Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Trip To Juneau: Desperately Seeking Sarah

Saturday. The blower sparked. "Yeah...yeah...yeah...you sure?...OK, tomorrow night." I hung up. Dolly-girl put down her magazine and looked at me through the wave. "What's it?" "People I know up north. They need my help. Tomorrow." She gave me exasperation. "Jack, we were gonna, you were gonna,..." "I know. But now I know something different than I knew, and it's new." She knew and I knew. I was going.

The sign at the gate where the Clipper was loading said Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Juneau, and points north. But there weren't any points north on my dance card. The capital of the 49th state, the star that hit the flag 50 years ago, was my destination. An old friend from way back had a new job for me in an old place that was a far piece from where me and Dolly-girl set the brake. But it was the sorta job that kept my neurons sparking--a missing person, follow?

I'd have to give the town the back and forth. It's easy to be passed by as a passerby in a town that sees six thousand new faces a day, and none of them stay. That was the book on this chiquita--she hit town, left, did a national tour, and never came back. It was up to me to c or d--confirm or deny. My specialty. I started with the usual, check out where she might be hiding in plain sight.

First place to check? Where she's supposed to set her brake. According to the locals, not much chance of finding her La Sabre parked there...

I did a drive-by on the DT, but that didn't pan out. Didn't think it would. This case was going to take some leather off my Florsheims.

Some ships were in town and word had it she'd taken a fancy to some sailors that came to town about a year ago. She served them something that made their eyes see sparkles and they booked her for the spin around the country. But, no sign of her now...no sparkles.

Since that tour she'd taken to wearing the ruby slippers if you know what I mean. Nothing was too good for her whether it was where she lived or how she traveled. But no dice--no Dorothy on that Turbo Otter.

I slipped into a local watering hole. It was a nice day. Warm. Sunny. Unusual. My dogs were barking after the hoof around the town. Missy brought me a whadda-ya-drinkin' and I settled on a local brew--"Alaska, make it one that's been to the sub-continent." "It's yours."

I looked around and spotted some people I knew from places I've known. One local, one not. They sat down. We talked. Neither had seen the chiquita. Neither cared. They weren't on the case.

Missy brought the drinks. I asked her what the story was.

So, the job was a wash. I didn't find her, though I got some leads. I shoulda had points north on my dance card after all. Turns out she doesn't leave points north except when the cruise ship Neocon hits town.

I caught the Twelve-fifty Clipper southbound, nursed a drink, and licked my wounds. I don't like to miss my take, get given the slip by a slip that slipped by in the night. I didn't even have the glass slipper. She slipped me a mickey on this one, but I'll find her before she slips into the spotlight again and slips and slides her way around the country. I won't slip up again...

Dolly-girl would be waiting. She's seen the good times and the bad.

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