I tried the door and sure enough, it was unlocked.
"Sort of takes the fun out of it," Lula said, looking past the door into Punky's house.
This is the part where if we were Charlie's Angels we'd get into crouched positions, holding our guns in two hands in front of us and we'd hunt down Punky. This didn't work for us because I left my gun home, in the cookie jar on my kitchen counter, and Lula'd fall over if she tried to do the crouch thing in her Via Spigas.
"Hey Punky," I yelled up the stairs, "put some clothes on and come down here. I need to talk to you."
"If you don't get down here I'm going to send Lula up to get you."
Lula's eyes got wide and she mouthed ...Me? Why me?
"Come up here and get me," Punky said. "I have a surprise for you."
Lula pulled a Glock out of her handbag and gave it over to me. "You should take this on account of you're gonna be the one going up the stairs first and you might need it. You know how I hate surprises."
"I don't want the gun. I don't like guns."
"Take the gun."
"I don't want the gun," I told her.
"Take the gun!"
Yeesh. "Okay, okay. Give me the stupid gun."
I got to the top of the stairs and I peeked around the corner, down the hall.
"Here I come, ready or not," Punky sang out. And then he jumped from behind a bedroom door and stood spread eagle in full view. "Ta-dahhhh."
He was buck naked and slick as a greased pig. Lula and I swallowed hard and we both took a step backward.
"What have you got all over you?" I asked.
"Vaseline. Head to toe and extra heavy in the cracks and crevices." He was smiling ear to ear. "You want to take me in, you have to wrestle with me."
"How about we just shoot you," Lula said.
"You can't shoot me. I'm not armed."
"Here's the plan," I said to Lula. "We cuff him and put him in leg irons and then we wrap him in a blanket so he doesn't get my car greasy."
"I'm not touching him," Lula said. "Not only is he an ugly naked mother fucker but he's a dry cleaning bill waiting to happen. I'm not ruining this top. I'll never find another top like this. It's genuine fake tiger. And lord knows what he'd do to rabbit."
I reached for him with the cuffs. "Give me your hand."
"Make me," he said, waggling his butt. "Come get me, sweetie pie."
Lula looked over at me. "You sure you don't want me to shoot him?"
I took my jacket off and snatched at his wrist but I couldn't hold tight. After three attempts I had Vaseline up to my elbow, and Punky was skipping around going, "...nah, nah, nah. Kiss my can, you can't catch me, I'm the Vaseline man."
"This guy's in the red zone on the breathalizer," Lula said. "Think he might also be missing a few marbles in his greased up jug head."
"I'm smart like a fox," Punky said. "If you can't catch hold of me, you can't take me in. If you can't take me in, I don't go to jail."
"If I don't take you in, I don't pay my rent and I get kicked out of my apartment," I told Punky, lunging for him, swearing when he slid away from me.
"This here's embarrassing," Lula said. "I can't believe you're trying to grab this funky fat man."
"It's my job. And you could help! Take the damn top off if you don't want it to get ruined."
"Yeah, take your top off momma. I've got plenty of extra Vaseline for you," Punky sang out.
Punky turned away from me, I gave him a good hard kick to the back of his knee and he crashed to the floor. I threw myself on top of him and yelled to Lula to cuff him. She managed to get both cuffs on and my cell phone chirped.
It was my Grandma Mazur on the phone. When my Grandpa Mazur cashed in his two dollar chips and moved on to the High Rollers' Suite in the sky, my Grandma Mazur moved in with my parents.
From To the Nines by Janet Evanovich. Copyright Janet Evanovich 2003. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher St. Martin's Press.
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