Fogtown by Peter Plate Read Free Book Online

Book: Fogtown by Peter Plate Read Free Book Online
Authors: Peter Plate
    Mama Celeste flailed past him going the opposite way on Market Street. Her left shoe was untied. The baseball hat was cocked at a jaunty angle. A stream of dreadlocks plunged down her shoulders. The army jungle coat rustled in the breeze as she walked. Talking out loud to herself, she didn’t see the frowning black man in the red patent leather suit.
    Richard Rood recoiled, narrowly avoiding a collision with her. His nose was running. He had goose bumps up and down his back from the flu. His mouth tasted of vomit. A cop had taken his money and his Vicodin. An old biddy with a beat-up Reebok shoebox was the last thing he needed to lay eyes on.
    “Damn crone,” he lamented. “Ought to be in a rest home and shit.”

    W HILE SHARONA SUNBATHED on the hotel roof with the baby, Stiv sat on the bed in their room and dry-shaved himself with a disposable razor. Having no mirror or shaving cream, he did it by feel, gliding the blade across his chin. Sweat glittered on his forearms. His big boned feet were pronated, the toe nails yellow and uncut. His eyes were glacier-blue and heated. He finished the task with a couple of bloody swipes at his neck.
    He put his toiletries in the sink, got down on his hands and knees, and ferreted a tartan-red suitcase out from under the bed frame. He unzipped the case and removed two handguns. The first gat was a generic Saturday night special. The other weapon was a Colt revolver. He dusted off both guns with a handkerchief and put them on the window’s sill. His intention was to sell the Saturday night special.
    Needing to pee, he lumbered out of the room and trod barefoot through the gloomy hall to use the communal toilet. The overhead water pipes were clanging. The walls swayed from the traffic on Market Street. The carpet was treacherous and he managed to avoid stepping on a gargantuan cockroach. Stiv went up a flight of wobbly stairs and almost collided with Jeeter Roche’s wife.
    Gussied up in a floral-patterned muumuu dress and eight-inch white leatherette platform shoes, Chiclet Dupont had her business face on, replete with a titanic embellishment of mascara and rouge. She carried a notepad in one hand. A pen was tucked behind her ear.A clove cigarette was sticking out of her mouth. A Dell laptop in a Barnes and Noble book bag was slung over her shoulder. She was in the process of collecting rent from the tenants.
    “Good morning, doll,” he said. “What’s up with you?”
    The platforms gave Chiclet a ten-inch advantage in height over Stiv. She was courteous, but reserved: he wasn’t the only person having doubts about their relationship. She said, “The same as usual. I’m getting the rent money from everyone. You got yours for me?”
    He was vague. “Uh, not yet.”
    “You aren’t going to be late with it, are you?”
    “No, of course not,” he said hastily. “I’m good for it.”
    “I hope so. Jeeter gets weird otherwise and then he takes it out on me.”
    Stiv played it smart and didn’t say anything about his money problems. Chiclet wouldn’t want to hear it. The mere mention of it would turn her against him. She didn’t like her men weak. But Stiv had a plan and he needed to meet with Jeeter. Was this an appropriate time to bring it up? He wasn’t sure—the dank passageway was so impersonal. But he forced himself to do it. “Tell me,” he inveigled, “you doing anything?”
    “You got any weed?”
    Chiclet looked down her nose at Stiv. “What for?”
    “I want to get smoked out. I’m stressing something ugly.”
    Getting high wasn’t a bad idea. But business took priority. Chiclet held up the notepad, letting frustration colorize her voice. “I can’t smoke no dope now. I’m getting revenue for Jeeter. It’s rent day, damn it. You know how he is. He watches every penny. And you better have your check for me soon.”
    Stiv hated being hounded for the rent—he was no better off than a hamster on a treadmill. “Yeah, sure,

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