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“What do you mean, the second biggest mistake?” cried Lobo. He let fall his arm, his knife parted from the tender flesh of my neck. “What was my first mistake?” he demanded to know.
A beer cap pinged off the asphalt. Some joker on one of the balconies.
“I’ll tell you what was the first, Lobo, I’m planning to tell you that, but before I do, you have to hear me out. First of all, I’m not working for your brother Drake. I'm not his hitman. Try to control your paranoia.”
He waited for more.
I straightened up and introduced myself. “Tony Javelin, private investigator,” I said. I offered a business card, which he didn't make a move to accept, so I flipped it into the wind. I'm pretty sure I looked insouciant. “The reason I’m here,” I said, “is to get you square with the alumni association.”
“You made a pledge.”
He stared at me in disbelief. Then he burst into laughter so convulsive that he staggered back against a brick wall.
“So Carter Bacon, the pipsqueak with big ambitions, is not reaching his goddam alumni revenue targets this year so he sent a dick to put the squeeze on me?”
“More or less.”
Lobo laughed again, not as whole-heartedly this time. He transformed in an instant, making a mean and scowling face. “I'll tell you what I owe Carter Bacon,” he said. “Take this!” He raised the knife again and lunged at me.
This time I was prepared. I’d kept one hand gripping the car wrench in my coat pocket and now in one fluid motion I ducked to the side and swung the wrench at Lobo’s wrist.
“Ow!” He dropped the knife.
“Leave it on the ground,” I said.
“Man, I wasn’t planning to hurt you.” He rubbed his wrist.
“Darn right. Because you need me to get you out of the pit you’re in.”
Lobo nodded, as if he had in fact recently been reflecting on the pit he was in. “Follow me,” he said, pointing toward his apartment building. “I’ll write you a cheque.”