The phone had to ring three times before the crisp voice on the other side answered with a simple word:
“Maya,” it stated bluntly.
“Hi,” Maya Solis confirmed, sliding down the back of the bar to sit on the dark tiled floor. It was not something she would normally do – Lord only knows what that floor had been through – but what with the lack of traffic the day before, she had finally taken the time to clean it. Three buckets of decreasingly grey water later and she felt comfortable deeming it sanitary-ish.
“To what do I owe this unscheduled phone call? You are usually so self sufficient, not to mention the fact that I currently have a supplier bill in front of me, so I know you to be well stocked.”
“It’s not about the bar,” she said quickly. “It… it’s about a person who stopped in.”
She was sure she could hear a pause as Gregory Ducante stopped whatever he was doing on the other side of the phone. Prior to this call, she had needed to phone three of his other establishments before finding him at his newest location in Molten. It was odd to find him there so often, but of course, he had become rather attached to the building. She could picture him sitting in his office, suit already on at eleven o’clock in the morning, a pile of papers stacked in front of him. Pen poised in the air.
“You don’t say,” he said evenly. “And this person, who are they to me?”
Maya had an ear for Ducante speak: she knew what he was asking. Was this person a friend or an enemy? Unfortunately, she did not think she had an answer. “Well… they’re not anything to you. They’re someone to me.”
“Ah, the mysterious past life of Maya Solis,” he said. There was a rustling that she took to mean he was balancing the phone his shoulder and ear as he continued to work.
“But she wanted to speak to you,” Maya continued, ignoring his comment, “she said she talked to someone named Josef. Something you might want to know about.”
Again, the scratching paused. The bartender took it as a sign that whatever she had said had hit a nerve, but when Ducante spoke again, his voice was as level as ever. “It’s not necessary for me to speak to her about that.”
“But who the hell is he? Why does she thinks he needs to talk to you?”
“It’s irrelevant, Maya,” the bar owner replied. His tone was a colder one than she was used to hearing when it was direct towards her.
The heavy sigh from the other end of the line cut her off. “If she needs to speak to me, she can find me in Molten for at least the next week. I’m finalizing my tax papers.”
Maya had to take a deep breath herself to avoid sounding like a scorned child. “But I don’t know what her motives are.”
There was another pause. Then: “I appreciate your concern, my dear, I truly do. But you must stop suspecting all of your former acquaintances just because you – and they – were all accomplices to murder.”
In the background, there was the sound of several glasses shattering. Maya was sure she could hear Ducante giving a muffled yell of, “Jeremy, those are not tax deductible,” before the phone clicked off and the line went silent.