Chapter 6:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 72

It was the one she had seen him working on in his garage the night before. It was parked in front of a small pub on the side of the road. Considering the proximity to his house, she assumed it was the local hangout that he frequented every now and then. The building itself could’ve used a remodeling, but being this far off the main highway the intrigue of the place was homey, comforting style that drew the older crowd that didn’t like the design of the newer places that seemed to be popping up these days.


She got out of her car and walked inside. It was your normal looking pub with mostly a stained wooden interior. A few patrons were sitting at the bar watching the one big screen TV that had some football game on. As soon as she approached they turned and looked at her with suspicion. I must be giving off a huge cop vibe, Cooper thought.


“I’m looking for Thomas Larson, know where he is?” Cooper asked the bartender.


“Check the back.” was all he said in response, pointing to a door off to his left.


She pushed through the door and saw that there was a Texas Hold’em game going on in this back room. There were five players all huddled around one large round wooden table, each person with varying amounts of red, white and blue chips. It was a weird clash of old and new. The sight could have been something straight out of an old bar scene if it weren’t for the modern clothing and official poker chips. At the same time it could’ve been something straight out of the movie Rounders had they been playing on a real poker table.


It was the beginning of the next hand, each player put his ante in and two of the players threw in their blinds. Of the five players total in the game, three of them were older gentlemen in varying degrees of southern attire. Another guy looked to be in his late twenties and dressed like a poker shark with sunglasses and a baseball cap. The last guy was Larson, and he was dressed in his normal outfit: blue jeans and a T-shirt. He also looked like he had had way too much to drink.


It’s only the afternoon and this guy has already had enough drinks to get that wasted, Cooper thought to herself. There was no denying it though between his slouching posture and the way he clumsily moved his arms over the table, add in the way his head hung downwards when he wasn’t using it  as if he just didn’t have the energy to keep it upright all the time.


“Issit my turn yet?” Larson slurred as he elbowed the guy next to him one too many times.


“You better stop touching me, dude.” the guy next to him said, as he threw some chips onto the table, indicating that he was staying in the hand and raising the bet. The other three guys folded their hands and the action was now on Larson.


“Awe, y-you’re m-mean. Why you gotta b-be mean?” Larson stumbled over the words a bit.


“Are you in or out?” he said sternly.


Based on the body language the other players were giving off, it was obvious that all of them were tired of Larson’s drunken behavior and were this close to having him thrown out of the game. I think they only put up with it because they probably thought a guy that had too much to drink would be easier to win against.


Cooper saw everything that was going on, but decided to stay relatively out of sight until there was a break in the game where she could talk with him. As Larson looked around the room, he finally caught sight of Cooper and there was a flash of recognition in his eyes as he paused for a bit. But then he focused back on the game.


“Fffine…” Larson answered, throwing his chips in the pot.


The guy dealing the cards put the first three cards in the middle of the table: Ace, ten, nine. All different suits. Larson checked it to his opponent, who announced a twenty dollar bet. Cooper groaned inwardly as she realized the stakes of the game. The guy Larson was playing against only threw in a few chips and said that was a twenty dollar bet. That must’ve meant each player had hundreds of dollars in front of them on the table.


Larson called, throwing in the same number of chips and the dealer flipped over a three of hearts. The action was once again on Larson as he struggled to sit up straight in his chair, he fiddled with his chips clumsily as he decided how much he wanted to bet.


“I bet… I bet… yer girlfriend is grrrrreat in bed!” Larson laughed uncontrollably at his lame joke and elbowed the guy next to him to see if he got it. No one else was laughing. “Amirite? Cmon… no one liked that one?”


“Hey asshole, stop wasting my time.” the other guy in the hand said.


Larson threw a stack of chips on the table and his opponent called. That meant there was only one more card left to flip and one more round of bets before each player turned his hand over to see who won. The dealer dealt the last card: a five of diamonds. With no straight or flush possibilities, the best possible hands were things like a pair, two pair or three of a kind.


“Ninty.” Larson said.


His opponent looked at him for a long time wondering what kind of hand he could possibly have. Larson seemed to have trouble staying still, which is usually a sign of a player attempting to hide a good hand. In Larson’s case it was probably a sign of him having too much to drink.


“What do you holding a pair of tens or something?” his opponent said, a little weary of the large bet from Larson. A pair of tens for his hole cards would’ve given Larson a set of tens because of the one in the middle.


“Oh… I hava pair alright. A big pair… but it’s under the table.” Larson taunted his opponent as laughed at his joke. No one else found it funny apparently. “Ya get it? I’m referring to deeze nuts!”


“Ok funny boy, that’s enough. I’ll raise it to three hundred.”


The guy pushed about half of his total chips into the middle of the table. The other players in the game reacted to the large raise with shock on their face. This hand easily was the biggest hand anyone had played today.


“All in.” Larson’s face grew serious.


He pushed all of his chips forward. He only had about a few stacks left, so it would’ve been pointless for the other guy to fold at this point. He called the raise and flipped over what his hole cards: an Ace and a three, which meant he had two pair. Larson emphatically flipped over his pocket tens. He won the giant pot in the middle with three of a kind.


“Bahahahaha! Thas what I’m talkin about!” Larson slammed his hand on the table and then stumbled out of his chair to get up and celebrate his victory. The player next to him that lost the hand wasn’t really looking too happy about what had just happened, especially considering he previously guessed that Larson might be holding a pair of tens. “Hahaha! Gimme those chips now, you big loser.”


“Dude, I’m not going to let you diss me like that. I don’t care if you are wasted, we can go outside and finish this if you want.” the guy jumped out of his seat and nudged Larson a bit, knocking him off balance and causing him to fall to the floor.


“You don’t scare me.” Larson struggled to get back on his feet.


Cooper saw that Larson was about to get into a fight and she stepped in. “Hey, you two better stop before someone gets hurt.”


“And who do you think you are?” asked the guy who just lost a lot of money to Larson.


“I’m Detective Cooper with the Houston Police Department.” she said, flashing her badge.


“You going to arrest me for sticking up for myself? This punk has been annoying us for the past hour.”


“Right now this ‘punk’ is the only one that is technically done anything wrong. I can bring him in for public intoxication. But if you lay a hand on him I’m going to have to take you in as well.”


“Just get him out of my face.”


Cooper didn’t say a word, but she grabbed Larson’s arm and put it over her shoulder so she could help him out of the bar. Larson made sure that he got all of the money he won in the poker game before being taken out of there. It seemed like that was all that it was within his power to do, because he could barely walk straight. Cooper could smell the alcohol on his breath just by standing next to him.


 As soon as the two of them got out of the bar, Larson seemed to be able to walk on his own two feet so she let him stand a few feet away as she opened the passenger door to her car. As she was doing this,  Larson started reaching for his car keys. Cooper heard the jingling of keys and turned to try and take them away so he wouldn’t try to drive home, but Larson quickly pulled them out of her reach. 


“I’m definitely not letting you drive in your condition.” Cooper said.


“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.” Larson answered as he went to open the door on his car.


“Are you seriously going to try to drive home drunk in front of a cop? I could take you in right now.” Cooper made another grab for his keys but again he pulled them away before she could get to them.


“I’m telling you, don’t worry about me. I don’t need your help.”


Cooper realized something was wrong. Larson just a moment ago in the bar he was slurring his words and could barely stand up, yet here he was standing in front of her on his own two feet. Not only that, but he was also able to react to her trying to grab his keys twice in succession.


“Wait a second… you were drunk just a second ago.” Cooper said.




“And you seem fine now.” Cooper took a moment to realize what must’ve happened. “The drunk thing was all an act?”




“You were pretending to be drunk for the benefit of those people in that poker game? Why?”


“Because it’s easier to get a read on someone after you’ve gotten under their skin.” Larson explained. “And people tend to not suspect that a drunk guy is trying some kind of clever strategy on them.”


She remembered that hand poker hand that she walked in on. The guy suspected for a second that Larson might’ve had three of a kind. He could have just called the bet, but he raised the pot anyway thinking that Larson was just some drunk that he was going to take advantage of. It turned out that Larson actually had a hand and that player ended up losing hundreds of dollars. It was a neat acting trick, and it worked. But it also meant that he had to intentionally egg on the other players to put them in the position for him to deploy his trap.


“Why can’t you just play a normal game? Why do you have to mess with the minds of other people to gain an advantage?” Cooper asked. She was talking about the poker game, but in a way she was also referring to everything he did last night as well, including accusing Nate Parsons of cheating on his wife.


“Because it gets the job done effectively. And it’s fun.” Larson answered. His normally emotionless face turned into a smile. “What are you doing here anyway?”


“How did you know Nate went to a hotel? I want to know.”


“You came all the way out here for that?”


“And I wanted to ask for your help on this case again. Something you saw yesterday led you to draw a conclusion that went completely past me.” Cooper said. “I need someone like that to help me out when I interview other people.”


Larson looked at Cooper for a moment, wondering if he should agree to help her. For a moment Cooper wondered if he would turn her down. She wasn’t paying him for help, and there didn’t seem to be any other reason for him to continue tagging along.


“You want something from me?” he asked, almost rhetorically. “Fine. But I want something from you in return.”


“What do you want?” she said. But by the time she finished her question, she already knew the answer. She remembered him bugging her about her father yesterday. “You want to know more about Captain Cooper?”


“I find it interesting that you don’t like talking about him, as famous as he was.” Larson admitted. “I just want to know why.”


“So the only reason you want to know about me and my father is out of sheer curiosity? That’s not much of a reason to help me out.”


“You are only on this case in the first place because you want to play superhero to some kid. You aren’t getting paid, and this assignment certainly won’t advance your career in any way.” Larson said. “Your reasons for doing this are just as insignificant as mine.”


“At least I’m doing it to help someone. You, on the other hand, are just doing this to mess with me.”


“I see something that doesn’t add up, and I want to investigate. It’s the very skill set that has you wanting my help in the first place.”


Cooper thought about his offer. If there was one thing she didn’t like doing, it was talking about her father. She thought that she had successfully avoided getting into too much detail about the subject yesterday when Larson prodded her with different questions about it. Now he was basically saying he would only help if he told her the whole story.


She didn’t want to do it. But she also knew that she promised Ashley that she would do everything she could to find her brother. Could Cooper live with herself if she broke that promise just because she didn’t want to dredge up old memories with some guy she barely knew? Cooper had gone far enough just putting up with Larson’s attitude in general. If she could handle that, this certainly wasn’t too much worse.


Suddenly Cooper had an idea. She thought of a way that both of them could get what they wanted in a way that would delay painful conversations about any of her relatives for the time being and at the same time guaranteeing that Larson would stick around and help her with the case for at least the next day or two.


“Okay then.” Cooper started to say. “Here’s the deal: every time you answer a question I ask about the case or make a major contribution, you can ask me something about my father.”


“That’s fine with me.” Larson said. “What do you want to know?”


“How did you know that Nate Parsons was cheating on his wife?”  Cooper asked.


“Are you sure you want to waste a question on something that doesn’t matter?”


“For all I know the answer to the question might be key to find Ashley’s brother.” Cooper explained, although she really didn’t think that.


Part of it was that she wanted to confirm that Larson was the intelligent man she thought he was. And of course there was a small part of her that in general was just curious about how he came to the conclusion he did without really asking Nate anything at all. Cooper had to consult with a guy that hacked his way into finding his credit card bill to get the same information.


“Well, as you might’ve remembered from the conversation I had with Nate, it had rained the same night that David disappeared.”


“But not on the south side of Houston, only the north side. How does that help explain why he checked into a hotel?”


“There were two cars in their driveway. Nate told me that he took the SUV to work because it was better to drive in potentially hazardous conditions. He came back to the house after work and switch vehicles, then he went out to the bar as he claimed. None of it adds up.” Larson pointed out.


“Why not?” Cooper asked.


“Did you not see the cars before we went into their house? The SUV had been dirty from driving around a construction site that day. The Ford Mustang he had was clean.” Larson explained. “And if we were to believe his story, and had he really gone spent the night at some hole in the wall bar near his house, the Mustang would have been caked with dirt from work from the last time he drove it to work.”


“He could have washed it. That would have explained why his car was clean.”


“First of all, I can tell the difference between hand washing a car and the rain washing it. Second of all, why would he wash his own car when he’s just going to get it dirty again at the construction site?” Larson asked rhetorically. “His car had been washed by the rain, which meant that he didn’t spend all night at the bar like he claimed. He had to have gone to a part of town where it was still raining for that to be possible. The simplest explanation is that he met someone at the bar early and took them to a hotel far away from his local area so that no one would recognize his car.”


Cooper tried to find holes in his explanation, but everything he said made sense. She initially thought that maybe he had made the statement about him having an affair to get a reaction out of him and rely on instinct to determine what that reaction meant. Cooper had worked with some detectives that operated like that in the past and it sometimes worked but occasionally meant an extra step or two in the investigative process.


Larson didn’t do that though. He had a strategy to effectively determine if this guy had been involved. The second he saw that one of the cars was dirty while the other one was clean, he knew with reasonable certainty that because it had rained on just the northern side of the city that he must’ve driven one of them far away. It was then just a matter of confirming who drove the cars and when. Cooper would’ve rather Larson come to her in private and explain to her what he had just explained to her now instead of making the accusation against Nate Parsons in front of his wife. But I guess beggars can’t be choosers.


“Ok.” Cooper accepted his explanation. “What did you want to know about my father then?”


“Has it been a while since you last talked to him?” Larson asked.


“Define a while.” she quickly answered.


“Ok. It’s been a little over six years since his funeral. So since then has it been over five, over ten, or over fifteen years since you last had any kind of communication with him?”


Cooper immediately recalled the letter that she kept on her counter from her father. “Define communication.”


“Anything back and forth. So email and phone calls count but nothing like an unanswered message on your answering machine.”


“Over fifteen.” she said without much thought.


Larson was taken aback by her answer. He was certain it would have been somewhere in the vicinity of five or ten years. Including ‘over fifteen’ as an option was basically a catch all answer to the question. But it had really been over fifteen years since his death since she talked to her father.


He tried to think about what this might mean. That amount of time would have put Cooper in her teens. Her father would’ve missed so many major events in her life. High school graduation, college graduation, getting her first job. He imagined something serious must’ve happened in order for Amanda Cooper to shut her father out of her life for that long.


“Do you regret it?” Larson asked.


“What do you mean?”


“Now that he’s dead. Do you regret that you didn’t talk to him for the last fifteen years of his life?”


His question inevitably made her think about a certain conversation that took place long ago. She didn’t remember too many of the details, but she knew word for word how it ended.


Honey, I’m sorry. But now you know why I never told you. I didn’t want you to hate me.


I think we’re beyond hate right now. I can’t believe you have basically been lying to me my entire life!


I didn’t want you to find out this way. And I definitely didn’t want to hurt you like this. Please try to understand.


I can’t.


Where are you going?


I’m leaving… and I never want to see you again.


She knew she didn’t have to answer the question, but her body language probably gave the answer away anyway. Her fist automatically clinched as she briefly recalled that heated argument that took place so long ago.


“No regrets.”

Submitted: June 04, 2013

© Copyright 2021 agentkirb. All rights reserved.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

Facebook Comments

More Mystery and Crime Books

Boosted Content from Other Authors

Short Story / Literary Fiction

Book / Mystery and Crime

Book / Romance

Short Story / Mystery and Crime

Other Content by agentkirb

Book / Mystery and Crime