A Miles Beckett Mystery
by Anthony Rain
.......Dr. Rubin pulled an orange
prescription bottle from his pocket, tapped out two pink pills
into his cupped hand and raised the hand to his lips. He moved
his tongue like a frog snaring an insect.
......."I can't tell you
much," he said. "I don't know how he got into the house.
He was suddenly there. He wore a ski mask and he was tall. I'd
say several inches over six feet. We went to my office and I
opened my drug closet and gave him what he wanted. I thought
he would leave, but he suddenly got angry, started yelling and
hitting me with his gun. I lost consciousness."
......."Do you remember
what he yelled about?" It was mid-afternoon on a scorching
July day. My words sounded like dry husks crackling in a hot
......."Not really, just
gibberish about my being a fuck. It was before I blacked out.
I don't remember much." Dr. Rubin was in his late sixties.
He pushed a lock of white hair off his forehead and looked at
me with blue eyes narrowed to bullet tips. His bruised face looked
like spoiled fruit. "I don't care how you do it, Mr. Beckett.
Just get my drugs back from Jimmy Campbell. I don't care if you
have to kill the sonofabitch." He shifted in his seat, his
anger getting the better of him.
......."Go easy, doctor,"
I said. "Tell me about Campbell." We were sitting in
white cane chairs resting on a freshly cut lawn. Watery waves
of light glittered on the surface of a pool off to the side.
I wanted to get up and take a cannonball jump into it.
.......Rubin's face changed color,
like a storm approaching from off shore turning the skies black.
He leaned towards me. "Campbell's a local shit who sniffs
out moneymaking schemes. Anyone who's lived on the East End long
enough knows that." He stopped and scratched behind his
.......A bronze Buddha statue
watched us from his position near a pond. He looked dazed from
the heat, too. "What makes you think he was Campbell's muscle?"
.......Rubin sat back in his
chair. "I'm an addiction specialist. I detox heroin addicts.
I've been doing this for over twenty years." He tried to
force a smile. I thought of a child trying to force a round peg
into a square hole. "Campbell's called me a couple of times.
He had a business proposition, which I found insulting. The last
time he called, I told him I would contact the police. I think
he retaliated. It's obvious."
.......Behind Rubin, a house
door opened. The glass caught the reflection of the sun and sent
out a beacon of light across the lawn. A twenty-something brunette
in a purple midriff blouse, blue jeans and sandals emerged. She
was a looker. She went down the steps to a two-car garage. I
heard a motor start and saw a black Jeep pull out and fly down
the drive, the sun glaring off polished surfaces.
......."That's my daughter,
Laura," said Rubin. I caught a tone of concern in his voice,
but it was subdued, unable to gain flight in the hot air.
......."What was the proposition?"
......."He wanted to open
a series of clinics, using my treatment methods. I would be the
medical director and get an annual salary. He would handle the
business end. That sound's like a normal business proposition,
ordinarily. But not when Jimmy Campbell is involved. The scumbag."
......."It's also possible
someone else knew you had drugs in the house," I said. Rubin
twisted in his chair, nodding his head from side to side. Smart
men don't like to be contradicted.
......."What was taken?"
......."All the medications
I use were taken. The one I care about is called buprenorphine.
It's a white powder, looks very much like heroin, and it's a
controlled narcotic. I kept it in a large plastic jar. I can't
buy it anymore because the FDA has now restricted it even from
practitioners." He scratched behind his ear again. "Fortunately,
I'm still allowed to use what I already own. It forms the basis
of my treatment."
......."Last I heard, methadone
was the rehab drug of choice." I knew a woman, a horse head
named Emily. She was a hooker and lived on Saint Mark's Place.
Every day she would walk over to the methadone clinic on First
Avenue next to Bellevue. Then she'd sit in the park across the
way from the hospital and nod off for a few hours, while the
meth did its thing. When she woke up, she went back home and
turned tricks. A lovely life.
.......Rubin waved his hands.
"Methadone is crap. It's just replacing one dependency for
another." He turned and stared at the Buddha. The Buddha
......."So now what? You
have to close up shop? Take a loss in income?"
......."Crudely put, yes.
I can't practice without buprenorphine." Rubin thrust his
stitched chin out. "My practice is thriving, because my
method is superior, quicker and anonymous. Buprenorphine will
detox someone in six weeks. But the insurance companies are making
it harder to earn any kind of decent income anymore. Patients
expect to be treated for what their HMOs will pay. Ridiculous.
I want to retire, but I need to practice a few more years."
......."All right, so Campbell
is pissed he can't get in on your action, but that doesn't mean
he has someone do a Holyfield on you. If he's looking to fatten
his bank account, then he moves on and finds another sucker.
Why haven't you gone to the police with this?"
......."I can't go to the
police. I have reasons, one of which is I can't afford the notoriety.
My patients come to me because I can guarantee their anonymity.
If you take this case, you can't go to the police either. Can
you agree to this, Mr. Beckett?"
.......I watched a seagull float
with angled wings on a soft breeze and hover over the pool. The
doctor hadn't broken any laws so far, and I figured I could handle
whatever slippery slope I found myself standing on. "All
right," I said.
.......He reached into his pocket
and pulled out an envelope. He tossed it at me. Inside was two
grand in used hundreds. "I took the liberty of deciding
on this for a retainer. And another thing: I don't want you commuting
from your office in Manhattan. I want you to stay local until
this is resolved."
.......Montauk Highway was clear
and the sun made yellow triangles on the empty seat next to me.
I had the window down since my air conditioner was on the fritz,
and the air smelled like hot flowers. I passed a small restaurant
with gray weathered wood and bright white trim and a large clam
over the door. Past that, long green fields with grapevines and
a sign advertising an afternoon wine tasting. The Hamptons are
on the easternmost edge of Long Island. They've becomes the playground
for migrating Manhattanites in the summer, trying to escape the
hustle and crush of the city.
.......Campbell owned a jazz
nightclub, The Siren's Song, located just past
the town of Bridgehampton. Rubin said that was where Campbell
could usually be found.
.......I passed two men in yellow
and red racing uniforms on bikes, then saw a cloud of dust up
ahead moving perpendicular to the road. A gray Caddy suddenly
flew out from behind a high hedge and came directly in my lane.
I swerved off the road as it passed, the two cars kissing along
the drivers' sides. I stopped and watched in my rearview as it
moved south, the license plate getting too small for me to read.
.......I put my car in park and
checked the door. My blue '69 Chevy Impala had a line of gray
paint and some scratches running under the handle. I got back
in my car, cursing, and pulled onto the highway, but I didn't
have to continue very far. Just past the hedge was The Siren's
Song. I pulled in, cut the motor and got out. A very angry
sun beat down on the empty gravel lot.
.......I walked past green and
blue pastels into a dimly lit smaller room with a bar and stools.
The counter top held two highball glasses. One was drained, the
other barely touched. The full glass was warm. At the far end
of the bar were double doors, one propped open showing a larger
darkened room. Above me, a ceiling fan whirred furiously against
the day's heat.
.......I went through the double
doors and flicked on the lights. Pink and blue neon shapes appeared
on the opposite wall and a series of small spotlights lined the
ceiling perimeter. A window was open high up on the left-side
wall. Round tables and chairs were placed before a stage, which
held a black Baldwin piano and a series of mikes. A red velvet
curtain served as the backdrop.
.......I made my way over to
a door in the back near the exit. It was an office, with a desk
and no windows. Behind the desk was a man. Behind him, blood
spatters were on the wall. The man was dead.
.......I pulled my gun out and
looked around some more. Satisfied I was alone, I went back to
the office. The man was lying sideways on the desk, his right
arm outstretched over the top. His chair was facing outwards
and it looked like the force of the gunshot propelled him into
it. He had long sandy-gray hair; an earring gleamed from his
left ear. More blood spatters covered almost everything on his
desk, and blood pooled under his chair and ran outward towards
the wall. Flies were everywhere. I saw a large chest wound with
powder marks on his shirtfront.
.......I spied a brass casing
on the floor. I picked it up with a cocktail napkin lying on
the desk and examined a .45-caliber shell. I could smell the
cordite. I put it back on the floor. The man's pockets were turned
inside out. I picked up a billfold. The driver's license name
read James Campbell. It stated his age as forty-four and gave
a local address on David Lane.
.......I went through the desk
drawers, which had already been rifled. Heaped together in the
top drawer were liquor purchase orders, musician contact sheets
and other papers. In the bottom drawer was a gun, but it hadn't
been fired. Campbell must not have had the chance to make a play
for it, poor bastard.
.......I picked up the phone,
still using the napkin and pressed *69. There was ringing on
the other end, but no one answered, no voice mail kicked in.
I hung up. The laptop was booted up, but no files had been opened.
I wasn't going to find Rubin's buprenorphine on it, so I left
it alone. A floor safe behind the desk was opened, but it was
.......I got up and left the
office, turning off the lights in the main room, wiping down
the switch. I went behind the bar and poured myself a shot of
scotch. The pungent smell of blood stayed in my nose, so I had
two more. I put the glass in my pocket. I paused at the front
window for a few seconds, then walked out.
.......Back on Montauk Highway,
I headed for David Lane. I tossed the shot glass against some
rocks on the way, and made it to Campbell's house in five minutes.
A small white cube of a house on a hill, it was surrounded by
fenced off property and shone like a new penny in the sun. I
parked down the road and walked around back. An oval pool was
choked with pink and white flowers from a series of mimosa trees
lining one side. I moved over to a set of sliding glass doors.
One of them had a large crack in it with a section missing near
the door handle. The door itself was open.
.......I stepped into a living
room that had been worked over. No matter which room I entered,
everything was overturned and torn up. I looked for a plastic
jar of white powder, but there was no sign of it. I split.
.......I waited by the side of
the house, saw no one, then quickly walked back to my car.
.......I made a U-turn towards
Southampton and called Rubin on my cell to give him the bad news.
His voice went guttural, like someone had him by the balls.
......."Shit. Do you think
his death is somehow related?"
......."I'm not sure, doctor.
At the very least, you're not the only one pissed off at Mr.
......."Did you find the
......."No, not at the club
or the house."
......."Do you have to contact
......."A murder has been
committed. I have to notify the local authorities, it's the law.
But I can do it anonymously. I see no reason to personally involve
you or me."
......."That's very good.
So, now what?"
......."So now I dig a little
deeper." I was maneuvering through the main drag of Southampton
when I spied a black Jeep that looked like a ringer for the one
the good doctor's daughter drove parked in front of The Driver's
Seat on Job Lane. "I have to go, doc. I'll call you
later." I hung up as Rubin started pontificating about something
.......At a pay phone I dialed
911 and reported a body at The Siren's Song. I gave the
address and hung up, then entered the restaurant. Rubin's daughter
was sitting in a booth with a pink tablecloth and a green lamp.
I slid in across from her.
.......She was drinking a white
wine, not her first. An ashtray contained two butts. A third
cancer stick was smoldering on the edge. She put her glass down
and said, "What are you doing?"
......."I'm hungry. You
don't mind sharing a booth do you? You're Laura, right? I'm the
PI working for your dad." I held out my hand. "Miles
Beckett." She left me shaking air.
.......She got loud, and it wasn't
the wine talking. "I want you to get up and leave
my table now."
......."Keep your voice
down, honey. You'll make everyone think we don't get along."
......."I mean it. Leave
me alone or you'll get trouble."
.......I leaned in closer. "Trouble
as in a .45 slug to the heart?"
.......Her upper lip twitched
and she spoke more quietly. "I don't know what you're talking
.......Something had shaken her,
so I gambled. "Someone saw you coming out of The Siren's
Song after Campbell turned a permanent shade of blue."
I put on my best poker face.
.......I grabbed her by the wrist.
"This isn't a game. A man has been killed. Telling me will
be a lot easier than telling the authorities. I'll at least give
you leeway." I let go.
.......She flushed and pushed
the hair away from her face. "Yeah, ok. I went to talk to
Campbell. I'm a cabaret singer. I had auditioned at The Siren's
Song last month, back before all this crap started with my
father." She rolled the tip of her cigarette around in the
bottom of the ashtray. "I went to see Campbell, you know,
to see if he changed his mind about our gig. I'm cutting a demo
CD and I need the exposure. He has two other clubs besides The
Siren's Song. He has pull." She placed the cigarette
on the lip of the ashtray and picked up her drink. Her nails
were painted red. The knuckles were bone white. The angry flush
had left her face, making her pale again. "I've never seen
a dead body before."
......."What happened when
you got to Campbell's?"
.......She looked to the side,
out the window at a flea market in the courtyard next door. "I
went in and called his name. He didn't answer, so I walked to
the back room. That's when I saw him." If it was possible,
her pallor increased a notch. I saw a smooth blue vein faintly
appear in the upper corner of her forehead. She took up her cigarette
pack and lit a fresh cigarette with the tip of the dying one.
......."When was this?"
......."About a half hour
ago." That would have been when I was at Campbell's house.
......."Your dad is nearly
killed and the only thing on your mind is a gig? I thought blood
was supposed to be thicker than water?"
.......Every muscle in her seemed
to relax at the same instant. "You have to look out for
yourself in this world, and things are harder now. Everything
moves faster. The music business is cutthroat. Besides, I don't
believe it was Campbell. The old man is crazy."
......."You own a gun?"
......."No, I don't."
......."You mentioned 'our
......."I'm the singer.
There's the piano player, Danny. He writes all our original songs.
Then there's the bass player, drummer, and a guy on sax."
......."All right. Now,
about the night your dad was attacked. He said you were asleep
in your room."
......."Yeah. I take a sleeping
pill. Ambien. I haven't been able to fall asleep on my own, since
my mother died three years ago. I slept through the whole thing."
....... "Do you know anyone
who fits the description of the man who attacked your dad?"
.......She smirked. "I don't
know any tall men in ski masks. No."
......."So you don't believe
your father's assumption that it was Campbell?"
......."Jimmy is a sleazy
guy." She flushed. "Was a sleazy guy. I don't know."
She tilted her head back and blew out a jet of smoke.
......."Do you know of anyone
who wanted Campbell dead?"
.......The smoke lingered in
front of her face. She looked like an apparition speaking from
the beyond. "I have no idea."
.......The next morning, I walked
out of my motel room and into air as heavy as wet cotton. I was
wearing a tee shirt and trunks and planned to have a quick swim
in the ocean, then drop by the police station. Homicide would
have given Campbell's house and club the go-over by now, and
all evidence would be in the lock-up. The property clerk would
tell me what I needed to know, with a little maneuvering. There
was also the off chance that some perp got picked up with Rubin's
buprenorphine. I could find that out by scanning the daily arrest
sheet. It's a matter of public record.
.......The motel parking lot
was fairly empty, which made the young man leaning against the
car conspicuous. He was about five eleven, early twenties and
wiry. He wore black movie star sunglasses and a muscle tee showing
a pair of tanned sinewy arms. "You Beckett?" He smiled
wide, like a shark about to strike an exposed limb.
......."The one and the
same." I unlocked the driver's side door and tossed my hotel
towel in the back seat. The kid lifted his shirt and pulled out
a chromed handgun. "Don't be macho," he said. "Let's
get in the car and go for a drive. Someone wants to see you."
.......He put his scrawny hand
on my shoulder, pushed me against the hot car and frisked me.
I had left my gun in my room, wrapped in my pants and stuffed
into my dresser drawer. My backup was in the trunk in its black
plastic case with the required trigger lock on. Real convenient.
.......We got in the car and
his voice got tighter. "Follow my directions and don't be
stupid." The barrel of his gun pointed at my head. "Does
the air conditioning work in this relic?"
......."Nada. You'll have
to lower the window."
.......The kid's sunglasses were
now resting on the top of his closely cropped blond hair, and
his eyes were jumpy from nerves. I didn't like that, not with
that cannon in his hand.
.......He directed me out of
Southampton and onto Montauk Highway going east. Within ten minutes,
he had me turn off on Woods Drive and we headed past a horse
farm. Two chestnut horses were grazing on a hillside blocked
off by white fencing. The road got dusty and forked up ahead,
with a drop off the shoulder. I quickly jammed on the brakes
and steered over the edge. The car skidded, dropped and bounced
to a hard stop.
.......The kid was surprised
and took his eyes off me for a second. I hit him square in the
cheek, slamming his head against the window, making his gun hand
jerk. I grabbed the automatic, and he squeezed the trigger, putting
a bullet into the roof. Wrenching the gun free, I smacked him
in the mouth with the handle, then stuck the barrel into his
......."Who the fuck sent
......."Blow it out your
ass." My punch had caused his sunglasses to slide down the
bridge of his nose, and he looked at me over them. He put his
fingertips into his mouth. They came out wet with blood.
......."If you piss me off
enough, I'll leave your guts on the seat. Open the glove compartment
and take out the handcuffs." He didn't move. I jabbed his
ribs hard with the gun, feeling the bones give underneath the
skin. He complied. "Snap one cuff onto your left wrist,
push the other cuff through the door handle, and snap it onto
your right wrist." After he did that, he was hunched forward
and unable to reach me. I held the gun in my left hand and maneuvered
the car back onto the road, steering with my right.
......."Finish giving me
those directions," I said.
.......Fifteen silent minutes
later, I pulled up to an isolated house next to a marsh. It was
a brown shabby affair, and there were two cars in the drive.
One of them was a gray Caddy. I looked at the driver's side door
as I passed. There was a large, fresh scratch mark with blue
paint streaks embedded. I took the cuffs off the kid and pushed
him towards the house. I didn't bother to knock, just went through
the unlocked front door with the kid going first.
.......We entered a living room
as dingy as the outside. Stacks of boxes with Palm Pilots, pagers,
and cell phones were piled next to beat-up furniture. Past that,
two men were sitting at a round table in a dining room. More
boxes were stacked behind them. The men were in their forties,
black hair with gray starting to show. They both wore polo shirts.
One wore a gold necklace. His eyes were the pale blue shade of
a Husky dog. Three cups of coffee were on the table. I pushed
the kid over and pointed the gun at them. They were unimpressed.
......."Thanks for bringing
Bobbie home." The man with the blue dog eyes spoke with
a low smooth voice. It was clear he had faced the barrel of a
gun before and knew how to finesse the situation. I guessed he
was the leader of this crew. "Bobbie, how many time I got
to tell you to take enough car fare, huh?" Bobbie rubbed
his wrists and stood off to the side, glaring at me.
......."Chill with the small
talk," I said. "You wanted to see me, so here I am."
......."Did we?" Dog
eyes looked at his friend. The friend had a nose that had been
broken more than once and hands like steaks. A lifeless cigarette
dangled from fleshy lips. He shook his head and shrugged his
shoulders. Dog eyes looked back at me and smiled. "Buddy,
I think you made a mistake." His friend smirked and laughed.
.......Someone said, "Put
the gun down, motherfucker." In the corner of my eye, another
large man with a sawed-off stood in the kitchen doorway. He had
been very quiet in his movements. The man with the misshapen
nose laughed harder.
......."Don't waste him,
Googie," said Dog-Eyes. "Do what he says, douche bag."
.......I put the gun on the floor
and shoved it with my foot towards the table.
.......The laughing man got up
and collected the gun, then pushed me over and down into an empty
chair. Dog-Eyes got up and came and stood over me.
.......He held up a forefinger
as fat and brown as a well-rolled cigar. "I should shoot
you just for coming in here like an asshole." He lowered
his arms to his sides, balled his fists and arched his shoulders
forward, like he was going to launch one at me. "I hear
that you're a private fucking eye. Why are you so interested
in Jimmy Campbell?"
.......Instinct told me to play
ball. "I was hired by a doctor who was robbed a few days
ago. He suspects Campbell. I was checking him out."
.......He looked behind me at
his crew. "What did that prick steal?"
......."Allegedly some drugs.
One in particular that's used to get heroin addicts cleaned out.
I'm not convinced Campbell stole it, but that and a buck fifty
gets me on the subway."
......."So, then what? He
wouldn't give it up and you wasted him?"
....... "Campbell was maggot
feed before I could talk to him. You already knew that."
Dog-Eyes moved his right hand quickly and struck me across the
face. I started to get up, but a hand attached to a ton of cement
pushed me back down.
......."Johnny D, you want
me to waste the scumbag now?" Googie came around and touched
the barrels of the sawed-off to my head. The gun smelled recently
......."Not yet." The
fat cigar fingers alternately balled up into fists and then relaxed.
"If you're smart, shamus, you'll be straight up with me
and get to walk out that door. If you're stupid, then I'll kill
you. Campbell had something of mine and it's missing. Maybe you
know where it is."
......."What are you looking
.......Johnny D pushed the sawed-off
away from my head and leaned in close. He was all sweat, coffee
breath, and sickly-sweet aftershave. "Cash. One hundred
......."Have you tried the
lost and found?"
.......Johnny D pulled a .45
from his waist and placed it against my throat. "You see
this motherfucker here? This motherfucker doesn't have a sense
of humor. I want my money. Do you have it?" He left it there
for a few seconds, and cold sweat rolled down my neck.
......."I was only looking
for one thing. I saw no money." Johnny D stared into my
eyes. He lowered the gun.
......."What's your angle
with Campbell?" I asked.
......."He owed me money.
Simple as that."
......."I think it's more,"
I said. "I think Campbell's got his hands in other people's
pockets, but it's on your turf, so you have to get a taste. But
now he's dead. Convenient for you." Johnny D kept his mouth
shut, but started to raise his gun again.
......."But I don't think
you did it. Campbell was popped with a .45-caliber gun. I don't
think that's your type of salt. Silk suits prefer finesse, like
a .22 or .32-caliber, and with suppressors. Except for this Neanderthal
.......Googie turned the barrels
back on me, but Johnny D pushed him away. He squinted and spoke
through lips stretched thin by a grimace. "I was never in
......."Not before he expired.
But after, like me. Your crew checked the club and the house
and found no money. I did the same thing, only I was looking
for stolen medicine. Someone gave you a bum tip about me. You
had me picked up on a guess. Someone is playing us. You want
to go on guessing, or do you to find what belongs to you and
what belongs to my client?"
.......The sound of car tires
pushing against gravel came through the front window, followed
by a cut motor and two car doors. Heavy, careless steps came
closer. Johnny D looked behind me and nodded. Someone whacked
me hard on the head. I felt the chair falling away from my body
and saw Johnny D's pale eyes following me down into a dark hole.
.......Across the way from Rubin's
house, cicadas hummed in a grove of oak trees. I could hear a
lawn mower in the distance. When I had come to the day before,
I was back in my motel parking lot lying down on my car front
seat. I spent the night popping Tylenol and washing it down with
Corona. The images in my brain eventually stopped scrolling.
.......I took a sip of coffee
as the Jeep pulled out of the drive doing one hundred twenty.
Draining the cup, I started the car and put the pedal to the
metal. I didn't worry about Laura spotting me in the rearview.
I was pretty sure she never used it.
.......Twenty minutes later,
I was parked outside an aluminum sided cottage. A tall man a
few inches over six feet opened a screen door and she went inside.
He looked out onto the street briefly, then closed the door.
I let several minutes pass, then crossed to the front door. I
rang the bell, hopped over the railing and walked to the back
door. To the side of the house, a flock of seagulls were having
a party, tearing at some garbage. They screeched loudly. The
back door was unlocked. I pulled out my .45 and went inside.
.......Inside, it was more of
a large studio than a house. The back door opened into the kitchen
area, which opened to a larger living room. The entire house
had an cluttered, messy look to it. Laura was sitting on a sofa
bed staring at the man, who was looking out the front window.
An upright piano was in the corner, and sheet music was on the
floor next to it. A lava lamp rested on the very top. Several
more electronic pianos were in the corner. A pot of coffee was
sitting on a table.
.......I raised my gun and cleared
my throat. The man turned quickly. Laura looked up. She said
nothing and looked like she hadn't a care in the world. The man
had a vicious look cemented on his face. The outline of a gun
showed through his tee shirt.
......."Put the gun on the
floor with your left hand," I said. "Then push it away
from you with your foot." He did this.
......."There isn't much
space here and I don't see it out, so why don't you go and get
it," I said.
......."I don't know what
you're talking about," said the man.
......."I don't know what
you're talking about."
......."You're boring me,
Danny. Laura, go get it." I motioned with my gun to for
her to get up.
.......The tall man pointed his
finger at Laura. "Don't move."
.......I raised the barrel of
my gun some more. "I've gotten pretty good with this. My
instructor at the gun club has me splintering coffee sticks at
fifty feet. Think what I could do to your fat head."
.......Laura got up, went into
a walk-in closet and came out holding the plastic jar of white
powder. She placed it on the table. "Sometimes gut instinct
solves a case. Sometimes its luck. In this case, it was 'Cherchez
la femme'" I said to her.
she said and sat back down.
.......I turned back to Danny.
"Start from the beginning. You can practice your story with
me, before you recite it to homicide. After they arrest you for
killing Jimmy Campbell."
.......The seagulls outside had
gotten quiet, and I should have paid attention to that. The front
door was suddenly kicked in and there stood two of my friends
from the day before, Googie with his sawed-off and pathetic Bobbie.
.......Googie closed the screen
door, while Bobbie took a few steps towards me. "Now who's
the asshole? You didn't even see us following you, shithead.
Drop the gun on the floor." I put it down. Bobbie walked
over and picked it up and stuck it into his waistband. He glared
at me for an instant, then hit me in the jaw with his gun. I
dropped to one knee and he hit me on the back of the head. I
fell and stayed down.
......."Move towards the
girl." Googie motioned over at Danny. "Watch the scumbags."
He looked around the room tossing things aside. He picked up
the lava lamp and hurled it against the wall. He lifted the piano
lid, smiled and put the sawed-off down. He reached in and pulled
out a black bag. He looked inside and took out a few packets
of cash. The bag looked big enough to hold one hundred grand.
......."You're an all-around
asswipe," Googie said to Danny.
.......Bobbie had been covering
Googie the whole time, but he had stayed standing where he dropped
me. Quickly, I reached and pulled his foot out from under him.
He fell face first onto the floor, his gun going off. Everyone
froze, but I made my feet and ran for the front door.
.......If I had tried to wrestle
Bobbie for the gun, Googie would have turned me into hamburger.
My only chance was to get my backup piece from the car. I knocked
Googie off balance as I ran by, and took the screen door with
my body. It flew away from the frame, and I rolled off the deck
onto the lawn. I heard a gunshot behind me and figured Bobbie
was on my ass.
.......I made the car, opened
the driver's side door and reached into the glove compartment.
I heard a bullet graze the side of the car. I fired once through
the closed passenger side window at Bobbie, who was about five
feet away. When the chunks of glass fell out, I saw Bobbie looking
down at his stomach. The shot had punched a large red hole in
him. He dropped his gun and collapsed.
.......I heard a shotgun blast
inside Danny's house, then saw Googie come running out with the
black bag. He pumped and fired a blast in my direction. He sprayed
the front windshield of my Impala, while I stayed on the floor.
I waited until his car took off, then got up and fired twice,
taking out his tail lights. After he turned the corner, I ran
into the house. Laura was sitting on the sofa bed covered in
blood and bits of small flesh. Danny lay slumped next to her.
Half of his head was gone. I shook Laura by the shoulders and
she looked at me with lifeless eyes.
.......I got up and closed and
locked the front door. I picked up her purse, found the cigarettes
and lit two. One of them I put in her mouth, the other I took
a deep drag on.
......."Listen to me, Laura.
The police are going to be here any second. I may be able to
help you, but I have to know the truth." She grasped the
cigarette stiff-fingered. Through the smoky smell, the stench
from Danny's blood and brains started to seep through. It made
my stomach turn.
.......She remained silent, so
I shook her again. "Campbell called Danny and me after the
audition," she finally said. "We weren't getting the
gig. We got desperate and said we'd do anything. Campbell knew
my father was a doctor. He played me. He asked if I could get
pills, stuff like that. I said yes. I said I could even steal
prescription pads. He told me he'd call us back."
.......She took another pull
on the cigarette. "He called a few days later. The plan
changed. He said he had a partner, Johnny D. They had the idea
of going into business with my dad. What they wanted to do was
launder money, push more drugs probably. I set up a meeting between
my father and them."
......."Your father met
with them?" The manipulating sonofabitch.
......."Yes. They offered
him a lot of money to open a string of detox clinics. My father
agreed. He knew it was bullshit, but he was tired, he wanted
to stop practicing. Then, a week later, my father suddenly said
no. He wanted more money. He thought he could squeeze them. They
told him to fuck off. Campbell was pissed and told me and Danny
to forget about ever performing at his clubs. He said he would
have us blacklisted. Danny got frustrated, angry. He robbed my
......."Did he kill Campbell?"
.......She shook her head. "I
did. I went to Campbell's club while you were talking to my father.
I wanted to see if there was another way for us to work things
out. He told me sure. He said I could spread my legs for him.
He laughed at me and told me we sucked anyway. I lost it. Danny
had given me a gun for protection a while back. I took it out
and shot Campbell. Just once. I didn't mean to kill him, or maybe
.......Laura shifted her eyes
and looked at Danny. "His safe was open and there was that
bag of cash in it. I took it for us. I didn't know it belonged
to Johnny D."
.......The police arrived as
she was finishing her last sentences. Through the front window
I could see officers toting automatic weapons. I got up and wet
a paper towel and handed it to Laura to wipe the blood off her
face. That was about all I could do for her. Then, I walked over
and opened the front door and raised my hands.
Copyright (c) 2001 by Anthony Rain.
This is Anthony Rain's second appearance
in Thrilling Detective (see Blink of
an Eye; December 2000, which also featured Miles Beckett).
He has published stories in Judas EZine, Nefarious,
Plots With Guns and Without A Clue. Several more
stories of his will be appearing in various venues in 2001.
Anthony will be spending part of July 2001 at the Iowa Writing
Program Summer Festival and looks forward to chewing the fat
with fellow crime writers (okay, other genres too). Anthony
makes his home in New York City.
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