A Girl Named Charlotte
Sammy poured me a coffee from Sammy’s Back Street Bistro and Café, which was black, powerful, and a couple of hours old. “I read about you in the newspaper, pretty much all of them,” he added, grinning. When you plugged Jimmy The Snitch, it appears you sparked a hornet’s nest. “
“Jimmy the snitch was attempting to get me toe tagged,” I responded. I didn’t have a choice since he didn’t give me one. He had apparently changed professions and had come to find me. He didn’t expect me to be such a quick draw and shoot. “
“Who do you think put up the reward?” “Sammy inquired
“That, my old friend, may be any one of dozens,” I replied, laughing heartily. There are a lot of creeps in B-Town who believe they owe me a favor. I suppose one of them will be paid off one day, but only one. They won’t be able to murder me again.
Sammy was about to add something else when the street door unexpectedly opened.
Her black hair looked like it had been ripped out by the roots by a hurricane. Her complexion was pale, eerily pale, and her eyes were crystal blue. She was dressed for a party, the kind that hired ladies like her to keep things lively, and the color scheme was red with black trim. She had that look about her that you’d never forget if you saw it once. It was the kind of look women get when their dreams come crashing down and reality begins to rob them of their spirit.
“Wow. “Char, you look like you were dragged through a car wash.” Sammy expressed his sympathies. “What are you doing here so early?”
The young lady pulled herself to a counter stool five steps below mine. She tried to grin at Sammy, but her smile faded. It was easy to visualize a cloud forming over her head. “The party was ambushed. “Give me a cup of coffee.”
I drew my gaze away from her and fixated it on the blackness of my coffee. Even in modern times, staring at people is impolite. Maybe it’s become worse because it’s one of those socially unacceptable things.
But I couldn’t help but notice that beneath the harshness, there was a sad and lovely girl, presumably from the suburbs or a small town, seeking her own pot of gold. It was a guess, but it was a well-informed one.
I stole a glance at her as she rummaged through her purse. “Damn. Sammy. Please put the coffee on hold. “I am cash strapped.”
“Wow, Char. This is the third time. I… Sammy was expressing himself.
“Sammy, I’ll fetch it.” I cut in, “And add in the special.” She seemed to be in desperate need. “
“Ok.” This one’s for the young lady who’s coming up. ” Sammy responded with a smile.
“Mr., it won’t get you anything,” the girl bemoaned.
“I’m sure it will,” says the narrator. It’ll give me a great warm feeling to know that I helped out another human being who might return the favor one day… or night. ” I responded.
“Are you some kind of preacher or something?” She responded with a gloomy retort.
Alternatively, something will fit beautifully. ” I responded.
“Charlotte.” You’re being fed by the greatest of the best shamuses in the city. ” Sammy rang the doorbell from the kitchen.
“Are you a cop?” Charlotte became enraged.
“I said, ‘Private cop,’ to be more precise.
“A cop is a cop where I sit.” “Private cops are a little less cold-blooded.”
When Sammy spoke out against me, I grinned and was going to answer. “This copper has a warm heart, but he also has a frigid streak.” You didn’t read the articles, did you? He’s the one who, the other night, put Jimmy The Snitch in the morgue. “
“Jeez,” there’s a serial killer cop on the loose. “But I guess that creep deserves it,” Charlotte cynically said. He had a habit of believing he was entitled to a free ride and taking advantage of it. It would have been rape if it had been anyone else, but… “she was muttering despondently when the street door opened.
Charlotte was approached by something that looked like a neanderthal in a tux, who grabbed a fistful of her hair. “What are you doing here?” “You’re meant to be having a good time with those business guys.”
“Duff, you’re a jerk.” Allow yourself to relax. You’re causing me pain. You weren’t here, were you? The gathering was raided. I was able to flee before the cops apprehended everyone. “
“I’m guessing that indicates you weren’t paid.” Duff hissed angrily.
“You’re right, Duff, you’re posse.” “None of the females were compensated.”
“Well. You’ll have to compensate me. That’s a lot of money gone. ” As he let go of her hair, Duff whimpered and pushed a little.
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“How am I going to do that?” You’ve taken nearly all of the money. I’m lucky if I can keep my flop and eat it. ” Charlotte became enraged.
Duff, the neanderthal, was on the verge of cuffing her. I leapt to my feet and drove my fist into his temple. He fell like a rock and lay writhing on the floor for a few seconds before passing out. I knelt down, grabbed one of the creep’s arms, and dragged him out into the street, across the road, and into an alley. I expected him to be a jerk when he awoke, but he was down for the count for the time being. Duffy the Mauler, I subsequently learned, was never quite the same after that. It was something about him going about like he was inebriated all the time. As a result, I assumed he’d stop harassing the ladies. Unfortunately, there are a dozen or so others who are just like him, waiting to take control. But one fewer isn’t a bad thing.
I returned to Sammy’s and sat down on my stool. Charlotte was shoving the shepherd’s pie special into her mouth while gesturing to her coffee cup. “Like I said, Char,” Sammy said. He’s got a nasty side to him.
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“Thanks, copper, but it won’t help much.” Perhaps it will aggravate the situation.”Between spoonfuls of pie, Charlotte said.”
“Not if you get out and get out quickly.” I gave her some advice but didn’t give it to her with much passion because I knew she wouldn’t listen.
But it’s amusing. “Maybe if I could,” she responded, “but it costs money, and I don’t have any, and if I don’t pay my rent, I’ll be homeless.” If I didn’t have his money, the landlord instructed me not to come back. “I don’t think so.”
I’m hardly a good Samaritan by any stretch of the imagination. Most individuals aren’t willing to help themselves, so I don’t believe you can help them. Even the toughest bend a little and feel a rush of warm blood in their veins. It rarely pays off, but it may provide some marker points on the other side, wherever that may be.
“Finish your meal, and we’ll have a couple more cups of Sammy’s Tar,” I added. Then I’ll fly you back to your house. “
Charlotte’s face was covered in one of those dubious scowls. “Don’t be concerned,” I said.My altruistic motives are merely fleeting. Let’s call it a “weakness moment.”
“Charity,” as some refer to it. Charlotte retorted angrily. “Normally, I’d send you packing or pay you in kind, but I’m in need of assistance, and you’re willing to help.” I’ll accept your donation, but I’m not in the mood to be generous. “
Her tone was a mix of dread and gratitude, with a hint of panic. I could almost hear her muttering something along the lines of, “No one does anything for nothing.”
We headed out into the street after I settled things with Sammy. The sun had only just begun to rise. I grabbed Charlotte’s elbow and led her to my car. She smiled as she glanced at it. “Are you also a limo driver?”
“Nope, it’s where I live.”I responded.
“You live in a limo?” I exclaim.
“When I can’t get home, I sleep in it.” I responded, delighted by her shocked expression.
“Can you tell me where your flop is?”
“McHardy Court,” Charlette grumbled.
“You’ve traveled a long way.” I stated
“I took a limo to the celebration.” I assumed I’d have enough money to get home, but you’ve heard my story. “
I got in the car and turned around to face the alley where I’d dumped Duffy. He has vanished. I assumed he’d give his boss a story, but I was wrong.
As we drove through the city, the streets were still peaceful. The only thing that slowed me down were a couple of traffic lights. I drove according to the schedule, and before I knew it, I was turning into the court and walking with Charlotte to the super’s office.
She owes two months’ rent in arrears. I paid it off and put money aside for the next month. With a shake of his head, the land lord expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation. I could hear him say, “Hope you get your money’s worth, chump.”
“You’re lucky this time,” he genuinely added, “but don’t be late again.”
I unzipped my coat and let it fall open. My pistol protruded from the holster. I stated it casually. I’m counting on you to assist this girl. If you don’t, you might end up in an accident… or anything. “
“What’s a private cop doing with a gun?” the superior
“Every legislation has its flaws, pal.” I retaliated.
“Perhaps you aren’t as big as you think,” Chump. “
I grabbed his shirt collar and said, “Jimmy the Snitch said the same thing just before I filled him up,” in one of those low, soft, menacing voices.
When I watch a bully’s eyes light up with dread, it makes me happy.
I shoved him back into his flop and shut the door behind him.
We arrived at Charlotte’s apartment. She pushed open the door. The location appeared to be out of place. It was clean, neat, and orderly, with only a few worn-out pieces of furniture. It even had a pleasant odor.
“It appears that you did okay for a while,” I said.
“When I initially arrived here, I acquired this stuff.” I had enough cash to get started. “I had a very vivid dream.” Charlotte clarified the situation.
I added, almost as a quote, “She ran off to find the foot lights.”
Charlotte realized what was going on and laughed. “Nah,” she replied. That is never a good idea. I decided to pursue a career as a journalist. I had a few leads and even landed a couple jobs, but things didn’t go quickly enough. I had run out of money and was unable to pay my rent. That, I suppose, never works either. “
“In a race to failure, they’re neck and neck.” I responded. “Perhaps you should return to wherever you came from,” I suggested. Then, in the spirit of reality, I gave her some money. I was most likely squandering my funds. Then I gave her my business card and walked away, assuming I wouldn’t see her again.
It’s inevitable that you’ll make a mistake. Charlotte hadn’t given up on her dream of becoming a journalist. She was barely scraping by until she landed a front-page story. Even though she was executing the devil’s dance with a pen and a dream, she still got it wrong sometimes. There was more, a whole lot more.
My workplace is in the oldest shopping center in B-Town, yet no one ever comes in from the street. I hand out business cards that say “Private Cop For Hire” and with a phone number. When I order a batch of 25 cards at a time, I get a new phone and new cards with a new number when they leave. Call me neurotic, but keeping cards and phone numbers on hand indefinitely can be risky. I usually get enough work out of 25 to keep me in the beautifully sufficient zone, with a little left over for retirement and rainy days. It’s rare that it rains on my parade. Insurance is a lucrative business, especially when it comes to bogus claims. A reasonable bonus is 10% of $250,000.Sometimes a bit more, a couple of times a year. I never settle for anything less.
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Jammet Cryms appeared to be exactly who he claimed to be. An overworked homicide detective with a hefty badge and an even heftier weapon. He’s a really excellent cop, and he’s as straight as a cop can be without placing himself in harm’s way. In my opinion, you can’t do any good if you fight the stick on both ends. When it appeared that he was straying into the grey zone, he would explain, “Sometimes a blind eye provides you with a better look at the overall picture and some how you manage to retain some kind of balance between the good, bad, and ugly.” That’s probably why we get along, although the thread that holds us together can get very frayed at times.
I was just finishing up my affidavit about Jimmy the Snitch’s shooting. I was preparing for my hearing to determine what the city would do with me. According to my counsel, the court was going to spend an hour reaming me up before ruling in my self-defense. He had no choice. I had a half-dozen witnesses on my side, most of whom were on the ground floor. Parks went out of his way to find a few extras just in case. I did a lot of free sleuthing for him. It was a good deal.
In came Detective Sergeant Cryms, storming into my office, bulging with official paperwork and in a rage that would have scared a raging bull away. He approached my desk and tossed me a business card. “You’d better respond, bub.” He then showed me a photograph of a decrepit flat with a deceased girl inside.
“Her name is…” he began.
“Charlotte.” I abruptly cut him off. “How did she end up here?”
“Someone tied a wire neck tie around her throat.” Cryms have been described. “It wasn’t a haphazard act.” “This was top-notch.” He kept going.
“I guess I’ll have to admit it wasn’t my fault.” I let out a chilly scream.
“Nah. You wouldn’t do a dame, I’m sure. Not in that way, but I’m sure you know someone who would. ” Cryms has been charged.
“Pimps beat up on their ladies. They don’t put them to death. ” I stated “Can you tell me what you found in her flop?”
“There’s not much else we can do, but she had a laptop computer and a box full of flash drives that we haven’t been able to access yet.” Cryms informed me.
“So, what’s your beef with me?”
“Because every time I turn around, you’re smack dab in the middle of a case you shouldn’t be near.” Cryms hissed and snarled, and snarled and snarled.
“But you want my help,” I remarked with a chuckle.
Cryms smiled and nodded. “I’m guessing your computer mutt has a greater chance of getting in.” He shook my hand and offered me a fistful of flash drives. “Determine what’s on these.”
“Jammet.” “You’re putting on a show for me.” What’s the matter with Charlotte? “
He shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. “I’m not sure who it is, but someone higher up the food chain wants this shut down… quickly and quietly.”
“Did you know she came here with the intention of becoming a journalist?” I inquired.
Cryms gave me a blank stare that screamed “No,” but it was backed up by the truth.
“Go home before you piss me off,” I said.
Cryms left a lot quieter than he entered, but I heard him growl something about sending me to the wolves if I let him down before the door was entirely shut.
In pulp fiction, private cops appear to handle everything, but the truth is that we wouldn’t get very far without serious backup, such as computer experts with a talent for hacking. In a world where ordinary vocations have unique titles, I’ve always found it fascinating that no one has come up with a better, friendlier nickname than hacker. Perhaps they have, and I am still living in the dark ages. In any case, my buddy was the greatest in the business, and the only moniker I knew him by was Ferret, which I assumed was a hacker handle. It was perfect.
I went to his back alley and dropped off the flash disks in an envelope along with the usual charge. He advised me to return the next day. Meanwhile, I returned to Charlotte’s flop and paid a visit to the super first. I wanted his key to get in and to make sure the girl wasn’t dead because of him. It wasn’t the case. He handed over the key without a fight. I walked to the unit and entered without violating the police barrier tape, wondering why someone would do so if they didn’t want it known they were there.
Everything in the place looked as if a tornado had snatched it up, slung it around, and strewn it across the rooms in a jumble. The customary body chalk mark was present. She curled up in the fetus position and fell asleep. The part of me that was cold-hearted melted quickly, but it also opened the door to wrath. My gun’s language was going to be deciphered by someone. Its vocabulary consists of only one word. Death.
I took a look around. I didn’t find anything useful at first. Not until I saw something that seemed both out of place and in place. It was a note book that was being used as a level for a chest of drawers in the bedroom that managed to stay upright. Cryms didn’t notice it, which surprised me.
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I took it from the shelf and opened the cover. It was a journal. She began by saying, “Dear Me.” The first few paragraphs were all about her arrival in the city, all happy and upbeat, just as she had told me. I discovered an envelope with a return address between the twelfth and thirteenth pages. M. Sheers, from the town of Speersville.
I had a look at the letter. It didn’t say anything except that M. Sheers was Momma and that Mr. Sheers and Daddy Sheers had both died. It was written almost a year ago. I resolved to pay Mom a visit as soon as I had something to say to her other than, “Your daughter is no longer alive.” I decided that Cryms didn’t need to know about the letter yet. Then I noticed a scribbled sentence about the apple cart being parked on a curb. If I tried to figure it out from the context, it didn’t make much sense. I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Why would he do such a thing? That’s probably why they came to me. “
I returned to my office and sat down with an Irish coffee, a cigarette, and my diary, namely the section that went from Yippidy Do Da, What a Beautiful Life, to Dancing with the Devil. Unfortunately, I just got one paragraph: “I’ve started dating a creep named Pauly.” It’s a bad situation, but it’ll keep me afloat until I can find a tale to sell. Duffy is stupid, but when he wants to be, he’s ruthless. I’m pretty sure I’ve found an excellent one. It appears that vice money isn’t merely made by gangsters acting like gangsters. This isn’t a brand-new story. Growing up in a metropolis, corruption has always been a part of life, but I’m not sure how widespread it is. Perhaps becoming a hooker will put me in a position where I can obtain a good script. “
It fit nicely with the “I can’t believe it” bit, and it took the rose out of my eyes about the poor young girl from the suburbs a little, but not enough.
She was a bright young lady, but she was too damned naive to understand that the city isn’t fair, forgiving, or compassionate. It is a creature that rarely forgives and never forgets. It will strip the strongest of everything they have, down to their dignity, and then spit out the remains to crawl in the gutters or die, as Charlotte did.
They, whatever they are, claim that the city is being cleaned up and polished; that crime is decreasing; and that corruption is at an all-time low. Those that don’t understand that crime is still nearly widespread and live in a fantasy world with rose-colored spectacles dangling from their noses. They don’t comprehend that when the population grows, the percentages decrease, at least temporarily. Charlotte was digging up dirt line by line for her big break, but she went too far. enough to make an impression. It’s deep enough to kill you. I pondered.
Officially, I delivered the journal to DS Cryms. It was necessary for the cops to know, so I did it. That is, the good ones. I knew he wouldn’t open the lid until he could sweep up the garbage that spilled out of the trash can, before it swept him under the polluted carpet or dumped him in some ancient quarry with a bunch of other people who tried to vacuum out the cobwebs.
Cryms gave me the cold shoulder. “How come you’re not telling me?”
I pretended I didn’t understand what he was saying. I merely pretended to be unconcerned and walked away, hoping he’d abandon his normal cautions about approach and method. “You don’t kick a bull in the balls,” says the narrator. To avoid the knee jerk reaction, you can’t run fast enough.
I traveled up to Speersville the next day. Sometimes you make mistakes that you later come to regret. Sometimes you come to regret your actions. Maybe it’s all the same, but no matter how you look at it, sometimes you don’t have a choice, and what you discover leaves you a dozen degrees colder in the frozen, searing heart zone.
Mrs. Sheers was your average, plain-looking grandma who, once upon a time, might have been the belle of the ball, but time, heartache, and plain old life had crushed it all into wrinkles and dull eyes.
When I arrived, she already knew about Charlotte. She said that Constable Moore came to see her after Sergeant Cryms told him that Charlotte had been “killed.”
In one sense, I had squandered my time, but in another, I reasoned that a personal visit from someone who had at least met Charlotte would alleviate Momma’s suffering. All she wanted now was for her daughter’s body to be returned to her. I promised Charlotte I’d make sure she got home as soon as possible.
When we were done talking, it was late. Mrs. Sheers invited me to dinner and offered me a place to sleep in her spare room. I accepted the supper but opted to get a hotel room at a nearby motel. I’m not sure why. It didn’t seem right to me.
I slept fitfully until 3 a.m., then packed my belongings and prepared to return home. I walked out the door, but two uniformed officers approached me before I could get to the car. Constable Moore was one of the people who presented themselves. The name of the other one eluded me.
“We don’t appreciate you city slickers coming up here and messing with our stuff.” Moore uttered a threatening snarl.
“This isn’t your concern.” “This is a murder case being probed by a detective from B-Town.” I fought back.
“You’re not that kind of detective.” “You’re a private cop with no business getting involved in police matters.”
“Please contact Detective Sergeant Cryms.” He informed you of the girl’s death. He’ll tell you I’m helping him with the investigation. ” I said, more to buy a minute than to persuade Moore that I was there to help.
“How about just letting me get in my car and drive home?” “Anyway, I’m done here.” I made a suggestion.
“I don’t believe he was a crook.” He was simply a small-town cop defending his turf, but he was feeling intimidated, so his response was, “Perhaps I should run you in and check you out.” We’ve had a few break-ins recently, and you suit the bill. “
I said, “Go ahead, do what you think is best if you believe I’ll go without a fight.” How can I be sure you’re a cop? Uniforms and badges can be purchased anywhere. “
“What appears to be the issue here?” asks the narrator. A voice appeared from nowhere.
“Oh. Sergeant Merrad, we were just looking into this guy. “How did you end up here?” Constable Moore seemed a little jittery in his response.
“Are you a B-Town private cop?” Merrad inquired, oblivious to the sheriff’s presence.
“I am,” says the speaker. “How’s it going?”
“I got a call from Cryms, a detective. He said that you were in town on police business and that Constable Moore might not get it. He requested that I look into it.
“You were going to see me at 3 a.m.” I exclaimed. I expressed my skepticism.
“No. I was on the lookout for intruders. I’m now working the night shift. I was just passing along when I noticed you and the constable having a conversation. I’d like you to return to your room now. “Your sergeant has sent me a message. “
“I’m not sure how he knew I was here.” I didn’t inform him unless he’s been tailing me. ” I spoke my thoughts aloud.
Merrad chuckled. “Return to your room.” I’ll tell you what happened. Also, I recommend that you check out the back of the hardware store, Constable. I noticed a couple of guys there who appeared to be conducting some late-night shopping. “
Moore and his companion spun around and bolted like two children on a treasure hunt.
Sergeant Merrad made a snide remark.
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I said, “No shoppers.”
“A couple of stray dogs.”
We had a good laugh and then went to my room.
“So what’s going on?” I remarked when I returned to the room. “What is it that he wants me to do here?”
“You’re not a member of the OPP.”
“You’ve figured it out.”
“What’s going on?”
“A little kind guidance.”
Put it down. I’m sure you’ve never heard of Charlotte Sheers. If you keep going, you’ll simply get yourself murdered. “
“How did she die?”
“I’d have to kill you if I told you.”
“That’s becoming a little old.” Just let me know so I can inform the mother. “
“That’s something you don’t want to do.” “It’s not necessary for the mother to know.”
“You aren’t technically the terrible guy because you haven’t killed me.”
“Maybe. Return to your home. Put this out of your mind. Detective Cryms has been removed from the investigation. “
“Bigger.” Return to your house.
The man dressed as an OPP officer approached the door. “If you are not gone in the morning or you do not drop it when you get back to the city, something horrible will happen,” he added before leaving. Without turning over
“It’s all right.” “Either drop out or die.”
He was gone in the blink of an eye. I made the decision to sleep. I went to visit Constable Moore in the morning. He appeared to be exhausted.
“What are you doing here?” he demanded, enraged.
To make amends, “I said.” Last night, there was no OPP. “
“Oh. “Who was it?” I wondered.
I told Moore everything he needed to know.
“Jode Sheers was murdered,” he stated. I can’t prove it, but I’m sure it’s true. “
“Everything seems a little too coincidental.” I responded.
“Not if you know what the relationship is,” says the narrator. Moore retaliated.
“Do you?” says the narrator.
“I believe I’ve figured it out.”
“Are you going to say what you’re thinking?”
Constable Moore sat back in his chair and leaned back in his chair. “Only if you can show you aren’t one of them,” he remarked coldly.
“There’s a small group of people that claim to be land developers but aren’t. We’ve managed to keep them away for quite some time, but we’re losing territory. They know there’s more to these hills than coal. They know this because a prospector discovered a few diamonds roughly ten years ago. Jode Sheers was his name. He was the sole owner of the placer stakes in the entire area, and he promised never to sell us out. Every year, we take a small amount. just enough to get us through the day. However, this group has discovered that there is a fortune beneath us. Three years ago, Jode filed a claim. It was accepted. Then he passed away. Fortunately, he bequeathed the diamond claim in his will to his daughter and wife. Charlotte travelled to the city after Jode was murdered to find out who killed her father.
“A diamond mine?” you might wonder. That’s a lot of money in this part of the nation. ” I pondered.
“Maybe,” Moore replied, “but coal and diamonds dance, eh.”
“They killed her because she wasn’t who she said she was.” “Why are the feds interested?” I inquired.
“Did that officer happen to be you?” Moore had enquired.
“That’s exactly what he wanted me to believe.” I responded.
Moore shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. I don’t know what the solution is, and I can’t even guess. But I can tell you that there were a bunch of surveyors here six months ago. That’s what they said they were, at the very least, but they wouldn’t say what they were surveying. “
My phone began to vibrate. I responded. “We made it in, Boss. You won’t believe what’s stored on these flash drives.”
“Stay hidden. No one is allowed in. Don’t let anyone else in, and turn on all those sophisticated alarms you’ve got linked up. ” I responded.
I told Moore after I got off the phone. “I’m hoping you’re a straight shooter, Constable.” I have a hunch this small town will become very important very soon, and you may have to battle for it. Hopefully in a courtroom rather than on the streets. “
“I adore my hometown.”
“Can you tell me how many cops you have?”
“Eight. We’re a modest company with a similar budget.
“I recommend that you blow the budget. Speak with the local government. Extra diamonds should be dug up, and as many auxiliary as possible should be taken on. just in case someone decides it’s worth waging a minor war over. I’m returning to the city. I might be able to provide you with some additional information. “
I didn’t hold my breath for a response. Was there anything further to say?
Business Guide : Why is life insurance so important?
In record time, I returned to the city to speak with Ferret. That did not turn out to be the case. I picked up a tail about halfway home. “So you jerks don’t all drive black SUVs, do you?” I stated In my rearview mirror, there was a weirdo driving a basic blue something or other. It was keeping a close eye on me. I just kept driving until I came across another simple blue automobile in front of me. They were encircling me.
I turned and slammed the pedal on the next side road I came to, damned if I knew what I was doing or going to do, but I knew I wasn’t going down without a fight.
There wasn’t much of a battle. A helicopter was dispatched. It set up a fire line just in front of me. I came to a halt. Capture was preferable to death.
The man, who pretended to be an OPP officer, leaped from the chopper. He was dressed conservatively in a gray suit.
“I warned you,” I said. Get out of the automobile now. “You’ll be joining us.”
I uttered something vile that was primarily made up of colorful adjectives. Taser charges were excruciatingly painful, and it was something I never wanted to go through again. Then a needle was inserted into my arm by a friend, and that was the end of it.
I was in a hotel room when I awoke. I knew where I was even if I couldn’t see outside. The sound and scent of that part of town are unmistakable.
My head ached. When I sat up, the pain became worse. A glass of water and two medications were on the nightstand. “For Pain,” read the note. I swallowed the pills.
I walked over to the window. As though I were gazing at Google Maps, the city extended out toward the airport.
I walked up to the door and knocked. I put the handle to the test. It had been locked. A split second later, I heard the key enter the door. I took a step back. Another guy in a gray suit entered with a gun aimed at my stomach. He was followed by another. A waiter pulled in a trolley with half a dozen trays on it behind that one. They all left after that. “
It was food. Far too much to explain, but think of everything you’d have for breakfast. Everything was present, including coffee, tea, orange juice, and a jug of water.
There was a message on the table. Have a nice breakfast. Then we have a conversation.
My stomach cried for mercy as I ate my breakfast. Then I sat in a chair, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. There was a booze store, but I wasn’t prepared.
I did nothing but smoke, drink coffee, and wait. Before anyone arrived, breakfast had finished digesting properly. It wasn’t the jackass who pretended to be a regional cop who did it. It was some other jerk with a nice warm face and voice who appeared to be more official but was much more businesslike. I realized I was in over my head, and there was no way out without agreeing to something. It was only a matter of time until I found out what that something was. In the end, it was quite straightforward, but I didn’t like it.
“We’re aware that you have six flash disks belonging to Charlotte Sheers.” “We’re looking for them.”
“You didn’t have to go through all of this.” You could have simply inquired in a nice manner. I’d simply turn them over to them. I couldn’t care less what you jerks are up to. All I wanted to do was come up with a way to explain Charlotte’s situation to her mother.
They were unable to assist me with Charlotte’s mother, but they did allow me to contact Ferret. “It’s over, kid,” I said. I’m sending a man in a gray suit to my workplace to pick up the flash drives. Give up both the originals and the copies. These men aren’t in it for the fun of it. They’ve got genuine firearms. ” I made sure my kidnappers’ boss, Mr. Wardeck, heard me.
“Once we have the drive, we’ll cut you loose,” he continued. Then you can go home and pretend to be a peeping tom for some upset housewife. “
“I’m not a divorce lawyer.” “I’m a con artist who works in the insurance industry.” I retaliated.
“Whatever. Just avoid Charlotte Sheers and whatever she has to do with her. ” Wardeck was adamant.
I nodded and returned to breakfast for a second helping. I washed it down with a couple of hard bourbons this time. My mind was racing with the possibility that Ferret had the foresight to produce an extra set of copies. I had no intention of giving up.
Just before five o’clock, I returned to my workplace. I couldn’t tell if anyone had been there. Wardeck had personally arrived to inform me that the flash drives and a copy had arrived. If he found out there was another copy, he threatened to convert me into an eunuch. I said I didn’t believe there was. It wasn’t a lie at the time, but I hoped it would be, and it did. Ferret was unfazed by the situation. Around 7:00 p.m., he arrived with a pizza, delivered it, and placed another copy under the pie. I put the document in a safe place and waited after he departed. Sure enough, a couple of gray suits came in to take a look at me. They left me to my pizza after a thorough search, which was now a little dirty.
I sat and waited. Then, about midnight, I turned off my computer, took my laptop and flash drive, and hid in a closet.
Anticipation is a horrible tendency in humans, but we embrace it whenever it appears and never seem to learn that things rarely turn out the way you envision them in your thoughts.
I had only been in the closet for about five minutes when the door opened and someone pepper sprayed me and snatched my laptop, which had the flash drive jammed in the port. I cursed, but being blinded, that was about all I could do. When the outside air poured into the closet, though, I noticed one thing. Lilac perfume. Unfortunately, it was a popular smell. You can pick it up on any street in the city, and not just the ladies.
I made it to the bathroom, eyes watering, sneezing, coughing, and swearing a blue streak, and began washing my face clean. I tried to wipe my eyes with an eye cup, but the burn marks turned me into a red-masked racoon. My mind raced with questions such as, “Why this and not a bullet?” Whoever was keeping a close eye on me wasn’t looking to get rid of me for good. They simply wanted me to leave the case.
When I regained my composure, I dialed Ferret’s number. “I was mugged for the copy.” “How much of what was on it do you recall?”
Ferret responded jitterily. “It’s enough to make you realize you should back off.”
“Give me something with which I can work.” I pushed myself.
“It’s old hat, buddy,” says the narrator. It’s a little bit environmental, but it’s a lot bigger. ” Ferret remarked.
“Does it say anything about a town called Speersville?” I inquired.
“Yes, and the lady who wrote it, the one who was murdered.” “Well, she was aware of something, and someone was encroaching on her space.”
“Thank you, Ferret; now either lock yourself up or move.” This is growing by the second, and I believe the wrong individuals are aware of your presence. “
“I’m already working on that, Boss.” When I’m comfortable, I’ll let you know where my new hideaway is. The call fell dead after Ferret announced it.
I caught up with Sergeant Cryms an hour later. He grimaced as he looked at me.
“I heard you’ve been advised to abandon it,” I said.
“The case has been given over to someone else,” Cryms replied, his tone murderous. I’m not sure who it is. If I stick my nose where no one wants it, my badge and pension are on the line. “
“I got the same letter, but it wasn’t about my badge or pension.” The victim is my heartbeat. I stated
“So, what are your plans?” Cryms inquired softly.
“Just be ready when this all comes crumbling down,” I added, shrugging my shoulders. I despise being bullied, and some jerk assassinated a very nice girl and her father. Charlotte was here for that reason. She was looking into her father’s death. I intend to bring whoever is responsible to justice in one way or another.”So be it if it turns out to be an OK Corral affair.”
“You’re nuts, pal,” Crym grinned maniacally.
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“Mad is my favorite.” I stated that with a snicker and then walked away.
Mine received two words: clandestine and underground. I intended to use both. And someone I’d almost forgotten about reappeared in my head. It took me back to the night when this whole disaster started.
Dufferin “I don’t know what you hit me with, but you rocked my brain real well,” Cole stated as a brief moment of hatred flashed across his face. It’s still rattling, but it’s quite pleasant. It’s almost as if the whack you gave me knocked something out of my skull. It’s amnesia, according to the doctor. All I know is that I’m no longer Duffy the Mauler, and I’ve started working at Sammy’s Bistro. He hired me to do dishwashing and is now teaching me to perform prep work as well. “
“That’s Duff,” I said. I’m delighted you were able to get out of the gutter, but I need you to return for a moment. I need you to explain why you planned to murder Charlotte. “
Duffy’s face was filled with fear. “They’ll kill me if I talk about it.” “That’s what they said,” says the narrator.
“All right, Duff.” You don’t have to explain why you planned to murder her.”However, perhaps you can tell me who ‘they’ are.”
“I’m not familiar with any names, but I’m aware of this.” They started a survey company. On Bramsteel, the office is tucked away in an industrial mall. The secretary was the only person I ever saw, and it was only once. “
“All right, Duff. That’ll suffice. Thanks. “
“You mess with them, and they’ll murder you quick,” Duff stated, with a dark expression in his eyes.
I believed him, or at the very least that they would try.
I drove to Bramsteel and looked through all of the industrial malls until I came across Bell & Cranst Surveyors. After that, I drove away to see Ferret.
Bell & Cranst only produced one piece. names that made me gag, names I never expected to see in a heist involving fraud and murder. Nonetheless, it all made sense. I couldn’t imagine Charlotte’s thoughts at the time.
I called Cryms and informed him of the situation. Find out who is linked to you. Someone from the planning department, someone who knew Jode Sheers, has contacted me. That’s your assailant, as well as the link to the corruption. And Wardeck, Pal, is on board. “
Back to Speersville I went.
As I learned a long time ago, nothing ever adds up until it does. You spend forever picking up little bits and pieces that never seem to connect, but then one day you’re digging deeper into the bag of lies and find a tiny wee bit of truth that connects everything, and in the end, you kick yourself because it was really a simple thing munged up with too many things put in place to confuse the issue. We had a good idea of what was going on and why practically right away. Charlotte was aware of this, but she had no idea who it was. She never got to sound the alarm when she found out. Perhaps she had no idea Wardeck, the man she had convinced herself to trust, was a creep.
There are regulations in our country that prohibit private investigators from carrying firearms, but there are always loopholes. I also own and operate a security firm. The company is a courier with a permit to convey valuables; in my instance, I have five diamond dealers as clients. As long as I’m transporting such diamonds, I get to carry a weapon, just like those guys in the armored cars.
I had my Glock 19 in a fast release holster tucked under my arm. Charlotte was assassinated. They wouldn’t think twice about gunning me down as well. It didn’t sit well with me, but my half-joke about a firefight akin to the OK corral seemed plausible. When it occurred to me that a gunfight in Speersville might go down in history, I was a little amused. ‘” I was curious if any middle-aged women would try to blast me into the mortuary, or if I could blast a middle-aged woman into the hereafter. I was hoping it was all a big joke, and that Cryms would arrive with the cavalry before anyone started firing.
In a small town whose existence is sustained by a diamond mine, almost everyone is aware of it, and everyone benefits. The majority of them, like good little Canadians, pay their taxes. The town reports the money, or at least some of it, but not enough to get people’s attention. This suggests that the majority of the money was not reported.
When you go into a small community with a dark secret and try to bring justice to a murdered girl who only wanted to know who killed her father, you may expect stiff opposition.
My presence at Speersville came as no surprise. I didn’t expect to just walk in. And I expected to be greeted by particular individuals, such as Constable Moore, Wardeck, the surveyors, Bell and Cranst, and Jerry Parkin, the head of the city planning department, who was also aware of the Jode Sheers diamond mine, which had kicked off the whole ordeal. I knew Charlotte’s mother was involved, but I didn’t expect her to be a part of the gang plotting to blow me up.
Another fact came out as I was standing beside my car, surrounded by the aforementioned folks. It doesn’t matter how it turned out. It turns out I was half-right about Wardeck. He was involved, but not to the point of murdering people. Mrs. Sheers turned out to be the person in question. She assassinated her spouse before fleeing to the large city and assassinating her own daughter. No one will ever know what led her to conduct such a heinous act.
I’m not sure who fired the first shot, but when I fired the second, Wardeck collapsed like a fallen tree. Another shot grazed my shoulder, and I retaliated with a shot. Parkin was knocked down. Then everyone started firing away, but just for a few moments before the cavalry arrived, lights flashing and sirens blaring.
Mrs. Sheers was the target of my last shot. I was aiming for a hip. I’m not sure how the rest of the fight went. I just recall a severe pain in the side of my head, followed by a period of silence.
My coffee was replenished by Duffy at Sammy’s Back Street Bistro and Café. He grabbed my empty dish of Shepard’s Pie with peas and carrots, dinner roll, and butter pecan pie for dessert from the midnight special.
“You have a dreadful appearance.” Duffy made a wry remark.
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“You would, too,” I replied, if you had been shot in the side of the head and now had a steel plate instead of a skull.
“Are they going to charge you with the Speersville shootout?” Duffy inquired, slyly.
“I suppose there will be a hearing, but I doubt it will go any farther.” I’ve got a lot of witnesses on my side, including a friendly police sergeant. “
Duffy touched the side of his head where I had punched him. “I guess my skull is thicker than yours.”
B-Town was sliced by a torrential downpour. Sergeant Cryms swept in through the open door of my office like a rush of wet wind. “Pal, start pouring that rotten guts you call liquor.” As he sank onto the lounge chair, he groaned.
“What gives, Sarg?” says the narrator.
“I’m bringing you a client.” Before it gets to my desk, the jobs have to be finished. “
“Can you tell me who your client is?”
“This is my uncle Stanley. I believe he murdered someone on purpose.
Credit By Donald Harry Roberts | Born 1951, M, from Gore Bay, Canada
All the information & photo credit goes to respective authorities. DM for removal pl.