Brass Go-Between

Brass Go-Between by Ross Thomas

Book: Brass Go-Between by Ross Thomas Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ross Thomas
Tags: Fiction, Mystery
you a whole set in black and white for $8.00 or four sets in color for $12.00. I’ll include some very special shots they took of me and Betty together. Send me the money and I’ll rush them right back to you.
    It was signed, “Sincerely yours, Sally.”
    I tossed the letter back on the desk. “Business pretty good, huh?” I said.
    “Getting better all the time,” Shippo said. “I furnish the whole thing: the letter, the photos, and the sucker list. They mail out the letter once they get copies Xeroxed and then sit back and wait for the dough to roll in. They make money, I make money, and a lot of lonely people get their jollies. You want a set of the colored shots? I can let you have them for fifty bucks.”
    “It said twelve in the letter.”
    “I might throw in a little information,” Shippo said.
    “Fifty is still steep.”
    Shippo leaned back in his chair which squeaked, placed his fat hands on the bare desk, and smiled at me with yellow teeth that seemed too large and square for his small mouth. “That’s a nice suit you got on,” he said. “I know suits. I figure you’re worth fifty.”
    “You remember my name, now?”
    “St. Ives,” he said. “It ain’t a name you forget or if you do, you remember it when somebody brings it up. Fifty bucks?”
    I nodded. “Fifty bucks.”
    “Let me get you your pictures first.” He moved over to one of the files, took out a nine-by-eleven-inch manila envelope, peeked inside to make sure that it was the right one, and then sat back down in his chair. I took out my wallet, found two twenties and a ten, and pushed them over to him. He handed me the envelope. “You want a receipt?” he said.
    “Just information. Such as who asked you to call Parisi about me?”
    Shippo took the three bills and folded them lengthwise. Then he folded them in half, then folded them again, and tucked them into his watch pocket. “That was a couple of months back, wasn’t it?”
    “Was it?”
    “Yep, I remember now. It was a couple of months back.”
    “In June,” I said.
    “In June.”
    “Now we have when, let’s try for who.”
    Shippo looked around his desk as if he wished that there were some papers to shuffle. There weren’t so he opened a drawer and brought out a bottle of Old Cabin Still and two smeared glasses that looked like they had once contained Kraft cheese spread. He poured them half full and then moved one of them over to my side of the desk. “I always have a drink about this time of day,” he said. “Doctor says it’s good for my blood pressure. I got high blood pressure.” He picked up his glass and drained it, sighed, and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Drink up,” he said. I picked up the bourbon and took a swallow out of politeness and then put the glass back on the desk. I don’t care much for bourbon.
    “Funny thing the way your name came up, you know,” Shippo said. “Guy I hadn’t seen in five, maybe six years calls up and wants to know if I know anybody who might give him a once-over on a Philip St. Ives, so I tell him that I know lots of people and he says, no, not those kind, he needs somebody who’s got a good reputation, like his word is his bond, who’s respectable and all. So I say how about my good friend Johnny Parisi, is he good enough for you? And the guys says, you know Johnny Parisi? And I tell him that Johnny and me have been friends for a long time.”
    “What else did he say?”
    “Nothing. He just wanted me to call Parisi and find out about you.”
    “Find out what?”
    “Find out if you were okay, A-1, and would do what you said you would do. You wanta know what Johnny said about you?”
    “No,” I said. “I want to know Who asked about me.”
    “Oh, him. He was only good for thirty bucks, but what the hell, it only took a couple of phone calls.”
    “All right,” I said. “Who?”
    “A guy name of Frank Spellacy, but you gotta understand that he was only calling me about you for a friend of

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