Part 4: link
“Andersen,” Percy picks up his phone the inayofuata morning.
“I’m only going to say two words, all right?”
Percy hangs up the phone, stares at it a moment, and then goes back to his file cabinet. He pulls open the drawer and withdraws another folder, placing it in the bottom drawer with the other.
Arthur heads out of his office door in tafuta of lunch. As he pulls the door open, his phone rings.
“Aw, I’m hungry…” he complains, but goes back to answer his phone anyway.
“Guinevere,” he says, his voice brightening.
“I just have a few moments, but I did speak to my brother this morning. He was actually happy to have your man take a look at Daddy’s affairs. He’d been worryin’ about it, but he didn’t know what to do.”
“I’ll talk to Geoffrey and see what he has available. Is there a number I can reach wewe at?”
“Not ’til I’m done here at school. I’ll call wewe around three.”
Just then Arthur sees the man in swali walking past his door. “Geoffrey!” he yells, then, “Sorry,” to Gwen, who starts giggling on the other end of the line.
“You need me, Arthur?” Geoffrey says, appearing in the doorway.
“Yes,” he says. “Hang on one moment,” he tells Gwen. “I have an estate that needs seein’ to. Do wewe have some time for a client of mine?”
“From the wrongful death case? Ah, let me think. I have some time this afternoon, in fact.” Geoffrey pulls a small appointment book out of his breast pocket.
“Did wewe hear that?” Arthur relays to Gwen.
“Yes, but what time?”
“3:30 should work,” Geoffrey says, tapping his book.
“That should be fine,” Gwen says before Arthur can ask.
“Thanks, Geoffrey,” Arthur says.
“You’re welcome,” Geoffrey nods, and exits.
“He seems… businesslike…” Gwen says.
“Yeah, he’s a bit stuffy, but he’s good people.”
“He’s okay with…?”
in this office knows who wewe are and what color your skin is, darlin’, so don’t feel wewe have to keep checkin’, okay?” Darlin’?
“Thank you, Arthur. I have to go. My afternoon students will be here soon.”
“Maybe I’ll see wewe later,” Arthur says.
After lunch, Arthur sits at his dawati and stares, tapping his pencil on his desk. The clock on his bookcase, kasha la vitabu ticks stalwartly away. Repair requests… accident reports… work records… what else?
Repair requests… accident reports…
Arthur stands and goes to a file cabinet, pulling out a form.
Five dakika later he picks up his phone and presses a three-digit number.
“I’ll send him over, Duckling.”
A dakika later, Merlin opens Arthur’s door. Arthur just sighs. “Merlin, please take this downtown and have it processed. Find out how quickly wewe can get it back.” He hands the paper to Merlin.
Merlin looks at the form. “Really? You’re going to try and go into the lion’s den?” he asks, raising his eyebrows.
“Not me. I need… that guy. wewe know. The guy,” Arthur says, snapping his fingers, trying to dredge up the name.
guy,” Merlin nods, knowing who Arthur is talking about now.
“What is his name?”
“You’re honestly asking me?”
“Right. Stupid of me. Get going,” Arthur waves him off and dials his father’s direct number now.
“Pendragon,” Uther answers.
“Me, too,” Arthur replies. “Pop, what’s that guy’s name?”
“I’m going to need a little zaidi information, Arthur.”
“You know, that guy.
wewe know, the creepy one. The fix-it guy.”
“Yes! Him!” Arthur yells.
“You want to hire him?” Uther asks. “You’ll need a court order for what he needs to do.”
“I just sent Merlin. I have a plan, Pop.”
“Let me get wewe his number. Mention you’re my son au he won’t even give wewe the time of day.”
“Right, because there are so many Pendragons in Memphis,” Arthur says sarcastically. “Last I checked it was only wewe and me.”
“Do wewe want the number au not?”
Arthur looks at his watch. 4:45. I hope everything’s going okay for her.
He had wanted to see Gwen when she arrived for her 3:30 appointment with Geoffrey, and only realized that he missed her when he looked up at the clock and saw that it was 3:42. He’d been closed up in his office for the last hour, kusoma up on other wrongful death cases, particularly ones involving workplace accidents, and found that he was inexplicably irritated with himself for missing her. I am not a stalker. I am not a stalker.
Arthur strolls down the corridor, looking like he’s got a purpose. When he passes Geoffrey’s closed door, he frowns at it. What the hell is my problem, anyway?
Just then Geoffrey’s door opens, and Arthur’s eyes are drawn like a nondo to flame.
“Thank wewe very much, Mr. Morton, I can’t tell wewe how much I appreciate the help you’ve aliyopewa my brother and me,” Gwen is saying.
“Just doing my job, Miss Thompson,” Geoffrey says. “Ah, Arthur, I believe wewe know Miss Thompson.”
“Indeed I do,” Arthur says. “Hello, Guinevere.”
“Hi, Arthur,” she greets him, clutching a thick folder to her chest. “Thank wewe again for recommending I see Mr. Morton. He’s just made Elyan’s and my life a whole lot easier.”
“Just a little creative rearranging. We consolidated some things, transferred some other things. Simple,” Geoffrey says.
“For you, maybe,” Arthur says. “I’m just headin’ out to Gwaine’s to meet with Percy. I’ll walk wewe out.”
Geoffrey nods and withdraws to his office.
“Is Gwaine’s your sekunde office now?” Gwen asks.
“I don’t like staying here late. Have wewe been to Gwaine’s? I know Elyan has.”
“Yes, he’s been there, but he’s never bothered to invite me along,” Gwen says.
“You should come out sometime. I know Merlin would upendo for wewe to hear him play.”
“I would like to hear Merlin play,” she says, waiting as Arthur ducks into his office to grab a couple things.
“If you’re not doing anything now, why don’t wewe come along with me?” he asks softly.
She stops walking. “Arthur, I can’t be goin’ to no tavern with a white man. I know wewe don’t have any intentions,
but other people don’t know that.”
Arthur presses his lips together. I can’t believe I didn’t even think of that.
“Of course, you’re right. I’m sorry, Guinevere, I didn’t mean to…”
“It’s all right, Arthur, I know. Tell wewe what. inayofuata time Elyan goes, I’ll tag along, and maybe I’ll see you.” They start walking again.
They exit into the lobby. “Good night, Mr. Pendragon,” Vivian practically sings after them. “Oh, good night, Miss Thompson,” she adds, almost an afterthought.
“Vivian,” Arthur says, hardly glancing her way.
“Good night, Vivian,” Gwen says pleasantly, smiling at her.
Outside, Gwen smirks at him. “Your receptionist is sweet on you.”
“Lord, wewe didn’t see the eyes she was makin’ at wewe when wewe walked past? ‘Good night, Mr. Pendragon,’” she sings, mocking Vivian’s tone exactly.
Arthur laughs. “No…”
“Yes! She blushes every time she talks to you. I saw it the first time I came here.”
“You ain’t interested? She’s very pretty.”
“If wewe like that type,” he says noncommittally.
“That’s irrelevant,” he says, a little too hastily. “She works for my father, for one. Second, well, she’s kind of an idiot. And spoiled.”
“She doesn’t need to work at all. Her daddy made her get a job because he’s afraid some man is going to lead her astray and, I don’t know, ruin her au something. He figures if she’s trapped behind a dawati all siku she can’t get herself into trouble. I reckon.”
“What does he do with her at night? Lock her in a tower?”
Arthur laughs. “I wouldn’t put it past him.”
“This your car?” he points to a large green Chevy Impala parked kwa the curb.
“It was Daddy’s,” she says. “It’s a bit big for me, but I don’t have much choice.”
“You’re gonna be late for Percy,” she says.
“Oh, yeah. Right. I’ll call wewe if I have any news from the meeting,” he says, watching her stand there in the sunlight, still holding the folder to her chest. Idly wishing somewhere in the back of his brain that he was that folder.
“All right. Have a good night, Arthur,” she says, walking around to unlock her door.
5:03 and Arthur is entering Gwaine’s, irritated that he’s late. He scans the tavern. I should have asked Percy what he looked like,
he thinks, then his eyes land on an exceedingly clean-cut young man, sitting straight in a chair at a table. He sits at attention. That must be him.
He walks over. “Percy?”
Percy nods and stands, extending an arm the size of a country ham ending in a hand the size of a catcher’s mitt. Arthur shakes his hand and introduces himself.
“Arthur Pendragon,” he says, looking up at the man.
Arthur had always considered himself to be fairly good-sized, an even six feet tall, muscular and fit. Quarterback on both his high school and college football teams; fighting fit. He’s used to being in the company of Merlin, who, while an inch au so taller, is pretty scrawny.
Next to Percy Andersen, Arthur feels like a runt.
“Is that what I think it is?” Arthur asks, sitting now. Percy sits as well, nodding, sliding the folders over to him.
“Yes. These are the repair forms, these are the accident reports.”
“There’s a lot here,” Arthur remarks, opening the folder. “You hungry?”
“I’m always hungry,” Percy says. “And I smell fried chicken.” He looks hopefully towards the door to the kitchen.
“Gwaine!” Arthur calls, waving him over.
“Another meeting, Art?” Gwaine asks, sauntering over.
Arthur cringes, and Gwaine grins. Arthur says nothing, refusing to engage him. “My guest here claims he smells fried chicken.”
“You have a good nose, my…” he pauses as his hand connects with Percy’s shoulder, “large
“Well, then, set us up. I have a feeling that Percy here can probably put away a fair amount, so don’t be stingy.”
Gwaine chuckles and nods, wandering away.
“Business expense,” Arthur says just as Percy is opening his mouth to protest.
“Thanks,” he says.
Arthur flips through the forms. “These are even in chronological order. Very nice. That will make things very helpful. May I borrow these for a while?”
“Yes, of course. Alined doesn’t know I have them anyway. But how do all of these relate to Tom’s death?”
“Well, this trial ain’t strictly about just Tom. Guinevere isn’t out for cash compensation. She wants things to be safer, better for everyone there.”
“Oh,” Percy leans back, slightly surprised. “That’s really…”
“Thoughtful?” Arthur supplies. “Ah, chicken,” he says when Gwaine sets a sahani, sinia heaped with chicken on the meza, jedwali for Arthur and Percy. He also gives them each a plate with some greens and cornbread. “And cornbread, too. Gwaine, you’ll make some man a mighty fine wife one day,” he says, laughing as Gwaine smacks him on the back of the head and walks away. “Hey! We need some drinks here, man!”
Gwaine returns a dakika later with Dr. Pepper again, knowing that Arthur is working and won’t be drinking any alcohol, and he prefers Dr. Pepper over anything else.
“So. Where were we? Ah. What I plan to do with these,” he points to the folders with a chicken leg, “is cross-reference them to determine which of the accidents relate to repairs that did not get done.”
Percy nods, his mouth full. He swallows. “Damn, this is good chicken. And that’s a good plan. I wish we could get the originals of these repair requests. That would prove that they haven’t been done. See this space here?” He points to a blank on the bottom corner of the form. “That would be initialed kwa the maintenance man when he completes the repair. That’s the only way we would know. And the originals would be in Alined’s office. au in Trickler’s desk.”
“Trickler?” Arthur takes his notebook out now.
“Dennis Trickler. Alined’s, um, ‘personal assistant.’ Really he’s a sniveling little yes-man. I think he’s queer for Alined, the way he follows him around.”
“Um, okaayyyy…” Arthur doesn’t quite know what to make of this information. “So it’s doubtful we’d be able to convince him to testify against your uncle, then.”
“Please don’t call him that,” Percy says, making a face.
Arthur had noticed that Percy has not once referred to Eugene Alined as anything other than “Alined.” Not Uncle Eugene, not Uncle, not even Eugene. “So what’s going on with wewe and him? He gave wewe a job but wewe hate him. What happened there?”
Percy bites his lip and looks at his plate.
“Percy, if wewe don’t tell me, Boudreaux will drag it out of wewe on the witness stand. It’s better if I know everything up front so we can be prepared for anything. I realize it’s probably difficult, but I may be able to spin it to our advantage.”
“Well, there is something wewe should know about Alined,” Percy says.
“Elyan, where are wewe off to?” Gwen asks, washing the chajio, chakula cha jioni dishes.
“Out,” he says, tucking his wallet into the back pocket of his jeans.
“Out where?” she presses.
“You ain’t my mama,” he shoots back, and she flicks the dishtowel at him.
“I’m just wonderin’, is all.”
“Why, wewe fixin’ to come along?”
“Maybe. Depends on where wewe goin’.”
“Gwaine’s.” Do I dare?
Gwen thinks, wondering why her moyo seems to be speeding up. “Do wewe mind if I tag along?”
“’Course wewe can come. But why wewe interested now?”
“I’d like to hear that Merlin play the piano,” she says, deciding that it was a salama enough excuse. “I’m hoping that Arthur is still there” would not go over well at all.
Not that I’m hoping Arthur will be there. That is not a good idea at all. No matter how many times he says I’m pretty au calls me “darlin’”
“Oh,” Elyan says, furrowing his brows a little. “You almost done there?”
“I’d be faster if you’d get off your tail and help,” she says, throwing the towel at his head now.
“Fine,” he sighs, standing and crossing to help dry the dishes.
“I made your dinner, least wewe can do is help clean up,” she mutters.
Twenty dakika later they walk into Gwaine’s, Gwen slightly behind Elyan as they enter the slightly smoky dimness.
“Elyan, who is this Angel come from heaven?” a voice, slightly smoky like the atmosphere in the bar, greets them.
“This is Gwen,” Elyan introduces her to Gwaine, who holds his hand out to her.
“Gwen,” he says, lifting her hand to his lips and kissing her knuckles. “I’m Gwaine. Allow me to welcome wewe to my humble establishment.”
Gwen’s eyes grow wide at the actions of this strange white man. She delicately extracts her hand from his. “Thank you,” she manages.
“Yes, indeed, wewe are most certainly an angel. Where wewe been hidin’ her, Elyan?”
“He hasn’t been hidin’ me anywhere,” Gwen says. “And if I’m an angel, then surely wewe are the devil himself, sir.”
Gwaine laughs loudly at this, actually delighted with her assessment. “Hold on to this one, El. I like her; she’s quick.”
“She’s my sister, Gwaine,” Elyan says, “so hangin’ on to ain’t the problem, it’s gettin’ rid of.”
“Elyan!” Gwen punches his shoulder now, and Gwaine laughs even harder.
“What can I get wewe to drink, Miss Gwen?”
“Something without alcohol,” she says.
Gwaine gives her a bottle of Pepsi and a straw. “Gwen. Gwaine. Our names are almost the same,” he grins. “Gwen-Gwaine-Gwen-Gwaine,” he says quickly, as if it were a tongue-twister.
“Almost,” she laughs. “But I would be very surprised indeed if your full name was Gwainevere.”
Finally Gwaine is rendered speechless, and Gwen turns from the bar while he stares, dumbfounded.
“Where is Merlin?” she asks, her eyes unwittingly falling on a familiar golden blonde head.
“Hey, Gwainevere,” Elyan calls, “Where’s Merlin?”
“Takin’ a break. He’ll be out in a couple. And shut up.”
Elyan laughs, basking in his sister’s victory over Gwaine in verbal sparring. “Ain’t that your lawyer friend there?” Elyan has spotted Arthur now, too.
“Yes,” Gwen says blankly.
Elyan gives her a sideways look that clearly says You best be comin’ here to hear Merlin play, not to see Blonde Mr. Charlie.
Gwen ignores him.
“You not goin’ to go say hello?”
Elyan. See the papers on the table? Behind the chicken? And that’s Percy Andersen with him.”
“How do wewe know?”
“I knew he was meetin’ with him tonight, that’s how,” she snaps. “They’re workin’ on our case.”
“Well, from the looks o’ things, Mr. Andersen has just told – what’s his name? Arthur – something pretty shockin’.” Wonder if it has somethin’ to do with Alined,
she thinks, sipping her drink. She hasn’t told Elyan about Percy and Alined being related.
Merlin wanders out now, leaning behind the bar and grabbing a bottle of 7-Up for himself. “Gwen!” he exclaims.
“Hi, Merlin,” she says, smiling at him. “I came to see wewe play.”
“Hey, thanks! I’m just headin’ back up there,” he says. “Hey…”
“Elyan,” Gwen supplies, reminding him.
“Elyan, right,” Merlin grins, holding his hand out to shake Elyan’s hand.
“Merlin,” Elyan nods. “Just wewe tonight?”
“Yeah. Aaron and Fred are playin’ over at Jook’s. They don’t let me in there.”
“Why not?” Gwen asks.
“Because I’m white, obviously,” Merlin says, shrugging. “Aaron tried. Even had Tony come over here and listen to me play. He alisema I was good, but it was too risky, even though I
would be the one takin’ the risk.”
“Hmm,” Gwen says, mulling this over. I never thought about the fact that it might be difficult for a white Irish boy to try to make a name for himself playin’ colored music. Of course I never thought I’d meet a white Irish boy who was trying to play colored music.
“Hey, I’m not payin’ wewe to stand around and wave your gums, Merls,” Gwaine says. “I’m payin’ wewe to sit around and wave your fingers. So get goin’.”
“All right, all right,” Merlin waves his free hand dismissively at Gwaine.
“You pay for that 7-Up?” Gwaine calls. Merlin pantomimes like he can’t hear Gwaine, taking a long drink from his bottle.
He sits down at the piano, and Gwen moves forward, closer to the makeshift stage. Around her she hears some muttering, people that are obviously not familiar with Merlin, wondering what kind of muziki is going to be coming out of that piano.
Merlin takes another drink and sets the bottle on juu of the kinanda inayofuata to an empty and slightly smudged Mason jar. He bends over the keys and begins to play.
“Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho” comes forth, jaunty and swinging, winning over some immediately. Others are still skeptical, but while Gwen notices they keep their maoni quiet, she has a feeling Merlin knows they’re being made.
She glances over at Arthur again, and he looks zaidi relaxed, seeming to be chatting with Percy now. She watches surreptitiously. He’s telling Percy about Merlin,
she guesses, noting that he points in the kinanda player’s direction once au twice.
“Do wewe want to get a table?” Elyan asks.
“You don’t have to babysit me, Elyan,” she tells him. “I know wewe have your eye on that tall gal over there.”
“Do not,” Elyan argues.
“You can’t lie to me and wewe know it. I’ll be fine; go talk to her before that man in the red shati beats wewe to it.”
“What man in a red shirt?” he asks, straightening up and looking around. He doesn’t see anyone in a red shirt.
Gwen smirks knowingly at him and he stomps stubbornly away, towards the girl.
Merlin finishes his song and Gwen sets her Pepsi down to applaud loudly. Several others jiunge in, and Gwen smiles. Then she gets an idea. She digs into her mfuko wa fedha, mfuko and pulls out two dimes. Holding her head high, she strides forward, drops the dimes in Merlin’s Mason jar, and smiles at him.
Merlin grins back and starts another tune, something newer. “Blue Train,” kwa John Coltrane. Gwen sees some appreciative nods among the crowd. She also feels a set of blue eyes on her before she sees the familiar handsome face watching her walk back to her table.
Gwen waves shyly, and is about to sit when he waves her over. Go and say hello. Then come back to your own table.
“Arthur, hello,” she says. She approaches the meza, jedwali and both men stand.
“Well, this is a surprise,” he smiles lazily at her. “I wasn’t expectin’ to see wewe here tonight.”
“Well, Elyan was headin’ out here, coincidentally enough. Percy, nice to see you.”
“Hello, Gwen,” Percy says, nodding at her.
“Thank wewe so much for helping us with this case. I really can’t say how grateful I am,” she tells him, looking up at him.
“Please, sit,” Arthur motions to a chair.
“Oh, no, I shouldn’t…”
“Guinevere, it’s fine,” Arthur says. “Sit and talk for a minute, then wewe won’t be bothered kwa me calling wewe later.”
“All right,” she says, sitting. The two men follow suit. “What is all this?”
“Chicken bones, mostly,” Arthur answers.
” she waves at the carnage before her, “this.” She points to the folders.
“Unfulfilled repair requests and accident reports. I’m going to figure out how they relate to each other.”
“Oh, I see. If wewe can prove that…” she picks up a form, “Michael Simpson was injured kwa a…” she picks up another, “scissor lift that was in need of repairs…”
“Then we can not only make our case, but perhaps even get the Simpson family some compensation. Lost wages, hospital bills, that kind of thing.”
Gwen’s face breaks into a smile that Arthur could only describe as beautiful. “Um, I have another trick up my sleeve as well.”
“Yes, I was telling Percy here that my father has a man that I’d like to have come to the warehouse and maybe even the factory, if I can sneak him in that far. We call him the fix-it man.”
“What’s he fix?”
“Everything. He’s a mechanical genius, and a complete nut for safety. He’s also one of the scariest people you’ll ever meet. But he’s my father’s friend, and he’s agreed to help. Seemed pretty keen on it, actually.”
“Soon as we get the court order allowing the inspection. Hopin’ for tomorrow, but Friday’s zaidi likely.”
“What will he do?”
“Inspect the machinery and equipment. Make notes on his findings. I’m not gonna give him these,” he points to the repair requests. “I don’t want to influence his work. Not that it would, prob’ly, but the whole point is if Jack Aredian finds the same problems as what’s on these papers…”
“Then Alined is in big trouble.”
Arthur nods. “He’ll probably find more, if I were to hazard a guess.”
“Why is he scary?”
“He’s just very… severe. He doesn’t really talk much. His face is unreadable. All business. I’ve been tempted to poke him with something sharp to make sure he’s human, actually,” he chuckles. “Don’t know if he’d bleed blood au machine oil.”
Gwen laughs and takes a sip of her Pepsi, glancing up at Merlin again. “He’s very good,” she comments. “Seems to be favoring John Coltrane, I notice.”
“His latest obsession,” Arthur maoni absently. He glances at Percy. “Can I tell her what wewe told me before? I think she should know.”
“Know what?” Gwen asks.
Percy shifts uncomfortably in his seat.
“She’ll keep it under wraps, Percy, I promise. She already knows you’re related to him. I told her because it is relevant to her case. And so is this.”
Percy nods. “All right.”
Part 6: link