Family (Part XVII)
By Pete Moss
"Yeah, I know how you did time. And you're maybe a snitch and people, nasty people, may be looking for you. And you're estranged from your family, and by the way, you're 36 years old...." I say.
Dijay is both flattered and annoyed that I've retained information on her.
"So smart-ass," she cuts in, "You think you know everything about me? I'll bet there's something you don't know!"
"So? What's that have to do with me?"
Dijay looks at me like I'm an orangutan. "Well, maybe it has to do with you ‘cause you're the dad?"
"Right." I say.
"Of course you are, dumb ass. God! You shot off inside me enough times! Or have you forgotten that little detail?"
"No offense Dijay, but you're pretty hot, you could have any guy you want. If I were you I wouldn't hesitate. Plus the scene you move in...."
Again Dijay is both flattered and annoyed. "Yeah, the scene I move in. All the guys are either gay or so drugged up they can't get it up, and even if they do get it up their damn sperm are too stoned to swim! Anyway, I don't want to have just any guy's baby!"
Now I'm the one both flattered and annoyed.
But then our tete a tete is interrupted.
"Hey sorry to break in on you two lovebirds..."
It's Pete Moss.
It's a relief to have him interrupt.
"Pete," says Dijay. "How you doing? You want some ice tea?"
"Don't mind if I do," says Pete. He comes over and smacks me on the arm as Dijay heads into her trailer, after giving me a scornful look. "Ain't Dijay a pistol?" says Pete grinning like a monkey.
"Yes she is," I say, meaning every word.
"So anyway, dude, I been looking all over Frisco for you. You been in jail or what?"
"Well actually, yeah, I was locked up for a couple of days, and before that I had a gig in Sausalito."
"Sausage Little huh? Far out! So look, this private dick been coming around Division Street, looking for you. Says it be worth you while to contact him." Pete hands me a business card.
It says Larry Barkov, private investigator, with a phone number and an e-mail address.
"What's he want?" I say.
"He don't say. But he seems OK. Give him a call, maybe you long lost uncle left you a pile of money."
"Stranger things have happened," I mutter.
"Well shit howdy," says Dijay. "For a guy who lives in his car and doesn't have a steady job you sure are in demand. Let me see that card."
She hands Pete a tall frosty glass of ice tea. Pete walks over and sits on an upended plastic bucket, takes a noisy slurp of ice tea.
"Larry Barkov?" says Dijay, her and Pete trade glances.
"You think it's the same one?" says Dijay to Pete.
"Oh yeah, the one and only," says Pete.
"What? Who's Larry Barkov?" I say.
"He used to be a cult deprogrammer, back in the day, then he nearly went down on a kidnap charge," says Pete.
I look at Dijay, wonder if Larry was the one who grabbed her back from the rave scene when she was 17.
"So should I call him or no?"
"No," says Dijay.
"Yes," says Pete.
A lively discussion ensues. And a plan is worked out.
I'll meet Larry at the Starbucks at 18th and Rhode Island, at 8 in the morning, when that particular Starbucks is mobbed with Zynga kids getting their Lattes.
Dijay will come in the store with me.
Pete will wait around the corner.
"I'm not part of any cult, not even this Feminist Streetgirls Collective, which is not really functional anyway," I say. "I barely have any family, let alone family that would spend time and money to get me back. I don't think I have anything to worry about."
But Dijay is protective. She insists on being right there at the meet up.
I'm kind of touched by that.
"So you're Larry Barkov," I say.
The guy sticks out his hand. We shake.
"This is my attorney, Svetlana Sarkisian," I say, introducing Dijay. I don't know where that came from, but I can feel that Dijay approves the persona I've assigned her in the spur of the moment.
We sit outside the store. Set our java on the table.
"So you're Larry Barkov, really?"
"You've heard of me?"
"Yeah, you still doing deprogramming?"
"Well, when I got into the business, 30 years ago, it was all about extracting kids from religious nutcase cults and getting them back to their non-believer parents, but things have done a 180. Now it's all about religious nutjob parents trying to get their kids to come home from whatever sin city the kid ran off to. I'm a rock rib atheist. A kid takes a run from jesus camp I wanna cheer them on, not bring them back."
"Nothing to do with a kidnapping charge?"
"Well yeah, there was that."
"I can see how being a 'deprogrammer' might be kind of awkward in that case."
"Maybe you could reposition yourself as a 'reprogrammer'," says Dijay.
Larry Barkov smiles. Sips his coffee. He's enjoying sitting on whatever information he has and he's going to make me bring it up.
So I do. But I draw it out a little.
"So what do you do?" I say.
"I transitioned into reuniting long lost family."
I can't imagine I have any long lost family left to find out about.
"There's this guy, he thinks he's your dad." Says Larry. "He saw your name in the news with that murder investigation with that football player in Sausalito."
"He thinks he's my dad?"
"Yeah, his name is Hollister McElroy. He wants..."
"What do I need with a dad?" I say.