Pretty Girl Gone
slot good for photocopies and Internet access. You insert the card—or any of a half dozen major credit cards—into the card reader, click a few icons with the mouse, and you have access, $6.39 for fifteen minutes, $25.56 for an hour.
    “I never know who is on-line and I never know where they go while they’re on-line,” Tapia said. “I prefer it that way.”
    “There’s no log, no . . . ?”
    “Nothing like that, Mr. McKenzie.”
    “You have no way of knowing who uses your computers?”
    “None. I suppose you could contact the credit card company.”
    “Which one?”
    Tapia shrugged.
    “Do you remember anything that was unusual Friday?” I asked. “A customer who acted odd? I’m talking early evening. Around seven.”
    “If it was a regular day, maybe I could tell you. But Friday we celebrated our first anniversary. I had an open house all day long. Prizes. Discounts on printing and copies . . .”
    “Internet access?”
    “That, too.”
    “People were coming and going all day. At five, I shut down my presses. I had cake and drinks for all of my employees, my business clients, my regulars. At one time there might have been as many as a hundred people in here. Any one of them could have used a PC or Apple and I would not have known it. Sorry.”
    “Don’t worry about it. And, hey, congratulations on your year.”
    The smile Tapia had shown me when I had first arrived had returned.
he said.
    The Rainbow Cafe had a worn linoleum floor, Formica tables, and metal chairs. The half-dozen booths arranged against the walls were upholstered in hot pink synthetic leather that was worn at the edges. A dozen stainless metal stools with seats covered in the same material were fixed to the floor along a lunch counter that stretched nearly the entire length of the building. There was a window cut in the wall between the dining area and the kitchen. Two waitresses wearing pink-and-white uniforms pinned their orders to a metal wheel fixed to the top of the window frame, shouted out a number, and spun the wheel toward the cook. When the order was ready, the cook slapped the plates on the windowsill, rang a squat metal bell, and repeated the number. In the corner,a jukebox was spinning Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only Make Believe.” I felt I had stepped into 1958.
    I found an empty slot at the counter and read the place mat while I waited to be served. The mat presented horoscopes based on the signs of the zodiac. It said the stars were aligned against me. “A difficult year both professionally and romantically can be expected.” As if things weren’t bad enough.
    The waitress saw me frown as I studied the chart.
    “The Mexican across the street is supposed to be delivering the new place mats later this week,” she said while setting water and a menu in front of me.
    It was only then that I noticed the horoscope was for last year. I was relieved by the news although when I thought about it, things professional and romantic couldn’t have been much better last year. So much for astrology.
    When the waitress asked, “What’ll ya have?” I answered, “What’s good?” She said, “Try the cheeseburger. We make it with blue cheese.” So I did. It turned out to be one of the best burgers I had ever had—plump, juicy, the cheese melted just so, the onions grilled to perfection. To be honest, I wasn’t all that surprised. The small, out-of-the-way joints have always been my favorite restaurants; their food is so much tastier than the chains.
    While I ate, I plotted strategy. It didn’t amount to much. I knew that the e-mail had originated in Victoria. That meant the governor’s enemy was in Victoria. And, of course, Elizabeth Rogers had been killed in Victoria. The riddle was here. I decided that if I hung around long enough, asked enough questions, I might learn the answer to it—to all of it. Something else, probably more likely: If I couldn’t find out who sent the

Similar Books

The Man from Beijing

Henning Mankell


Michael McCarthy

Seducing the Wolf

Maureen Smith

Fox's Feud

Colin Dann

At Close Quarters

Eugenio Fuentes

Death Al Dente

Leslie Budewitz

Freddy the Cowboy

Walter R. Brooks

Dimensions of Genesis

Danielle Q. Lee


Marissa Farrar