I'm pleased to offer the fans of my blog a brand-new crime story that features roadie / PI Lenny Parker, a fat tattooed slob with a heart of gold. This is the first part of the story, the second will be appearing very soon. Girl Gone Wild part 1 (A Lenny Parker serial) by Jochem Vandersteen
I’d just finished a tour with an awesome metalcore band and was eager to get back to my life in San Diego. As a roadie, I’m gone for pretty long periods of time and as a result my friends are scattered all over the States, hell even the world. It’s always nice to have dinner at the Thai place above which I live the few days a year I’m actually home. I love catching up with the owners. The fact their English is almost as lousy as my Thai doesn’t make that very easy.
“You lose weight, yes?” Mister Janpong asked me.
“I guess. I would’ve lost a hell of a lot more if I didn’t drink so much beer with the band. Carrying around sound systems is hard work, you know. The band were such a great group of guys though, they invited me to party with them every night.”
“So you had much sex?” Janpong leered. He could be quite a dirty old man sometimes.
I almost blushed. “Not really. Even though I’m a roadie I’m still a fat slob as well. The groupies usually pick the better looking roadies to suck some dick.”
“Ah yes, understand.”
I wasn’t sure if I should be offended. Mrs Janpong was pissed off for sure. She wacked her husband on the head with a menu and cussed at him in Thai. I was pretty sure she could go toe to toe with any Thai sailor but she didn’t allow bad words to leave her husband’s mouth.
I love these two oldies. They’re anywhere between sixty or a hundred years old and dress like American tourists in Miami. They serve me free meals and even allow me to use their restaurant as an office whenever I need to receive clients for my second job. You see, the few days I’m touring I work as a private investigator, officially licensed even.
“I got call. Client coming over to see you in half an hour,” Mrs Janpong told me. That’s right, the phone number listed in the Yellow Pages for Lenny Parker Investigations is the Janpong’s. It’s a lot cheaper than hiring a secretary although I’m sure some clients never get to see me, tangled up in Babylonian speech confusion. It’s not a big problem, though. Some might see being a PI is more of a hobby than a real job anyway. There’s some truth to that opinion, I guess. I just love reading hardboiled mysteries and have dreamt about being a wisecracking shamus almost as long as I’ve wanted to be a rockstar. Besides, I’m not in San Diego often enough to take on much work.
“Cool, I’ve been hoping I could do some PI work while I’m here. Next tour I’m doing won’t start for a month.”
“Great names?” Mister Janpong asked me.
“Well, they supported Iron Maiden once.”
“Ah, yes. I see.” I was pretty sure he had no idea who Iron Maiden were.
I had a bottle of Singha beer and ate some Khao phat kai. All compliments of the house. I regaled the Janpongs with some more stories about being on the road. There were no guests for them to take care of, until the arrival of man in his forties wearing a football jersey and a trouble expression.
Mrs Janpong greeted him with a polite bow. She ushered him inside and seated him. She told her husband to fetch the man a beer and a menu. She told me this was my client.
I walked over to the guy and shook his hand. I could tell I wasn’t what he was expecting. He was probably waiting for someone wearing a fedora and a shoulder-rig and sporting a chiseled jaw. Instead he got a fat slob with a goatee, arms covered with tattoos wearing baggy jeans and a Rise Against T-shirt.
He introduced himself as Howard Bagley. I introduced myself and asked him what I could do for him.
“It’s my daughter… I’m afraid she’s been doing some illegal things…”
“I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I’ve had my share of reefers in the past and look at me… I turned out all fine.”
The look he gave me made it obvious he wasn’t too sure that I did. “No, no. I’m afraid she’s been stealing stuff. Or maybe dealing drugs.”
“That is more serious,” I admitted. Meanwhile Mister Janpong showed up with two bottles of Singha and the menu. I ordered some Miang Kham and recommended him the Khao phat kai. He told me he’d just had dinner so he settled on having some Mian Kham along with me. The dried shrimps make for great beer snacks.
Bagley got back to his story. “The last few months my sweet Melinda has been showing up with all kinds of new clothes, shoes and gadgets. There’s no way she could’ve bought all that stuff just from her allowance or from working in the convenience store weekends. I’m afraid she stole the stuff or sold drugs to get the money to pay for them.”
“Did you try asking her how she could buy that stuff?”
“I did. She told me she had some money saved up and knew how to use coupons like nobody’s business. She also got mad at me for not trusting her. I hate it when she gets mad at me. She’s my little girl you know. You got any kids?”
I put down the beer I’d just sipped. “Not that I know of. So, what do you want me to do?”
“Find out where she got the stuff from. Discreetly.”
“Could’ve been my middle name,” I beamed.
The food arrived. I took a bite of Mian Kham and washed it down with another sip of Singha.
“I hope so. You don’t look like a PI. I figure that will work in your favor keeping an eye on her.”
I pointed my finger at Bagley. “You got it, man.”
“So… I guess we need to talk salary. I heard you work cheap…”
That was probably the fact he wanted to hire me. Not that San Diego is full of private eyes. This isn’t LA or Las Vegas. He was right though. I work cheap. I’ve been known to take a case for a sixpack of Miller.
“A hundred a day plus expenses,” I told him. I pegged him to be wealthy enough to pay my premium rate.
“Sound more than fair,” he said and shook my hand to close the deal. “Should I sign a contract?”
“Let me get a napkin and one of Mister Janpong’s pens,” I said.
TO BE CONTINUED