“So what happened next, after you heard her speak Arabic?” It was time to get down to the research side now. Skip had a feeling and he always went with his gut. “ I mean how long have you been girl friends?” He smiled, joking.
“She attached her self for the evening meal that night and hasn’t left the table, two years later.” He giggled, “Once I found out that she lived in my building we just fell into a comfortable relationship. She rents on five.”
“Ya sure, Elite has a bunch of high end apartments for their… Elite. She has this Ava Gardner thing going on. Her book is always full. She picks her own schedule. Writes her own book, as they say in the biz. She is major in the Middle East.”
“So she goes to the Middle East. Does she ever talk about her jobs? Does she date anybody?”
“Now that you mentioned it, there has been this new group of guys…I didn’t even give it a thought. Men are always falling at her feet. In fact…” He paused, a blank look came over his face.
Skip knew what was coming. Some times the bad take themselves out. “What, what is it?” He asked looking into the Alex’s dark eyes.
“She mentioned that she would be meeting a few of her new group at the bar last night to Donald, the door man.” He paused. “You don’t suppose… they were hurt in the explosion?”
“Did she mentioned them on the phone earlier?”
“No…not a word.”
“Had you met any of them? Are these men in her new group foreign?” They had stopped to wait for the light to change before crossing the busy intersection. Skip glanced at the row of newspaper boxes gleaning the head lines. “Mind if I grab the Trib.” He put some quarters into the rare yellow box and pulled the lid open. Front cover headline, Unlucky Trax. Gay Bar Bombing, No Leads. Story page 6. He tilted the paper towards his companion.
Alex’s eyes widened. Before he could speak Skip grabbed his elbow and pulled him forward, “Come on we got the light, let’s get a drink.” When they had crossed the street he held on to the strong arm of his subject. Looked him in the eye then turned away to whistle.
Loud and clear and without fingers … “Taxi.” His whistle startled Alex, but what shook him more, was the look in Skip's eyes.
“I think we should sit down some where, alone. I’ve got something I want to run past you and we can take a look at this.” He adjusted the folded newspaper under his armpit.
“Alone, sure. What is it? You seem so serious… all the sudden.” He would have naturally picked up on the line and ran with it but something told him to wait.
The cab ride proved useful. “Listen to this,” Skip read from the daily as they headed north, “Nine bodies were found in the rubble of the roof top bar. Two of the nine have been identified as Sidetrax employees. Their names are being withheld as per their families requests.”
He paused, “ Poor Iky. He was working the roof bar last night, served me my first cocktail.”
Continuing on, “At about 1:17 AM, Firefighters managed to put out the lingering flames and remove nine badly disfigured bodies. All male, seven were so badly disfigured by what appears to have been a bomb blast, identification would be difficult for the coroners office but forth coming.” He interjected, “ Those must have been the group I saw Olive with.”
“What do you mean…you saw Olive up on the roof deck?”
“Yah, she was entertaining this group of men. They were all speaking French. I didn’t get a good look at all of them but it definitely was Olive in the middle of the pit. I grabbed my scotch and headed down the stairs…” Not wanting to reveal his mission yet, Skip continued to read. “Hundreds milled about Halsted Street after fleeing the burning bar. Many claimed to have heard the giant blast just before Midnight. The injured were taken to Illinois Masonic, Resurrection, Children’s and Weiss Hospitals. The exact number of injured is still unknown. As is the cause of the explosion. The bar will remain closed until further notice and a thorough inspection can be made.”
“Not only did I see Olive on the roof last night but she seemed to be in a rush to find you and the front door. And something even more frightening…” The cab came to a stop in the middle of the block. The weekend traffic was beginning to pile up. “Let’s get out here and walk.” He reached into his pocket and pulled forth his money clip, peeled off a ten, a fiver, and two ones, then handed it to the driver. “Thanks we’ll get out here.”
They exited curbside and found themselves in front of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. The windows sparkled in the sun light. The strains of a quiet hymn drifted out from one of the open windows. Skip stopped in front of the Eden Chapel windows. “I recognized one of the guys Olive was talking to on the roof top.” He paused, “I just didn’t want to tell you the rest in the cab…I think you’re in danger and I think Olive is involved.”
“What?” Alex’s face wrinkled, he took off his sun glasses. The cold laser of his stare told Skip what he already knew. Flop, something in his heart flipped. His flight mechanism told him to walk away from this beautiful man. Or was it his stomach. He sensed trouble coming. “You’re sounding a little crazy Mr. Could you please tell me why you think my best friend has anything to do with last night, let alone be dangerous.”
“Yes I will, bare with me for a moment.” He took several steps up the sidewalk towards the chapel entrance. “Well…come on. I want you to see something.” He pulled open the heavy wooden side door. “Come on…” He turned, that big white smile, reassuring. “I’m not going to let anything happen to my sire.” He held out his hand.
Alex took his hand. Seven steps in and to the right they slid into a pew. They were alone in the dark hidden chapel, facing the most beautiful set of glowing stained glass windows. “Wow. What a magical place…the tree. It’s…”
"Eden." Skip finished his thought. "Now that I understand your mission better, I thought you might like it. It's one of my favorite spots in the hood." He took the nervous hands into his own. "What I'm about to tell you is going to sound crazy but just hear me out, please."