In this excerpt from Grabmore, four men who have kidnapped the CEO of a newspaper company where they work are meeting at the historic Rod & Gun Club in Everglades City when their lunch is interrupted.
We were looking over the menu when a blond woman wearing flipflops, pink shorts and an orange tank top with a flamingo on the front stopped at our table. She was 40 or so but trim and fit looking with blue eyes and she wore a baseball cap with a Tampa Bay Rays logo. Her pale blond hair tumbled out the back of the cap. “Hi, guys,” she said. I responded with my usual brilliant wit. “Ah, hi.” “What are you guys doing?” “About to order lunch,” I explained. “Anything else?” Picking up my Corona, I said, “I believe we’re also going to drink some beer. Maybe a lot. But not our friend here, the one with the water glass. His religious convictions don’t permit alcohol. I, on the other hand, have no convictions. Religious or otherwise.” My attempt at humor eluded this meddlesome woman, this intruder who reminded me of Judy Holliday in the classic 1950 film Born Yesterday. “What else you guys doing?” I tried explaining this was a business meeting. “What kind of business you fellows in?” she asked. I didn’t think it wise to say kidnapping was our business and business was booming. So she sensed an opening, grabbed a chair and slid it over by the end of our table. “What are your names?” I introduced the fellows. Sal was introduced as Lee Child. Nigel became Dennis Lehane and Ahmad was dubbed Elmore Leonard. “Funny,” the woman said. “You don’t look like an Elmore.” “Well,” Ahmad said. “I’m Elmore. Very Elmore. Almost Elmore to a fault.” She let that sink in for a moment. “Hi, my name is Troxie,’ she said. “Roxie?” I said. “Like Roxie Hart in Chicago.” “No, Troxie.” I still didn’t get it. “Trixie?” I asked. “No, Troxie. T-R-O-X-I-E.” “Oh, that’s an unusual name.” “Well, I’m an unusual person,” she said. There was no disputing that. “So, what are you guys having for lunch? I recommend the captain’s platter. $19.95. You get fish and shrimp and oysters and scallops and more. I think a Kendall Jackson pinot grigio goes really with this. Two of those pinot grigios go even better. So I’ll have two. “Oh, do you guys mind if I join you? Thanks. Don’t mind if I do.” She turned to me. What’s your name? I told her it was Dashiell. Dashiell Hammett. “You know, Dashiell, your friends are kind of cute,” Troxie said. “What about me?” I asked. “You know, you seem pretty smart,” she said. We didn’t have the nerve to ask Troxie to leave. … She came from St. Petersburg for a shuffleboard tournament at the Rod & Gun Club. … Her goal was to someday be enshrined in the Shuffleboard Hall of Fame alongside legends of the sport such as Mae Hall. She then pulled out of her purse a photocopy of a 1964
Sports Illustrated feature on Mae Hall. I asked Troxie her last name and again wasn’t sure what she said.…Little did we know that afternoon as we sat on the veranda under those fans that we had not seen the last of this meddlesome, intrusive, shuffleboard-obsessed, pinot-grigio drinking woman. And our kidnapping victim Chesterfield Ebenezer O’Riley IV had yet to see the first of her.