Valentine Marlar -- Uptown
"Hang on, Ritchie, let me grab a -- Ritchie, hold on, dammit, I'm-yeowch! Sonnuva-!"
Val cursed as he stubbed a toe on the iron bed frame, and hopped toward the kitchen counter to find a spare notepad. He'd managed to get back to the apartment without further incident, and decided to give his friend Ritchie Farrino a call. Ritchie worked the Society pages for a couple of upper-crust newsrags, and he had connections with a lot of the grunts in the restaurant and hotel industry. Val figured from Isaac's partial phone conversation and the way he and whatshername were dressed, they were probably heading to an upscale event somewhere, and if that was so, Ritchie would be the man to know who and where. He gave his buddy a brief description of Isaac and told him to call back when he had the info.
After a few minutes, Ritchie had called him back with the address, and eager as always to know how he was gonna get paid back. "So, you met Isaac Dellos? He's a pretty hot commodity, man; I've heard rumors they're talking about giving him his own cooking show, right up there with Bobby Flay! Hey hey, are you going down there right now? You on the guest list or something? Any chance you could get your old pal Ritchie in with you? They say his sushi is to die for!"
"Huh. Yeah, I'm sure it's delicious, Ritch. I'm sorry man, but I'm already crashing the gate as is. I'll see if I can get you a few shots, though. Thanks, partner. Catch you in the funnies, neh?" Val said, hanging up. 'Sushi to die for? Pfft, yeah, right. I'd like to California 'roll' his sorry ass,' he thought with a snort. He pulled a new T-shirt on and slipped into his spare jacket, virtually identical to his old one but with a few more rips and frays in strategically unnecessary places. He'd learned a long time ago the wisdom of buying extra copies; it wasn't cheap, but it kept people from asking questions when he showed up somewhere in clothes different than he'd been seen in only an hour before.
He eyed the shredded remains he'd brought home of his previous outfit, sitting bundled on one corner of the bed; he'd have to dispose of them later. He rifled through the ripped jacket pockets and withdrew the money he'd swiped earlier and deposited the green in his faded leather wallet, finished dressing and was out the door. He considered going directly to the address Ritch had given him, but after a little thought Val decided to make a little detour to pick up a little something special. He had no idea if it would work or not, but figured it wouldn't hurt to have on hand.
Almost an hour later, Val walked into the lobby of the building Ritchie had pointed him to, and gave a low whistle. The place was crowded, bustling, and not at all comfortable. Rich, high-class socialites and high-powered politicos were busily rubbing elbows and doing...whatever it was they did; Val could practically smell the money on the air. He looked around for the Deluded Duo, but no dice. Then he spotted the service desk near the back wall -- clear on the other side of the crowd. Well, he did need some service...
His denims and leather were about as out of place in this sea of designer labels as a chainsaw in an orchestra, but he'd long ago mastered the art of being unnoticeable. Val strode through the crowds, confident, his head up but not deigning to meet anyone's eyes, keeping his breathing slow and his body language tight. It was always the same: don't give them anything to notice, and they wouldn't. Simple as that.
He reached the desk and leaned forward slightly, one elbow resting on the polished, gleaming wood, and waited. And waited. And continued waiting, for nearly a full ten minutes, before the attractive little brunette finally realized he wasn't about to go away on his own and looked up from her computer screen. "Yes sir, can I help you?" She asked, her voice a charmingly bland mingling of boredom, irritation and artificial chipperness that the building's owners no doubt forcibly injected into their employees intravenously during lunch breaks.
Val gave her his best sunny smile and pulled a worn press badge from his back pocket. Flashing the badge, Val leaned a little closer and spoke quietly to the woman. "Hey there, I'm Ritchie Farrino, with The Tribunal. I understand you're hosting a little soiree here tonight, and I'm here to conduct an interview with the caterer, a Mr. Isaac Dellos? I have it under good authority that he's staying on the premises, but here's the thing: my editor made the arrangements for this interview with Mr. Dellos, but he forgot to get the room number, so I was really hoping you could take a quick look and tell me where I can find the man of the hour? If it's not too much trouble? Pretty please, with a bowlful of cherries?" He said with a grin and a conspiratorial wink.
His smile widened when he noticed the girl's growing blush, and drummed his fingers idly on the counter as she tapped on her keyboard. "Well, I'm really not supposed to give out guests' room numbers, but...Mr. Dellos is staying in Room 614," she said, a shy grin threatening to break through her staid demeanor. Val thumped his fist against the counter triumphantly and jumped over the counter to plant a playful peck on the girl's cheek. "Thanks a lot, doll, you really are an angel!" He said with a smile, as her blushing grin finally broke through and lit up her face.
Valentine waded through the crowd to the elevator and waited patiently until the middle doors *CHING*'ed open and let its passengers spill forth around him, like water flowing around a stone, then boarded the empty car and pressed "6". 'At the Copa, Copa Cabana, the hottest spot north of Havana,' Val sang along under his breath, tapping one foot in time with the choppy muzak that piped in from the tinny speaker overhead as he ascended.
On the sixth floor, Val wandered the halls for a few minutes before finally locating room 614. Before knocking, he took a moment and withdrew from his inside jacket pocket the reason for his earlier detour; it had taken nearly an hour and a trip to six different stores, but he'd finally found what he was looking for. He knocked urgently with one hand and pushed the mirrored shades up on his nose, making sure his eyes were completely covered by the reflective glass. He wasn't about to get caught by Shades this time, no sir.