“Hey, Fish,” shouted the girl to a blonde guy squatting over a box of
snorkels, “you hiring an assistant?”
“Research assistant,” I said, when Fish stopped diving into the box
so he could look me over.
“You want Nick Silva.” Fish pointed to an “Employees Only” sign
taped onto a metal door.
I went through the door and there, in the corner of the room, was a metal desk and sitting on the desk was the redhead from the pier. I couldn’t have been more surprised if it had been Fat Phil sitting there. My stomach did a loop-di-loop, like I was in the sixth grade and just found out the popular girl had the locker next to mine. I told myself to quit being a dumb ass. I had
exactly two cents rubbing together in the pocket of my only pair of pants.
She was talking to the guy from the pier. The younger one that looked like her. She caught me in her gorgeous brown eyes, blinked a few times, and asked if she could help me. “Yeah, yes,” I said. “I’m here about the research. The assistant. Job. Research assistant.”
“Find me an office and they will come,” the guy said.
To which the redhead gave him a look that might have killed him.
“And how is it that job applicants magically appear?” she asked him.
“The flyer,” I said. “At Ella’s Place.”
“Flyer at Ella’s Place?” The redhead turned the killer stare at me.
“They weren’t. She didn’t. They were under the counter. I saw. I was. I really need the job.” I took a deep breath. “So if you tell Dr. Silva. I’m available. For an interview.” Jesus, Mary, and Joe, it was lucky that drool didn’t come running out of my mouth.
The guy put a hand on my shoulder and said, real quiet, “She is Dr. Silva,” which really made me feel like a friggin’ idiot.
“Nick Silva? She’s Nick Silva?”
“N-i-k, as in Nicola,” the guy said.
“It’s a mistake. My mistake. I’m mistaken. Sorry.”
“She makes people nervous. But she’s not so tough. I’m her brother, I ought to know. Billy.” He held out his hand.
“I do not make people nervous,” Nik Silva said.
“Ask her about Rusty’s boat.”
Nik sighed. “There is no job. Mr.…?”
And here’s where things got dicey. In giving myself a new identity I forgot to give me a new name. Any self-respecting witness protection program will give you a new name and I sure as hell didn’t want to use the old one. Nikki Silva was kind of staring at me again and my pulse rate was up around two hundred, so I spit out the first thing came into my head.
“Parker. Parker Bench.” I wished, right after I said it, that I could have taken it back. I wished I’d have come up with something, anything, else: Jerry Lewis or Phillip Morris or Captain Crunch. Just about anything would have been better than Parker Bench.
Nikki raised her eyebrows. “Parker Bench?”
“It’s a family name,” I said, having to come up with some reason, quick, why I had such a dumb moniker.
“Well, like I said, Mr. Bench—”
“Call me Parker,” I said, feeling I might as well get into it. And, to tell the truth, the new name did kind of calm me down a little.