By Pete Moss
(Click here for Part XV )
"Bunch of people get together and show off their cars. Pretty basic."
"So I gotta costume again?"
"Of course" says Dijay.
And we're off to the wardrobe container, a 20 footer in mustard yellow with MSC painted in big black letters on the corrugated sides.
Dijay has me dressed up like a golfer in a shirt I really can't describe. It has stitching and panels and comes in avocado green and maybe peach. Then there's some linen slacks in not quite white and penny loafers with no socks.
She kits herself out in a blue number with red polka dots.
"Ok, I'm Tammy Twist. You can be......"
"Tommy Twist?" I volunteer.
"Yuck! That sounds like we're some creepy married couple."
"What's wrong with being married?"
"Marriage is revolting!" spits Dijay. "I'm never getting married!"
"Me neither!" I chime in.
"Oh you're not?"
"No way!" I say. "Marriage is for fruits."
For a minute I think Tammy Twist, or Dijay, whatever she's calling herself for now, is gonna say something, and then she does: "Cmon, we gotta load the gear."
"But it's only 9 in the morning," I say.
"Yeah so? Car shows are daytime gigs. We gotta be there and ready to play by 11. By the way there's a putt-putt golf tournament, sideshow of the car show, which I expect you will win the prize for me."
"What's the prize?"
"Well I don't know ‘til we get there do I?"
Tammy instructs me to pull the Packard around and back up to a shed. Then we proceed to load 2 turntables and a microphone and several crates of vinyl records into the cavernous trunk of the Packard.
"What's all this stuff? I thought you had all your music in Lucille?"
"I do, this is props. You gotta play the crowd, give 'em what they want."
"And this crowd wants actual spinning vinyl."
Dijay shrugs her shoulders.
Did I mention she looks really hot done like an expensive hooker circa 1959?
"I know…” Dijay says. “You are....Nick Novak."
"Uh...Nick Novak....why not," I say. I get in the Packard and fire it up. We get on the 101 and head south towards San Jose.
Tammy slides over and sits next to me. Getting cuddly. Traffic is light so it's not too much of a distraction.
We get to the car show after about 45 minutes of driving.
The Packard is immediately swarmed with car people oohing and aahing. I have to pop the hood and let them check the motor.
Tammy has trouble getting her gear out of the trunk with all the car geeks lurking around.
Finally she does and then gets it set up. The sun is out and it's going to be hot.
The putt putt golf tournament gets going. Turns out I have a knack for putt putt golf.
Then it's lunch. Big hunks of grilled meat.
Tammy plays a steady stream of old songs. I recognize a lot of them as favorites of Granny or Great Aunt Elizabeth.
Odd memories keep popping into my head.
At last the show is over. Tammy loads her gear and we drive off. She's a bit frosty on the homeward leg.
"What?" I say.
"Nothing," says Tammy. She crosses her arms and stays on her side of the car.
"C'mon, something is bugging you."
"What makes you say that?"
"Look at your body language."
Tammy turns to me. "You didn't have to steal the show with this monstrous old boat you drive."
"That's it?" I say, I laugh. "That's what you're cranky about?"
"It's not funny," Insists Tammy.
"Well it kind of is."
Then Tammy laughs and slides over next to me and breathes in my ear.
And right about then I hear the siren.
"Oh shit, we're getting pulled over."
The cop tells me to stay in the car, hands on the wheel. Then both cops get out of their cruiser with their guns drawn.
Next thing I know I'm sitting handcuffed, in the back of the cruiser.
The cops drive me to San Francisco and turn me over to the sheriff at 850 Bryant.
The sheriff puts me in a cell. Then nothing happens for several hours.
At last they bring a nervous little Asian and put him in the cell with me. His name is Mickey, he says and he's quite talkative. He keeps trying to get me to say what I'm "in" for.
But I keep not saying.
So after a couple of hours of Mickeys badgering and not getting anywhere the sheriff takes him away and brings a huge black guy with a staggering array of jailhouse tats.
Again there's the 30 questions and again I don't answer.
So it goes. But after 2 days I still haven't said a word to any of my cellmates.
Finally the sheriff comes and gets me and takes me to an interrogation room.
There's a clean cut detective sitting in the room. Looking at a laptop.
"I'm Detective Martinez, Marin County Sheriff’s Department," he says. "I just have a few questions. Were you acquainted with on Preston Pickett?"
"Doesn't ring a bell." I say.
"Well, according to phone records your number was the last one he called not long before he was found floating in the bay. He'd been in the water around 24 hours. He died of drowning but he had a broken neck when he went into the water."
"Tell you the truth Mr. McElroy, Preston Pickett was a thorn in the side of Marin county law enforcement for over a decade. We're not in any hurry to find out what happened. He has a sister who's a federal prosecutor in LA, though, Preston used that connection to stay out of jail. Now, like I said, we're not shedding any tears over the passing of Preston Pickett, here in Marin. His sister however, might not be so live and let die about it."
"I'll keep that in mind," I say.
Then Detective Martinez hands me an envelope with my property.
"What's this?" I say.
"You're free to go. I may have further questions for you later on so don't go too far."
I walk out of the jail and make my way to Dijay’s compound.
When I get there she isn't happy.
"And when were you going to tell me you're a suspect in a murder investigation?" she says.
""When were you going to tell me you're an ex-con?" I shoot back. "Anyway, I'm a person of interest, not a suspect."
(Click here for Part XVII )