Chapter 33 ~ Jody Digs Up A Lead for Joe
The next morning, Joe and Sam sat in a Starbucks abutting the University of Colorado campus on Broadway. Their chairs turned toward the Flatirons and the puffy cumulus clouds building west of the mountains. Joe was staring at his iPhone. Sam eyes were on the mountains and somewhere beyond.
He spoke to Joe without turning his head, “You’re looking for answers, when you should be looking out the window.”
Joe kept his eyes on his phone, “I text Jody and asked her to see if there is anything on Ritchie in Vegas. I’m waiting for a reply.”
“Staring at that thing isn’t gonna make it happen? You’re missing. …”
Before Sam could finish, Joe snapped, “What am I missing?”
“You’re missing life. You’re missing the beauty of the mountains. And, a guy your age, you’re missing all the beautiful college girls walking by. I’m a lot older than you and I haven’t missed one of them. I’d definitely move here if I was your age.”
Joe kept staring at his phone, “I’m not stopping you.”
“Always the answer. That’s what you got. You got a fresh mouth and always the answer. It’s all about Joe and what Joe wants. In some ways, maybe you didn’t fall too far from the tree, if you know what I mean.”
Joe felt the hairs on the back of his neck curl up. The muscles across his chest tightened. His right hand gripped his iPhone as if he were trying to crush it. He started to say something, then stopped. Instead, he said, “I going to step outside and get some fresh air.”
Sam said, “The windows are open, there’s all the fresh air in the world in here. Did I come too close to home?”
Joe looked up at Sam and saw Sam grinning. Joe could help himself, he started grinning. “I don’t know, maybe. Gloria got to me, that’s all. I’ve got Joe Ritchie’s DNA and there isn’t much about him that’s any good. That’s scary.”
Sam laughed out loud, “Because he’s a deadbeat jerk, doesn’t mean you’re a deadbeat jerk. You were raised by good people. You don’t know how he was raised. Maybe he didn’t get the tough love you got. You ever think of that way?”
“No, I didn’t, Sam. It doesn’t excuse the trail of pain we discovered.”
Sam pointed out the open window, “Take a look at that gal on the skateboard. If I know how to ride one of those things I forget going with you and chase her. I’m thinking of growing a full beard, you think the ladies will like it?”
Joe laughed, “I think you’ll get employment as Santa Claus this coming December.” Joe’s phone chirped as he finished speaking. He opened his phone and said, “It’s from Jody.”
Before Joe could react, Sam grabbed the phone out of his hand.
“Give that back,” said Joe.
“I’m the one who reads the messages first and spin em back to you. We got past practice going. Sit still. Have a sip of coffee while I read this and then read it to you.”
Joe stared at Sam and tried to read Sam’s lips as Sam read the text. Sam rocked back and forth as he read it. Every once in a while he glanced at Joe, then returned to the screen. When he finished reading, he said, “She’s got a thing for you, Joe. I’m not saying it’s good or it’s bad. Think of me as one of those flashing orange signs you see on the highway warning you there’s road construction up ahead.”
“Read the text, Sam. All Jody’s looking for is a story. She’s not interested in me.”
“You sure you went to college? She’s playing you like Tim Flaglor played the piano and he was the best I ever seen. She’s gonna run you over and you won’t know what hit yah.” Sam raised his hand policeman style, “Don’t say a word. I’ll read the text. Checked with a friend at the Las Vegas Review – Journal. He owes me a favor. He said, there was no record of a Joe or Joseph or a J Ritchie in Las Vegas until five years ago. Five years ago his name popped up on a marriage license to a woman named Monica Gomez. Ritchie’s age was listed at 49 and Gomez was listed at 19. He got a Nevada driver’s license that gave a Henderson address on 10245 Sunset Avenue, apt 234. I checked with the apartment manager, there is no resident by that name living there now. Seven months later, a J. Ritchie filed for divorce. He never renewed his Nevada driver’s license. Monica Ritchie currently lives in a trailer court at 432 Hildago Way. I can help you Joe. You need me. I haven’t been to Vegas in three years. It will be a vacation. How about it?
“What are you doing?” said Joe.
“I’m texting a yes to Jody.”
“Only kidding. Here’s your phone.”