Darla Cummings finds herself in a small bleak Massachusetts town in the dead of winter and in the arms of a seductive man with beautiful blue eyes and an evil mind. Only Bakoda can save her and perhaps the future of an exploited town in squalor.
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Bakoda was out of town “on business” with no solid return date. Could be tomorrow, next week or whenever. Something he always said as was that it was better “that I didn’t know about.”
It was code for, “I’m working odd jobs for The Outfit though I swore that I would never go back.”
He had technically retired but was doing work on a contract basis and they kept him as busy as he wanted to be, so I guess he could tell himself that he was out of the business and me as well. He wasn’t fooling himself or me but I never reminded him of that, it would be pointless.
I knew what I had gotten into when I took back up with him after a twenty year hiatus. Even if he couldn’t admit it to himself he would always go back and after the Vydor Haines affair had been resolved it was easier to return.
He had no ghosts from the past to haunt him except the ones that Bakoda and his like always have anyway, always have had and always will.
In the meantime I was babysitting his cats, well “our cats” I suppose, Ying and Yang. Life with or around Bakoda was always about technicalities surrounded by shades of gray.
The cats were a pair, evidently siblings and totally exploitive. They had both Bakoda and me completely figured out as well as Bakoda’s next door neighbor who kept an eye on them from time to time if Bakoda was just going away for several days.
Bakoda had named them Ying and Yang, but I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the actual term was Yin and Yang. I guess it really didn’t make a difference, well, what’s in a name anyway?
I figured that they were smarter than the three of us and I knew that the cats knew it too. No contest.
Of course they would turn their noses up at anything but four-dollar-can line-caught albacore tuna although sometimes you could get by with skip jack at about fifty cents less. At two cans a day the pair of former alley cat strays were carrying an annual overhead of about three grand and that didn’t include milk, vet bills or miscellany. Nobody was complaining though, particularly Ying and Yang, one black and the other white.
Bakoda and I had tried living together for a while but that didn’t work out. Our best compatible moments were perfect, the non-perfect ones were annoying to both of us both set in our single ways after two decades; we finally recognized that maintaining two residences was the key to a functional relationship. It worked so we were, I suppose, technically a couple with shades of gray in terms of our choice of common residences and we never talked of commitment or ground rules. That “shades of gray” thing again.