“So she really stole all this money from you?” Eric asked Valentine. The two of them were sitting in the living room of Eric’s parents’ house. Valentine didn’t seem to have any trouble ignoring the scuffling sounds from the master bedroom, where Eric’s parents and sister were tied up, so Eric tried to do the same. He knew they couldn’t get loose, but for some reason listening to his dad futilely lift and drop the dresser he was handcuffed to was unnerving.
He could do it, though. Valentine was hard and unstoppable–shit, even his girlfriend Drusilla was tough, she was asleep in his sister’s bed and the noise didn’t even make her stir. Okay, so she was coming down off of ketamine or something, but still, she was cool with the family being tied up in the back room, and Eric was going to be the same way. To remind himself of this, he took a big hit from the bottle he was holding–it was Scotch, some shit his dad had been saving for years and wouldn’t let anybody touch. He and Valentine had finished half of it in twenty minutes.
“Yes,” Valentine said. “She stole all that money from me.”
“And you’re going to get it back?”
“No. We are.”
Eric grinned. Valentine made him feel important, and he liked that. A lot. “Tell me what to do,” he said.
Valentine put his feet up on the coffee table, reached around behind the sofa, and pulled out Augustus Stop’s Ruger 30.06, which had been in the closet. He had chosen it out of the gun cabinet, and had been carrying it a lot. “She came out here and hooked up with some old friends of hers, I guess. I don’t know them. I met some of them, and they seem okay, but if I show up and tell them what I told you, they’re just going to side with her. She can be persuasive about shit, when she wants to.”
“She fucking all of them?”
Valentine shrugged. “Probably not. She’ll act noble and honorable, and make them think she’s better than they are. That’s why people hang around her. People like that.” He caressed the gun. “So we have to make her friends forget about her. So they know she’s as fucked up and pathetic as the rest of us.” His voice sounded distant, as though he were reciting a speech.
“What about the money?”
He was quiet for a long moment. “Once she’s alone, once she hasn’t got anyone to back her up, she’ll give it to us. She acts strong, but she’s not.” He was staring at a point on the wall somewhere above the television.
“Valentine, man, I had a thought.”
He closed his eyes, turned his head slowly toward Eric, then opened them. “Tell me.”
“It would be a lot easier if we just busted into her house and looked for the cash, don’t you think? I mean, even if she took it out of the case, you can’t hide that much money just anywhere.” Valentine was looking at him and he couldn’t tell if it was in a good way or not, so he continued. “That way, if she thinks she can’t tell us where it is, we’ll already have it, and she won’t be able to do anything about it. She won’t even know we already have her ass, you know?”
A slow smile spread across Valentine’s face. “I like the way you think,” he said. “When this is done, you should come back to LA with me.”
“Hell yeah,” Eric said, smiling and nodding. “Oh, hell yeah.”