“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Bitsy said. “I thought you’d be happy about this, Dr. Sexy coming in for a tattoo. You might be able to see a part of his body that you’ve just thought about seeing. And he looks even sexier without that lab coat on. He’s got a nice tight butt in those designer jeans.” Her eyebrows bounced up and down as she grinned.
I chuckled nervously. “It’s just, well, I found out he’s already got a tattoo, but he told me in the hospital that he didn’t have one, that he was afraid of needles.”
Bitsy looked at me like I had three heads, but before I could explain, the door opened and Joel came in, carrying take-out bags from Johnny Rockets.
I prefer In-N-Out Burger, but Johnny Rockets would do in a pinch.
“Lunch has arrived,” Joel announced.
I glanced back at my room. I had to get back to Herbie, but my stomach was growling. I reached in one of the bags and grabbed a burger, peeled back the paper, and took a couple of bites. I indicated my room. “Gotta get back,” I said, talking with my mouth full. Sister Mary Eucharista would have made me write “I will not talk with my mouth full” on the blackboard fifty times for that.
I took another couple of bites, wadded up the paper, and put it in the trashcan under the desk. “Thanks,” I said to Joel before heading back to Herbie.
My head was distracted with thoughts of Colin Bixby as I finished the pinup girl, and he still hadn’t arrived by the time Herbie and I emerged from the room. Herbie paid Bitsy, and we sent him on his way. I looked nervously out the glass doors at the canal and to the right and the left, but there was no sign of Bixby.
“You’re acting like a girl on prom night,” Joel commented as he came up behind me, startling me.
I slapped his arm playfully. “Don’t do that,” I said. “It’s just that I’m not exactly sure what this guy is up to.” I told them about the queen-of-hearts tattoo Bixby had had done at Murder Ink a year ago, when he was dressed in drag with Wesley Lambert and Rusty Abbott. “So he lied to me, and I don’t think he’ll be all that into me, either, since he’s obviously gay, like I thought initially.”
Bitsy’s eyes skirted to Joel for a second, and I knew what she was thinking. We still didn’t know which way Joel swung-officially, anyway. He had never come out to us, might never. We always tried to say in front of him that we didn’t care who was gay or who wasn’t, but it didn’t do any good. Sometimes we thought he was just asexual, which was also a possibility.
I looked back out the door, but the scene was the same as it had been a second ago, the last time I checked.
“When he gets here, just let me know, okay?”
I went down the hall and into the staff room, where I settled in at the light table. I had a sketch to do for a client tomorrow, but just as I put pencil to paper, the corner of my messenger bag as it hung over the chair caught my eye. That’s right. Trevor’s laptop.
I put the pencil down and got the bag, sliding the laptop out and setting it on the table. I lifted the cover and turned it on.
A bunch of folder icons littered the screen when it booted up. They were tagged with dates, nothing else. I clicked on one.
Pictures. Seven of them, of Trevor in various stages of development and finally ending up as Britney Brassieres. A glance at the date on the folder told me that this was two weeks ago. I clicked on a video file, and the movie started. It was a how-to: how to become a drag queen in seven minutes. Although Trevor’s narration told me that it really took two hours from start to finish.
Interesting, but I didn’t think this was anything special.
I clicked on another folder; this one was dated a week ago.
These looked like Britney Brassieres’s publicity shots. She was all dolled up with that long, big, blond wig and eyelashes that curled out about two inches. Each picture had her in a different costume: the Catholic schoolgirl skirt and blouse; a cheetah-print bodysuit; a short, white, sequined dress that rode up high enough so if Trevor’s jewels fell out it would create quite a stir.
I closed the folder and opened another one. This one had a date from about six months ago.
Trevor and Kyle and Stephan all as themselves sitting around what was obviously Trevor’s apartment, holding martini glasses and mugging for the camera. Clicking on a couple of the other pictures told me these were from a party. I noted that Trevor had actually cleaned up the apartment a little, although the exercise equipment still sported the wigs. Maybe it was just a conversation piece.
I’d like to listen in on that one.
This was getting me nowhere.
I looked in Trevor’s documents, but nothing seemed unusual. He had a folder called “taxes,” and I clicked on that, just out of curiosity.
The files went back five years, from what I could see. I wondered how long Charlotte had been doing his taxes for him. If, in fact, she actually had ever done his taxes. I was doubting mostly everything Charlotte had told us now. I mentally slapped myself. Of course she’d done his taxes. He’d told us that himself. Then again, if he was in on it with her, then he could lie, too.
I mulled over what they could be “in on” together. I still didn’t have a clue.
As I opened the file for this past year, I could almost hear Sister Mary Eucharista telling me I should respect a person’s privacy. But Trevor was dead, and someone shot at me. I figured I’d get a pass on this.
I found a Word document with all Trevor’s deductions: wigs, costumes, makeup, shoes. I wished I could deduct my shoes.
An Excel document had two lists of numbers. When my eyes adjusted to the little boxes, I focused on the first column and figured they had to be dates, because they were noted as 2/1, 3/1, 4/1. If they were dates, they ran the course of about ten months. The column next to it showed 3,000, 5,000, and one 10,000. A quick add off the top of my head indicated that the total was around 50,000.
I leaned back in my seat for a second. That was about how much Trevor had in those boots. This money came from somewhere, but nothing indicated where.
I touched the pad again, closing the Excel document and eyeing a few PDFs, all of them of Trevor’s 1099 wages-money he’d made freelancing his wares. Chez Tango was there, as well as a couple of other clubs. But those weren’t the most interesting.
The 1099 from Lester Fine was.
According to this, Trevor made almost a hundred thousand dollars in the previous year working for Lester Fine. I scanned the PDF and saw a notation for “bodyguard.”
Trevor? Really? That was a lot of money to pay a skinny little queen to be a bodyguard.
What was Lester Fine really paying him for? Was the money in the boots part of this?
I found the connection to the Internet and opened Fire-fox. I scanned his sidebar of bookmarks.
I clicked on one for a credit union, hoping it was his account and that Trevor had saved his password. I smiled when I saw the login and password pop into the boxes. I hit return and waited a second before Trevor’s accounts showed up. I clicked on the checking account. He had fifty dollars and thirty-three cents. Sad. But there was also a link for a savings account. I clicked.
Forty-two dollars and three cents.
Had Trevor just cashed the checks from Lester Fine and hid the money in his boots? Seemed a little odd, since he had an account and a place to put it. Maybe he was worried about so much going in.
I kept coming back to my original question of what he was doing for Lester Fine to make so much money.
I looked at the bookmarks again.
Hmmm. Facebook. I clicked on it, and the page popped up, complete with Trevor’s saved password and login.
I made a mental note to take my passwords and log-ins out of my own laptop. I didn’t want someone poking around in my life like I was poking around in Trevor’s.
His last Facebook status had been recorded the afternoon before the Chez Tango show: Trevor McKay is all tatted up and ready to go.
A rush of sadness overwhelmed me as I noted his birth date. He’d been only twenty-six. And to be taken down by a champagne cork, well, that wasn’t right.
His favorite musicians were Donna Summer, Wham!, Boy George and Culture Club, George Michael, and the Bee Gees. He was only twenty-six? It was as if he’d been living in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Britney Spears was not on the list.
This was a total bust. I started to log out, then paused a second and clicked on Trevor’s pictures. I had a feeling I might see something familiar.
I was right. The photos in the folders on his desktop were categorized as photo albums on Facebook. He probably had uploaded them and then forgot to delete the folders.
I glanced over toward the door and could hear Bitsy and Joel laughing about something. Obviously, Colin Bixby had not arrived yet. My watch told me he was late now. I wasn’t going to get too upset about it. I really had no idea what I was going to say to him when I saw him.
I absently clicked through Trevor’s pictures from his party and smiled at one of Kyle wearing a pair of Trevor’s boots and one of the wigs. It might have been the one he ended up wearing home yesterday, but then they all started looking alike after a while.
Just like all the boys.
She had a mane of blond hair and wore a sexy white minidress that was sleeveless on one arm and had a long sleeve on the other. Her biceps were buff, in a good way, like Michelle Obama’s. Her face wasn’t as long and thin as some of the others, but the makeup was impeccable. She was gorgeous. But it was none of those things that struck me.
On the forearm that was bare, she had a queen-of-hearts playing-card tattoo.
I took a deep breath. Could this possibly be Colin Bixby? I tried to see him in her but failed. That wasn’t a total surprise. These guys transformed themselves so well.
Something about her seemed familiar. I knew I’d seen her before. I shut my eyes and tried to picture her. This was bothering me.
Until it hit me.
This was the woman I’d seen across the street from Chez Tango when I discovered that the tires were slashed on Jeff’s car.
Had Colin Bixby slashed the tires? He was scheduled to arrive here any minute. How was I going to react to him now?
Kyle could probably tell me for sure who she was. I wished I could print the picture, but the laptop wasn’t hooked up to a printer. I’d just have to ask him to go to Facebook and check it out.
Granted, when Colin Bixby showed up, I could confront him about it, but I’d have to play that by ear. I wasn’t sure I was ready to go public with this just yet.
I closed Facebook and opened the folder with the photos in it again. A quick click confirmed the pictures on Facebook had come from here.
Except there was one more folder. I opened it. There was only one picture in it. This one hadn’t been on Facebook.
“Brett, he’s here.” Bitsy’s voice made my heart jump into my throat.
I looked up to see Colin Bixby hovering behind her in the doorway, a grin on his face. For a second, my heart jumped out of reflex.
Before I shut down the computer, I took another look at the last picture, just to make sure my eyes hadn’t been playing tricks on me. And then the screen went black.
I didn’t want to have to deal with Colin Bixby now. I wasn’t ready for that. What I really wanted to do now was go back over to see if Lester Fine was still at Madame Tussauds.
Because I was pretty sure why Lester was paying Trevor McKay. For his silence. Trevor was guarding Lester’s body all right.