Dwayne sighed and took out his phone. “Sent me paperwork and everything, why wouldn’t they send you any paperwork…" He scrolled to the text that had started the whole mess.
“Pretty late to be calling people," said Harrington.
“Yeah. Pretty late to be wasting people’s time, too." Nutter hit send and held the phone up to his ear. A half-second later it screamed a three-beat tone that wrecked his eardrum, followed by an operator telling him that the number would not work as dialed. He looked it over and yeah, of course it wouldn’t. The text had apparently come from a nine-digit number. Now that he was looking at it properly, he saw the area code didn’t match Rustin or Missouri or any state within five hundred miles.
“Someone’s fucking with me."
“Language. I wouldn’t rule that out, though," said Harrington. “Who did you say that car belongs to?"
“That contractor for the government that died."
“Huh?" Harrington looked genuinely confused.
“You gotta have heard about it," said Nutter.
“You’re not wrong there, I’d have heard about it,” said Harrington, and not out of self importance. The Rustin P.D. was only slightly smaller than Rustin itself. “But I haven’t. Last person who died I know of was Jane Winslow’s grandma. That was about eight months ago.”
Jane Winslow. Nutter had gotten to third base with her back in middle school. Nice gal. Pretty, too, before she’d gotten knocked up Sophmore year. Shame about her granny. “So how…”
“Look, I hate to say it, but your best bet is to return it and call the complex people in the morning.”
“I’ll be asleep in the morning."
“Dwayne, if you don’t take it back, it’s considered a theft."
“I was in Kansas City earlier tonight," said Nutter. A lie, but Harrington would never know that. “I am half-dead on my feet and you want me to wheel this sucker over there, burn my gas…”
“I don’t want any of that, but I also don’t want to arrest you. It’s theft."
“Take it back and settle up with the apartment people tomorrow," said Harrington. “I don’t know how else I can tell you that this is what you’ll have to do."
“I better get paid," said Nutter, and turned for the door.
“We’re all rooting for you," said Harrington, going back to his phone. As the door shut, Nutter caught the opening notes of the Angry Birds theme.
Nutter gunned it down the strip, cursing through his teeth the whole way. Someone was definitely fucking with him. No telling who. He’d done repo across the state on assignment, sometimes even crossing the lines into Oklahoma and Arkansas. Law of averages – one of his ex-marks was tech-savvy.
What would be next? Would they hack into his bank account and steal what little he had there? Would they go into his browsing history and broadcast his giantess fetish to the world? And whose truck was this?
Nutter glared at the black Ford monster through his rearview. He had half a mind to dump it in the nearest lot and call it a night. Of course Harrington would come for him if he did that. No justice for Dwayne Nutter; just wasted gas and wasted time.
He pulled into Broken Oak once he’d cleared the strip. Backing up the tow-truck was a pain in the ass. Every vehicle in the lot seemed to be an extended-cab truck, leaving him with no room to maneuver. Not only that but he had to get out of the cab to confirm detachment and that the stupid F-150 was in between the lines. It wasn’t – the rear corner had strayed into the handicap space.Not his problem. As far as Dwayne Nutter was concerned, he’d never even been here tonight.
He glanced over to the door to #107. The red notice had migrated to the frame.
Fuming, Nutter stomped over and tore it free. He raised his hand to knock, ready to cuss someone out or maybe lay down one of his famous wholesale ass-whippings.
The gray matter of his brain, some hidden meat that had lain dormant since caveman times, sparked to life and yammered that the paper had been placed where it had to cover the peephole. That maybe that was important.
Nutter almost knocked. He almost called out. He almost tried the knob. He almost kicked the door down. Instead he looked down at the red paper in his hands and backed away slowly as he read the warning: