However, our gentle idylls were destined to be shattered by the likes of Ekaterina's ex-husband and Ernie “Spats” Turkle, Seattle's sleaziest private dick and Bud Yoyo's new best friend. Spats was the shimmering bongohead who discovered and photographed Ekaterina and Hazy Davy in their most romantic moments. Bud, suspecting his wife of such doings, felt vindicated and proceeded to beat Ekaterina mercilessly for the slightest marital infractions. But, far from bringing his wife to heel, Bud merely drove her further into Davy's arms. I subsequently put my lawyer—one Margarita Solis—onto Ekaterina's case, and she was soon represented in divorce proceedings. Bud beat her one last time before she moved out of his house and temporarily stayed with me, as Davy was out-of-town at this juncture, and we had a metric ton of fun playing Battleship and dominoes.
But, as much joy as we shared, it hurt to look at Ekaterina. Both of her beautiful cerulean blue eyes were blackened by Bud's savage beating. One side of her face, including the lips, were badly swollen and discolored with a reddish-brown tone. Up and down her arms were a multitude of bruises, abrasions, and cuts. Worse yet, after the thrashing, Bud proceeded to rape her. The way Ekaterina limped told me that Bud had been particularly brutal in his violation of her. The assault on Ekaterina maddened me beyond words. She was part of my cadre, and I loved her dearly. I wanted vengeance against Bud; in his treatment of Ekaterina, he'd lost any consideration as a human being. But Ekaterina bade me not to move against Bud—she didn't want anyone going to jail on her behalf. At least, she said, her marriage was over and she could now embrace Hazy Davy fully. She didn't care about Bud.
As fate would have it, Bud and Spats exited Westlake Mall—each carrying a sack from Candy Tyme—and immediately spotted us on the granite stage. Even from that distance, Pine Street to Starbuck's to the retail carts and across the mall's patio, I could see Bud's mouth become a hairpin of disgust and heard Ekaterina moan with dread. Bud and Spats turned to face each other, and began an animated conversation which none of us could hear. After a moment or two, Spats finally seemed to acquiesce to something Bud had said, and the pair made for Pine Street. It was readily apparent that they were headed toward us as Spats caressed the handgun I knew to be concealed inside his cheap polyester double-knit sport jacket. No matter, I thought; if push came to shove, Takahashi had a Beretta 2032 Tomcat secreted in her purse.
“So,” Bud said to Ekaterina upon stopping just in front of us, “what are you doing here, bitch?”
“I'll stomp your ass if you call her a bitch one more time,” Broadway Billy said. “You can bet that Crispin, Bart, and Davy will take a fucking piece out of you, too. Maybe even Evie.”
“Shut up, old man.” Bud contemptuously said. “You couldn't beat down a squirrel. And, anyway, Spats has a gun.”
“Make no mistake about it, dickhead” I said firmly. “Takahashi has her own pistol close at hand.”
“Whatever,” Bud said dismissively. “I'm just here to give Ekaterina a piece of my mind.”
You have a mind?” I said in a mocking tome. “And all this time I thought you were just a malfunctioning clockwork toy.”
“Fuck off, Sands,” Bud said. “I'm not talking to you, or any of you clowns except for Ekaterina, the greatest clown of them all.”
“What do you want?” Ekaterina said with her sultry Russian accent.
“Where to start,” Bud said, stroking his chin. “Well, you seem to have forgotten that I'm the man who brought you to America. I took you out of that hellhole called St. Petersburg. And I paid Blue Sapphires a fortune, never mind three trips to Russia to meet you and get to know you. The cost to me was something like $45,000 in total. And what do you do to thank me? You take up with another man, specifically Davy Hardin, behind my back. You owe me.”
“I owe you nothing, Bud,” Ekaterina firmly said. “You are not as you represented yourself. You are a cruel man, Bud, and all you ever wanted was a whore to do your bidding. I never loved you—not really. I thought I might grow into it, but it never happened because of your cruelty. I mourn for the next woman you entrap with your lies and brutality.”
“Look, bitch—.” Bud started to say.
“That's it, asshole,” Broadway Billy said, rising from the dais. “You've just earned yourself a righteous beat-down.”
“Fuck off, you old derelict. You ain't gonna do shit.”
I jumped from the dais and got directly into Bud's grill. At just that moment, Spats drew his gun and leveled it at me. He told me to back off Bud, or he'd ventilate me. I heard Takahashi say, “You just try it, gumshoe.” I turned to see my girlfriend aiming her tasty little Beretta at Spats. She pointed out that she had more witnesses than Spats did—five to the private dick's one. "And just who do you think the badges will take seriously, a well-supported woman merely defending herself or a poorly-supported PI who had pulled his gun first?" Bemused, I watched as Spats's gun hand wavered and his face flushed bright red. Holding the gun by its barrel, Spats smiled wanly and slid the heater back into his coat. At that point, I seized my opportunity and kneed Bud in his groin. As he bent over in unspeakable pain, I struck his nose hard enough to hear bones break. Davy, Billy, and Bart poured off the stage, lighting into both Bud and Spats. By this time, Bud was rolling on the ground in pain, and I proceeded to shatter two or three of his ribs. I saw Spats fall to the ground as Bart and Billy kicked him mercilessly.
“How does it feel,?” I said, “getting thrashed just like you thrashed Ekaterina?”
“Pardon me, Crispin,” Davy Said, “but I have a score to settle with this asshole.”
“Be my guest.”
“This is for Ekaterina,” Davy said as he proceeded to grind Bud's face, broken nose and all, into the cement. Bud yelped in pain and misery.
Once Bud and Spats were on the ground, soaking up a world of misery, I decided that retreat would be the better part of valor. Since the cops were nearly an ever-present fact around the vicinity of Westlake Plaza, we'd be well-advised to depart before one or more of them discovered our mischief. So, almost as a single entity, we broke off from our beating of Bud And Spats, and decided to make a beeline for Lowell's in the Market, a full-service bar with the best view in Seattle. In no time, we were sidling up to the bar and ordering our favorite beverages—all on my dime, since I'd done well at the cockroach races at the Wah Mee Massacre. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I set myself up with a boilermaker and a Corona back. Takahashi was on one side of me, Ekaterina on the other, and I wrapped my arms around both of them.
“You all make me so happy,” Ekaterina said, almost on the verge of tears. “You are truly good friends. I feel safe with you.”
“And I hope,” Davy said, “that you feel the safest with me. I'll never let anything bad happen to you.”
“I love you, Davy.”
With that, I turned and planted a big, wet kiss on Takahashi's mouth. She never ceased to amaze me; she could be outrageously sexy at the strangest moments. Seeing her with that pistol pointed at Spats had turned me on something fierce. Watching her defend me, as well as our friends, stimulated a hot tingling sensation in my chest. I'd never known a woman like Evie Takahashi before, and imagined I never would again. She's one of a kind.