Some mornings, you didn’t want to wake up. Maybe you had a late night or a long day beforehand – being dog tired would make anyone want to stay in bed. Maybe you’d been at the bottle hard enough that all the sleep in the world wouldn’t have left you feeling good. Maybe your life was so much of a mess that there was nothing worth waking up to.
Lloyd turned over under the covers and switched off his alarm before it had a chance to drive the point home. Everyone gets a bad morning once in a while, he reflected. The best thing to do was just stay put and let it be a bad morning for everyone else. If he was going to have any say in the matter, it would keep on being a warm and comfortable night for him.
Not much to get up for, really; he hadn’t had any work in a while, and his usual clients didn’t call until late in the afternoon. Monica was all the way over on Providence, and all of his interesting neighbours had moved away in the last six months. Zero prospects at least meant zero responsibilities, he reminded himself. A sharp beep punctuated the thought. Funny, he thought he’d turned the alarm off; he hit it again to be sure.
The beep continued. Lloyd’s brain slowly moved up into second gear and he remembered that the sound was his phone. Christ, it was half past six; who could possibly be calling at this hour? Providence followed the same twenty-five hour clock as Tretton City, right down to the time zone – there was no way Monica would be calling now unless it was a genuine emergency. Could it be a client? Too hard to remember – the tone had gotten more urgent, disrupting Lloyd’s thinking.
He was sorely tempted to let it lie – go through to voicemail or just let the caller give up – but years of experience had given him an attitude that didn’t allow for that luxury. When an opportunity presented itself, you grabbed it by the throat; and when people came calling, it was a choice between being there all the time or letting them down when they really needed you. He stumbled out of bed, grabbed the receiver, and cleared his throat. He wished he had time to grab a glass of water.
“Rick Lloyd, private investigator. Who’s calling?”
A tightly controlled voice came through the line, not betraying any angles. “Lloyd, it’s Wills. Do you have any engagements today?”
Lloyd bit back a curse. Clayton Wills was a lawyer, and a slick one. He had a sharp tongue, a sharper mind, and nerves of steel; rumour had it he was his firm’s fixer, and every job he’d offered Lloyd in the past had been a mess. Most turned out fairly profitable, sure – but trouble was its own expense, and Lloyd wasn’t in the mood for it.
“Not sure why you’re asking, Clay, but it doesn’t matter because I’m not taking it.” The lawyer didn’t take the bait. “I’m asking, Lloyd, because my client is willing to compensate you for any cancellations you may have to make today while you’re working for him.”
That kind of ready cash did pique Lloyd’s interest, but the trouble was still likely not worth it. “I told you already, Clay: no deal. I’m not hard-up enough to take another of your jobs, and I’ll be damn sure to let you know when I am.”
There was a pause before Wills repeated himself: “You’ll be compensated for any engagements you have to cancel while working for Gabriel Rojo, Lloyd.”
Lloyd waited a full ten seconds before replying. “Got it, Clay. I’ll meet you at the usual place in fifty.”
“In thirty, Lloyd.”
Lloyd sighed. “Understood.”