Anal

“Yum, yum, yummy.”

“Bet you say that to all the boys.”

Bobby slapped at me. “I meant the buyers. Though,” slender fingers lingered on my arm, “being around all this potential filthy lucre does make me feel…dirty.”

I chuckled. The show exhibited a surprising mix of media despite its limited subject matter. But then, the twins were a law unto themselves. Evidently, that had its selling points. I’d watched several major league critics circle the works, and each other, like alley cats around a seafood restaurant at closing time. Most of the rest were serious buyers—with money to fuel their tastes—rather than agents for business geeks who needed to fill some office lobby.

Most of them, anyway. The identity of a borzoi lithe blonde in green brocade sheath eluded me, but something in the way she moved…

“Back in a bit.”

“Chicken,” chortled Bobby as I moved off to circle the room.

Occasional nods and a few averted eyes acknowledged my existence. No one spoke, of course. I’d encountered several of those present in the course of my work; some to their inconvenience.

“Evening, Elaine,” I murmured from behind her.

She turned slowly. I’d little doubt she’d spotted me earlier. Dark blue eyes—cosmetic contacts—regarded me.

“How did you guess?”

“No guesswork involved.” I glanced at the sculpture she’d been studying.

The half size bronze nude evoked a sense of movement in latticework that spiraled about her like streams of water, in the sculpted writhe of muscle. The figure’s body, burnished to an almost golden glow, poised with arms outstretched, head back, mouth open as if to sing the first song ever sung. Hair that draped down a shoulder and over one breast was longer than the model’s, sheathed in copper like the single visible nipple.

“Nice piece,” Elaine said.

I nodded. “Difficult to stash in a backpack, though.”

“Now, you know those charges were dropped.”

“Only because the painting proved to be a forgery,” I pointed out. “And Hoffstedler, the dealer, disappeared.”

“Down to the Caymans,” Elaine agreed. “Did you ever get paid for that job, or did the little shit rip you off, too?” Her lips twitched. “I know you’re too much of a Boy Scout to have been in on his con.”

“Not exactly your sort of scene, is this? Last I heard, you prefer a girl’s best friends these days.”

“Maybe I was just bored tonight,” she shrugged. “Why? Are you the heat?”

“Nope. Just a friend of the artists.” I looked at her. “A very good friend.”

“So that’s how it is.”

“That’s how it is.”

“Maybe you should get back to your friends, then.” She turned, disappeared back toward the lobby.

Bobby strolled up beside me. “I think I’m jealous.”

“Fuck you,” replied a sultry snarl from his sister as she joined us. “I’ve got dibs. I’m the eldest.”

“By all of thirty seconds. Besides,” Bobby added with an evil grin, “didn’t Mother always say we should share?”

“Mother,” Bobbie speculated, “would’ve kept him all to herself.”

They resembled each other even more than most fraternal twins. Part of that was deliberate: spiked and frosted auburn hair, matched unstructured ecru jackets over turquoise tee shirts and jeans. They shared the same wiry, rat terrier build; Bobbie’s small high breasts and barely wider hips were all but hidden under the jacket. Flawless faintly golden flesh molded itself around the finely chiseled features and chocolate colored almond eyes of their Euro-Asian heritage.

“Who was she, some old girlfriend?”

I shook my head. “Just someone I know in a professional capacity.”

“This is drivel. Disgusting drivel.” The voice shrilled loud enough to draw the room’s attention. “It is without a doubt the most perverse example of patriarchal pseudo-religious crap I have ever seen.”

The painting resembled that portion of the Sistine ceiling where a reclined Adam has his finger extended. Its background and style even displayed the cracked, aged look of the original. But it was Bobby who reached out to touch Bobbie’s finger as they sat crotch to crotch in an X position.

I felt the twins quiver in anticipation of battle. They murmured almost identical excuses bahis firmaları before they descended upon the critic for Neo-Bitch. A veteran player with trite notions of PC artistic expression, she had a reputation for reducing offending artists to tears and even expressive impotence.

Against the twins, she didn’t stand a chance.

After a while, I circulated my way to the front door. Beside a huge tropical fish tank, the art gallery manager, a wizened whippet named Givens, looked flushed as he stood with the twins’ agent, a basset eyed, amply fleshed female I didn’t know all that well. Maybe she’d been talking dirty to him.

Outside, a mint sucking parking attendant retrieved my Dodge with a sneer. I helped maintain her illusion with a fifty-cent tip.

With a U-2 CD on the player, I cruised and considered. The direct approach seemed best in the end. I made two calls, headed back to my apartment.

Four hours later, Elaine made her move. I watched from an alley across the street as a black and white rolled by on hourly patrol. It passed a dark sedan at the corner, headed in the opposite direction. The car didn’t slow as it passed the art gallery, even when a door opened and a piece of shadow seemed to blow into the alley like a leaf.

I waited a little longer, then staggered from my blind, ragged Army surplus coat clutched around me, bottle in hand. Half way up the block, I veered across the street and up another alley. The coat and bottle ended up in a trashcan. Less than five minutes later, I’d worked my way behind the gallery.

The security system had been cut rather than alligator clipped. I puzzled over that a bit, then let myself inside the forced back door. My night goggles blinked. I tapped the battery pack on the belt, they cleared back up.

A narrow hallway led past a cluttered office suite. There was no security guard; the twins weren’t that well known and it was a small gallery. The oddness of how she’d disarmed the security system bothered me. Seemed just too obvious. I paused, listened. A soft, slithering sound drifted my way. I moved on into the main exhibition room.

Elaine stood before the Lorelei. Seemed odd for her to indulge in art appreciation just then. Her gloved hands moved from its face as she turned and crossed the room. I watched her pull a painting and turn it over. As she began to remove it, I drew a flashlight from the belt.

A sudden cell phone beep caused me to freeze. Elaine’s hand flashed to the pack at her side. I cursed her too effective back up silently, punched in the speed dial number I’d set earlier on my own cell phone. Elaine turned, headed toward me, prize forgotten. I flipped the switch on the flash.

“Sloppy, Elaine. Very sloppy.”

“Fuck you.” She spun, sprinted for the front door just as it rattled, then burst open.

Detective Sergeant John Hoskins rolled in behind that stupid Magnum cannon he insists on lugging around, followed by two patrol officers.

“Freeze. Hands in the air.” He always was one for the classic lines.

Elaine stopped, raised her hands. She looked back over her shoulder, but by then, I was already gone.

#

The morning edition carried a better than average write up; I’d been lucky to catch Anderson on call for the Times Night Desk. I phoned Hoskins, congratulated him on the bust. He suggested we get together for lunch the next Wednesday, his treat. Bobby and Bobbie I couldn’t reach, but had thought as much; they were likely either at the police station or buying more newspapers.

Still, inconsistencies about the whole affair bothered me the rest of the day. Elaine’s sudden switch back from ice to art, particularly the twins which wasn’t even the sort she’d previously preferred to boost. Her less than subtle method of entry, again not in character. Her fascination with the Lorelei.

I put it out of my mind when I heard someone at the door. I loosened the Glock 9mm in its Miami Classic holster under my arm.. The twins–dressed in matching black faux biker leather–strolled into the office.

“Heard there was some excitement last night.”

Bobby nodded. “Sure was.”

“Sold two paintings before it closed,” Bobbie said. “Vines and Inkspots.”

“And kaçak iddaa took three bids on the Lorelei,” Bobby added.

I decided to play along. “Bids?”

They both nodded. “Good ones, too,” Bobbie said. She shook her head. “Surprised the hell out of me, getting actual bids. Glad we let Givens decide to do that instead of asking a flat price.”

“Anything taken during the break-in,” I asked almost absently. The bit about the bids seemed strange; not something usual for that small a piece, especially during a first exhibit.

Bobby turned to examine my shelf of bonsai. “You knew about that?” He almost managed to keep the giggle out of his voice.

“It was in the papers.”

“Oh, shove it,” Bobbie said as she perched her tightly clad rump on a corner of the desk.

Bobby snorted. “Like you didn’t already know.”

“Question is,” his sister inquired in a sweetly savage tone. “How did you know?”

My attempt to look innocent merely drew derisive laughter.

Bobby walked over to the door and locked it. Bobbie slipped out of her jacket and tank top, tossed them aside.

“I could be working right now,” I pointed out as I eyed her high, firm breasts with their nut-brown nipples. .

“You will be soon,” promised Bobby as he pulled off his pants, the dimples on his face nearly as big as those on his ass.

They wrestled me from chair to couch, tickled unmercifully as they stripped off my clothes along with the rest of theirs.

“Damn,” they said in unison as both wrapped hands around my cock with flesh to spare.

I put hands on both their asses, drew them closer. Lips and tongues slithered wildly. Bobby straddled my lap and leaned back. We dueled with our cocks until Bobbie leaned over to nip at us both.

Her brother and I rolled her back against the couch. We each grabbed a leg, forced them back toward her shoulders. We sucked and licked ruthlessly at the tender flesh behind her knees, then descended along her inner thighs. Bobbie grabbed us both by the hair and pulled us away just as our tongues began to lash her smooth shaven slit.

She rose from the couch, Bobby and I drifted up beside her. We spiraled about her with moist kisses, hands flowed along her sleek, saffron scented warmth. At last, I knelt before her, Bobby behind. I reached back, pulled her buttocks apart. Bobby reached forward and spread his sister’s swollen labia. Bobbie shuddered with our simultaneous assault. I glanced up as she rose on tiptoe, her arms outstretched, head thrown back as if her deep moans were song.

Then, the pieces began to fall together.

I stood.

Both asked, “What?” though Bobbie with perhaps a shade more annoyance.

“Get dressed,” I said.

Bobbie put her fists on her hips. “What the hell is going on?”

“Which of you,” I asked as I shoved my legs into my pants and gingerly pulled up the fly, “called your agent last night about the break-in?”

They looked confused. Bobby chewed his bottom lip for a moment, then said slowly, “Christie called us. From the police station. She and the gallery manager were there when we arrived.”

I nodded, ushered them—mostly clothed—out of the office and down to the garage. By the time we rolled up to the art gallery, any shreds of petulance had vanished, replaced with a similar excitement they’d shown going after the art critic last night. They agreed to follow my lead as I sketched out a quick plan.

The art gallery manager seemed more nervous than the twin’s agent; I wasn’t surprised to see them both there. I admired the tropical fish tank and its occupants in the lobby as the twins pulled the others into the office. Then, I strolled into the main exhibition hall.

No one else was in there. Efficient maintenance had eradicated all signs of the previous night’s events as well as forensics’ usual mess. The painting Elaine had started to remove was gone, certainly downtown in evidence lock up. I sauntered over to the Lorelei, looked her over casually. I glanced around, then moved even closer.

I found the taped string at the back of her throat. Being a bronze cast, she was, of course, hollow. Sweat beaded my face as I pulled on the string. I almost lost kaçak bahis it when someone’s raised voice—Bobbie’s, I think—sounded as if she stood near the entryway. I took a deep breath, then fished out a small leather bag. A quick look inside confirmed my suspicions. I pocketed the bag, made my way back into the lobby.

“Sorry, boys,” I murmured as I scooped up some gravel with the aquarium’s long handled net. I turned just as Givens came back into the lobby.

“Nice fish,” I said, somewhat lamely. I hoped the damp gravel didn’t provide a damp tell tale stain through my sportcoat pocket.

Givens looked at me oddly, poured a cup of coffee from the complimentary urn, then disappeared back toward the office. I yanked the net out of my belt, smoothed over the gravel.

Back at the Lorelei, I poured the contents of the leather bag into a handkerchief. In their place, I dumped what I estimated was enough gravel to imitate the bag’s previous weight. I lowered it back down her throat, pressed the tape into place.

I barely managed to grab it as the tape gave way.

My heart pounded as I tried to inch the sliver between my fingertips into a better hold. Noises from the lobby told me the twins had delayed Givens and their agent as long as they could. I smoothed the tape again to the back of the statue’s throat and prayed. The tape held.

I felt more than saw the four of them behind me.

“What the hell are you doing?” shrieked the twin’s agent.

“Thought I saw a smudge,” I muttered.

Givens snorted, brushed me aside. He peered at the Lorelei’s face, his eyes dropped to her mouth and narrowed. I felt an itch to reach for something, a cigarette, the gun. He stepped back.

“I don’t see anything,” he sniffed. “We have professionals for that sort of thing,” he added with a glare, yet I saw a fleeting expression of relief on his face, a subtle nod to the twin’s agent.

I apologized. The twins and I left. I put off their questions until we arrived at Kettle’s Pub. I passed a nod and twenty bucks to the bartender. He gave us our drinks, wrote them down on my tab. I led the twins to a back booth where I knew we wouldn’t be disturbed. I’d just about finished my drink before we got there, though I knew none of the waiters would be around for refills.

The twin’s eyes grew round at the contents of my handkerchief. I wouldn’t let them touch the diamonds.

“They’re hot,” I explained, pointed out the way each had been faceted.

“Where did they come from,” Bobbie asked.

“Remember those burglaries up in the ritzy section of Wildwoodf?’

They nodded.

“I suspect these are from that. Only jewelry was taken.”

“So, the thief wasn’t after our work?” Bobby sounded disappointed.

“Give it time,” I grinned at him. “Soon you’ll have all sorts of discerning lowlifes trying to rip you off.”

“Why didn’t you tell Christie and Givens,” Bobbie demanded, then drew up short. “They were in on it?”

I nodded.

“What’s going to happen now?”

“I’ll pass these along to a cop I know. He’ll take it from there.” I lit a cigarette. “And I would suggest you start looking for another agent.”

I thought they were going to fall out of the booth, laughing, when I told them what I had done.

#

Hoskins met me for lunch the next week. I gave him the jewels. He agreed to turn them in from an “anonymous source” (maybe I should change the name on my door?). I knew Elaine wouldn’t talk; attempted art theft carried less potential penalty than what she’d get for the jewels.

Besides, the publicity over what the public knew as someone trying to ripoff the twins certainly added a boost to their reputations. They cleaned up. Someone even bought the painting that Elaine had used for a red herring, to be delivered after the trial.

A couple weeks after the Lorelei was delivered to its buyer, Givens met with a nasty hit and run outside the art gallery. The driver was never found. Christie, the twin’s agent, had quit shortly before that and disappeared.

Bobby and Bobbie and yours truly took some time off, with play, down to the Caymans. I tied up a loose end there at the same time; actually came back with a little more cash in my pocket than when I’d left. On the other hand, by the end of our vacation, I was so exhausted, I actually looked forward to getting back to work.

The End

Copyright 2001 © Royce Sykes

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