CHAPTER 8: Billiards and Questions
Soon I’ve got the MUB game room to myself, and I’m shooting a little pool. The big square light over me buzzes quietly, and I get a chance to think about it. Somehow it all had to fit together, the paper note, the bust we made, the fire alarm at exactly the wrong time, the clients all being previously great students. Real brainy kids.
I shoot, and the white ball races to the racked triangle, cracks against it, and almost scratches, barely scattering the balls. The felt on the table is linty.
I chalk the cue tip with the blue cube. Maybe I could look online for pictures of braggers, people with joints who were on my suspect sheet. But I’d scanned for that before, and suddenly, the paper tip-off made sense. There was no record of that, no name attached. A text or an email isn’t anonymous, but I had no idea where this was coming from. Maybe this Ostrich supplier was smarter than the average.
A purple 12 ball is sitting cutely, not quite lined up with the corner pocket, but I might be able to put a little English on it and sink it. No dice, the ball glances off the wall, and spins back down the table.
What’s more, the guy who was of legal age, but carrying an underage I.D. baffled me. Why the reversal? Twelve is set up again, and this time I sink it. That makes me stripes.
The nine ball is sitting near the corner pocket, but the eight ball is sitting just ahead of it. It’s a tricky shot, so I walk around the table to see if it is even possible. It is, but only by a hair. There’s just enough room for nine to squeezed past, but maybe I could angle it so eight glances away. That’s for sophisticated pool players, not me. I line up, and –click- there goes the cue ball.
It works, the eight ball glances off the side and the nine sinks in. An idea hits me right in the head.
That guy with the younger student’s I.D. may not have been who I was tipped off about. In fact, he took so long to get in the dorm that a couple of people were waiting behind him by the time he got in. It was possible he was as dumb as a brick, but maybe this Ostrich guy was distracting me. The real delivery might have been behind him, just like the nine and eight balls. After all, Pepsi never heard about the delivery getting interrupted.
I needed another chance. I had been distracted the first time, and I don’t like to feel gullible. I was being laughed at- made to spin my wheels. The second I get close to this Ostrich, I get fed a dummy delivery. As soon as I’m about to bust some users, the fire alarm goes. The Ostrich has got a tight set up.
I can’t catch a break with this case. I haven’t run into someone this inventive yet. Most users and distributors are so dumb you just wait for them to screw up. This guy was giving me serious grief. The theme in his clients bugged me.
They were all two things: affluent and studious. So that gets me thinking about what you look for in a distributor if you’re that kind of kid. You want someone reliable, and maybe you want your reputation intact. Maybe you want someone off the grid, who doesn’t leave a record of your crimes online or through texts. Sure you can always delete stuff, but the people who are good with computers will laugh at you and bring it back in a snap.
That made some sense out of the paper I got. I could see how his plan worked, you go for affluent clients, and moreover you promise there won’t be any consequences. Totally off the books, plus a network to stand guard, or throw fire alarms, or whatever when trouble starts. It was a lie of course, but what a nice idea.
I went to bed, but not for long. I was back up at four in the morning.
To be continued…