So there they are in all their glory; smug, and pompous, and reeking of attitude. The so called Founders rarely seen together, Elton Mozingo thought as he glared at them and finished his lite beer. The Founders minus one, he was quick to add. Today is indeed a special day as the wheels of justice begin to turn for my father. He turned away from the trio, and walked through the small crowd of co-workers, and the many minions and friends of Bill Baxter, as he headed towards the free bar, and the caterer’s table.
“Another lite beer please,” Elton said as he dropped another dollar bill into the fishbowl and refocused his attention on Bill Baxter, who now stood alone in front of a line of well wishers.
“Hey Elton, how’s your drink?”
“Not bad Shirley. Let me buy you one,” he said, laughing at his joke.
“No thanks. I pay for my own. Always have, always will,” she said. “Another gin and tonic, please”
“This must be an especially sad day for you as one of the Founders of the firm. Eighteen years you’ve been with Bill, right?”
Shirley nodded before taking a sip of her drink.
“That’s a long time, but I’m sure that some keys to his success must have rubbed off him and on to you over the years. I guess that makes you the sole keeper of the Baxter & Baxter dungeon of secrets, and skeletons now, unless you’re leaving with him?”
“And what exactly do you mean by secrets and skeletons, Elton?”
“Secrets to the firm’s success, and bodies discarded along the way. Quane’s fast rise from gofer to next in line for Tribal Chief…”
Shirley took a step toward Elton, and beckoned him closer with the wag of a finger. He leaned forward, and lowered his head to catch her whispered words.
“If I were you Elton, I’d be careful of what I say about certain people, and failing that I’d be especially careful about who I say certain things to.”
She gave him a cold blank stare, then turned and walked away. Elton straightened his posture, smiled and took another sip from his drink. No sense in stopping now, he thought. He turned and refocused his attention on Bill, and stepped into the line of well wishers. He squinted from the glare of the setting sun, beaming through the tinted glass windows of the Old Town Bank Tower. The bright red and orange hues that crowned the five volcanic peaks of the Sandia Mountains, cast a broad shadow that made the rolling foothills appear to be a sea of blood, as wave upon wave rolled upon the shore.
He soon found himself at the head of the line and face to face with Bill Baxter, the 62 year old founder of the Baxter and Baxter law firm, who was retiring and entering the realm of politics to run for governor. He stood in front of Elton, tall rail thin, with a sinewy build, and a toothy ready-made campaign trail smile. But for the gray hairs that bracketed his face, he could easily pass for a man in his mid to late thirties.
“Elton,” Bill said as he extended his hand. “So how’s Albuquerque’s next super attorney?”
“I don’t know Bill. Next time I see him I’ll ask.”
Both men laughed.
“Now come on. With Liz as your mentor you’ll make senior partner in no time, and will be running this joint.”
“I have a long way to go before I can even think about filling your shoes, Bill.”
“It’s not my shoes that I’m worried about you filling,” Bill said with a wink. “You and Liz have put in some long hours together of late.”
What a creep, intimating something like that between me and his wife.
“The long hours is time well spent,” Elton said.
“Ah yes, the investigation of missing funds from the casino. So how’s that audit going? Any leads?”
“The more I dig the dirtier the dirt gets. It’s the same old story you know. Money begets greed, and greed begets corruption. And those in positions of power are the most corrupt. I’ll put the pieces together soon enough.”
“You can be more specific than that Elton,” Bill said as his smile faded away.
“I’m not there yet Bill. The details are hazy, but the mighty will fall, soon enough.”
“Careful son. Some things are like sacred burial grounds, and are better left alone,” — Bill leaned forward. His face was expressionless, then he narrowed his eyelids as if he was squinting, and furrowed his brow — “out of respect.”
Elton wanted to walk away as he felt the people in line were becoming agitated from all of the time that he was taking up with the man of the hour. But just as he stepped back, Liz Baxter surfaced seemingly out of nowhere, and stood alongside Bill. She wrapped her arms around his upper right arm, tilted her head and offered a wonderful smile.
“So what are you two discussing so intently?” she said.
“Seems your junior mint here has been digging around in old Tribal affairs, and now espies corruption in every dark corner.”
Liz’s jaws tightened briefly and her nostrils flared as she turned her attention towards Elton, and just as quickly her facial features softened.
“Need I remind you how sensitive this matter is? Now is not the time or the place to be discussion it.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t…”
“Don’t be so hard on him dear,” Bill said. “But Liz is right, Elton. There will come a proper time, and place for us to finish our discussion.”
Bill flashed his toothy grin, and looked past Elton at the people in line to greet him.
“Come dear, there are some other people that you must see before they leave,” Liz said.
“Take care Elton,” Bill said before walking down the line of well wishers, and shaking their hands with Liz at his side.
Elton watched them walk away. That didn’t go well. Liz was pissed, he thought.
He turned, and walked down the aisle away from the firm’s reception area to his office. The Baxter firm occupied a long rectangular suite of office spaces on the 11th floor of the Old Towne Bank Tower. The firm’s reception area was located in the middle of the space and separated the junior attorneys’ offices from the senior attorneys’ offices. Elton Mozingo took one last look at the Sandia Mountain range before he stepped into his office. He loosened his tie, slipped it over his head and hung it on the coat rack next to his sports coat. He double checked the pockets of his sports coat making sure that his keys were still there. He hated the way they jingled in his pants pocket. As soon as he sat down at his desk, the door to his office slammed shut. A startled Elton looked up to see Liz Baxter standing in front of him with her feet wide apart, and her arms akimbo. Her long black hair fell over her shoulders as she looked down at the floor, and walked toward his desk as if she was counting her paces; slow, steady and straight. She lifted her head, and looked directly at him.
“What in the hell did you tell Bill? I told you not to discuss the case with anyone!”
“Nothing. I was just making small talk…”
“Small talk? I should think not. Was Quane there the entire time that you were talking to Bill?”
“Quane?” Elton said. “I didn’t see him.”
Liz dropped her hands to her side, and took a step away from his desk.
“Elton, he was standing right behind you, listening to every word you said.”
”I didn’t say anything that would jeopardize our case.”
“The investigation needs to be kept quiet, Elton. I fear our findings will disrupt the gentle order of things around here.” She hesitated for a moment. “There are confidences that we are obligated to keep, for the good of the firm, and for the good of the Tribe.” She started to walk out of his office then stopped, and turned to look at him. “Have you seen Kylee?”
He shook his head, “No, I haven’t.”
She looked at her wrist watch. “She’s working on a project for me, that’s related to this. If you see her, tell her to find me,” she said before leaving his office as abruptly as she had entered.
Elton was flushed with anger and resentment after the scolding Liz had given him. He stood up, then leaned forward, and placed the palms of his hands on top of his desk. He lowered his head and stretched the tension from his neck before dropping himself back into his black leather chair. He spun around making a full circle. So Quane was standing behind me, listening. That’s interesting. His anger was replaced with a prideful grin, “Successful contact made with the Founders,” he smirked. “I’m off to a good start — upsetting the gentle order of things, as she put it.”
He spun around again making a half circle, stopping to stare at the painting on his wall, a picture of an Edowaquah Sandpainting that had been given to him by a childhood friend as a spiritual blessing, when he was hired by the firm. It showed stick figures that looked like something a child in kindergarten drew. The figures were surrounded by symbols in the shapes of circles, and crosses. Other symbols were in the shapes of animals, all painted in dull earth colors. The figures and symbols were surrounded by three borders, one on each side, and one on the bottom to keep evil spirits away. The top of the painting was left open to let in good spirits. Elton didn’t believe much in Tribal mysticism despite being part Edowaquah. In fact, the thought of using the painting as a dartboard for his sharpened pencils crossed his mind again. But the painting also provided him with a fond childhood reverie of the bedtime stories his mother told him about the Edowaquah who were able to turn themselves into animals. The witch people they were called. Never look a witch in the eyes as they will steal your soul. She would tell him those stories to make sure he would close his eyes, and fall asleep faster. He cracked a smile as he thought of his dad and his two word response to all of this spirits from beyond stuff – bull shit.
He threw his head back against the headrest; well that’s what you get for not believing dad. His grin vanished as he was reminded that he often took his father’s position in such things. As he sat in his office away from the festive activities down the hall, his mood darkened as he was reminded of his greatest fear – having what happened to his dad happen to him.
Elton’s physical features belied his mixed heritage. His thick black curly hair and wide bulbous nose presented his father’s African American blood that coursed through his veins, while his dark eyes and cankered caramel complexion showed his mother’s Native American heritage. His stocky physique was packed tightly into a 5′ 9″ frame. Physically, he was neither imposing, nor was he inconspicuous, but women found his exotic, islander like looks a combination that was difficult to resist.
“Hey Elton, you having fun yet?”
Elton spun around in his chair to see Kylee Miguel, one of the firm’s paralegals, who had just stepped into his office.
“So where have you been hiding yourself?” he said.
“Oh, I had to take care of something. Some firm business.”
“Hmmm, come here.”
She closed the door, then walked towards Elton’s desk. Her dark slacks and navy blue blouse fit tight, but comfortably on her slender frame. She sat on the center edge of his desk right in front of him with her legs spread apart.
Elton leaned back in his chair, creating a little more distance between them.
“Liz is looking for you. Says you’re working on some special project.”
“I’m surprised she mentioned it to you.”
“The fewer people that knows about it, the better. Least that’s what she told me.”
Kylee slid off his desk, and took a seat in a side chair.
“In what way? Trust her to keep a secret, and not betray a confidence? Yeah, I do.”
“Do you trust her to do the right thing if the firm got caught up in something illegal? You know, would she turn over records, evidence, people?”
“What are you getting at Kylee? What are you working on for Liz?”
“Just some boring research. B o r i n g,” she said spelling out the word.
“It’s so boring yet you have to keep it secret? Come on.”
“You’re too smart for your own good sometimes, Elton. But I need to discuss it with Liz to see how she wants to handle it, or even if she’ll want to handle it.”
There was a moment of silence as Elton waited for Kylee to speak. He could sense that there was something else that she wanted to tell him.
“I have a compact disc hidden in my desk. I call it my c y a disc. I just want you to know about it in case…” she said as she bobbed her head from side to side rather than finish her statement.
“In case of what? Are you in danger of some kind?”
She shook her head. “No. Nothing like that. Like if I get fired or something. See, my dad knows stuff about the people here. You should talk to him.”
“You mean you’re ready for me to meet your father, finally?”
“Sure, why not?”
Elton studied her demeanor. Her father had always been off limits. Why the change now, and the change of topic. She fidgeted in her chair and looked away. Her body language had morphed from frisky and flirtatious, to serious and nervous. And like flipping a light switch, she went back to being frisky.
“Come Elton, no more serious talk for now. Since I missed out on most of the fun here, maybe you and me can make our own kinda fun. I’m feeling, you know, in the mood and adventurous. Let’s celebrate Mr. Baxter’s retirement in our own special way.” She had kicked off a shoe, and was rubbing her bare foot against his leg.
“Right now?” Elton said with a wide grin.
“Let me make the rounds, show my face to everyone, and say goodbye to Bill. I’ll meet you in the conference room in about fifteen minutes. I have a new tattoo I want you to see,” she said through pursed lips.
Kylee got up from her chair, stepped into her shoe, walked in front of Elton and ran her fingers through his hair as she passed by him.
“I’ll see you in a bit,” she said as she walked out of his office, looking back at him over her shoulder.
As Elton looked up, he thought he saw a figure jump away from his office sidelight, but didn’t give it a second thought. He sat back in his chair and remembered how Kylee made his first day at the office less nerve wracking than it otherwise might have been, when he first started working for the firm. She had been tasked with getting the newbie’s office up and running, and they hit it off well that day. At 25, she was the youngest person at the firm. She had a lean body with short bright blond hair, and dark green eyes. Her complexion was not unlike his. She was like a sunflower, bright and notable, projecting positive energy. Besides that, they both had a lot in common, namely they were both bi- racial, and estranged from their fathers. But she was much further along in restoring that paternal relationship, than he was. She had a sharp mind, and wanted more out of life than waiting for a paycheck every two weeks. Her only worry seemed to be whether the tattoo over her left ankle would hinder her move up the ladder of success. Her other tats were well hidden, and for special eyes only, she would say to him. Two weeks later, they had stayed late after work, and had capped off the marathon work day by having sex in the conference room. And many more times since.
Elton stood up and adjusted his pants, and tried to calm down with a mental cold shower. He stepped out of his office and looked in the direction of the conference room. I wonder if she’s there, waiting for me already? Would she be sitting, standing or lying on the conference table? Would she be naked or fully clothed? It varied. Sometimes she was eager and did not want to wait to get started. Other times she would tease. He walked past the free bar and the catered table, and past the office reception area. Everyone was in a festive mood, and gave him no attention. When he was certain that no one was watching him, he opened the door and slipped inside the conference room in one seamless motion. Kylee had taken off all of her clothes, and was sitting on the edge of the long mahogany table, with her legs crossed. Her pants and thong were in a heap on the floor beneath her swinging feet. She uncrossed her legs, and gently rubbed her flat abs and shaved pelvic area.
“You like my new tattoo,” she said.
The tattoo was centered between her naval and pelvic area and depicted a gray coyote howling at a bright yellow moon.
Elton dropped to his knees, and pulled her closer to the edge of the table. She placed her legs over his shoulders, and her hands behind her, arching her back in anticipation. He moved his face closer to her pelvic region. She stifled her moans of pleasure that accompanied each quivering pelvic thrust, as best as she could, then she reached forward and ran her fingers through his hair, before holding his head firmly in her hands.
The party was still going strong as Elton emerged from the men’s room. He glanced at the conference room. The door was still closed. He had left Kylee there to get dressed. He strode over to the catered table, and placed some buffalo wings and chips onto a paper plate.
“How’s the grub?” Elton turned to see Bill standing beside.
“Terrible,” Elton said, “but it’s free.”
Bill laughed. “Nothing’s free in life son. Everything’s got some kind of a price attached to it.”
“Seems I’ve heard that before, most recently,” Elton said.
“I haven’t seen Kylee, today,” Bill said. “Have you?”
“I saw her briefly, not too long ago. She stopped by my office. Said she was late because she had to run some errands and stuff.”
“I tell ya, I’m going to miss her most of all I think,” Bill said. “Don’t get me wrong. Shirley is a treasure, my Swiss Army knife, but Kylee is one hot little nymph.”
Bill gave Elton a gentle nudge in his rib cage with his elbow.
Elton suppressed the food in his stomach that started to come up. It never occurred to him that Kylee might be sleeping with Bill. He started to reply, but was interrupted by a woman’s scream, and the crowd of people that began to gather around the entrance to the conference room.
“What the hell!” Bill said as he raced towards the commotion.
Elton stood momentarily frozen. Beads of sweat popped onto his brow. He dropped his plate onto the floor, and staggered towards the conference room. Damn, I hope she’s dressed.
“Call nine – one – one!” somebody yelled.
When he was close enough behind the crowd, Elton stood on his toes, and gasped.
“Oh my God! It can’t be. No way!” he said below the commotion.
He turned away, and placed a hand over his mouth as a bitter taste surfaced in the back of his throat. He fell back behind the crowd, and staggered away.
“Has anyone called nine – one – one?” He heard a voice shout.
“It’s Kylee,” he heard another voice say, confirming who he saw.
As more people gathered around, Elton stumbled away from the crowd, finding support against the receptionist’s desk. He turned, and faced the door, then looked back at the crowd surrounding the conference room. His legs trembled. He was stuck between wanting to assist, and wanting to run, horrified by what he saw. He found himself at the door, leaning his full body weight against it. He turned the knob, and stumbled outside regaining his balance in front of the elevators. He pushed the down button. A door opened immediately. Elton Mozingo hesitated. He looked back at the door to the Baxter and Baxter Law Offices, then turned away and jumped into the elevator ahead of the closing doors and fell against the back of the elevator wall. He closed his eyes. The image of the naked body of Kylee Miguel, sprawled out on the table was etched into his mind. What looked like his necktie was wrapped around her neck. Her eyes were wide open, mouth agape. The elevator came to a gentle stop, the door opened and Elton found himself in the lobby. He bolted from the Old Towne Bank Tower wishing for a sudden surge of people and traffic. The best place to hide is in a crowd, he thought, but he was one of the few pedestrians walking about in downtown Albuquerque, at that time of the evening. He struggled to get a trembling hand into his pocket.
“Damn! I left my keys in my jacket.”
The sirens in the distance grew louder with each hurried step he took. He turned down a dark side street. What the hell is going on? Why am I running? Kylee is dead. I was the last one with her. There’s evidence to prove it, he thought. Fingerprints, my tie wrapped around her neck, and…. He turned his head to look behind him. Who would do this? Maybe I shouldn’t have run away. They’ll think that I did it. He thought of his dad. Like father, like son. A car horn blared as he stepped off the curb.
“Watch where ya goin!” someone yelled out of the passing vehicle.
“Prisoner Prodigal Pawn” can be found on Amazon.