Lester Calvin isn’t your typical detective. He knows cigars, he knows Tampa, but mostly, he knows people who can help solve problems. As he likes to put it, he’s “a guy, who knows a guy.” But when a beautiful woman walks in and drops a load of cash into his lap for doing absolutely nothing, he lands into a world of trouble, that even his connections might not be able to get him out of. The stakes have never been higher, as Lester must discover who this woman is, and why so many people want to find her. And he needs to act fast, because he just became a target.
“Frank?” I called. “Could I get three of those Don Pepin Black labels? The Gordo, please. The two agents and I need to have a civilized conversation.”
“I’m afraid we can’t, Mr. Calvin. Coffee is one thing, but accepting expensive cigars could appear to be a bribe,” Agent Horn told me.
“Not to worry,” I reassured, “it isn’t a bribe, because you’re buying.”
With the help of a fine, hand-rolled cigar, I related what had transpired the night before. Wall took notes, with a steady barrage of interruption. When it was all said and done, I had related the same information that I had given agent David—exactly the same. I left out the bit about the contact information, just as I had with the FBI. Fair is fair. This whole peeing contest between the FBI and the ATF was none of my business, so I wasn’t about to give either one of them any kind of edge over the other.
Was this dangerous? Oh yeah. Was it stupid? For certain. Were either of those things going to stop me?
Not on your life.
Horn and Wall finally felt as though they had gotten what they could out of me, apparently, because they were more than happy to give me a card where I could reach them, then they paid the rather large bill, and left.
They left the two cigars with me, just as I had imagined they would. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty smug. I had gone toe to toe with the big bad government agents, and come out on top. I had also learned why Agent David was so keen on picking my brain. It had nothing to do with me, really. He was just grabbing at straws.
I looked down at the two cigars that were still sitting on the table in front of me. I was more than two thirds of the way into my current light, and it wouldn’t be too long before it would be time to fire up a new one. I like a variety, so I wasn’t going to go for either of those yet. I picked them up and deposited the into my travel humidor. I looked through the cigars I had in my small selection, and picked out a nice Cuba Aliados for my second, just as Bishop Robert sauntered up to me.
Bishop Robert is one of those people that you couldn’t help but like. He had retired from active ministry about 5 years ago, but was still in good health, so he keeps pretty busy. He discovered the Humidor about 2 years ago, and decided that the place needed a chaplain. No one complains. He’s a great listener, and his advice, albeit usually based on the Bible, is pretty sound. The fact that his advice is delivered with a cigar in one hand and a beer in the other, just makes it all that easier to follow, somehow.
“How ya’ doin’, Lester?” he asked, as he pulled up a chair beside me.
“Good, Bishop. And yourself?”
“Oh, I get by. God sees to that,” he said with a genuine smile.
I should point out, I’m not particularly religious. An answer like that from anyone else would probably annoy me. But from the Bishop, it just seems to ring true.
“I couldn’t help but notice your little conversation, a moment ago…”
“That? Oh, nothing troubling. Turns out my late night client from last night has been up to some no good, and they wanted to know what we talked about,” I informed him. He took a slow draw on his cigar.
“You’re certain that it can’t come back to bite you on the butt?” he asked. It was his way. He didn’t believe in mincing words, or hiding the fact that he was concerned.
“My experience has taught me that there is little in life that can’t, given the chance,” I replied, only half joking.
“Why don’t you tell me about it?”
I thought about shrugging the whole thing off, but reconsidered. I ended up telling him the whole story. And I mean the whole story, this time. I even confessed the part about my little lie about the contact information. At the end of it, the Bishop just took a sip from his beer, as if in thought.
“You know it’s a crime to withhold evidence, Lester.”
“I know,” I said simply.
“So why do it?”
I thought about that a moment.
“I suppose, at first, I held that bit back from Agent David because I wasn’t convinced that telling him would have been the right thing to do. For all I knew, this McGuire woman was just an innocent woman getting the shaft, and until I knew different, I wanted to protect her.”
“Fair enough. You still feel that way?”
“A little… But there’s something else.”
Bishop Robert waited as I sorted through my thoughts.
“There is something about those two ATF agents that I didn’t like. They seemed more concerned with beating the FBI to the punch than actually serving justice. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but there you have it.”
Funny thing is, I hadn’t actually thought it out that far before. That was the Bishop for you. He had a way of helping you to reason out your decisions so that they made more sense.
“So, what’s next?” he asked. Which annoyed me a little. Not because he asked, but because I didn’t actually know.
“Next…I figure out my options.”
He smiled at that. In truth, I don’t think he was really all that concerned about whether or not I did the wrong thing. He had faith in my decency as a human being.
It was a little disarming. I’m not used to anyone having faith in my ability to be right, or moral, or ethical, or anything.
“Well, I’m sure you’ll figure it out. But, if you need to talk, you got my number,” he said, as he got up.
“Who needs a number,” I responded, grinning. “We share an office.”