"So, if A is for Aloysius,” mused Lt. Vincent D’Agosta, “what’s the X and L stand for?”
The said Aloysius -- Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast, that is --gave him a considering look and a faint smile in the gathering dusk. “My dear Vincent,” he drawled with an air of double dare you, “knock yourself out.”
D’Agosta smiled and got more comfortable, not exactly difficult to do in the agent’s ‘59 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith. He’d have to send Commissioner Rocker a memo recommending all officers on stake out be issued a Rolls. “Xerxes Leonidas?”
Thin lips twitched, but the blonder than blond head gave a negative shake. “Try again.”
D’Agosta thought about it, tapping his fingers on the armrest and missing his cigars for a moment. He didn’t regret giving up the habit, but they had given him something to do with his hands. “Xavier Lafitte’s too obvious,” he said after some consideration.
Hmm. Had there been the slightest hesitation there? D’Agosta thought there had been, and made a quick feint to double check. “Xeno Ludovic?”
Aha; not a trace of hesitation that time.
“And Ludovic would be redundant, in any case,” Pendergast added.
“That’s a point. Be like naming your kid Louis Luigi.” When he and Lydia had been expecting their first born, they had pored over a stack of baby name books, learning meanings and derivations -- and then wound up naming him Vincent, Jr. “You didn’t say Xavier Lafitte was wrong.”
“I suppose I didn’t.”
“I’ve got it.”
Pendergast looked at him, eyebrows raised.
“Xavier Lafayette,” D’Agosta said, in his worst approximation of a New Orleans accent.
“Your pronunciation’s atrocious.”
“Yeah, but I’m right.”
“What’s your chain of reasoning?”
“Lafayette was a hero of the Revolution. Lafitte was just a jumped up pirate, not snooty enough for a Pendergast.”
“Hmm, interesting theory.”
D’Agosta grinned. “That’s all your gonna concede?”
Pendergast gave him a sideways look. “An air of mystery enhances a relationship, or so I’ve heard.”
“Well, you’ll never bore anyone, that’s for sure.”
“I thank you for the compliment, my dear Vincent. Your aren’t exactly tedious yourself.”
“Jesus Christ,” William Smithback groused from the backseat, “get a room already.”
Before either of them could respond to that, Smithback leaned over. “So what’s the plan? That douche-bag skel could be getting away.”
D’Agosta threw him a look. “Where the hell do you get your dialogue?”
“Hey, at least people buy my books.”
“Vincent,” Pendergast laid a cautionary hand on his arm, “Mr. Smithback is, regrettably, entirely correct. His books are consumed in the same way that McDonald’s, reality television, and manufactured pop stars are the apex of modern culture.”
Sorting that out, Vincent nodded. “Yeah, guess that’s true,” he said, watching Smithback try to work out if that had been a compliment or not.
...yep, that's pretty much it...