with a sour, dismissive face. The Tip's Up was one of the few establishments in town where smoking was still allowed, Hacker knew, even though, on this night, he seemed to be the only one smoking. Some local ordinance about food service and ventilation the way it had been explained to him. Blowing a plume of smoke into the glasses hanging in a rack above the bar, he swiveled his stool so his knees were on either side of her pelvis and regarded her with a cool squinting gaze as she stood before him.

"Trustafarians," he scoffed. "They're nothing but Oxymorons."

She looked past him and tried to flag down a bartender.

His pithy observations about trustafarians had caught her attention, he assumed. Unfortunately, several of the gapers and drunks crammed around the copper topped horseshoe bar, including the two he'd had to bump apart with his ass to reclaim his stool, seemed to now be eyeing him with annoyance and quite possibly coveting his new girl. Not sure if they were trustafarian sympathizers who'd caught wind of his position or just inebriated yokels, he tried to ignore them and began expanding his wings and swiveling against the pressing crowd to gain more room. After succeeding in rutting out a modicum of extra space, he moved into it himself, standing suddenly and made a small production of gallantly offering her the seat. He then turned to lean suavely against the brass rail. One of the metal couplings immediately dug into his spine however and he was forced to stand away, awkwardly erect and hectored further in the tight space.

When she had finally ordered and received a fruity drink of some kind he leaned down, nudged her again, and winked, "Not that there aren't plenty of us locals that wouldn't want to try our hand at tossing around a few of the furry funded fellows."

She seemed to smile if somewhat determinedly. Mike Hacker forged ahead.

"Now your straight trusties, you know, the ones not yet affiliated. I'm talking now about just your plain old trust funders now, which incidentally, you damn well better be one of if you plan on spending much time here in Telluride these days. This place is lousy with money. Seems like everyone you meet around here has some sort of funding set up. Anyway, you wouldn't think the trusties would care much for them either?'

"Care for who?" The girl had a foghorn voice, which was fortunate since she needed it to be heard above the raucous din.

"The Trustafarians."

"Like, what the Hell do you keep talking about? A band?" She sounded suddenly hopeful.

"No!' Hacker was frustrated. "The damn ropeheads around here." He nodded urgently as if trying to release some water from his ear in the direction of a table in the window nook where a few of the offending dreadlockers had congregated. "You see.....I'm sorry I didn't catch your name."

"It's Lopez."

"Well you see Lopez, these shameless rope-a-dopers want to cultivate an image that suggests to us that they're too poor to poop but then, if you watch them closely, you catch them whipping out Platinum Cards to pay for their sushi and sake bombs."

"Oh, that's one thing I love. Sushi and sake bombs."

"Never the less." Hacker said wisely. He retrieved his draught, gulped at it, and dragged deeply on his smoke before continuing. "If you ask me…."

"Could you put that out?" asked the bearded sportsman on an adjacent stool.

Hacker, who had grown accustomed to such requests, took another puff and said, "Oh go down to the Floradora why dontcha?".

"Because I'm here right now man," replied the hippie outfitter. "And I just can't coordinate a mental place that willingly intakes airborne carcinogens….."

In no mood for another smoking discussion, Hacker turned his back on the O2 fanatic and again focused on Lopez.

"And it's hard to figure how the true Rastafarian population around here feels about these posers. I've been investigating the dynamics." He leaned towards her as if his next words might be of some import." "I make my home here now you see. And I'm most likely going to be writing a book on the subject."

"Oh that's cool. A book." Lopez had heard of the medium apparently. "Is it some sort of a music book? Or is it more like one of those daily affirmation thingys?"

A surprised Hacker rubbed his chin thoughtfully and considered this question posed by Lopez, a name that, it was slowly occurring to him, didn't seem to fit her all that well. Up close, looking in past her makeup, she seemed more likely a farm girl from the Middle West somewhere. But an interesting name he was thinking. An interesting name indeed. He'd be sure to inquire after the origin when they got better acquainted. He could already hear himself. "Jordan may I present Lopez. Lopez, my friend and neighbor Jordan Dane." And she had asked about his book, which was a subject he was always eager to discuss.

"Not music or affirmations actually." He said quickly. "But it might just end up addressing this very Rasta/Trusta question we've been discussing." He used the term loosely. "I expect it may eventually become something of a seminal treatise on these "farian" relationships we've been alluding to." He did the double click with his fingers around the word "farian".

"A seemenal twist on relationships?" Lopez looked nonplused and blinked large hazelish eyes at him through owlish spectacles while sucking impressively on her fruity drink. He ventured further explanation. "Seminal treatise. An important work. But I know what you're probably asking yourself. Why would there be any kind of farians, be they rasta or trusta, way up here in a ski town tucked away in the big rock candy mountains?"

She shrugged. He continued.

"Well they've found their way here as you can see and I would think each group would be as suspicious of each other as I am of both of them. But they don't even seem to notice what's going on. Not to mention that it's hard for a person with an untrained eye to tell the rastafarians from the trustafarians in the first place." Another shrug.

"So who are you to judge everybody anyway? Lopez inquired out of nowhere, seeming suddenly and colossally bored. "Maybe you just wish you were one of them. You look more like some sort of stock broker or accountant to me if you want to know the truth."

"What?" Hacker spread his hands in amazement looking down at his new hiking shorts and trail boots. Grabbing for another smoke, he began to lament that he had been chatting up yet another nice smile with nothing but a dull void behind it.

"Well I couldn't be any trustafarian." He clarified once he'd recovered. This was an admission he'd never before been forced to make. "Or a Rastafarian either for that matter. You'll notice I could still run a comb through what's left of my hair for one thing."

"And you're white." Lopez observed.

"Indubitably."

"Everybody's white in here. Even the Jamaicans."

"They aren't real Jamaicans That's partly my point. I was saying that.."
Lopez interrupted him. "So you're stuck being a trusty then."

"Nooo. By definition I would not be a trusty. Although, I suppose since my aunt is technically paying my rent...." Hacker let the sentence hang as he scanned the bar to see if any other tourist girls with more wattage in their bulbs had appeared in the interim that might be more impressed with his observations on local culture.

"So you're saying you don't have a trust fund." Lopez made a weak attempt to disguise her disappointment.

"No I don't. Why? Do you?"

"Of course not. I'm just visiting from Phoenix."

"Well I haven't been to Phoenix," Hacker admitted. "But it seems feasible that someone from there could, in certain scenarios, have access to some kind of trust fund."

"Why would someone stay in Phoenix if they had any kind of funds at all?"
Apparently growing exasperated with Hacker's lack of common sense and failure to understand local culture not to mention matters financial, Lopez scanned the bar herself as if she hoped that someone more promising might be available. Hacker noticed with alarm that her eyes finally settled on the dreadlocked plumage of Itchy Richie, who was now making his way towards them and happened to be the very individual that had spurred Hacker's original outburst about trustafarians.

Itchy came funking up to the bar where Hacker heard him order four Mudslides and a Fuzzy Navel. His clothes were frayed Guatemalan, his face streaked bong water brown, and his eyes bloodshot. Mikey Rabbit, a bartender who Hacker knew also had no trust fund, mixed the drinks with the rote of a night auditor. Itchy surveyed the scene austerely as he waited, his eyes finally coming to rest on Hacker to whom he bequeathed something resembling a local's nod.

This had an immediate effect on Lopez. "Oh do you know this stud broker?" She hissed desperately from unmoving lips while continuing to blink and make sure Itchy saw her checking out his package that, Hacker noticed reluctantly, was profiled in detail by the frayed cloth of his drawers.


"Yes I do," Hacker hissed back. "He's a trustafarian."

"Well don't be rude dude. Introduce us."

"I don't know him that well. I barely know his name. I think he calls himself "The Itcher" or something. I can guarantee you one thing though. He's not what he appears. He'll probably....."

The Itcher drank off the Fuzzy Navel that Mikey Rabbit slid to him before reaching into the filthy folds of his pantaloons to produce a credit card, which he slapped on the bar with the aplomb of a card player showing a full boat.

"See lookit there." Hacker snarled under his breath. "Lookit there. That's what I mean?"

"He's cute."

Itchy tossed his hair sending a patuli pungency drifting towards them and leaned to scribble on the voucher before separating the yellow copy from the white with a practiced slide of the thumb and flick of the wrist. He flashed a sheepish smile at Lopez revealing perfect teeth and then left to deliver the Mudslides back to his nook of pals.

"You think that's cute?" Hacker was incredulous.

"Very cute is what I'm saying. We're talking hot. Excessively hot."

"Well alrighty then, run along. Don't waste any more of your time or mine with useless banter?" Hacker, who was all asputter added. "And how does someone end up with a name like Lopez anyway?"

She assumed the self-satisfied look of someone gaining complete control. "I had it officially changed. Do you like?" She postured herself. "It's just one small part of the new me."

"What was the old you called?" Hacker asked dejectedly.

"Just Tiffany Jones. Many people are taking single names now. That girl Kennedy on MTV for example."

Michael Thomas Hacker II, Hack to his softball buddies back in Chicago, and Mike Hacker on his byline could only nod dumbly.

"And you're alright I suppose," she continued, patting his arm like a mother. "It's just that I see people like you all the time at the clubs down by ASU. And I am trying to have a vacation." Turning her shoulder, she craned towards the window.

Arizona State? Being mistaken for a stockbroker or accountant from Arizona State was definitely not what he had envisioned when he drove in from Mangas Mesa earlier that evening. Perhaps he'd have better luck if he moseyed down the way and looked into some other spots, maybe the Mineshaft, or The Plunge. Even some of the Granola girls hanging at the Veggie Happy Hut might….

"Hey Butt face." interrupted another imposing high countryman. This one, who was much larger than the first, punched him roughly on the shoulder. "Could you kill the c-stick before it kills us?" He poked Hacker's chest menacingly. "Because at that point, we'll have no choice but to kill you?"

Hacker dropped his ciggy to the floor and stepped on it turning his back on the oxygen-loving pugilist.

"Well there you have it," he complained to a cologne splashed Texan who had sidled in behind Lopez sensing that there might soon be a vacant spot. "Phoenix apparently crawls with guys just like me but if you travel all the way up to lil' ol' Telluride, Colorado you just might get a glimpse of one of these trustafarian fellas. Just loan me a big smelly rope wig and wipe me with B.O. and I'll be right back in the game." Lopez had been looking at the crowd by the window and turned back to face him.

"What's that?"

"Did I say something out loud?"

She eyed him petulantly before saying, "Yes you said something out loud. And you also said at one point before that that you didn't have a trust fund. And before that you said you needed one to afford living here. And throughout it all you seemed to want me to know that you did, in fact, reside in this area. What, if you don't mind my asking, is up with all that? What is up with you?"

Hacker knew he stood outside the last window of opportunity, one that he was no longer sure he even wanted to climb through.

"I don't have a trust fund and I do live here. I moved here about a month ago from Illinois. The Chicago area. My housing is taken care of as I said but I do have to work. I work a lot in fact. And I'm a writer."

Hacker sensed the futility of the whole thing when he could see by the expression on her face that he may just as well have informed her that he washed dogs for a living. After waving Mikey Rabbit over and settling his tab, he turned, thinking he might swallow his pride and bid Lopez a pleasant good evening. If she was visiting for an entire week, he reasoned, she might eventually tire of the exotic and seek solace in the familiar. Lopez had wandered away however and the reeking Texan was now trying to slide some puffed up woman in beside him as well. His eyes found Lopez who was now positioning herself where Itchy Ritchie wouldn't have to strain himself much to see her. Hacker passed directly between them on the way to the door saying nothing and stifling a fake yawn.

As he left the bar for the crisp quiet of the street he was thinking he might look into the other watering holes along Colorado Ave. to see who was where. He rounded the corner at Oak and had his hand on the side door of O'Shaunnessey's when he happened to glance across towards the blazing front windows of The Nugget. He spotted the unmistakable blonde bounce of Jordan Dane's ponytail.

She was holding court he could tell immediately and although he'd found the Nugget to be more of a construction workers, river runners scene, he started across the street only to stop short when he got a better look at some of the jesters in the court Jordan held. They were three or four mountain men looking chaps drinking huge beers and throwing their heads back in what could only be hearty, confident laughter. Doing an about face in the middle of the street, Hacker quickly pinned his chin to his chest and marched away, ducking down an adjacent alley hoping Jordan hadn't seen him and therefore wouldn't come trotting out all good natured and healthy to insist he join the group.

Damn her anyway.

The lot of them had no doubt just returned from some incredible spelunking excursion, white knuckle rappelling exercise, or death defying whitewater trip and he didn't really feel like hearing the stories of how awesome it had all been and being clapped on the back and subsequently invited skydiving, cave dwelling or clam digging by Jordan's new pals.

By the time he had followed the alley up Pacific Street to where his jeep was parked, he had decided enough with the bar scene already. He would be much better served returning to the Mesa and getting back to work on his novel.

Climbing into the jeep he thought again about the book. He had been laying out a chapter just that day, in fact, before he made the miscalculation of coming into town, a chapter that plumbed the psyche of an intellectually intriguing but ruthless and diabolical killer. As he lit another cigarette and left the lights of town behind, settling in for the winding dark commute back out to Mangas Mesa, he was thinking maybe his killer would turn out to be a trustafarian on some warped mission to thin the mountains of mountain men. Quite possibly, he was realizing, this trustafarian would have to leave a few vapid tourist women in his wake as well.

 

Interlude One

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