Ten Big OnesBy: Janet Evanovich
The way I see it, life is a jelly doughnut. You don’t really know what it’s about until you bite into it. And then, just when you decide it’s good, you drop a big glob of jelly on your best T-shirt.
My name is Stephanie Plum, and I drop a lot of jelly globs, figuratively and literally. Like the time I accidentally burned down a funeral home. That was the mother of all jelly globs. I got my picture in the paper for that one. I’d walk down the street and people would recognize me.
“You’re famous now,” my mother said when the paper came out. “You have to set an example. You have to exercise, eat good food, and be nice to old people.”
Okay, so my mother was probably right, but I’m from Jersey and truth is, I have a hard time getting a grip on the good example thing. A good example in Jersey isn’t exactly the national ideal. Not to mention, I inherited a lot of unmanageable brown hair and rude hand gestures from my father’s Italian side of the family. What am I supposed to do with that?
My mother’s side is Hungarian and from this I get blue eyes and the ability to eat birthday cake and still button the top snap on my jeans. I’m told the good Hungarian metabolism lasts only until I’m forty, so I’m counting down. The Hungarian genes also carry a certain amount of luck and gypsy intuition, both of which I need in my present job. I’m a Bond Enforcement Agent, working for my cousin Vincent Plum, and I run down bad guys. I’m not the best BEA in the world, and I’m not the worst. An incredibly hot guy with the street name Ranger is the best. And my sometimes partner, Lula, is possibly the worst.
Maybe it’s not fair to have Lula in the running for worst bounty hunter of all time. To begin with, there are some really bad bounty hunters out there. And more to the point, Lula isn’t actually a bounty hunter. Lula is a former hooker who was hired to do the filing for the bail bonds office but spends a lot of her day trailing after me.
At the moment, Lula and I were standing in the parking lot of a deli-mart on Hamilton Avenue. We were about a half mile from the office and we were leaning against my yellow Ford Escape, trying to make a lunch choice. We were debating nachos at the deli-mart against a sub at Giovichinni’s.
“Hey,” I said to Lula. “What happened to the filing job? Who does the filing now?”
“I do the filing. I file the ass out of that office.”
“You’re never in the office.”
“The hell I am. I was in the office when you showed up this morning.”
“Yeah, but you weren’t filing. You were doing your nails.”
“I was thinking about filing. And if you hadn’t needed my help going to look for that loser Roger Banker, I’d still be filing.”
Roger was accused of grand theft auto and possession of controlled substances. In layman’s terms, Roger got high and went joy riding.
“So you’re still officially a file clerk?”
“Heck no,” Lula said. “That’s so-o-o boring. Do I look like a file clerk to you?”
Actually, Lula still looked like a hooker. Lula’s a full-bodied black woman who favors animal print spandex enhanced with sequins. I figured Lula didn’t want to hear my fashion opinion, so I didn’t say anything. I just raised an eyebrow.
“The job title is tricky since I do a lot of this here bounty hunter stuff but I’ve never really been given any of my own cases,” Lula said. “I suppose I could be your bodyguard.”
Lula narrowed her eyes at me. “You got a problem with that?”
“It seems a little . . . Hollywood.”
“Yeah, but sometimes you need some extra firepower, right? And there I am. Hell, you don’t even carry a gun half the time. I always got a gun. I got a gun now. Just in case.”
And Lula pulled a 40-caliber Glock out of her purse.
“I don’t mind using it either. I’m good with a gun. I got an eye for it. Watch me hit that bottle next to the bike.”
Someone had leaned a fancy red mountain bike against the big plate glass window in the front of the deli-mart. There was a quart bottle next to the bike. The bottle had a rag stuffed into it.
“No,” I said. “No shooting!”