Recap: “At the local Comic Con, A body is found. His friend Dave. His other friend Ralph, suspect. He comes home, a gun is at his head. Ralph wants to talk. According to Ralph, James Thomas wants him out of the way for control of Mugs Bear. After this encounter the Cartoonist asks out Cidra for a date and it goes well only to find out that James is her brother. After a talk with Jimmy takes makes him believes him and a talk with Gino that gives him a new suspect, the Cartoonist is attacked and ends up in the hospital where he finds out Ralph is arrested and charged with the murder”
Well, it’s done. Ralph is caught and being charged with Dave’s murder. I am not sure he’s guilty but he’s the best suspect. I stand there in front of the television in shock. I knew this man for many years. Some good times had. With Dave and with Ralph. At this point there is nothing I can do but continue and seeing this investigation though. I sign the paperwork and exit the hospital. I take a cab back to my house. Home sweet home. I take a shower, change my clothes and have a good meal. The things you take for granted when they are taken away. I have enough strength to get to my drawing table to finish some strips for deadline. A couple of days in the hospital can leave you behind schedule. As I draw, I think of Cidra and how it seems that she abandoned me when I needed her the most. I shake it off and go back to work.
After a few hours of work, I check some e-mails and think about this last week. I think about Gino’s talk of the Texan and his need for hard justice. I think I will pay him a visit. I know it sounds crazy, but I need to size him up. Tex Austin has a Bar and Grill called the Lone Star located in the Wall Street area. Next to the Bull Statue. How fitting. The next morning i decide to make the trip. I decide to go early to beat the lunch crowd. I highly doubt this place serves breakfast. I walk right in. I am surprised that it wasn’t locked. It’s very much a cowboy bar. Sawdust on the floor. Wooden chairs and tables. Legendary Cowboy movies stars’ pictures on the walls.
I walk up to the bar where a bartender is wiping down some glasses. Stereotypical Bartender stuff. Before i say anything. She says, “We’re Closed”. Well, why is your door open I wanted to say but I don’t because I would probably get me booted out. I stay where I am, and she looks at me like there’s something wrong with me. “I told you We’re…” I stopped her and told her that I am here to see Tex and that it’s about the Mugs Bear Murder. That changes her tune and goes into the back. She comes back and told me to wait for a minute. Asked if I wanted anything to drink. I told her water is fine since its before noon and having alcohol now would seem inappropriate. She gets me a bottle of water and hangs back.
After about 15 minutes two big dudes come out followed by another big dude. The two big guys I would guess are his Muscle. Both wearing a casual suit, no tie with cowboys’ hats on their heads. Then he comes out. A big Stetson Hat, White Suit with string tie. Kind of reminds me of the Rich Texan character on the Simpsons but much more intimidating. He sits down. “So, what’s stopping me from killing you right now?” Oh boy I think I may piss my pants. He sees this and quickly puts his hands up “Woah, Woah, Woah. I am just kidding. I know you are Gino’s kid. I respect him. So, what’s this about the Mugs Bears thing?” I relax and get my bearings together (no pun intended). I tell him that I don’t believe Ralph had anything to do with the murder and I am crossing off names that may be involved. He looks at me like I slapped him in the face. “Hey, I may look like a hick but don’t confuse me as being some type of idiot. Yes, I rough up people when there are things I want. But I don’t kill people…ok I killed people but only when they deserved it”
I think this though and ask him what his deal with Ralph and Dave was. “They wanted to open a business that interfered with my own, so I asked…nicely to back off. It took a little ‘convincing’…” He used air quotes for that one. “…but they complied” In other words roughed them a bit to scare them in compliance. I asked him if knew of why they didn’t look into anywhere else. He shrugged and said “beats me. Maybe they ran out of money. Maybe they figured to cut their losses. Could have been anything. Look I gave you five minutes out of respect for your dad, but I got to go. My boys will escort you out”. I told him I will see myself out and I did.
I step outside. I am tired and still in a quite bit of pain. I head my way home. I check my phone for messages and see that there is a couple of missed calls from my dad. No Cidra. I step inside my place and call Gino. He answers. “Hey Kid. Are you home?” I tell him Yes. “I have something I found. I’ll head to place in about 15 minutes”. He show up in 10 minutes. He sits down on my couch and pulls something out of his pocket. “I saw this outside your place after the attack. I guess the Police missed it”. He hands it to me and I examine it.
I am not sure what it is but I think its the thing that may crack this mystery.
Once I find out what it means.
To be continued…