Sailor & Lula

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Book: Read Sailor & Lula for Free Online
Authors: Barry Gifford
tasted good on a ninety-eight-degree day in the Big Easy.
    As he ate, Johnnie thought about where, other than New Orleans, Lula and Sailor might have gone. N.O. seemed the most likely place, since they could find work for which they could get paid under the table and fit in more easily than in Atlanta or Houston. Besides, Lula always liked New Orleans. She’d stayed there many times with Marietta, mostly at the Royal Sonesta, whenever Marietta needed to get away on an antiques-shopping trip. Of course, they could be most anywhere by now: New York, Miami, even on their way to California. But N.O. was a good enough guess for now.
    â€œDo you mind if I share this table?”
    Johnnie looked up and saw a large, chocolate-colored man in his late forties or early fifties, wearing a powder blue porkpie hat and holding a tray filled with plates of food, smiling at him.
    â€œThe others,” said the man, “they are ocupado. ”
    â€œBy all means,” said Johnnie. “Make yourself to home.”
    â€œMuchas gracias,” the man said, sitting down. He extended his well-developed right forearm and offered Johnnie a big hand to shake. “My name is Reginald San Pedro Sula. But please do call me Reggie.”
    Johnnie wiped off his right hand on his napkin and shook.

    â€œJohnnie Farragut,” he said. “Pleased to meet ya.”
    Reggie did not remove his porkpie hat and began eating ferociously, finishing half of his meal before saying anything more.
    â€œYou are from New Orleans, Señor Farragut?”
    â€œJohnnie, please. Nope. Charlotte, North Carolina. Here on business.”
    Reggie smiled broadly, revealing numerous tall, gold teeth. “I am from Honduras. Originally from the Cayman Islands, but now for many years in Honduras. Do you know Honduras, Johnnie?”
    â€œOnly that it’s supposed to be a pretty poor sight since the hurricane come through last year.”
    â€œYes, that’s so. But there is not much to destroy. No big buildings like in New Orleans. Not where I live in the Bay Islands.”
    â€œWhere is that?”
    â€œNorth of the mainland. On the island of Utila. We have a certain sovereignty in the islands, you know, since the United States forced the British to give them up over a century ago.”
    â€œWhat do you do there?”
    â€œOh, many things.” Reggie laughed. “I have an appliance shop. But I am also with the government.”
    Johnnie took a bite of the oyster sandwich.
    â€œIn what capacity?” he asked.
    â€œIn many capacities. Mostly with the secret service.”
    Reggie reached into his back pocket and took out his wallet. He handed a card to Johnnie.
    â€œ ‘General Osvaldo Tamarindo y Ramirez,’ ” Johnnie read aloud. “ ‘Teléfono 666.’ ”
    â€œHe is my sponsor,” said Reggie. “The general is the head of the secret police of Honduras. I am one of his operatives.”
    Johnnie handed the card back to Reggie and Reggie gave him a small piece of paper, folded once. Johnnie unfolded it. The printing was in Spanish.
    â€œThat is my permiso, ” Reggie said. “My permit to kill. Only if necessary, of course, and only in my own country.” He laughed.
    â€œOf course,” said Johnnie, refolding the piece of paper and handing it over to Reggie.
    â€œI am authorized to carry a forty-five, also,” said Reggie. “United
States Marine issue, before they made the unfortunate switch to the less dependable nine millimeters. I have it here, in my briefcase.”
    Reggie held up his stainless-steel briefcase and then replaced it on the floor beneath his chair.
    â€œWhy are you in New Orleans?” asked Johnnie. “If you don’t mind my askin’.”
    Reggie laughed. He took off his hat and scratched furiously at his completely bald head for a few seconds, wiped the sweat off his scalp with his napkin and put his hat back

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