A richard l wren mystery.., p.23
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       A Richard L. Wren Mystery-Adventure Sampler, p.23

           Richard Wren
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  “TV? Aqui? Esta noche? Si, si, esta bueno, mucho bueno. Gracias, Gracias.” The only trouble Josh had arranging the filming was that the owner kept reverting to Spanish when he was excited. He had told them to come by anytime.

  The renting of the camera had been no trouble either and Hal’s concern that they might look like fakes was unfounded. The shop could not have cared less what they wanted the camera for, they were just happy to take the money. “Business is bad,” the guy had told Josh. “Everyone can take quality video on their own phones now. I don’t reckon we’ll be here this time next year.” They had walked away from the shop with a substantially sized camera with a pop out digital screen that Josh could hide behind. The camera had a bright light on it so they could illuminate their subjects in the darkened club, which Josh knew would obscure the view of him even further. But just to be sure, Hal took him to a costume shop where he picked up a brown wig that he could wear under a baseball cap and, with his three day stubble, he was certain not even the most devout Martial Arts fan would know it was Josh Rogan calling the shots.

  Hal decided it would be sufficient to disguise himself by giving himself a buzz cut, like the one he had had in the Merchant Navy, and to shave off his beard. Without his grey hair he said he felt much younger and Josh had to admit he would not have recognized him on the street. Josh was happy that Hal seemed to have gotten over the misgivings about the plan after a couple of days driving the cab as normal. Hal had complained of boredom and was clearly pleased to be back adventuring.

  Hal drove them in the rental car to the club and shortly after nine that night; feeling secure in their disguises, Josh and Hal stood beneath the neon MEXCO sign. The owner greeted them effusively at the front door and immediately led them to a small stage at the end of the bar. Josh and Hal were pushed onto the stage, while the owner grabbed a microphone and asked for the attention of the whole room. To his left, at the bar, it was as if no one heard him. The noise level was high and drinks had been flowing. To his right, people were seated at dining tables and it was much quieter. People turned in their chairs to see what was going on. The owner called out to the bartender to tone the bar down, and gradually some quiet was attained. Josh was worried the announcement would scare off Navarese, or members of his gang, and hoped he was not at the club already.

  “Amigos. ---------“, he started to say, then quickly switched to English. “We have a TV crew here tonight. They’re doing a series on successful local businesses, so tell them nice things about us! But if any of you cheating husbands or wives out there don’t want to be caught on film, you’d better leave right now!”

  He got a small laugh and some jeers as he left the stage.

  Together they circled around the dance floor and explored the various parts of the club. They didn’t see any sign of Navarese. Ten o’clock came, and no sign of him. Hal and Josh stood in a dark corner and stopped recording.

  Hal whispered, “Can we go now?”

  The owner approached them. “What do you think the chances are of this getting on the air?”

  “I don’t really know. I thought you’d be more crowded, you know more people to interview.”

  The owner glanced at a wall clock. “Won’t be long, you’ll have more’n you can handle.”

  Hal said, “Guess we’re staying a little longer, right?”

  “Right. Let’s keep moving.” Gradually the crowd thickened, mostly at the bar. Josh and Hal concentrated on diners at their tables and dancers.

  Finally, shortly before eleven Navarese came in, alone. Josh nudged Hal and nodded toward the front door. They watched him bull his way to the far end of the bar, where two younger men were sitting on the last two stools, nursing their beers. He stopped behind them. The two young men were engrossed in themselves and their beers and didn’t notice him come up behind them. However the bartender did. Very quickly, he walked down to their end of the bar, leaned over as close to the two and said something to them. They swung around and saw, for the first time, the large menacing figure of Navarese standing behind them.

  One of them said something back to the bartender, shrugged his shoulders and turned back to the bar with his back to Navarese. Navarese made a slight move and a knife appeared in his hand. The bartender held up his hand signaling to Navarese to stop. At the same time he, much more vehemently this time, spoke to the two young men again. Just as one of the men started to shake his head “no”, the owner arrived. First he spoke to Navarese. It was more like he was arguing with him and then threatening him. Finally the knife disappeared and Navarese backed away a few steps, but he didn’t leave.

  The owner then turned his attention to the two young men. He quietly spoke with them for a minute or so and then led them away to a nice table for two near the dance floor. One of them surreptitiously gave the finger to Navarese as he walked by. Josh thought the young man was very lucky in that Navarese didn’t spot it.

  As the owner left the two men, he walked up to Josh and Hal. “Did you see that?”

  “We saw that guy pull a knife.”

  The owner looked crestfallen. “Did you film it?”

  “No, don’t worry.”

  “Good. I don’t want people thinking this is a bad place. That guy’s been in here a lot lately, trying to establish his turf I suppose, but I never seen him pull a knife on anyone. Be careful with him. Don’t be asking him to say ‘cheese’.”

  Josh asked if he knew what the bartender had said to the two young guys. The owner had no idea and Josh thought it would be a good thing to find out. It looked to him as if the bartender knew something about Navarese, or at least his reputation. After the owner left them, Josh made his way over to the bar alone. He had to elbow his way in to get the bartender’s attention.

  “So, it’s my turn for stardom?” he asked, nodding to the camera.

  “Your boss said we better interview you, or we might have a revolt among the customers.”

  “He’s right. This place would die overnight if I left. I’m Gus.”

  “Got a minute to talk, Gus? Somewhere a bit quieter, where I can record a quick interview?”

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