the Goliard
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 Twelve

As Mike Hacker was guiding Lopez and Lopez's younger sister Janet Jones on an odyssey through the woods to show them the famous Helicopter, he was hoping to steal in from the cover of the trees behind the residence and approach the now repaired bird without being seen from the house.

Sherman's pride and joy hadn't flown in awhile, Hacker knew, not since it swooped from the sky the previous winter in what was intended as an ostentatious show of pilot bravado until the ex Lute Col had clipped a stanchion with the rotor, somersaulted, and begin topping spruce trees like a giant, inverted weed-eater. The copter's body had been remarkably undamaged in the crash due, in part, to the steepness of the Spiral Stairs, which was the run where it splashed down. The machine had come to earth in a spray of snow, tumbling down the run like just another rolling Oilman in a shiny black coat who'd made a wrong turn after losing his trail map.

Hacker suspected it would be unnecessary to risk leading the girls right up to the hanger, as it wouldn't exactly be the aeronautical engineering they were interested in. Simply being able to say they had seen the flying craft from a distance and the house of the man responsible for taking the actress Madeleine Morey out of her prime time soap and putting her into the hospital for three months and the Betty Ford Center for six would suffice. After all, if she and her illicit houseboy lover hadn't been on board when Sherman dumped the copter down the run, the Jones sisters never would have heard about the whole thing in the first place. If he could just get them a glimpse of something shiny he figured it would score him points although, as he trudged ahead of them up the trail feeling like a Brownie leader, he was no longer convinced that points were what he needed.

The path they followed snaked up through the woods, loosely following Sheridan Creek, and wasn't one that Hacker had ever been on before but that Jordan had told him was part of the San Juan trail system. Reportedly, the path they were on, in various forms, could take a person from Mangas Mesa all the way back into Telluride. The trio hadn't walked all the way out from town of course, which was a good thing since neither of the Jones sisters had worn what could be called appropriate footwear. Hacker had parked at Jordan's house and after impressing the girls with a demonstration of his rapport with China Cat, had bushwhacked off the back of the Dane property and finally found the trail.

As they were creeping up to the Proud estate and could make out the copter pad and hanger through the trees, Hacker admonished the girls a final time to keep the giggling to a minimum and guided them under the back of the house following a beaten path beneath the porch. They had just broken cover and started creeping across the clearing when Sherman's head poked through the redwood rails.

"Mike Hacker! What in the name of Gawd do you think you're doing."

"Morning sir. Yes sir." Hacker said, snapping to attention next to a sapling. The girls shrank back from view.

"Why in Christ were you under my porch?"

"Hiking sir."

"Hiking sir? Who's with you?"

"Just me sir."

"What are you wearing?"

Hacker looked down at his attire. "Just these shorts and boots sir. And this jersey." He looked up through the surrounding pines at the darkening sky. "I see what you're saying though. I probably should have brought a wind shirt or something sir butů"

"I mean the perfume," Sherman interrupted impatiently. "I can smell you all the way up here."

Hacker considered the question. "Oh that wouldn't be me sir. You must be smelling the sisters." He motioned for the girls to step forward but neither of them budged.

"Who's there? Step into the light and show yourselves." Sherman barked down, craning his neck to see under the ledge.

The Jones girls, holding hands, stepped from cover and blinked up at Sherman innocently.

"These are your sisters?"

"Oh no sir."

"Well who are they then. Name, rank, and serial number girls. Goddammit. I better get some answers here or the town Marshall will be the next one doing the asking."

"Lopez." Lopez said quickly. "544-77-9980. No rank."

"Just Janet." Said her sister looking plaintively to Lopez for assistance and muttering under her breath, "What's that, your social security? I don't remember mine." She blinked up at Sherman. "I was ranked number 8 in the city in the 100 meter butterfly. Girls fourteens. But that was a long time ago."

Couldn't have been that long, Hacker thought to himself.

"Mr. Hacker, would it greatly inconvenience you to explain to me just exactly what the Hell you and these Lopez's are doing under my porch on a Sunday just approaching Oh twelve hundred."

"No sir, I mean yes sir." Hacker stammered. Janet spoke up.

"We're not the Lopez's sir. Just she is."

Sherman eyes moved skeptically from one to the other finally settling his gaze on the elder sibling.

"Married woman?"

"Hardly." Lopez rolled her eyes.

"Adopted then?"

"I wish."

"Alright up on this deck! Front and center," ordered Sherman, clearly out of patience with the unsatisfactory progress of an interrogation conducted from a supine position with his melon wedged between two planks. When he extracted his head and made a move to stand however, the pain and tightness in his lower back that had driven him to his tummy in the first place simply wouldn't allow it and he flopped back down grimacing in agony. As Hacker and the girls approached the Jacuzzi, the best he could manage was to roll slightly over on to one side. He propped his head on a hand.
At the sight of the Lode reporter, Chester had gone under water again fully intent on staying there.

"Madeleine Morey," Hacker began by way of explanation as he approached the tub. He stopped short. "Are you o.k? Sir?"

A searing wave of pain had turned Sherman's face ashen as he heard the actress's name and his body went rigid forcing his forehead to the wood. Madeleine Morey. How long were they going to torture him with that name? One ill advised maneuver and a gust of wind and his name was linked for eternity with some tart and her love toy.

"When the girls here heard me and you was practically neighbors," Hacker was saying. "Well they were just dying to get a look at that famous aircraft over there and since we were hiking nearby I didn't think you'd mind if we stepped up and took a peak."

Sherman sputtered something inaudible into the redwood.

"And that they now get to lay eyes on the pilot, a bonafide celebrity. This is really a bonus isn't it girls? Lopez here was just telling us back on the path that she thought you looked so cute and helpless on that Entertainment Tonight show when they did that piece from your hospital bed. She was saying how she would just love to get a chance to meet you, you know, to make sure you turned out o.k."

Sherman nearly passed out from the waves of pain that kept washing over him with each word as if Hacker was a puppeteer and he his wooden fool on strings.

"Pills." He finally managed to croak.

"Whose hat is this?" Lopez inquired, stepping to the side of the tub to investigate as Chester's Stetson swirled on the surface. As she started to reach for it she recoiled suddenly.

"Oh my Gawd there's a drowned naked man under there."

Hacker rushed to the side of the tub.

"Holy Shit!" he said, vaulting over the side and plunging immediately under the foam where he had to struggle to pry a straining Chester Rhimes off of one of the air vents which he had evidently been sucking on in hopes of going undetected. The two sputtered to the surface and sat blinking at one another.

"Hey," Janet grabbed her sister's arm immediately. "Isn't that, that old country rocker guy?" Lopez was nodding affirmatively and leaning toward Chester as her sister continued. "I saw something about him on MTV just before we came up here." She looked at Hacker. "What's his name again? I thought they said he was a policeman now or something."

"I just told you guys this morning that Chet Rhimes was our town Marshall." Hacker rubbed the water from his eyes. "Neither of you showed the slightest interest."

"But you didn't say it was this Chet Rhimes. Isn't he the lyricist for Lead Boy Ass? Jesus H. Christ Chet Rhimes. Yeah that's it." Janet approached the side of the tub to remark appreciatively. "Didn't you write that song for Lead Boy, "No More No War."

In fact, Chester received quite sizeable royalty checks from Lead Boy Ass' management group periodically but he didn't pay a whole lot of attention to that sort of thing and certainly hadn't heard their remake.

As a service to the two in the tub, who looked confused at the reference, and perhaps to squelch their own nervousness, the sisters began to undulate around the deck slowly, grabbing at their crotches with one hand and flashing white girl signs at an imaginary audience with the other in what seemed to be a choreographed routine. After they got their steps down they sang together. "What War? Who's War? We don't need no war no more."

Chester returned his drooping hat to his head and sank back in the water.

Chapter Thirteen

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