59 – GOTCHA!

 

Mr. Macabre, the King of Horror, was correct when he said Daisy had the mind of a ten year old, but the girl was discerning enough to understand that Stephen and Kitty were engrossed in conversation, and polite enough to resist the temptation she felt to flirt some more with Miss Kaboodle, when she delivered the goodies to their table.

“So, tell me, what are you and I going to be busying ourselves with, while Lance and Madge are off in Vancouver attempting to conscript the royal runaways?”

King responded with a single word, “Gotcha!”

“Well that remains to be seen, but self-flattery is a form of confidence, and it’s always good to be confident”

Smiling, Stephen explained. “Gotcha is the moniker used by the loose affiliation of conspirators I am loosely affiliated with. My friends in weird places.”

Gotcha! I like it. It’s catchy. What about them?”

“We are going to see The Man from Gotcha! The mind at the centre of the grind.”

“And who, pray tell, is that?”

“I call him Gotcha.”

“Gotcha! It really is a catchy name! Who is he?”

“Gotcha is all you get.”

“You don’t know who Gotcha is?”

“Yes, I do, but you don’t need to.”

No, that kinda stonewalling was not gonna work for Kitty. “Oh, yeah? Well, then, I’ll stay rigt here, and take some cooking lessons for Daisy. Maybe get to know Thunder Babe, and the Staal boys a little better, too, pal.”

“No, that won’t do, I’m afraid. He wants to meet you. In fact, he insists on it. He’s a big fan, you see.”

“I don’t care if he’s an industrial strength air conditioner. He’s not blowing me unless I know who he is.”

Clearly, Kitty Kaboodle had him by the short and curlies, so King caved. “Okay, you have me by the short and curlies, so I cry uncle.”

“Silly boy. I’m not your uncle. You’re my daddy!”

“You’re really good at this game, girl. Especially for someone your age.”

“Baby, I was born this way. I gotta a license to thrill. Or kill. So… spill; who is he?”

“He likes to bill himself as an international dealer of shade.”

“He’s a shady dealer. Very clever. Is he?”

“Clever? Yes. He’s tougher than translating Dr. Seuss into Mongolian, and trickier than going down on a leper.”

Kitty loved that! “He should be a character in one of your books, with a description like that. Is he shady?”

“He operates from the shadows, yes. And he offers shade to those who have the money to pay for it.”

“So, why are we dealing with him?”

“He’s not purely a mercenary. He seems to have a conscience. He’s a fixer. He’s connected. And respected, by those who play big league, transnational geopolitical hardball. Those who don’t know, think he’s just a back room hack, an apparatchik, a go boy.”

“And he uses that dubious reputation to cloak himself, while pulling strings from behind thrones and curtains?”

“Correct.”

“What’s his name?”

“What does it matter? You won’t find anything worth knowing about him on LexisNexis.”

“Don’t be too sure of that. Maybe I’ll see things you overlooked. And, if you and Gotcha didn’t know that I’m a vegan, which you didn’t, I have to wonder about your sleuthing skills, so maybe you need me to do a little more due diligence on whoever else you’re keeping tabs on, and playing footsie.”

Stephen pondered that. Not knowing that Kitty is vegan was a glaring oversight. And he had trusted Gotcha for collecting intel on the girl. So, maybe Gotcha wasn’t as good as he thought he was. Stephen was never 100% sure he could trust Gotcha. Conversely, he was 100% certain that he could trust Kitty. And it was dead obvious that the girl was much better at this game than he was, and he needed her. So, he coughed it up. “His name is Kinsella. Warren Kinsella.”

The name triggered something in Kitty. A memory. Something her mother had told her, a long time ago. Something about her father, and his mysterious assassination. She couldn’t retrieve it from her onboard database, but it would come back to her.

“Warren Kinsella, huh? International dealer of shade.”

Stephen laughed, “International dealer of shade, and Chinese bunk Viagra.”

“What?”

“Seriously. It’s some kind of perverse joke with him. He makes a small fortune, which he doesn’t even need, peddling bunk Viagra around the world.”

“Bunk Viagra made in China?”

“Yes. Even better; it’s all made in Wuhan.”

60 – HAIRWAY TO HEAVEN

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