Chapter 2 - Shit on a Shingle
"Dustin! Dane! Sombeody! Answer that door." Laney shouted from the kitchen.
"Wooof, wooof, woooof."
"Ginger! Shut up! Boys, get the door," she hollered again, stirring the slowly thickening white sauce with one hand, a cigarette in the other. She was wearing a fluorescent pink outfit that even her June Cleaver apron couldn't hide the ample cleavage moving around with the wooden spoon. Her sandy blonde hair was up in a messy bun and her face was under some kind of a cream.
"I've got it," said Johnson, coming out of the back room, his office. "Jesus, what the hell is going on around here?"
"Wooof, woof, woof."
"Ginger, knock it off," he said.
Johnson stopped at the door. It was still summer. It was only a screen. On the other side of it stood perhaps the most beautiful woman in the world. She was probably the same height as he was, six feet. Her skin was cocoa brown. Her eyes were black saucers. Her shiny jet black hair was pulled back taught, revealing model high cheekbones. Her long and slender arms grew out of a bright yellow cotton top and came to tiny wrists with long and lean fingers full of rings and nails that were painted dark blue, each with a sun. Her yellow top fit her body closely and stopped just above her petite waist where her skin-tight, black capris took over just below her diamond studded inney till just below her knees. There her smooth cocoa shins emerged and traveled all the way to fragile looking ankles, where a black, yellow, orange and green beaded bracelet lay on the left one and finally long and lean sandaled feet with nails painted the same dark blue as her fingernails, each toe displaying a moon, from crescent to full. She smiled. Johnson had never seen such white, straight and sparkly teeth, ever.
"Ginger," he said again. "Sit." He looked at the stranger and said, "Can I help you?" Wondering who she could possibly be. She obviously was not from the neighborhood. There were no cocoa faces living on his block or for several blocks of the little Midwestern urban area. Just blocks of cookie cutter houses and cookie cutter people. Who was she? Not a Jehovah's Witness, they travel in groups. Didn't look like she had anything to sell. Hmm, no car in the driveway, he thought. Maybe she's got pamphlets or a petition and is going door to door. Maybe she's political. Maybe she needs directions. What ever it is, I'm buying it or signing it or taking her anywhere she needs to go.
"Are you Mr. Johnson Toast?" is what she said, in a deep, silky voice, with an accent he didn't recognize.
She's not a sales person, he thought. She knows my name. Why the hell is she here?
"Yes, I am Johnson Toast."
"Johnson Toast, Private Eye?"
Okay, now I get it. She's looking for a detective. "That would be me."
"Mr. Toast, my name is Pearlina. I am here from Negril and I need you to help me find Jack Bender."
Okay, that I did not expect, he thought. "Would you like to step into my office?"
"Yah maahn. I would like that. So you will help me then, Mr. Toast?"
Yah maahn. Hmmm, Negril, I think that is Jamaica mahhn. "I'll give it a shot," he said.
Once inside Johnson led Pearlina past the show underway in the kitchen. Ginger was waiting patiently for the go ahead signal so that she could flip a piece of Carl Budding Beef off her snout and into her mouth. "Okay," said the woman under the cream.
"Johnson," she called after the two that were headed down the hallway, dinner will be early tonight and I'm going out, okay?"
"What's for dinner?" he said.
"Shit on a shingle."
Pearlina's black saucer eyes widened.
There, a connection to Jamaica and voodoo possibilities. PK, I'm sure you are convinced that Pearlina is a man.