NOT THE REASON I SHOULD CARE
Steinthal looked at the picture. Then he handed it back to Williams.
“What do you want me to do?” Steinthal asked.
“Shadow him,” Williams replied. Steinthal almost laughed at the term then caught himself. Curiosity got the better of humor.
“Maybe I can do it, but who is he, and why would I track him?” Steinthal said.
“You don’t recognize him?” Williams seemed truly dumbfounded.
“Why would I recognize him?” Steinthal said flatly. “I’ve never met him or seen him before.”
“But that’s Dale J. Soggs,” Williams responded.
Williams waited to see if the name would have an effect but when it didn’t he tried again.
“He’s the football player! First draft two years ago. Very first first draft,” Williams said.
Steinthal looked at Maugham and Maugham looked at Steinthal and then Maugham casually shrugged his shoulders.
Steinthal looked back at Williams and then, unable to contain HIMSELF anymore, laughed out loud. When he stopped laughing he scratched his neck and shook his head.
“Williams, what do I give a shit if he plays football?” Steinthal replied. “Is that supposed to be your pitch to me? You think I have nothing better to do with my time than watch fucking football? I’m a grown man Williams, not a little school girl. Look at Maugham Williams. You think he’s got nothing more important to do with his time than watch fucking football? You think he’s never done anything more dangerous than fucking football?”
Williams looked up at Maugham. He towered over them both.
“You don’t watch football either?” he asked Maugham. “Guy like you? Big as you are?”
Maugham looked down at Williams, smiled thinly, and shook his head dismissively. Then he went back to chewing his gum.
Williams looked back at Steinthal who was still waiting for a reply to his question. Williams still seemed confused so Steinthal backtracked.
“I didn’t ask you what he did Williams, if you can call that doing something. I asked you who he was and why you want him surveilled. Now who is he that you need him watched? And don’t give me any bullshit about him being a football player because I don’t give a shit. In case you missed it I don’t watch fucking football. And if this is about football then you’re killing your time and my interest. Now who is the man that you want him followed, and why?”
Williams looked stunned, then shook his head and exhaled loudly. He seemed to deflate as he did so.
“They said you’d be just like this,” he finally said.
“Like what?” Steinthal asked almost disinterestedly.
“Straight to the point,” Williams answered.
Steinthal ran his hand through his beard.
“Look, you want a play-runner or a ballet dancer then get another football player to chaperone him around. They can take notes on him, carry his little athletic bag, scrub his cleats, and type up his itinerary. Maybe take him to his pedicure or his oil bath where he can meet his side-chick. Assuming that’s what you’re after. But if I’m going to follow the man then I’m going to know exactly who and what he is and why he actually needs to be followed. Get me?” Steinthal said.
Williams blinked, then nodded. It was completely silent for a moment, except for someone vacuuming up at the far end of the hall.
“Now Williams, now,” Steinthal said. “I’m not here for the psychoanalysis and the ambiance.”
Williams blinked again and cleared his throat.
“We think he,” the team rep began. “Well, we’re not sure, you see, but we think he could be, maybe, a foreign agent,” Williams finally admitted.
This time Steinthal blinked.
“A football player?” Steinthal asked incredulously.
“Well, it’s just that, you see…” Williams answered, but Steinthal set his jaw and shook his head for silence. Then he ran his hand through his beard again, scratched his chin, nodded, and motioned to Maugham. Both men turned and walked towards the door.
Surprised Williams watched them reach the door before he thought to respond.
“Wait a second?” he blurted out. “Are you gonna do it? Will you follow him for us?”
Steinthal stopped at the door and turned to Williams.
“We will,” Steinthal replied.
“Well,” Williams continued confused. “Don’t you want any details on the man? Like where he lives, what he drives, that kind of thing…”
“No, I don’t,” Steinthal replied. “I’ll gather my own intel, and details. Call you in three days.” Then he and Maugham left, walked to the end of the hall, and punched the button for an elevator.
When they were inside and descending Maugham looked at Steinthal.
“Think this is what it appears to be?” he asked his friend.
“Hell no!” replied Steinthal. “No one would.” Maugham smiled.
“Think this Soggs guy might actually be dangerous then?” Maugham asked.
“If he is,” replied Steinthal, “we’ll find out soon enough. But in any case it won’t be because he’s a football player.”
And Maugham nodded and they both laughed.
from The Detective Steinthal
I was working on a sci-fi story last night called, The Seas the Skies, when this scene popped into my head about a new case for Steinthal and Maugham. Something I’ve been thinking of doing anyway given all of the crap hysteria about foreign agents and all of the crap about professional football in our modern society. So I wrote this scene instead. First draft. If you’ll excuse the pun.
I’ll punch out the sci-fi story today after my hike with Sam.
Have a good day folks.