I rotated the glass and stared at the whisky. All three fingers stared back. Chewed over what lie I would feed her.
Drinking booze in the morning was shady, even for me. Then again, I never had a case like this. The body was, well, not a body. A bloody stump was more like it. Chunks of brain, organs, skull, plastered to the brick walls.
The cops ID’d him with his driver’s license. They were, despite all signs pointing elsewhere, shaking down the usual suspects. Like those low-lifes were capable of this. They got nowhere and the wife hired me.
What I found I didn’t like.
She entered the bar like an ocean breeze on high heels. The Los Angeles sunshine tried to follow her, but the door closed. She had small but perky breasts trapped in a yellow dress.
But she was last person I wanted to see.
I finally took a sip. It burned.
“How’d you find me?”
She ran delicate fingers through blonde curls. “Your girl, Ellie, she told me I could find you here.”
“I see. I should fire her.”
For a few seconds, it was only us and the jukebox. Miles Davis, Birth of the Cool.
“Is that all you have to say?”
I lit a cigarette and tried to exhale smoke rings. Instead I exhaled smoke. “Yeah.”
“I paid you two weeks ago, in full. Do you have anything? Anything at all?”
“Did you check those leads I gave you? Are you certain it wasn’t that dreadful—”
I aimed a finger gun at her. Pop. “It wasn’t Slim Ricky. I can tell you that.”
“Suppose I don’t know.”
“What does that mean?”
“I could tell you what I think, where the evidence leads to, but you wouldn’t want to hear it.”
“You don’t think it’s . . . that’s only an urban myth. Fodder for the tabloids.” She scoffed. “I guess it all makes sense now. You’re just a delusional drunk. Very well, then. I’ll be expecting a refund.”
I downed the whisky and raised my glass. She left. Though I’d miss her lovely figure, her business I could do without.
The mellow tones of Miles spread across the bar and I was pleasantly warm.
Until the screaming.
I sprinted outside and was blinded by the sun for a moment. But the vicious roar from across the street confirmed all my suspicions.
I’d heard it was living in the sewers. But when I saw what was left of Jack Wilson’s body, I’d known otherwise.
She struggled, but its claws dug into her porcelain flesh. It lumbered down an alleyway carrying its prey.
I considered taking my .38 out of its holster and unloading on the beast.
But I’m a private dick, not a hero. I went back to the bar.
Chris Rhatigan’s fiction has appeared in A Twist of Noir, Mysterical-E, Yellow Mama, Thrillers, Killers ’n Chillers, Pulp Metal Magazine, and not from here, are you? If you dig short crime fiction, stop by his blog, Death by Killing.