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 Post subject: The Trojan - NPC Case
PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 6:44 pm 

Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:55 pm
Posts: 57
Note: As of now, the year is 1941.

The Trojan

Small, dark-blue blossoms, purpling with age, fell at intervals from the sweet-smelling jacarandas whose wood perfumed the garden, and onto the surface of the deep-green pond below, where they bobbed gently between the lily-pads. The air was heavy with the fragrance of the abundances of trees and plants; and as humid as it always is in these coastal heat-traps. A high, grey-stone wall ran around the three edges of the courtyard, partly covered in some places by tangled strands of passionflowers and Virginia creeper. Profusions of flowers mushroomed at every opportunity, like the bed of African violets spilling onto my shining shoes, wilting in the solid heat. The murky, bottle-green water remained without a ripple in the suffocating still air. On the other side of the pond, opposite the jacarandas, was a single weeping willow, whose leaves almost brushed the sprinkler-dampened grass. A man lay under the willow. His mouth lay open, and his eyes were fixed on the blazing sun overhead, but he didn’t seem to mind. A thin stream of blood trickled over his pulped forehead, and disappeared as it oozed down behind his ear. The red pigmentation of the lush grass around him suggested the stream had once been faster and thicker. There was another bloodied hole in the grey button-up covering his sizeable gut. His thinning brown hair was plastered stickily to his forehead, with blood crusting on the visible scalp. Rigor mortis had set in, the man had been lying here for something approaching four hours, and the putrid stench of decomposing tissue was beginning to become noticeable. I grimaced and turned away. Next to me, Lieutenant Arnie Jakes of Homicide chomped intensely on a cigar, dragging the strong smoke through his nostrils. I took out my handkerchief and patted my face, leaning against the tree trunk. ”Who heard the shots?” I said.
”Housekeeper,” Arnie grunted through a cloud of smoke. I folded up the handkerchief and replaced it in my pants’ pocket. ”Didn’t see anything?” I asked.
”Nope. No dice. She was round the other side of the house, trimming the tatarian honeysuckle. Or that’s what she said; I wouldn’t know one from a .38.” Jakes said in his short, clipped cop voice, then sighed, ”Boy, it’s hot ain’t it? Just about beats Californ-IA, don’t you think?”
I grinned at him. ”Try Pasadena on a Sunday afternoon in mid-July and you’ll think this is a cold snap.” He bared his yellowing teeth back at me, and knelt down next to the body. The hole in the belly had stopped bleeding. Jakes stood up and ran an arm over his glistening forehead. With the other arm, he beckoned to a pair of uniformed policemen lingering by the patrol car they had arrived in. It was parked on the terracotta paving at the side of the house. The building was a two-storey, white villa, with open shutters on all the glassless windows, revealing the cool, dark interior. The back wall, which was the only one visible to us, had three windows and a back door on the ground floor, two windows and a Juliet balcony with ebony railings on the upper floor. The uniform boys straightened up, and began to drift over. They had arrived only ten minutes ago, when the eight or so detectives, forensics men and photographers had cleared out, to stand by until the mortuary ambulance arrived. Lieutenant Jakes had gone over to meet them when they turned up, but they had not been near the body. The two cops, looking unhealthy in their thick uniforms, reached the glade of blossoms and halted before us. They were both coloured, both tall and both Sergeants. One had a close cropped Marine cut and a heavy build; the other, younger, had a thin covering of tight curls and was built like a rake. ”Sergeant Abram,” Jakes indicated the big boy, ”and Sergeant Van der Meer,” he swept his hand to his skinny companion, ”this is Nick Bansfield. He’s a private investigator out of Jersey City.” Sergeant Van der Meer held out a slim brown hand for me to shake, which I did. Sergeant Abram nodded calmly, and I wondered briefly why he was only a flatfoot when he was all of forty-odd years. The thought remained brief, however, as both men focussed on the corpse under the willow. Van der Meer puckered his brow, and chewed the inside of his cheek as his eyes carefully raked up and down the body. Abram shook his head for no outwardly obvious reason, and scratched his chin. ”Hey, Lieutenant?” began Van der Meer.
”Yes, Dutch?”
”What’s this fella doin’ anyway? I ain’t ever seen no private dick invited to a murder scene befo’.”
”The Captain allowed me to ask him up, with the idea of speaking with him. I don’t know why. And if you want that good word put in for you for promotion, I think you ought to lay off the questions.”
Sergeant Abram spoke for the first time, in a deep, cultured tone. ”If I might say, sir; perhaps this is to do with Detective Estevez.”
”That may well be, Sergeant Abram. However, the matter will be solely between Mr Bansfield and the Captain.”
He rolled the stub of his cigar between his fingers and dropped it on the grass, crushing it beneath the heel of his dull black boot. Then he slapped his hands softly on his thighs and turned from the body. ”Okay, let’s go,” he said, as a mortuary ambulance pulled up by the patrol car. A bead of sweat ran down my brow, and along the bridge of my nose, until I patted it away with my shirt cuff. I began to roll the shirt sleeves up, following the three policemen over the grass at an amble. Jakes paused for a minute to talk to the coroner’s boys, then we got into the patrol car. It was a nice feeling, getting in the back without handcuffs on.

Captain Charlie ‘Chick’ Armstrong of the Homicide Bureau, Lakewood Police Department breathed at me. Sat, slight double chin wobbling, and breathed heavily through his wide nostrils and slackening mouth. Maybe he was waiting for me to talk, to ask questions, but I didn’t satisfy him. Instead I glanced innocently out of the top-floor window of his office. His hands, puckering with age and excess weight, came down firmly on the walnut of his desk. ”Bansfield, I think you have some idea why you’re here.”
I felt like a schoolboy in the principal’s office. I shook my head. ”Sorry, Captain, I haven’t.”
He frowned heavily and shook his head. If I had jowls like that, I wouldn’t shake my head. ”That’s alright, I suppose. No reason why you should. Well, what did Lieutenant Jakes tell you?”
”That the man’s name was Lloyd Anderson, and he worked for a bank in Jersey. He had a summerhouse out here on the coast. He was shot dead earlier in his garden, once in the stomach and once in the head. The back door of the garden had been left part open. It shows no signs of being forced or picked and the housekeeper says it had been locked.”
”That’s correct, to my knowledge. Therefore, the assailant must have been in possession of a key.” And old Chick sat back, and smiled like a cop who has just cracked a case would smile.
I played with a cigarette in my pocket. ”Or that Mr Anderson knew the murderer, and let him in, and afterwards the killer removed Mr Anderson’s key so it would seem that he was in possession of a key.”
The smile faded from Chick’s face, and was replaced with an obstinate scowl. ”And how would you explain the murderer allowing Mr Anderson to flee halfway across the garden before shooting him?” he said softly, with a note of mockery. I bristled a little, and said tersely. ”There were two shots, with a pause between them. The stomach wound hit him in front, and the head wound went through the back. So, I would say that Mr Anderson opened the garden door, and our boy plugged him in the belly, in shock, say. Anderson is running for the house before he even realises. So he shoots him again, this time in the head, as he passes by his pond.”
I leaned back, and tried to look comfortable and just a little smug. Chick’s veined nose twitched, and he waved a hand awkwardly. ”Theorising aside, I suppose you would like to know why we dragged you down here.”
”If you wouldn’t mind, Captain.”
”This Lloyd had a few enemies. And a lot of those seem to be in the Greek community up in Jersey City. He was in charge of a threat to close a run-down pool hall owned by a Greek, and frequented by various…countrymen of his. We had been monitoring the club for a while, after Anderson received threats of violence. As soon as we found out that Anderson had been shot, we immediately checked the members of the club, and your name came up. Lieutenant Jakes recognised you as a private investigator and suggested we summon you.”
”With what intention, Captain?” I asked, getting a little riled.
”Well, as I said, we have been monitoring the club’s activities; in the form of Detective Louis Estevez. However, someone tipped the club’s owner off and we were forced to take Estevez off the case. We need someone with the inside track, Bansfield. And you being an ex-badge, and all…”
I got a crafty grin on my face, and said brightly, [b]”That’s it, eh? I thought you might want to question me. Do I have any friends who might be likely to gun a banker down in his garden?”
There was a quavering edge to my voice that I didn’t like. Chick obviously didn’t like it either. He changed tack and said soothingly, ”Be reasonable, Bansfield.”
I stood up quickly, and threw the ragged cigarette I’d been playing with on his desktop. ”Damn it, I’m tired of being reasonable!” I cried, ”I’m sick to death of being reasonable whenever it suits you. That was a nice idea, bringing me down here to see the hot headed, cold-bloodedness of my big city friends. But you forgot I’ve seen plenty of corpses in my time, Captain. One more won’t shock me right into your lap.”
”What the hell provoked that little outburst?” called Chick, as I paced towards the office door. I turned, one leg either side of the threshold and curled my lip, as if to spit, but didn’t. ”I’ve just remembered why I can’t stomach cops. They presume too damn much.”

I crossed the street to where my car had been left when I arrived from Jersey City with a bad taste in my mouth. Looking up at the police HQ, I could have sworn I saw the ruddy, broken-veined face of Chick Armstrong at one of the top-floor windows, regarding me calmly. It was as if he knew something I didn’t. If he did it wouldn’t last long, I was sure of that. I got the car onto the freeway, and drove break-neck for home, with a sour look on my face, which mellowed out as I got closer to the city. I hate for a long time, but not usually strongly. I don’t think I hated Captain Armstrong much by the time I got back to the office. It was about half two. I shook my coat off and hung it up, opened the window wide and sat down with my feet up on the desk and waited for business to walk my way. A couple of early-evening drinks later, I was feeling pretty amiable towards the Lakewood Police Department in general. The air was beginning to get cool and less smoggy, but there was a dangerous kind of feel around. There was a small radio in the bottom drawer, and I took it out and stood it on the desk. A little tuning later, I hit the news station and listened to the weather forecast, which was vague and ominous. There were possibilities of snow, tornadoes or storms. I then adjusted the tuning dial and listened to the Kings lose, with a few more drinks to accompany the defeat. It was pretty late by the time I went home and fell into bed with a highball and a fruit salad.

It was another muggy, oppressive day. The freshness of the shower I’d taken a mere hour ago seemed to have faded away, leaving only the uncomfortable clammy sensation of a sultry late morning. The sun was rising in the sky, unclouded, but with the same threatening uneasiness it had had the previous day. There were thin slides of sunlight dividing the room through the half closed blinds. I ran a hand through my hair, and loosened my tie a little. The room already smelt of stale smoke, so I opened up the window and felt the warmth on my back as I returned to my place behind the desk. The chunky glass bottle in the top drawer began calling me, so I took a quick drink to freshen me up. The liquor rolled down my dry throat, where the smog and grit of the city air lodged obstinately. When you live in the city, you never lose the sting of the filthy air buried right at the back of your throat. For a while, you rebel; you try to wash the grit away with water, with liquor, you cough all the damn time. Then you start to understand and you stop trying. Below, on the street, a car horn began to reverberate. A rough voice yelled, there was a smash, then a howling scream. I didn’t bother going over to the window to look. Outside, in the hall, the velvety sound of approaching footsteps caused me to sit up a little and listen intently. The outer door clicked softly and a female’s figure became silhouetted against the frosted glass door panel that looked out into the waiting room. The shape passed out of the window’s scope and then there came the soft squeak of one of the old chairs. I lifted my feet down onto the floor and replaced the whisky bottle in the drawer. In the waiting room, the woman coughed softly, three times. I squared my heavy shoulders and tried to get a professional smile up, resulting in a weary lop-sided grin. ”Come in!”
She came in alright. Every lovely inch of her. And yet…I almost sighed as I finally got round to looking at her face: she was as Greek as Jason and the damn Argonauts. Boy, this was trouble. She must have been about 5”8, and maybe 135 pounds, with the sort of figure that would make an hourglass keel over with jealousy. Like I said, she was a Greek, no doubt. Strong features, heavy make-up, dark hair curved nicely round her face, brushing her shoulders like the willow had dusted the lawn in Lloyd Anderson’s garden. She had great teeth, I couldn’t help but notice for some reason. My throat got a little dry all over again.
”Take a seat,” I croaked. She smiled with those teeth and took a few elegant, strong steps over to one of the client’s chairs. She wore a black pencil skirt and a white peasant blouse, both tight without being tasteless, and heeled sandals. I guessed her to be about thirty two years old; the make-up made it hard to tell distinctly, but I suppose that’s the idea. She sat stiffly, her small black purse perched on her knees, and fumbled for a cigarette. I rolled one over the desk to her, and she smiled at me. Something in my throat seemed to drop and hit my stomach and I winced at my own foolishness. She lit up, and spoke gently but firmly. ”This is nice. I usually smoke Marlboros.” Marlboros were swell, and I told her so. She nodded and smiled again. ”It’s about my…” she began, and began coughing again, elegantly. ”You aren’t from the city,” I stated.
”No, we’ve only been here for two weeks. We used to live just outside San Francisco…”
”That is, me and my husband.”

Damn. Damn. Damn. I let my shoulders relax a little now. Didn’t seem worth it. ”Okay, go on.”
”My husband’s name is Chris, and his brother runs a pool hall here, and we came out to help him for a while. He’s been in some financial trouble They sent me here to ask you for help, because you’re a member and…and a friend, I daresay…” she hesitated there.
”Then you’ve heard about the police keeping a record on my brother-in-law…”
”Andy Paskauskas.” I said flatly, and she inclined her head.
”Yes, him. Over some ridiculous accusations that he threatened a banker who wanted to close him down.”
”And now he’s dead.”
A hand moved suddenly, took a firmer grasp on the purse’s strap. ”How did you know?”
”They had me up there yesterday on the very grounds you mentioned. ‘Member and potential friend.’”
”Well, the strain on Andy and my husband is very great indeed. We, I especially, think it would be best if we could somehow prove Andy innocent by proving another guilty. You understand?”
”It’s crazy, but it might just work,” I replied dryly. Her foot tapped softly on the bottom of the desk, and she said, slightly irate: ”Well, could you help?”
”First, I’d need reasons to support Andy’s innocence. I can’t do it otherwise.”
”Reasons! You’re supposed to know him, what reasons could you want? He would never raise a hand to anyone. I must say I think you are very rude.”
I sat silently and looked at her until she looked down at the floor. ”Andy was away all day yesterday. He was in New York with some friends.”
”Seems strange that a guy with so many troubles took a day off to have a little break.”
”We suggested it. And, as a matter of fact, he was going on business.”
”If it fits, why not have him tell the trouble boys himself?”
She blushed under her blusher. ”He would rather keep their names out of the affair.”
”These friends were going to lend him money?” and I reached into the desk drawer for my pipe, my hand drifting over the whisky bottle.
I shifted in my chair, and asked, ”Did he get it?”
”Yes, he did. But he seems uneasy, and won’t discuss it.”
”Really?” and I leaned back a little and raised an eyebrow, clamped the pipe between my teeth. ”Oh, don’t throw me a judgemental look, Mr Bansfield. He’s not guilty at all, just worried by something.”
”I’ll take your word for it – for now. Now, these friends, what were their names? I need to see if the story checks out.”
She looked curiously at the pipe for a moment, before realising what I had said. ”I only know one of them. Dario Ferranti; a bookmaker in Harlem. Is that enough to go on? What will it cost me?” she asked, getting up.
I got to my feet and crossed the room to hold the door open for her. ”I should think so. Perhaps you could write your telephone number down, just in case. Twenty-five bucks per day plus expenses.”
”Alright,” she bent down and scribbled on the notepad I had been jotting things down on, ”thank you.”
As she passed me at the door, I took her by the arm and pulled her gently a step towards me. ”On the QT, no-one sent you, right? You took it into your own head to hire a detective. Bored of all this secrecy and neglect, want to know what’s going on?”
She removed her arm as gently as I had taken it and I let her. She turned her head calmly and made to sail out across the waiting room. I leaned against the doorframe and waited till she was at the outer door before speaking again. ”If I were you, Mrs Paskauskas, I shouldn’t mention this to your husband or Andy. They might get a little edgy, despite their overwhelming air of innocence and good-nature. But you might tell Andy that next time he sees a car with an open window and a fellow hanging out of it, he better hit the sidewalk, because my dulled instincts tell me he won’t be a very popular boy for using his under-table pals as an alibi. Which he will have to, when the time comes. Very soon. Good morning, Mrs Paskauskas.” She froze in the doorway until I was done, then waltzed on out without a backward glance. I was feeling pretty caustic, and another drink didn’t help much. It had been a month since I last chalked a cue in Andy’s pool joint. I remembered perfectly: I had beaten Greg Papadopoulos with a sweet 8-ball pot off the rest. He had laughed and slunk off back to his little hardware store on Newton Avenue. Since then I had been pretty busy, and too poor to waste cash in the place when I wasn’t busy. I paid a few bills that had been waiting since I had come out of hospital three weeks ago. I was still sore in a few places, and unfortunately my wallet was one of them. Then I put a call through to a New York directory and looked up Dario Ferranti, the bookmaker. He had a place right on the border of Spanish and Central Harlem; Lucky Strikes, it was called, like the cigarettes.

I was getting sick of making trips to New York. As I parked up on the street near to Ferranti’s place I looked around me with dull eyes. This was a coloured neighbourhood, as it had been since the turn of the century, and there was not a white face in sight, although there were plenty of Hispanics. Over to my left, in Spanish Harlem, the high-rise tenements rose high and gawkily ugly against the clear blue sky. The houses and apartments in this particular segment were not so bad, they were of the tall, narrow type, with stairs up to the front door. Real New York arrangements. I suddenly got a little light-headed, and went into a kind of soft-shoe as I moved along the sidewalk towards the bookmakers. “Start spreading the news; I’m leaving today. I want to be a part of it; New York, New York!” A little coloured kid, sat in the threshold at the top of a flight of stairs and watched me. I noticed him, and grinned sheepishly. He hugged his bony knees and rocked back and forth, with the hint of a smile playing across his smooth dark face. I don’t want to be a part of it, truly. I guess New York is like LA, but without the interesting people and the sunshine and the spark and the occasional interesting event. Maybe I’m being too harsh on the place. Woody Allen seems to like it. Either way, I was coming up to Lucky Strikes now. It had a tinted glass front, I guess so that the gambler’s wives couldn’t see them inside. A Puerto Rican gent of fifty-ish years with a broad smile on his creased face, stuffing a fistful of twenties into his overcoat stepped out onto the sidewalk. I tapped him as he walked by, and pointed to the group of Negro youths opposite us, next to a bus stop, watching him closely while feigning indifference. “Tiene usted cuidado. Esos tipos por allá. Al lado de la parada de autobús.” I muttered. “Gracias, paisano. Los jóvenes Negros, ‘eh? Todos delincuentes.” he replied, throwing the teenagers a wrathful glance and turning in the opposite direction. I stepped inside the bookies and took a look around. There was a bench running around two walls, where gamblers sat at stools, scribbling on yellow slips or watching one of the three television sets fixed on the wall opposite. The other wall was made up of four grilles, where bets were being placed by the usual assortment of middle-aged men in rough clothes and close faces. I lingered near the door until one of the queues shortened, when I was able to get in line until I reached one of the grilles, behind which a brassy-looking dame in a purple twinset like I hadn’t seen since ’39 sat and ticked off a form. ”Yes?” she said impatiently.
”I’d like to speak with Mr Ferranti.”
She looked at me properly then, and said: ”If you have a dispute over a wager then I’m afraid…”
”It’s a personal matter.”
”He isn’t here. If it’s an urgent matter, you might try Fischer and Weissmuller in Queens.” And she made to carry on ignoring me.
”What’s Fischer and Weissmuller?” I persisted.
”An accountancy. Mr Ferranti is visiting his accountant, Mr Tauber.”
”Thank you.” And I walked on out, with her frowning at my back. A chorus of groans sounded from the stools, as Danny Boy went out at the third, hurling his jockey halfway across the course.

I looked Fischer and Weissmuller up in the telephone book and found their offices on the outskirts of Queens. I entered the revolving glass doors and padded across the grey carpet to the front desk. The walls were of dark wood, and wall lights studded them, all along the thin corridor next to the reception. A mousy little guy who looked like he got wound up every morning and ticked away until clocking-off time was talking on a telephone behind the desk. He smiled at me wanly, and gestured to the row of grey-backed chairs near the desk. I took a seat and lit a cigarette. He frowned, but didn’t say anything. Eventually, he put the receiver down, and folded his hands on the desktop, which was pretty funny seeing as it was a high desk and he wasn’t a high guy. ”Fischer and Weissmuller, how can I help?”
I got up and lay my card down. He elevated himself into being in a position to read it, then looked up at me. ”I’d like to see Mr Ferranti. He’s with Mr Tauber at the moment, but I can wait.”
”He should be out in twenty minutes. If you’d like to take a seat…”
I took my seat again and kept in for nearly half an hour. I thought about Mrs Paskauskas and her charming husband and brother-in-law. I had only seen Andy Paskauskas a few times during my membership to his pool hall. He was mostly behind the scenes. He left most of the visible work to his assistant manager, Jacques Georgiou. Then I started thinking about basketball. There wasn’t much else to think about this early on in the case. The Kings were coming up against the Lakers at the end of the week. It would be a tough match, but I figured if they played the right formation it would work out fine. I was trying to discern exactly what this formation could be when the realisation that in just over a month I would be thirty-five, and that thirty-five can easily be rounded up to forty hit me. Boy, that was old. I wondered where I would be in five years; if I would still be slumming it, whether I would even be alive. I could be in jail. Who knows, perhaps I would marry into money and have a home in Beverly Hills and be some spoilt little broad’s lapdog. I guessed not. A muffled voice sounded out somewhere down the corridor as an elevator door beeped open. Then a tall, lean guy with a stubbly goatee, thirty eight or so, but with a comfortable look of wealth came into view. He wore a fitted black morning jacket, and was accompanied by a grey-haired Jew in a workaday suit and black yarmulke. The Jew left off at the top of the hall, and Ferranti continued towards the door. I got up and followed him to the bottom of the front steps, where he stopped to draw a pair of rectangular black-rimmed glasses from his breast pocket and put them on. I tapped him on the shoulder, and he turned round with a pleasant smile which I had not seen for a long while in your average hood. ”Yes?”
”I’d like to ask you a few questions.”
His polite smile widened into a grin, and he raised his hands. ”Okay, copper. If that’s the game, you got me.”
”I’m not a badge, Mr Ferranti. I’m private.”
”What if I don’t want to answer your questions?”
”You don’t have to. Like I said, I’m no badge. But it might help you.”
He had that grin all over his admittedly handsome face now. ”Oh yeah, copper? How would it help me?”
”Well, a banker was shot dead down in Jersey and you are Mr Andy Paskauskas’ alibi.”
His smoky eyes stretched open, and he frowned at his gold watch, the smile losing its glow. ”What do you want to know?”
”Could you tell me if Mr Paskauskas was with you, amongst others, yesterday, and at what time?”
”He was here, sure. From ten till three.”
”What’s your relationship with Andy?”
He shrugged. Those supple little shoulders rolled back, and he stretched his lips over his neat pearly teeth in a cocky smirk, like crooks always fling at cops trying to interrogate them in movies. ”I ain’t got none, brother. I got some drink with Chris, perhaps. Like, that he used to run errands for me way back when.”
”That on the square?”
”No jokes, straight up. Used to brace the welshers, shake ‘em down. He was a right guy; never used to lay it on thick, but always turned up the dough. Thought about taking the breeze yet, copper?”
”Who else was there yesterday?” I went on, despite his rather obvious wish to see me disappear under the carpet.
”Darryl Fitzhenry. Runs a hot car joint up outside the Bronx. But I’d go careful with him, he’s rough.”
”I’ll bear that in mind,” I said, and threw the stub of my cigarette down. ”You were discussing money. Or were you? What else might it be? Décor? Bakery? No, wait…world cinema?”
Mr Ferranti was not amused. It was a narrow time gap between counting his money and heading off to make more. ”Look, snoop, time to fly. I’ve been too generous with you. Give ‘em an inch and they’ll take a mile,” he mused, mostly to himself. He raised a palm for a cab and one pulled up. ”See you around, copper,” he said in a friendly tone, climbing in. He turned his face forward and set it solidly stern, punching a number into his phone. I furrowed my brow, then remembered I was getting old, so I stopped in case it put wrinkles in.

I decided to go and get some lunch. In Central Park, a street vendor sold hamburgers which were famed for being the most nearly edible in the Tri-state area, so I took a walk along East 96th until I found him, and sat down in the leafy calm to eat and watch the bikers pass. One almost-edible hamburger later and I walked back along East 96th to retrieve my car and drive across into the South Bronx. Not much had changed since the 70s, where anarchy and fire had marked it out. Only now, the buildings were burnt-out shells, and the anarchists did not march the streets, but the frequent pop of an automatic weapon assured me that they were round there somewhere. Instead, I cruised up a bare hill, where deserted shacks and a few trailers comprised the population. A tall, pretty woman in shorts and a blouse exited one of these trailers. When I pulled up beside her, she looked down at me suspiciously. ”Hey. Could you direct me to a garage owned by Darryl Fitzhenry?”
”I can. S’just over this hill, ‘bout halfway down.”
I drove off and over the crest of the hill. It was still pretty quiet and relaxed everywhere. The muffled sound of hip-hop music drifted out of one trailer, and in the still air the music followed me until I reached the scorched yard just off the road, where a large iron shack with a few suspect cars parked on the dusty earth comprised an auto garage. The heavy sunlight warped the sign next to the edifice which gave its owner as Darryl J. Fitzhenry. I parked next to the hot rods and stepped out onto the forecourt. A sizeable crash suddenly resounded in the tin can of a building, and a yell followed it. Groans and whimpers began coming from inside. It sounded like a man being throttled. My hand delved into my pocket and brought out my pistol as I busted through the metal door in the front. The garage itself was a large space, lower in the middle, with a ledge around the walls, from which hung tools and car parts. A crane hung from the centre of the roof, its gleaming hooks open when they should have been shut holding the small car which had crashed to the floor. More worryingly, under it lay a young-ish Negro in green overalls, who was pinned with it lying across his stomach. Perspiration ran in veritable streams down his forehead, and his chest rose and fell sharply, he hissed softly between teeth which were already speckled with blood. His thin nostrils flared under the agonizing pressure. Blood was already appearing on his eyeballs, which were milky and unfocussed. His cries were very faint, and most of the whimpers I had heard came from another Negro, even younger, about twenty-seven, who stood next to the crane’s control panel, on the ledge, and trembled from head to foot. He wasn’t very tall, but was tight-muscled and soft-eyed, with jerky, spindly legs. He reminded me of a young deer. One whose mother had just been shot by hunters. ”Was…was an accident, officer…” the kid snivelled, his mouth wobbling without control. I threw my gun down and flung myself down next to the car. My hands gripped the space above the hubcap, where it was easier to lift, and I shifted my feet a little and strained upwards with all my might. The tendons in my arms stretched immediately, and my strength seemed to flow out of my body and into the vehicle, like a surge of electricity. I angled my shoulder towards the car and redoubled my efforts. Behind me, the kid’s voice said with a quaver in it, ”He…he already dead.” I didn’t stop. The tyres were about half a foot off the ground. With an unexpected rush of strength, I heaved with every ounce of force left in me, and raised the car to an elevation where I could shuffle on legs which felt like they were snapping until the car had pivoted. As soon as I was sure that the vehicle wouldn’t fall onto the body, I let it down, then fell back myself, and lay on the ground with my knees pulled up and feeling like 169 pounds of petroleum jelly on a stove. A couple of tight breaths made me feel okay to get up, and I did. ”That Darryl Fitzhenry?” I gestured to the corpse, bent where he had writhed desperately in the throes of internal compression. The kid nodded. ”There’s a phone booth on the street out back,” he almost whispered, and turned to the back door, which was open. I followed him out onto the very quiet, very empty street outside. On the cracked and weed-ridden sidewalk stood a phone booth. The road turned a corner about thirty yards up from the garage, and I found myself looking meditatively at this corner as the kid stepped into the booth and dialled 911. ”There’s a dead man down here…at Fitzhenry’s garage in the South Bronx,” he mumbled, wiping the ridge of his nose nervously, ”…it was an accident. I let a car drop on him…I…jus’, I just…”
Fatigue, heat and a little shock made me faze out of what he was saying, and strain my ears as the screech of fast tyres on asphalt reached me. Suddenly, a black Rover span round the corner on two wheels and raced towards us. ”Hit the deck!” I yelled, dropping to the ground almost on instinct. The poor dumb kid didn’t have any instincts. He just turned and stared, as the car pulled level, and fired four bullets into him. The heat of them brushed me, rippled through my hair. Two ripped into his stomach, one his neck, and the other made a mess through his left eye. He screamed and fell forward through the shattered front of the booth, his legs bouncing up on impact. I had my face and body pressed hard to the warm slabs, and stayed there until the car had roared off, flinging up dirt from the gritty road. I couldn’t look at his face as I pulled myself up onto my knees. The slews of white pulp which decorated the sidewalk and shards of bone spoke all too clearly. Hating myself and my job, I grabbed his torn jacket and ran a hand over his pockets as quickly as I could. One bulged under my shaky hand, and I whipped a wallet out of it. I flicked it open. It was full of cash; the sort of cash a greasy kid at a garage doesn’t have. I snapped it shut and stood up, looking at it. A dog had begun barking incessantly; it was only a matter of time until someone dared to investigate. I dropped the wallet onto the kid’s busted chest, where it slid down into the inner, snug next to his ribs. ”You sold out, kid,” I muttered, then stepped into the phone booth and picked up the receiver, which had a bullet-hole through it. I put an anonymous call through to the cops and then scooted back to my car. On my way down the hill, I passed two prowl cars on their way up. Another coloured kid, probably with a few criminal friends, mown down in a drive-by. Big deal to them. It would get pinned on the next local gang-banger they hauled in, then filed away under the heading ‘piece of cake’.

So someone had paid the kid to crush Fitzhenry to death, then had him killed, presumably to stop him crumbling. The kid looked the type who would crumble like a piece of chalk under an angry teacher’s foot. If my hunch was correct, then I had a feeling who was behind this. Dario Ferranti had underestimated me if he thought that leading me to Darryl to see the damage would frighten me off the case. I chewed the inside of my mouth and thought what Darryl could know that became so dangerous when Lloyd Anderson got dead. There was only one other person who was a danger to Mr Ferranti, to my knowledge, and that was Andy Paskauskas. I stopped at a phone booth and called up Homicide. ”Lieutenant West, please.” I waited patiently, and soon enough Tim West was on the line. ”Nick? Oh, boy, you are not a popular bunny with one Captain Armstrong in Lakewood,” he chuckled.
”Ah, come off it, Tim. The game’s no fun if the mule doesn’t buck every now and again, even if it means things get thrown off. You hauled in Andy Paskauskas yet?”
”Nah, he’s holed up somewhere. The brother isn’t helping.”
I considered this, ”Yeah? Got a problem with the coppers?”
Tim’s tone was one of surprise, ”I guess that might be it. He’s got a couple of juvenile convictions, but nothing else. He just isn’t a very co-operative guy. Or articulate. Or polite. But the wife…”
I laughed, though something bitter seemed to swell in my gut. ”That so?” I knew it was, ”Well, I thought I’d see how you were doing without my help. So long, Tim.”
”See you around, Nick-boy. And if you’re ever in Lakewood, keep your nose clean.”

I drove briskly back into Jersey with a shifty, uncomfortable feeling around my throat and my brains refusing to function. My weary arms slipped on the steering wheel more times than was comforting. It was half-past three when I parked on the street, outside Andy Paskauskas’ pool joint, and descended the steps to the below-ground entrance. At the end of a stubby corridor, a glass jar filled with semi-transparent marbles held a wooden door partly open. I pushed it and went in. The hall was in truth more of a large-ish room. There were three pool tables; eight tables, each with three chairs, and a bar next to the door. There were four old men were gathered round one of the battered tables, drinking Greek black coffee, the kind with the thick dregs. Two younger men, both dark and stony faced were silently playing at one of the pool tables. The ball skipped over the frayed and bumpy baize top, wobbling towards the pocket. The lighting was dim, the walls were bare concrete and the floor was pine planking. Snooker table lights hung down over the playing area, but this light barely illuminated the hunched figures at the table, talking in Greek, in that friendly argumentative manner which men who have been friends for sixty years always use. Maybe if they still lived in Greece they wouldn’t be able to stand each other, but the longing for nostalgic reassurance kept them stuck together like glue. Jacques Georgiou was drying a smeared glass with a dubious rag behind the bar. A kettle, nearly empty, mostly black dregs, stood next to the liquor bottles, still steaming from making the latest round for the aged countrymen. ”’Ey, Nick.” Jacques said softly to me, with his slight accent. He was a soft-spoken type, who had worked in the place since before I had moved to the city and was a manager, yet looked about eighteen. His dark brown hair was swept over his forehead, nearly touching his thick eyelashes and half-covering his small ears. ”Hey, Jacques. Is Mrs Paskauskas in?”
”Yes, in the back,” he jerked his thumb at the shadowed door at the other end of the little bar. ”Is Mr Paskauskas in?” I asked, running a hand along the bar-top. A wicked little grin spread across his swarthy face. ”No, he ain’t. You wanna go through, boss?” he leered, raising his expressive little eyebrows.
I made a wry face. ”Aw, hell, Jacques. You got a one-track mind.”
”Yeah, but it’s a hell of a fun track.”
”No, I don’t want to go through. Ask her to come through here.” He shrugged, and opened the door an inch or so. ”’Ey, Mrs Paskauskas! Nick’s here! He just wanna talk with you!” then, under his breath, ”he must be crazy!”
He closed the door again and leaned back against the bar. ”She coming.”
”Thanks. Throw me a quick Scotch, will you?”
He nodded, and poured me a measure. I put a five dollar bill on the counter and he got my change. I threw the drink down my neck, and was just lowering the glass from my mouth when she appeared in the doorway. She was wearing a different shirt, a pale blue one, and she had re-applied her make-up to good effect. I consciously tried not to stare, but it was too easy to carry on. I smiled weakly. Without hesitation, she walked towards me as I slowly put the empty glass back on the counter. She held out her hand as though I were going to kiss it. ”I’m glad you’re here. We parted on bad terms.”
”I’m sorry. I was in a foul mood, but that was no excuse.”
She smiled back, almost shyly. ”I was too sharp with you. Forgive me.”
I took her hand in mine and pressed it lightly. ”Of course,” at that moment, the spell broke abruptly, and I snapped back to reality, ”Listen, I need to talk to you. Would you mind coming with me somewhere else? Mr Paskauskas isn’t here?”
”No, he won’t be for a while. I’ll come, of course.” And she reached an arm back through the door and pulled a blue, short fur coat and the black purse from a hook on the inside. Draping the coat round her shoulders and pushing the bag strap over her slim, tawny arm, she stepped towards the exiting door, then stopped and looked at me questioningly. ”Let’s go,” I said. We walked up the steps onto the bustle of the street, and I opened the passenger door of my car. ”You don’t mind, Mrs Paskauskas?”
”Naturally not,” and she laughed as she got in and I circled to the driver side. As I sat down beside her and fumbled in my pocket for keys, she laughed again. ”You can call me Kara, you know. You’re the only man I know who calls everyone Mr and Mrs.”
I fitted the key in the ignition awkwardly. ”The client always gets the kid glove treatment. But if you insist, you can call me Nick. You already do, I guess. Anyway, I need to know where Andy is holed up. It’s very important.”
She didn’t bother trying to fence me off, or bluff her way out of answering. ”An apartment in Hoboken that Chris owns. He’s been there since we first heard about Lloyd Anderson. I’ll direct you. Well, come on!”

She guided me to a rundown quarter of Hoboken, where you could nearly see New York across the river, and asked only a few questions about my day’s digging, which I answered as fully as I felt wise. In a rickety apartment block, we ascended together to the third floor and traversed the threadbare carpet of the hall until we reached Room 302. She knocked on the door. ”Andy? Andy, its Kara. Open up!” We waited for a moment, before she looked edgily at me, then knocked harder. ”Open up, you idiot, if you’re in there! Nick Bansfield is here!”
I raised my eyebrow. Why would that motivate him? I giggled stupidly at the idea, and she threw me a withering glance. I jammed my eye to the keyhole and saw something I didn’t like in the drab slot of sitting room visible to me: a pool of blood literally covering the floor, at its deepest behind a flowery sofa. I couldn’t see what was behind the sofa, but I would have bet a million bucks that it wasn’t a cracked jam-jar. I stood up straight, stayed still for a moment, then rocked back on my feet and slammed into the door as hard as I could. The wood around the lock splintered, and the door swung forward an inch or two on its chain. I squeezed my hand through the gap and used it to unlatch the hook. My hand now holding the door tightly closed, I turned to Kara. ”Look, you might not want to see this. Go and call the cops. There’s a payphone downstairs.” She went silently and calmly, and I watched her until she got to the elevator, then eased the door open. As soon as I stepped in, I was paddling in blood. As I crossed the room, it began to seep through my shoes, and I was fighting the impulse to recoil, to run. I fixed on ignoring the squelch of liquid between my toes, and made my way towards the sofa. As I got closer, I could see an outstretched bare arm, then a blood-soaked bare shoulder, and little by little, Andy Paskauskas’ dead and naked body was revealed. His throat had been cut; a vertical tear stretching from the base of his chin to the hollow in the collar-bone. His legs and waist faced the floor, but his chest and head were turned to the side, where the grotesque mask of his twisted face was clear to me. Blood was literally everywhere; like a toddler’s paddling pool. The body was completely enveloped in the stuff, even his short dark hair had gained a reddish twinge. Although I had known the guy for some years, the body meant nothing to me. Not today, at least. Maybe I had had my fill of corpses for the moment. Andy was not a big guy, 5”7 and with a relative weight. He was very hairy, as a lot of Balkan men are, and black fur coated his arms and chest, droplets of red hanging from it. He had been forty-two years old, but corpses have no age. Most of the floor was reddened, but a clear and distinct trail ran to an ajar door on the left of the room. I turned from the body and followed the trail, and gave the door a tentative push. It was a small bathroom, tiled in white porcelain, with plain white installations. The mirror was steamed up, and an open canister of shaving foam had spilt its contents on the floor. The yellow shower curtain had been pulled half off its hooks, revealing bloody handprints printed all over the shower cubicle. A quick look around the room found more bloody handprints on the white tiles. I stepped inside the bathroom and revolved round slowly. A black wool dressing gown was hanging from a light wood hook on the back of the door. I walked over to the shower cubicle and looked down into the bath. Two bottles, one of purple shampoo and one of dark orange gel, had been knocked down into the tub, where there contents had created a sticky, viscous mixture. A diluted pool of watery blood had settled round it. More crusted on the bath’s sides, and on the tiled floor. The front door of the apartment creaked, and I quickly walked back through into the lounge. Kara stood in the doorway, quite still, eyes hard and bright, fixed on my little murder scene. ”Get out! Get out, now!” I almost yelled, striding across and exiting, closing the door firmly behind me. She stayed standing, staring now only at the closed door but with the same expression. I paced distractedly up and down the hall puffing like a chimney on my pipe, which I very rarely bother lighting. I only have it to stop me taking a cigarette. I continued to do this until I heard the sirens below. Kara was now leaning against the wall, smoking a Marlboro; she seemed pretty calm. There was a prolonged whirr, then a click of sliding doors from the elevator. Four men stepped out, two in dark blue police uniforms, the others in smart civilian clothes. One I recognised, in a rather limp brown suit and wearing an expression like a wrung-out dishcloth. ”’Lo, Tim.” I said with cheerful indifference.
”Bansfield.” He was all curt professionalism now. ”You’ve been having a lot of the wrong sort of luck recently.”
The lieutenant at his side, a weathered looking number in grey, chuckled roughly. ”Wrong sort? If I had his luck finding corpses I’d be a captain by now!” I gave a sour smile, and watched Tim West’s face closely. It was completely cold and empty; he was getting ready to do something he didn’t want to do, and didn’t want me to know he didn’t like doing. ”This him?” asked one of the uniformed boys, a Chinese in his late twenties, nodding at me without meeting my eyes. Tim inclined his head silently. The Chinese and the other man in a uniform, a stony-faced old-hand nearing fifty, approached me with trained caution, like a hunter approaching a lion. I took a long step backwards, and clenched my fists. Kara dropped the cigarette butt on the floor and stamped it out, staring uncomprehendingly at the scene unfolding. The older cop pulled a pair of bracelets from his hip, and held them tightly at his side, while the Chinaman took a step close to me, and said in a soft but very serious voice: ”Gonna come quiet?”
”Most likely; if you tell me what I’m being arrested for.” I said evenly, raising my balled hands a little. ”Go on, and make it quick; he might be a flyweight, but his fists are no joke.” That was Tim West, flashing me the smallest of friendly smiles. ”Nikos Bansfield, I am arresting you for the murder of Anton Tillett…” the rest of the little speech went over my head. I was feeling quite weak and feverish, and the cops were the last people to feel weak and feverish with. ”Come along, sonny,” said the other lieutenant, and looking down, I saw the cuffs had been put on my wrists. I felt a soft hand rest on my arm, not a cop’s hand. ”Alright, beau, let’s split,” said the Lieutenant, and we all trouped silently down the hall. As we exited the elevator, we passed a whole circus of Homicide dicks and lab monkeys on their way up. They wisecracked and bantered as they went along. What the hell was another body to them? It was their natural produce, like bread to a baker or a nice clean suit to a tailor.


Private Detective for Hire - PM for details


Personal Weapons On Hand:
Beretta 92
One small Ford (blue)
Other Things

Last edited by Nick Bansfield on Wed Apr 05, 2006 12:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 6:48 pm 

Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:55 pm
Posts: 57
The light hanging by the ceiling hurt my head, as it blared above the table like a burning sun. I sat on one side and the Lieutenant sat on the other, both of us in hard backed chairs. A unformed copper stood straight and stiff by the reinforced door, and Tim West leaned against the rear wall of the room and tried hard to look as if he was deaf and blind. My aching eyes looked down at the tabletop. My hands were still cuffed, and the jewellery was starting to bite my wrists. I lowered both hands into my pocket and shook out a cigarette, then placed it on the table, between my hands. I rolled the cigarette between my palms. ”Quit it,” the Lieutenant snapped. ”I’ve tried, Lieutenant, but I can’t get by without my fix.” I grinned up at him.
”Oh, a comedian,” he exclaimed sarcastically. It was that very worn, half-hearted sarcasm that old cops always use because they don’t know any other way. ”Comedian? Who is this shlub?” I asked no-one in particular. ”This is Lieutenant Pedersen,” answered Tim, his voice getting tough. I laboriously put my cigarette back in my coat pocket and rested my fettered wrists on my lap. ”Let’s try again,” snarled Pedersen, ”where were you when Anton Tillett was killed?”
”Nix, Lieutenant. Not a peep till I shake the cuffs.”
”Uncuff him, Sergeant Bates.”
The uniformed sergeant came across and let me loose. I twisted and crackled my joints. ”Now, let’s hear it,” said my pal Pedersen, folding his dark, hairy hands over each other. ”What witnesses have you turned up?” I replied.
”Nick…” said Tim in the sort of tone you would use to admonish an engaging but ill-behaved child. ”An elderly man reported hearing four shots. He went to his window and saw a man matching your description kneeling by the body. You then made a telephone call reporting the killing before returning to your car.” Pedersen stated.
I rubbed my earlobe and thought it through. ”This old fellow – was he quite deaf?” The two Lieutenants looked at each other, but their faces revealed nothing. I went on, ”Deaf enough not to hear a car drive by just before the shots, then screech away again afterwards? I’m guessing this is the only witness you’ve turned up so far.”
”Hah, what do you think of that?” muttered Tim, shaking his head in amusement. Pedersen twisted in his chair to face him. ”Thank you, Lieutenant West, this is my interrogation.”
”And a fine job you’re doing too,” Tim smiled sweetly.
”I’m sorry, Lieutenant Pedersen, but I don’t like your version at all. When a nice, sensible account comes in, then we’ll talk.” And I folded my arms and got quiet. After a minute of cursing and growling, the two left the room, leaving me with the uniformed Sergeant. They were gone for fourteen minutes; I counted them on my watch when I wasn’t watching the apple green walls and wondering what it felt like to be paint. Then, Pedersen came blustering back in, followed by a calm and collected Tim. Pedersen resumed his seat and said sharply: ”Ok, Bansfield, we’re letting the murder line drop, but don’t imagine you’re off the hook. We want a full account of your activities today.”
All I wanted was to go home. I told them everything, while Tim recorded it on one of their little tape players. I left out a few things, a few details about Ferranti, and the name of my client. They had already spoken to Kara, for about ten minutes. I had seen them and heard their voices in the corridor outside. When I had exhausted myself with details, after some half hour of explanation and answering the same questions, they let me shut up for a bit. ”Haul in this Chris Paskauskas,” ordered West, and the sergeant slipped out. ”Where’s Mrs Paskauskas?” I asked. ”Out in the waiting room. Let’s hear about Ferranti again…”
And so it went on, until fifteen minutes later, when the sergeant returned. ”We got Paskauskas at the front desk, waiting. He’s put out, Lieutenant. Real put out. Him and the missus, they’re having a domestic.”
”Ah, hell. Let’s take this cat out and trade him,” said Lieutenant Pedersen, getting up and nodding to me. They accompanied me down a hall, and through a wire-windowed door into the waiting room. Several comatose-looking junkies and sleeping drunks lined the walls, some sat on the padded benches, others just curled on the floor, in the dreamy limbo between arrest and jail. A half-asleep desk sergeant was gesturing towards the left of the room. Kara was on her feet, eyes blazing, feet firmly planted. Opposite her, a medium-built type in sweat-stained clothing, a thick mop of jet-black hair tumbling over his head. He had strong, not too ugly features, thick lips and very deep, dull eyes. His nose looked as though it had been broken, and I would have been happy to break it again for him. They argued, half in Greek, half in English. ”Why? You…you dumb…What were you thinking? You want to ruin me, you idiotic ilithia!” he spat out, shrugging and gesticulating. Kara stayed perfectly still as she retorted, ”Get away from me, glitsis!”
As to Diavalo, Kariola! he yelled. Two sergeants rushed in at this point, and grabbed him. He put up no resistance at all, and let them lead him down the corridor I had just come through. He eyeballed me, but I don’t think he knew who I was, at least not for sure. I eyeballed back at any rate. When he was out of the way, I turned to look at Kara. The strength and fire seemed to be leaving her, as she leaned against the wall, and massaged her forehead with an unsteady hand. I walked over, and took her elbow. She looked up at me and half-smiled. ”Got someplace to go?” I asked quietly. She shook her head. ”We’ve only been here two weeks. I don’t know anyone. But if you know a decent hotel…”
”You can stay at mine; that is, if you don’t object.” I quickly corrected myself. ”No objections. But you might walk with me to the pool hall first, so I can pick up some things,” she said, looking more normal now. We left the station and began walking the dark street towards the pool hall; which was only two blocks away. ”Were they very tough with you? They kept you in there for a long time.”
”Not very.”
”They weren’t at all tough with me. Perhaps that’s because I feigned ignorance about it all.”
”Perhaps.” And we continued this way until we arrived. I stayed on the street and smoked a cigarette while she descended, returning five minutes later with a small black travelling bag. We got into my car and I started up the engine. In the silence of the street, it seemed unnaturally loud. I scowled at the road and kept silent for mot of the journey. Then, as we got closer to my building, she said suddenly, ”I think you got the wrong impression of Chris. Don’t think I’m being stupid and naïve by that; I know he can be a brute. But you must have taken him for a violent person, which he isn’t. You don’t like him, do you?”
”I don’t like men who call their wives stupid whores.”
”Oh, yes, I didn’t think that you’d understood that. But you’re angry, aren’t you?”
I kept my eyes ahead and watched the road stretch out in front of me. ”You’re thinking – ‘why does she stay married to him?’ Well, I’ll tell you; I’m not.”
That made me twitch a little, but I kept focussed. She smiled slyly. ”I knew that would get you. I asked Chris for a quiet divorce last year. He promised it would be quick and painless, provided we continued to seem as husband and wife until the papers were finalized. Tonight, that’s what we argued about.” She paused, lit a cigarette, then continued, ”He found out I’d hired you. He said some horrible things. I said that I wasn’t keeping up this charade up anymore, that I was leaving, and the hell with appearances. For a boor, he’s a terrible snob.”
I cracked a little then, and smiled over the steering wheel. She leaned back, satisfied, and remained silent until we got to my apartment building. I parked in the side lot, and we walked into the lobby. It was warm and fuzzy inside, like an old lady’s living room. A doorman was counting his pennies on the front desk. ”’Lo, Mr Bansfield. Ma’am,” he nodded to Kara. We rode up to the fourth floor, and I opened up my apartment and held the door open for her. As I followed her in, I was feeling a little light-headed. I was either going to be very charming, or I was going to faint. I eased her coat off her shoulders and invited her to take a seat on the sofa. ”Drink?” I offered as I hung the coat up on the door-hook. ”I’ll take anything,” she shrugged. ”Highballs?”
I went out into the kitchen and took a mostly-full whisky bottle from a cupboard, then got a bottle of ginger ale out of the refrigerator, and mixed them in a large glass jug. I grabbed two tall crystal glasses and put them under my arm, then carried the jug back in, and stood it on the coffee table in front of the sofa. I poured out two drinks, then fell back next to her and took a long gulp of the stuff. She drank elegantly, her throat swelling as she took a few sips, then rested her arm at her side. ”I haven’t had a highball for years,” she murmured. I finished mine, and pulled another, topping hers up while I was at it. ”Turn this into a real health-fest and have a cigarette.” I replied, handing her one from the little box on the coffee table.

A few highballs later, I was getting very slightly drunk, and Kara was under my right arm, reclining along the sofa. My eyes were pretty indiscreetly fixed on her legs, which was her own fault for having nice legs in the first place. I swilled the dregs of my third, and leant forward to pour a fourth, but she pulled me back. ”Kiss me, Nick. You won’t want to when you’ve got a drink in your hand.”
”Not altogether true, but I’m willing to let it drift,” I said, and she leaned up and kissed me for a few seconds. ”Don’t you want that drink?” she said, breaking away. ”Not anymore,” I breathed. Her hand ran up my chest and into the collar of my shirt. Her hand twisted the metal chain of the icon round my neck, and she lifted it up to look. I didn’t need to explain it to her, she already knew what it meant. She let it lie, then came in to kiss me again. ”You know, I’ve just remembered. It’s very disappointing…I don’t sleep with clients. Professionalistics.”
”Professionalism,” she corrected, ”besides, I’m temporarily taking you off the case. You are relieved of your duties as of now.”
”Mm-hm, okay with me. And were you satisfied with my performance?”
”Ask me tomorrow,” she said, laughter in her eyes, pulling me towards her. I shrugged. Okay by Old Nick.

Her arm ran by my bare shoulders, and settled under my neck. I shifted my head on the pillow, and her fingers ran softly through my hair, passing over the bump which remained from my recent unpleasant encounter with Tony Hernandez’s goons. ”Where did you get that?” she asked under her breath, turning to face me a little more. ”A guy hit me with a baseball bat.”
”Oh dear. Does it hurt if I touch it?”
I shook my head slowly. ”Not very much at all. It’s worth it.”
She let her head fall heavily into her pillow and sighed, ”Do you think Chris will come?”
”Possibly. I’m in the book. But he wouldn’t get past the front desk. Don’t think about it.” I advised.
”Why do you think I married him?”
Her other arm was wrapped around my chest, not tightly, and as I spoke she slapped me gently with the hand. ”Your ego would just love that, wouldn’t it? What a damned saint you would be in comparison.”
“What did you expect me to say? Don’t talk about it to me,” I said with a snarl, suddenly feeling uncomfortable. The sheets seemed to prickle beneath me, and I eased myself around until the irritation passed. ”I won’t, but I need to explain now. I wouldn’t want you to think I was so mercenary as to…”
”I didn’t, or it wouldn’t be like this. I was just being flippant.” I interrupted.
”By the way, I’m putting you back on the case.” She smiled, and I frowned. ”When was I off it?”
”I took you off it last night,” she explained. I tried to think back. ”Was I very drunk?”
”Yes, though I wasn’t far behind. Don’t you remember anything that happened?”
”Only the important parts,” I grinned wolfishly, rolling myself to the edge of the bed and getting out. She leaned up on her elbow and watched me schlep over to the bathroom door. Most of my clothes were on the end of the bed, or the floor next to it, as were hers. I hauled my dressing robe off the door hook and wrapped it round me, grabbed some clothes out of my drawers, then walked into the bathroom, closing the door behind me. I shrugged the robe off and let it fall to the floor. I looked in the mirror, rubbing my tired left eye with the heel of my hand. This morning I didn’t look too bad, not too shabby at all. I spread my lips in a smile that split my face, and began to whistle, flicking on the tap. I washed and shaved carefully, then put the clothes on and went back out. She used the shower and I made breakfast, then she made a call to someone. ”That was an old friend of mine in East Village. She says I can come and stay at hers for a couple of days until I get straightened out. I’ll leave you the number and you can call me when you’ve finished the case.”
”What then?” I asked from the kitchen, where I was boiling water for coffee. ”Go back West, I suppose. Pick up where I left off.” I brought the coffee through. We drank it quietly, then she got her things together. I walked her down to the front desk and we said goodbye. I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t feel anything inside, except that I was made of solid lead. Her cab pulled away from the sidewalk, and I watched it join the veritable jam of cabs and cars vibrating on the spot, with that heavy feeling all over me. Then I clicked my fingers sharply and turned away. I went back up to the apartment and threw a jacket on, took a quick nip of whisky to burn me up a little, then headed on out.

The little Ford was still where I had left it, which is always a relief; slightly mis-parked in the rear left corner of the small underground lot. I lit up a cigarette, then got in and started off down to Lakewood. The weather was cooler today, what with the fresh, salty sea breeze blowing in and stiffening everyone up. It sort of faded and got dryer as I got closer to Lakewood, and my breath began to catch in my throat. The long, beige freeway began to sparkle and blur on the horizon before me. By the time I got into the Lakewood hills, where you could just see the dull blue of the sea glint past the city, it was getting hot and sticky again. I parked on the tarmac outside Lloyd Anderson’s house and walked up to the white stone porch and pressed a doorbell. There was a folded back metal grate which could fence off the terracotta tiled space in front of the glass-pane door. A bird sang half-heartedly from a monkey puzzle tree in the front piazza. There were footsteps in the hall, and the dark shape of a woman approaching. I straightened my tie and put a hand inside my jacket. The door opened, and a thin slip of a girl, a Mex, looked up at me. ”Can I help you?”
I raised my badge quickly, then returned it to my jacket. The brief reflecting light flicked over her brown face. ”My name is Bansfield and I was here with Lieutenant Jakes. You may remember me. May I go into the garden? I have some enquiries to clear up.”
She didn’t hesitate, but stepped out onto the piazza and began leading me round onto the garden patio where the patrol cars had parked the previous day. ”I remember very well, Señor. It is strange, because many people seem not to remember details when shocks happen.”
”That’s true.” I said, as we reached the main garden, with its long lawn, stagnant pond and profusion of flowers. There was that old willow, but this time it had no body sprawled below it. The housekeeper left me there, and I drifted over the grass with no particular object, or rather with several, but none which I wanted to follow with any conviction. ”Excuse me!” I called at the housekeeper, who was just getting onto the path at the side of the house. ”Señor?”
”Did Mr Anderson ever lose his back door key?” I asked.
”No, not his. We lost the spare one for a few days a week or so ago, but it turned up in the same place it always was. Mr Anderson always made a fuss over the little things.”
”Where is the spare kept?” I frowned, wiping my brow with my cuff. ”At the side of the shed, under a loose slab. It’s difficult to reach, even when you know.” She replied lightly, then carried on back around the front. I went down to the shed and checked for a loose slab at the side, and pulled it up a little. The key was there, just visible. It certainly would be impossible to find, unless one already knew. I poked around a while longer, but the heat made it disagreeable to over-exert myself. From the back door of the villa, the housekeeper appeared. ”A drink, Señor?”
”Scotch, if you have it. With a good deal of ice, if you please.”
She brought it out to me, and I squatted down on a little stone wall and took a swallow. ”I’d like to ask you something.” I stated simply. ”What?”
”Did Mr Anderson have a gardener at all? A place like this needs one, I’ll bet.”
She nodded, and began tying up her silky black hair. ”His name was Erwin, but he died suddenly three months ago, and we hadn’t a new one.”
”Before him?”
”That was a number of years ago. Erwin was with us for a long time. Before…his name was Gerald Tovey, and he worked here for two years. It was before I came, in the 30s, I think. But Mr Anderson disliked him greatly. There was a row before he left. Mr Tovey insulted a Negro who was changing the door-locks, called him a nigger, and there was trouble, because the man went to court. It was thrown out at once, but there was trouble.” I finished my glass, and she held out her hand for it. ”Thank you. I’ll be off now.” I said slowly, thinking.

I got back in my car and drove up past Jersey, into New York, and finished up at Fitzhenry’s place in the Bronx. I parked in the same dusty forecourt I had halted in on my previous visit and walked on through the open iron door. It was cool and quiet and very empty in the garage, and it took me a moment to realise that there was someone else in the workshop. An old Negro was silently watching me with large, keen eyes, holding a yard brush to his wasted chest. I turned to see him, and jumped a little. A thin chuckle began to spill from his closed mouth like water bubbling in a brook. ”Give you the jumps, son?” I made no reply, and he loosened his tight hold on the broom and let it fall into his open right palm. ”Got any business here, son?”
”Yes, sir. I’m a private detective; my name is Bansfield. I wanted to ask you about Gerald Tovey.”
He set his face resolutely, and said: ”Don’t know no Gerald Tovey, mister.”
I raised an eyebrow and waited for something better. The man turned from me, and began shuffling across the workshop, sweeping. The rough bristles scraped the hard floor. Suddenly, as I was planning my next move, he stopped sweeping, looked backwards over his shoulder at me and grinned, a twinkle in his eye. ”Anton Tillett, he done knew Gerald Tovey. Look where it done got him. No, mister; I don’t know no Gerald Tovey. Like I don’t know how it feels to have a bullet in yo’ eye, son.”
”He jacked cars for Darryl Fitzhenry, right? A thick-set guy with dark hair and thick lips and a mere hint of an accent? Maybe swore in Greek from time to time?” I pushed at him relentlessly. He merely continued to sweep, chuckling gently and evenly. ”No dab hand with race relations?” I added. He stopped then, and straightened up his back. A fly bounced along the roof, making a quick rat-a-tat-tat along the corrugated iron. The Negro ran his tongue over his teeth as he cranked himself round to face me once more. ”I wouldn’t know nothin’ ‘bout that now, son. I ain’t never had no problem with him.”
”So you do know him.” I said, but let it drift, ”Guess you never heard how he got taken to court by a locksmith for calling him nigger?”
The man rubbed at his chin with a wizened hand, covered in raised bumps. ”Don’t like that, son. Not at all, I don’t. But I got no kick with Tovey, and I ain’t got no proof that this is anything more than your damn fool try to get me to speak with you. I ain’t dumb, mister; not a half as dumb as everybody thinks.” His speech was slow and modulated. ”I don’t think you’re at all dumb. On the contrary, I think you are very smart,” I replied, ”All I want is a simple yes or no. Did the coppers ever come round looking for Tovey?”
He inclined his head, scratched his jaw and thrust a hand into his pocket. It came out with half a cigarette. He got a cheap plastic lighter out and lit the butt. ”What’d you tell them?”
He bared his teeth, showing plenty of purple gum, and twirled the lighter back into his pocket. ”I told ‘em just what I been telling you, son. Dust. Goose egg. The big ‘O’. He run out, and I told them just that.”
”When was this?”
”Was…1930…4. 1934, son.”
I nodded, and pulled out a cigarette. As I put it between my lips, then pulled out a matchbook from my pocket, I asked him: ”What happened then? Where’d Tovey run out to?” I offered him a cigarette from the box, and he took it, smelt it, then stowed it in his jacket.
”I don’t know. I never heard of him again. You go now, son; there ain’t no more for you here.”
”Thank you, sir, and good afternoon.” I said, backing out. He threw down the practically invisible butt, and returned to sweeping the floor. The rhythmic scraping followed me all the way back to my car. Sitting on the front seat, I had myself a couple of libations from the nearly empty bottle in the glove compartment, before hitting the trail again. I drove down the hill and into Manhattan, drumming my hands lightly on the steering wheel as I went. There were a lot of thoughts trying to get into my head, and I wasn’t sure my brain was built to deal with them all. I stopped on a side road where I could find a gap, and walked along the sidewalk towards the public library. Along the way I stopped at a drugstore to buy a small bottle of Scotch and a flat packet of rye biscuits. I’m not sure why I bought the rye biscuits, but perhaps I figured they would soak up the liquor. With these supplies in my pocket, I headed up to the library. It is one of those very imposing, very pompous looking edifices, probably much like the men who endowed them. There were huge white steps, with chalky columns at the top, before the huge oak doors. The doors were so large that smaller doors were cut into them so that they could be opened by anyone under eight feet. It was designed, I believed, as a model of the Parthenon, but somehow along the way its own importance had disfigured it into a perfect American mess. In the foyer there were huge bald eagles cast in gold, and fluttering Stars and Stripes in the draughty corners. The ceiling was so high that I got a little dizzy looking up at it as I passed though into the main library. The bookshelves ran in corridors along the room, with big, solid tables and chairs in a space in front of them. Some dusty old boys were installed in a collection of plush armchairs, smoothly turning the pages of their broadsheet newspapers. The Public Records section was in the rear right corner of the huge room, which I once read was nearly half a mile long. It certainly felt like that as I tapped over the shiny wood flooring towards it. There were five people poking about in there, and I was fairly sure that at least three of them were reporters. It’s a way of moving they have, scurrilous and a little guilty. I scanned the trays and shelves and filing cabinets until I found what I was looking for. A table-size tray, divided into many sections and crammed with neatly filed paper. The wanted records section. Not a full record, just a good picture and a summary. Like they used to have pinned up in post offices before no-one got post. I had once been told, when I was still in respectable employment with the LA Homicide boys, that they had started the whole thing when an elderly gent saw a suspicious character he vaguely recognised and went to the library, where he used the latest edition of ‘Compton’s Unsolved Crimes’ to identify him as a wanted murderer. This thought buzzed uselessly around in my over-heated head as I found the P section. Paskauskas, C. Bingo. Well done, Old Nick. I had a quick look, then lay the single sheet of paper on top of the tray. The photo was Chris all right, although from many years ago. There was no mistaking the face, although the dark hair was longer, and the nose was straight and unbroken. The record gave his place of birth as Los Angeles. He had got a couple of two spots in San Quentin for juvenile crimes, then disappeared in 1930, not resurfacing until 1935, when he had worked in a Jersey bookmaker’s for two years, then moved back West and taken a junior position in one of those land-eating companies and eventually risen to junior partner. That was it. I wondered why he was still in there, then I noticed something. The little bio said that he had disappeared with one Cisco Costilla. I looked the name up, with a secret hope that this would be just what I was looking for. The entry was there, with no attached photo. I read the short paragraph typed on a proper typewriter, back when the warrant had been issued, in 1930. Cisco Costilla was a violent, cold-blooded Sudamericano from Mexcali, which was all they knew about his background. He was wanted for the rape and murder of his girlfriend. At the time, he had been around eighteen. I leaned against the tray and thought about it all. I decided to look up Gerald Tovey, and found him. I took out the whisky and mixed myself a salad as I flicked my peepers over the record. The photo was a more recent one, still unmistakeably Chris Paskauskas. He was wanted for assault and carjacking, the list of separate incidents ranging from 1932 to 1934. After that, there was nothing. Looked like the heat had got too much, and he had reverted to his birth name. I remembered Dario Ferranti saying that Chris had worked for him for a couple of years. Between Gerald Tovey’s disappearance and Chris’ move West. I got the distinct impression that I was missing something glaringly obvious. Sighing under my breath, I picked up Cisco Costilla’s profile and went to slot it back where it came from, when it caught my eye. The glossy front of a photograph with a paperclip on the top corner, where it had become unattached from its record. My hand was trembling a little as I reached for it, and slid it out. Below the picture was printed ‘Cisco Costilla’ in biro capitals. It was a shaky hand-held effort showing two men exiting a cab on a busy street, which I believed was LA. One man held the door open for the other, whose face was turned from the lens. The youngster holding the door open for him was clearer. A tall, lean, hard looking Hispanic kid with a cocky grin. Dario Ferranti. He was looking a little to the left. The top of a pair of sunglasses peaked from the breast pocket of the shabby suit he was wearing. I cracked off a piece of rye biscuit and placed it on my tongue until my mouth dried up, when I forced it down my throat. The crumbs lodged at the back of my mouth, so I washed it down with more whisky. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and the shot joined its brothers in my guts hard and fast. When I had replaced the files and stood up, I was swaying some. I was quite drunk, and I could feel it suddenly. It was getting dark when I stepped back onto the street, and I thought it would be better if I walked down to the cop shop rather than risk burning rubber in the heap. It was at the bottom of the broad steps to the police headquarters that it happened. It was not drunkenness, though I suppose that was a part of it. Some bastard tripped me in the dark, and I stumbled and pitched forward. For a split second I wondered why the corner of the stone step had been thrown at my face, then it was too late to realise I was the one falling. There was a smash, and I hoped it wasn’t my head.

It was very dark and quite cold, or perhaps I was feverish. There was blood on my hand, like Lady Macbeth’s, only mine rubbed off. I could make out a room, and something soft-ish beneath me. There was a faint clink outside the room, and I rushed at it, and smacked into a door, but not hard. I slapped the door with a clammy palm. ”Let me out! Let me out! I gotta talk to someone! I know about a bunch of murders! I’m not messing with you, I have to speak to Tim West!” There was a black silence. ”Shut it, rummy!” called a voice suddenly, from the room opposite mine. A different voice, from higher up in the same room added something obscene and unpleasant. There were footsteps in the hall. I started to talk again. ”Quiet, pally. You ain’t going anywhere ‘til morning. No-one’s gonna listen’a’ya when you’re stinko, son. Stow it, and go to bed.” I groaned in desperation as the footsteps faded away, and fell back on the bed. I had tried my hardest. Damn it, they were ignoring me now, but when I was in the frame for the murder they had been whistling a different tune. I was so sleepy, and it smelt like whisky. OK, officer, I’m gonna hit the hay, I reckon and get me all sober. Ah, save it.

I woke up moaning like a wounded animal, and soon realised why; there was glass in my thigh, which I was lying on. I sat up sharply, and blacked out for a few seconds as the stench of whisky fumes rocketed up my nose. As the black cleared up, I looked around me. I was in a nicotine-yellow stonewalled room, with an industrial green iron door. In the door was a covered peephole. There was a dim light in the ceiling, and a toilet fixed in the wall. It was a small cell. I was sitting bolt upright on a hard-sprung prison bed, two foot off the ground, all tangled in the grey blankets. My shoes had been removed, and a quick scan revealed them to be at the foot of the bed. The whole room stank unspeakably of hard liquor. My left pocket was soaked, and I realised that the glass in my leg had come from the whisky bottle, which had smashed on impact. I loosened my belt and picked the glass out of my leg with numb fingers. It took about ten minutes. I got up and made the bed, slipped my shoes on and shuffled over to the door. I pounded on the iron below the peephole, then stepped back and slapped my face a few times until I heard feet clomp outside. ”Yeah?” said a rough voice. ”I wanna get out,” I mumbled, more slurred than I had expected. He heaved a long-suffering sigh ”I tole ya last time ya said that: you’re not getting out till you’re all sober. Iss half past five inna morning, pally. Give a beat-up flatfoot a break.”
”I’ll give you a break in your damn legs,” I growled.
”Heh, heh. Go on, pally, let it all out!” he replied, and I heard his boots squeak on the corridor. ”Hey, wait! When does Lieutenant West come in? He on mornings this week?” I called after him. The boots stopped: that wasn’t drunk talk. ”Or Lieutenant Pedersen; I’ll even speak to Pedersen if he asks nice. But I gotta talk with someone, officer, ‘cause I can’t keep this under the hat. I know who killed Anderson. And the others, to boot. Put a call through and tell ‘em I said that. Tell him that Nick Bansfield said it.” I continued. The boots went on away, but I knew he’d do it. Maybe he would say he had cracked me. I laughed idiotically at this notion, and sat down on the bed, trying not to rumple the blankets. I checked my pockets. They had taken my knife and matchbook, but left my cigarettes and the rye biscuits. Luckily, there was a loose match in my pants, so I struck it off the wall and used it to light up. That, and the biscuits were my only nourishment for the next forty-five minutes, after which the guard led me out into the hall and down to the interrogation room, where West and Pedersen and some other guy were waiting for me. Tim smiled at me in the pale morning light and asked me to sit. I thanked him and did so. ”Okay, Bansfield. Wow me,” Pedersen snarled, looking rather good-natured on the whole. I told him without wisecracking, and quick too. ”You need to see the records for proof, but give me the benefit of the doubt for now. I’m going to give you the background, then you can ask whatever. Tim, could you get me a little water? Thanks. So, Chris Paskauskas was a juvenile offender in LA, back in the early 30s. He couldn’t get any work, on account of his having been in stir, he felt like moving away and starting again. Along comes a drifter named Cisco Costilla…” here West raised his eyebrows and muttered something enlightening to Pedersen, who waved a hand at me to go on, ”…who becomes pals with him. Only one day, Cisco turns up and tells Paskauskas that he’s just killed his girl and needs to get away. This is Chris’ chance. They ran out to New York, and changed their names. Chris became Gerald Tovey, and Costilla became Dario Ferranti.”
”Hey, wait a...” interrupted Pedersen, to be interrupted himself by Tim’s ”Let the boy talk.” I went on, chewing a rye biscuit for support. They were on edge now. ”Paskauskas tried to go straight as Tovey; he worked in Lloyd Anderson’s garden.” Pedersen’s eyes bulged out far enough to win on a coconut shy, but he kept his trap closed. ”But eventually he went back over to the bad side. He jacked cars for Darryl Fitzhenry until the heat got too much. By now, Costilla was doing well as Ferranti, so he offered Tovey a job in his bookmaker’s, under his original name. When the pressure lessened, Chris Paskauskas moved back to LA, got a job, married and such. That’s all you really need.”
It was a lot to take in. I had given what took me two days to understand to them in two minutes. I let them chew it over while I sipped water from the glass Tim had poured out while I was talking. I felt pretty good now. The copper I didn’t recognise was taping me, and had been since I came in. I looked at the blank walls and whistled softly under my breath until West said: ”So, who killed Anderson?”
”Chris did. Anderson had a grudge against the Paskauskas’, and kept an eye on them since the threats he got. Chris came out here to help his brother, and discovered that Anderson, his old boss, was in charge of the operation to close the pool hall down. If Anderson looked into the business any more, he would see Chris was Gerald Tovey, and he’d be looking at a good fifteen years in jail. Anderson’s housekeeper said there was a spare garden door key, hidden near the shed, which had gone missing for a few days. Chris had worked there, he knew about the key and knew that Anderson spent a lot of time in the garden. He snuck up and stole the key, had a copy made, and let himself into the garden, where he shot Anderson dead.”
Tim bit his lip. ”Lyle, go get the records he spoke about.” The copper with the recorder left, and Tim turned his attention back to me. ”What about the key that was missing from Anderson’s body?”
”Chris grabbed it before he fled the scene, and got rid of it. To make the cops think that Anderson knew the killer, and that he had taken the key to make it seem stolen. You see?”
”Just about,” Pedersen said. ”Now maybe tell us who killed Tillett and Fitzhenry and Andy Paskauskas, though I got an idea.”
”They were all killed by Ferranti, to stop his real identity getting out when the police started investigating Paskauskas’ connections. Ferranti paid Tillett to kill Fitzhenry, then had him killed so he wouldn’t squeal. As for Andy, I’m pretty certain that Chris told Ferranti where he could find him. Let’s not forget that Chris was looking at a ten-spot in Sing Sing, at least.”
Lyle softly opened the door and placed four blue files on the desk. I put a cigarette between my lips and waited for someone to offer me a light. ”Wanna light?” asked Lyle. I nodded, and he flicked out a nickel-plated lighter and waved it under the pill. Tim and Lieutenant Pedersen carefully studied the files, then Tim left for a while and came back with a page of scrawled notes. They whispered and growled over them, while I felt like the gooseberry at the slushy movie. ”Alright, Nick,” said Tim, at last, ”we’ve got a team of prowl boys heading to swoop on our villains.”
”Swell. Can I go? I got some stuff to sort out.” I asked, stubbing the cigarette out in the copper ashtray by Pedersen’s grizzled hand. ”If you mean the girl…”
[b]”What girl?”
I interrupted Tim rather savagely.
”She’s gone, Nick. Went back West,” Tim replied calmly, with a knowing smile. ”Sometimes I feel like I’m married to the police department. How do you know?”
”She went to your place. We had a couple of boys set on it last night, if you must know. They questioned her about your whereabouts, and she said she was leaving that evening. They told her you were in the pen, and she asked to see you; but they said no. We figured that you wouldn’t care; you know its more important to get the information.”
”I’ve just remembered,” my voice cracked dryly in my throat as I reached the threshold of the room, ”why I can’t stomach cops. They presume too damn much.”

I walked the two miles back to my car with that same sour taste in my mouth as I had got after Captain Armstrong, and it didn’t feel like it would go away. But it would, I knew that, and I would be back where I started.

ITEMS REQUESTED: Nothing really. I won’t say no to money. Praise would be nice…

Private Detective for Hire - PM for details


Personal Weapons On Hand:
Beretta 92
One small Ford (blue)
Other Things

Last edited by Nick Bansfield on Wed Apr 05, 2006 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 8:48 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2006 5:27 am
Posts: 50
Well, spectacular and exceptional is a way to describe it. Wonderful post, all though you made my eyes bleed. I am bit unsure however how to reward such a fine lad. I'll leave this thread open, because aside from praise, you seem deserving. Decide what you want, and if I deem it is relevant, care to some extra paper.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 1:10 pm 

Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:55 pm
Posts: 57
Firstly, thanks form leaving it open so I could clear up the coding errors. I genuinely don't care about money, so anything is fine. If you could try to wangle it into the Elite Archive, that would be nice.

Private Detective for Hire - PM for details


Personal Weapons On Hand:
Beretta 92
One small Ford (blue)
Other Things

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