Parker looked up from polishing the scarred oak of the bar as the door to Kelley's Place groaned open. He recognized the two men in the doorway and his eyes widened. When the smell hit him, he dropped the polishing rag.
As they made their way toward him, he noticed Booth was limping badly and Conroy's scrabbling gait reminded him of a mutant crab from a Z-grade monster flick. The closer they got, the more his eyes burned and his stomach turned over from the corrosive stench wafting off them.
They put themselves carefully onto bar stools.
Booth made a sighing wheeze and pointed at the back bar.
“Mmmrph,” he said.
Parker sat a fifth of Johnny Walker Black in front of Conroy and put a quart of Everclear into Booth's mitt. He watched the big man suck half the quart down in a single gulp and glanced at Conroy, who was spilling most of the scotch down the front of his suit.
The convulsions rattling through him weren't helping his accuracy any, neither were the yipping noises he was making.
"What the fuck happened?" Parker said.
Booth held up a hand and when the Everclear hit bottom, he sucked in a huge breath of air.
“What's that awful smell?” he asked.
Parker let it pass.
The big cop's eyes got the kind of stare combat troops and pole dancers get.
“Started simple,” he said.
He gestured at Conroy. The private eye was now face down on the bar snoring softly and twitching.
“I was heading home and my cell sounded off. Conroy needed a favor. ‘It’ll just take twenty minutes,’ he said. He'd done me a couple of solids a while back, so I said okay.”
He took another belt.
“The twenty was Silver Lake. You know, restored Victorians on one side; crack houses on the other.”
“Ross was in front of one of the restored ones and waved me over. It was a big place, more tall than wide, with no lights at all inside.
The deal was, one of his snitches mother lives just up the block and she was getting nervous about some new people. Said she thought she had heard a woman screaming and wanted Ross to investigate. Reliable snitches are like gold. So, he said okay.”
“Good snitch solves a lot of problems.”
“Anyhow, we got to the porch and listened hard. Nothing. Then, we heard it. Sounded like a chick screaming.”
“What'd you do?”
“We busted in. There was a door on the right. That's where the screams were coming from.
We kicked the door down and hit the room hot, guns out. Cased the place quick. No woman at all.
Just this huge guy in a chair in front of a computer screen the size of Texas. The yelling was coming from these giant speakers on either side.
The guy saw us and the guns and started leaping around like a bat-shit spider monkey, yelling at the top of his lungs and throwing things.
Took us by surprise.
Did I mention the guy was huge and stark naked, except for a monster-sized diaper wrapped around his giant ass?
Did I mention that there was this . . . silvery cable coming out of the diaper and flailing in the air?"
Parker shook his head, eyes wide.
"Well, I was doing okay. Got my .45 up. Then something soft and slimy wrapped around my head and I couldn't see and I heard Conroy yelling and I snapped off a few shots and there was a big crash and it all went black."
Parker handed him another quart.
Booth nodded his thanks.
"So," he said, "I come to and we're laid out on the lawn outside with a couple EMT's working on us and heehawing their heads off. They said they got a call and when they found us, I was out cold under a big chandelier that one of my rounds had knocked loose and Conroy was flat on his back with that silvery cable thing clamped onto his unit. His eyes were closed and he was muttering what sounded like Mable, Mable, Mable, over and over and shaking like a dog shittin' double edged razor blades.
They didn't know what the hell was wrong with him until one of them figured out the cable thing was a sex toy called an AccuJack, which is a whack off machine that lets the user set the intensity of his orgasms. They said that the control was set to APOCLYPSE. They said he'd probably get over it in a few months -- maybe."
Conroy was muttering again. Parker leaned close to the unconscious detective and listened carefully. Yep. It did sound a lot like Mable.
Booth's face was grim.
"Problem with that," he said, "is his wife's name is Agnes."
Parker sighed sadly. "How the hell did that thing wind up on his . . . ah . . . joint anyhow?"
The big man shrugged.
"They figure when the chandelier came down on me, Ross jumped out of the way and the three-hundred-pound loon ran into him and batted him head first into one of the open ice chests scattered around the room and that knocked him out."
"What the hell were open ice chests doing there? He run out of Red Bull?"
Booth made a face.
"He'd been in that room for a week playing damn computer games. You figure out what he was using the chests for.
And they were all full to the brim."
Parker's stomach lurched again.
"Oh," he said. "What happened to the loon? He in custody?"
"Nah," said Booth. "They're still chasing him around the lake district. Probably catch him soon. He’s three-hundred-pounds, six-seven, and ugly-ass naked; somebody's got to notice, although in that part of town, who knows."
He pushed back from the bar and hefted Conroy over his shoulder.
"Well." he said. "Gotta get out of here before the Captain finds us. He's kinda pissed. Turns out diaper man is the Mayor's favorite nephew. See you around, Harry"
The door squeaked closed and Parker set about getting the sticky mess on the bar-top wiped up.
He paused for a moment, his mind seeing an NFL sized, naked giant swinging through the trees at Silver Lake Park.
He thought about Conroy and Agnes.
And Booth's nuclear breath.
And the Mayor.
It's all over. He thought. But the shouting? Now that's going to go on for a long, long time.