Category Archives: Literature

The Case. Part 6.

The last bit by Amanda Hester.

 

-11-

Ginger sat at a table playing cards, he looked up as Sydney came in but only for a moment.  He sniffed derisively, going back to the game.  Sydney waited for the hand to finish and then pulled a chair up a short distance from the man.

“Why’d you kill the girl?” He asked in a bored tone.

“What are you a cop?” The man laughed and the room joined in.

Sydney used the chair to push off; he put all of his weight behind the hit, and heard something in his hand make an unhappy clicking sound as it connected with the square jaw-line.  Within a moment he had a million hands on him, hitting him hard and pulling him away. A cold knife pressed angry against his liver.

“Let him go. Let him go.” The red-haired man grinned as he rubbed his jaw.

“You’ve still got one hell’uv’a cross, for a washed out drunk.  Alright so you’re not a cop, no need to get angry.  Have a seat.” He laughed and waived his thugs away.  Sydney shook the last of their hands off of him and sat back down, his eyes were dark.

Ginger cracked his neck and stretched, and then sucker punched Sydney knocking him off his chair.  He sprawled out, hitting the floor hard.  When he got up Ginger nodded at him and ordered two drinks.

“What’s the girl to you?” His voice was light, but his eyes were dangerous.

“Nothing.  Why’d you kill her?”  Sydney sat down again and lit a cigarette.  When the drinks came he drank it in one. He felt nauseous.

“Didn’t.  I was right here the whole time.” A few of the men in the room chuckled.

“Okay, why’d you have one of your boys kill her?”

“Who says I did?”

“I says.  I saw it.”  Ginger looked at him, sizing the man up.

“You gonna tell anyone what you saw?”

“Nope”

“So what, just curious? Or where you sleepin with her too?”

“I’m working a case. . . That why she’s dead? Cuz she was sleeping with someone?”

“No” Ginger shrugged and nodded to a man at the table to start dealing cards.  “She lied to me.  That’s what happens.  You lie to a man like me, maybe you end up dead.”  He growled at the dealer not to include Wolfe in the hand.

Sydney watched the men bidding and thought.

“You sure she was lying?”  Ginger stopped and looked at him.  “Maybe she really didn’t know where Daniels was.” The man paused, but then shrugged and kept playing.

“She knew, and she knew better then to start throwing a fit in the middle of my business.  She shouldn’t have tried to hide him from me.  She was more clever than she let on.  She had it coming.”  He spoke like his words were acid.  Sydney watched his face closely.

“So you know where Daniels is?” He asked. The man’s eyes hardened.

“I will.” The man kept his eyes on the table, answering the detective out of the corner of his mouth.  Sydney leaned back in his chair and motioned for another drink.

“That’s funny Ginger; I never would have figured you for the jealous type.”

This time the hit knocked him out, and for a while there was just stars and black.  When he came to, his mouth hurt and tasted of dirt, blood, and bourbon.  He was lying face down behind The Can, his head pulsing in time with his heartbeat.  He walked up the street and waited for a cab.  Halfway home he had the driver pull over so that he could vomit.  When he got home he took a shower and went to bed.

The next day was Sunday.  He took the day off, and drank until he met oblivion; they stayed together until the evening when he left a voicemail for Samantha Daniels.  It said to meet him at the Westcliff diner in the afternoon, that he had solved the case.  He put on a record and went to bed.

-12-

Samantha Daniels walked into the small diner in the West end.  Men sat at a table by the window, in hockey jerseys talking loudly.  The man in the dirty corduroy suit sat at a corner booth in the back.  She went over and sat down across from him.  He called to Martha to bring them coffee.  He looked at Samantha with warm dark eyes and asked her conscientiously whether she would like anything to eat.  She said no and the man ordered himself a cheeseburger and a slice of pie.

Sydney Wolfe P. I. looked even less impressive than the first time they’d met.  The left side of his face was swollen and bruised, and there was a cut on his lip.  She wondered why she felt nervous, and sat up straighter holding her hands in her lap so that they didn’t fidget.  Decades later she would still be able to recall the scent of the man in front of her.  It was a mixture of hard alcohol, coffee, and cigarettes.  It was like another world, the smell of uncles, and grandfathers; old men at bus-stops.  She looked at the man and thought of the two plain envelopes in her purse; she wondered what would happen next.

Sydney’s whole being felt exhausted and all he wanted to do was finish here and go fall back into the arms of his soft couch, bourbon, and jazz.  Looking up from his coffee and lunch he took out his note pad with the broken wire and began.

“As you know, your husband was involved with a gang of criminals led by a man named Ginger.  Sally Shields, real name Turner, was a member of this group.  Either deliberately or not she got into the office, and bed, of the Councilman and got him hooked on drugs, probably cocaine.   At some point the Councilman got involved with Ginger, forging documents and using his connections to get a shipment of containers from Germany through customs without being searched.  These allegedly contain steel for a construction gig out in Fall River, but it is more likely they’re drugs; I’m guessing Hashish, though I couldn’t say for certain.  The shipment comes in this Thursday, and as far as I can tell, the thing should at this point go off as planned with or without the Councilman, which suggests to me that you knew most, if not all, of this already.”  She looked at him with cool blue eyes.

“And why is that detective?’  Her voice was soft and calm; curious, almost sweet.

He said with a sigh, “Because on either Monday night, or Tuesday afternoon, you killed him.”

“Why on earth would I do that?” Still curious, calm, soft.

“I don’t know a million reasons probably.  You were tired of him, the marriage, his crass affairs.  You aren’t the kind of woman who gets a divorce; you’re the kind who gets away with murder.  I imagine you think it is cleaner, more civilized. I don’t know why, only you do.  But I thing it’s likely that it had something to do with the fact that you’ve been embezzling funds from your investors for years, cleaning it through his office. Maybe he helped, or more likely he just let you do whatever you needed.  Maybe he didn’t even know, only guessed. But either way you killed him.  I don’t know how or where, I didn’t look into that, I could if you want me to, but I’m guessing there’s no need.  Doubt it’ll trace back to you, and that’s all you wanted me for, isn’t it?”

Her face was still, her eyes were clear.  “What about the girl?”

He looked at her then, he wondered if she didn’t already know.  He felt nauseous and wished he had a drink; he should have had them meet at a bar.

“She’s dead, killed two nights ago; probably by the thugs she worked with.” He felt angry with the city, with all the people in it.  He should get a cabin somewhere, go and get away from it all.  He handed her a small stack of files and papers.

“Here, these are the records you left in Daniels’ office.  From what I gather he didn’t have the brains to pull it off without you, so I wouldn’t leave’em around.  Cops are stupid, but they aren’t that stupid.”

She took them and put them into her purse.  She took out the thicker of the two envelopes and handed it across to the man.

“Here,” she said, “In appreciation for your services.”

He took it. “Sure, thanks.”

She spoke casually; she felt confident again, breath came easier.  “Do you think I should go to the police now?”

“I would.  You can mention that you hired me, I doubt they’ll ask many questions.”

“And if they do?” He smiled at her. He shrugged.  She realized that he didn’t like her.  She reached into her purse and wrote him a check, it wasn’t excessive, but it would do.  He took it and began to eat his lunch.

“I’ll steer ‘em in the right direction.”

“Thank you.”

He nodded.

She put on her jacket, she was calm, collected.  The man ate his lunch and didn’t look at her as she wished him ‘good day’ and left the diner.   She went to the police station and reported her husband missing.  She never saw Sydney Wolfe again, although years later when a friend in unique trouble came to her for help she would recommend his services.

The investigation into the Councilman’s disappearance led to a major drug bust later that week, it was decided that he had probably been killed by the criminals he’d been working with once his part in the deal was done.  Months later his body was found washed up on a beach.  The Police determined that he had been shot to death and then dumped in the harbour.  The gun used was never found.  Samantha Daniels was cleared of suspicion early on in the investigation.

 

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The Case. Part 5.

The next installment of ‘The Case of the Missing Councilman’ by Amanda Hester.

-9-

 

After eating a shoddy breakfast and leaving a voicemail for Sam Daniels, Sydney headed back to the office.  He called Sally to come over and let him in.  She looked tired and grumpy, and was clearly displeased at having been called in on her day off.  But she didn’t put up a fight when he asked for a list of the Councilman’s appointments.  She found him what he wanted, handed him the keys to lock up, and left.  Her mouth and eyes pouted at him angry and abused and once again he couldn’t help smiling as he watched her walk away.

The rest of the morning, and most of the day, was spent making phone calls and chasing down appointments.  Most of it was a bust, but after bribing a buddy of his who worked at the shipyard he was able to find the container number for a shipment of steel the Councilman had signed through customs that was coming in on Thursday.  It was Saturday, and he and his buddy were in the ship yard alone.

“They open the containers when they come in?” Sydney asked as they walked back to the parking lot.

“Not always.  Yours won’t be, been cleared through customs already, got a rush on it.  Guess they need it for some construction job that’s on a deadline or something out in Fall River. I don’t know. . . Why?” His buddy eyed him strangely.

“No reason. . . Don’t go lookin into it though, okay?”

“Yeah, sure Syd.  I’ll give you a call if there’s anything . . . you know, strange.  Give my best to your sister hey?”

“Thanks. . . and yeah I’ll tell her ‘hi’.”  His buddy smiled like an idiot and got into his car. He drove away.  Sydney smoked looking out at the containers and the harbour behind them.  He hadn’t spoken to his sister in years; he didn’t plan on doing so any time soon.  She lived with her family in Winnipeg and thought he was a drunk.  He thought she was a stuck up whore. He grimaced, put his cigarette out, and drove up-town.  Chris’s car kept stalling because of the cold.  Sydney exhaled heavily, hating the world.

By the time he met with Samantha Daniels that evening he had gone through most of the $500, minus his fee, and he told her so.

“I figured as much,” she demurred, and handed him another envelope.  It was heavier than the first had been. Sydney didn’t comment, he put it away and flipped open his note pad.

“So there were a couple appointments Daniels didn’t make on Tuesday, from what I can tell he didn’t go into the office that day, and it is definite that no one has seen him since.”

“What about that Shields girl?” She asked in a biting tone.

“Nope.  Not from what I can find.  It’s sure she doesn’t know where he is now.”  He watched her reaction.  “Jealous?” He asked.

“Don’t be absurd!” She tossed her hair.  “So what now, do you think I should go to the police?” Her eyes flickered and she sipped at her martini.

“Nah, I’d wait out the weekend.  I’m guessing he was involved in a smuggling operation with one of the tougher gangs in the Province.  Probably one of them killed him, but I don’t know why yet.  I’d say hang tight.  Monday’ll be soon enough to go to the cops. . . Did you know anything about it?”  He looked at her face, it had no expression.

“You mean the smuggling?”

“Yeah, or the gang.”

There was a moment of pause between them as they sat looking at each other.  Samantha Daniels finished her martini.

“I had no idea.  I suspected something, but I had no idea it was that.  I figured he had just gotten carried away with that tramp from his office.  It wouldn’t have been the first time. But no, I didn’t know he’d . . . fallen so far.  It is surprising to say the least.”

She didn’t seem surprised, but then Sydney figured, maybe she wouldn’t.

“You know why he might do something like that? Were you having money troubles?” He asked casually.  He knew the answer; he’d already seen the files at the office. But he wanted to see what she would say.

We weren’t, but perhaps he was.  We have separate finances.  If he was having trouble it is probable he wouldn’t tell me about it.  Inferiority complex!  He has always been . . . sensitive to the differences in our level of competence.”  Her voice was cool, truthful.  She ordered another drink.

“Why didn’t you get a divorce?” Sydney knew the answer.

“How vulgar! Please!  We discussed it a few months ago, I would of course have been happy to oblige him in such foolishness.  However I pointed out to him what an ugly spectacle that would make of both our lives.  He understood and the topic was dropped.  Besides, he depends on me entirely.  It was merely drama.  I am afraid that my husband is in truth a fairly stupid man.”  She drank her second martini in one. “But, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to find him detective Wolfe, or that I don’t care enough to make sure that he is safe and well.”

Leaving money on the table she got up to go.

“Let me know what you discover.  I shall wait to go to the police until you have advised me.  Good evening.”  She did not look backward as she left.  Sydney finished his drink and watched her go.

 

-10-

 

Sydney went home to eat dinner and drink.  Around 1030 he went out again to a posh bar up-town to drink some more.  He found Tyler Grey sitting in a corner with some people and sat down nearby to ignore him.  He drank fast with his head down and wished that he could smoke.  After twenty minutes Tyler came over, he looked excited.

“Heya Wolfe, let me buy you a drink.” He put his arm around the detective like they were old friends.

“Yeah sure.  How you figure we’re so chummy all of a sudden?” He hoped he didn’t look smug.  They got their drinks and Grey slipped onto the stool beside him.

“I hear Daniels is missing.” Grey looked at him expectantly, like a kid at a toy store.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, I found out last night after talkin to you.  Got back to the party and everyone was talking about it.  Common Syd, you wouldn’t hold out on your old friend.” He grinned.  His face made Sydney want to punch it.

“I guess he might be.  Why’d the mill say he was?” He ordered another drink, on Grey. They both had one.

“Well, actually I’ve been doing some detecting of my own since then, spoke with Jenny Brooks over drinks at the after party.  She knew all about it.  You know her?”  The kid was smug and Sydney wanted to hit him even more.  Instead he shrugged.

Jenny Brooks was the city’s society gossip and busy body.  Sydney didn’t know her personally, but he knew of her.  He figured she probably did know all about everything, although she seemed to have sense enough not to tell all that she knew.

“What did she say it was?” He asked, pretending not to be interested.

“Coke and extortion is what she figures.  Although, I can’t believe he would be embezzling anything, he worked with city contracts so he had access to the funds, but he didn’t have the brains for it, and he never asked me for any help.”

“Not that you would have condoned it if he had, right? Cuz’ you’re all on the up an up, right?”  Grey just laughed.  He was enjoying himself.  His friends called over to him from the corner.

“That’s right Wolfey, strictly legit. Well anyway, what do you think is going on? What were all those questions about the other night, you think maybe he was embezzling after all? . . . Yeah! Just a minute.” He called back to the corner.

“Yeah maybe, or maybe he just went on a vacation to get away from it all.”

Grey eyed him suspiciously but was tight enough not to care too much.  He shrugged, then smiled, and winked, and gave him the old punch on the arm; Sydney ground his teeth.  The kid stumbled back to his table to make up a story full of intrigue. Sydney finished his drink, got up, and left.

He had returned Chris’s car after his meet with Mrs Daniels so he hailed a cab to take him to The Can.  It was a little after midnight and he knew Ginger would be there playing cards.  He had the cab drop him a block away so that he could approach on foot; he needed the air and exercise to clear his head.

Halfway there he heard two gunshots and the wheels of a car screech. A moment later an old grey sedan flew past him with two men in it.  One was the young thug from the night before.

Sally Turner was slumped against the side of the bar.  A cigarette still burned between the fingers of her hand.  Her face was relaxed and stared into a patch of snow that had withstood the rain.  She had on a red dress and heels, and her lips were a different shade then they had been that morning. They no longer pouted.  They would never again pout, or sneer, or smile.  Sydney looked at her and his look was hard and cold.  There were two holes in the fabric of her dress, and a dark stain had begun to paint the ground.  A few people had come outside; they stood at a distance and looked at the detective.  He sighed heavily and walked past her into the bar.

“Someone should call the cops.” He said, stepping past the bus-boy who gawked in the doorway.

The cops came and took her away.  He knew the two guys who went around asking questions from back in the day.  They didn’t get any helpful answers; this wasn’t the crowd for that.  It made them aggressive, and that made their ‘witnesses’ even less cooperative.

Sydney sat at the bar drinking.  He decided to punch them if they asked him anything, which would get him arrested and probably beat up.  It would be worth it.  He drank some more.

Either the cops didn’t think anything he had to say would be worth hearing, or else they didn’t want to deal with the paper-work.  They ignored him, finished asking questions and finally left.  Feeling belligerent and reckless Sydney ordered another drink and went into the back room to speak with Ginger, no body tried to stop him.

 


The Case. Part 4.

Sorry I missed this on Sunday. Here is the next installment by the fantastic Amanda Hester.

-7-

Sydney Wolfe was out of place in the lobby of the hotel, let alone in the ballroom.  Mrs. Daniels was unimpressed when she found him standing by the hors d’oeuvres table.

“What on earth are you doing here?” She whispered coldly as she came over to stand nearby looking away.

“Pursuing leads in the case as I find em.” He answered, eating casually.  The well dressed men and women in the room looked at his shabby clothes and dirty hair with contempt and disdain.   He didn’t mind.

Before Mrs. Daniels could move away the Mayor came over.  He greeted her, familiarly kissing her cheek; he ignored the detective who at his approach stepped in closer to the couple.

“Sam darling, it’s so good to see you.  Is Herald here?  We were supposed to have drinks the other day but he never showed.  I hope he’s not ill.”

Mrs Daniels smiled and edged closer to the Mayor, away from the man at her side.  But before she could answer, Sydney spoke, “What day was that? If you don’t mind my asking, that you were supposed to meet with Councilman Daniels?”

The Mayor looked at the man suspiciously and answered, “Tuesday, at The Press, with Matt and Jerry, but he never showed . . . who are you?”

“No one, just a friend of Mrs Daniels.”    Sydney smiled at the uncomfortable woman, nodded to the Mayor, and moved away.  In a far corner he found the man he had been looking for.

Tyler Grey was an accountant for the city.  He had worked for the municipality for over ten years and had lined his and his friend’s pockets for all ten of those.  His records were always on the up and up, and the majority of his business was legitimate.  But if a politician wanted to launder money, he was the man to grease the wheels.  Sydney found him wearing a well cut suit and schmoozing with a cocktail waitress in the corner.

He’d worked with Tyler a few years ago, all the kid cared about was money.  He liked thinking of himself as a big fish so he swam in small ponds, getting off on the intrigue of petty crimes and extortion.

“Nice to see you again Grey.  Buy you a drink?” Wolfe stepped forward nudging a shoulder between the man and the girl, and slipping a $50 with his other hand into the man’s pocket.  The man looked unpleasantly at the detective, but then nodded and shrugged apologetically at the girl.

“Sure Wolfe, lets go over to the bar.  Sorry sweetheart, some other time.” He winked obnoxiously as they walked away.  The girl simpered.

They left the function and went across the lobby to the bar.  Sydney hadn’t eaten yet so he ordered a Guinness.

“What’s your business Syd?” The man asked as they sat down.

“You come here last Monday with Councilman Daniels? I got a receipt says you did.” Sydney tried to sound friendly.

“Sure, we had lunch.  What about it?”  Grey eyed the detective warily.  Sydney took out another $50 and slid it across to the man.

“Just lookin for what you talked about is all.  Off the record, nothing official.”

“Who wants to know?” He asked.

“The wife.”

The man took the money and sipped at his drink.  “Daniels was gonna be coming into some money, wanted to know what I thought he should do with it.  I told him.  Simple as that.”

Sydney nodded understanding. “He say where it was coming from?”

“No.  And I didn’t ask.”

“How’d you suggest he clean it?”

“Wife’s charity, I figured she would . . . know how to run something like that.” His slight chuckle was irritating, “I told him if she didn’t like it, I’d take care of it through one of my own projects, so long as he cut me in, he said alright, and we left it at that.  Haven’t heard from him since though.  What’s this all about?”

His eyes looked hungrily at the detective, pink in the cheek.  Tyler loved the cloak and dagger nonsense.  Sydney shrugged.

“Nothing.  Let me know if you hear from him though, okay?.”  He handed him a card. “By the way, when was this pay-day supposed to be coming in?”

Tyler took the card and finished his drink, getting up to go.

“Next week sometime. . . I’ll tell you what though, you see him you tell him to call me.”  He winked obnoxiously again and went back to join the party, leaving Sydney with the bill.

-8-

Sydney called a cab to take him back to his apartment on North.  On the way he had the driver pass by the girl’s place on Charles.  A light was on and he could see Sally in the kitchen talking on the phone, she looked upset.

Chris Corrigan was a retired cop who lived in the neighbourhood, about a block away from the girl, Sydney sometimes went there to smoke his cigarettes and play cards.  He went there now instead of going home.  Chris was there, old and grey and probably dying slowly like most retired cops did.  He was wearing his housecoat and watching t.v. He told Sydney to “bugger off”, he didn’t want to play cards.  His house smelled of soup.  Sydney didn’t care, he took the keys to an old civic that were hanging on the wall and told the man he’d be back before morning.  The old cop didn’t respond.

The lights were still on when the detective pulled up, parking the car across the street, but the girl was no longer in the kitchen.  Sydney waited, smoking.  After a while she came back into the room, this time followed by a young thug who looked familiar.  Sydney recognized him as one of Ginger’s boys.  The two were arguing and every now and then Sally would get heated enough to try and strike him.  They went on like this for about twenty minutes before the phone rang.  Sydney watched the girl’s face as she answered it.

Ten minutes later a cab pulled up in front of the building and honked.  The lights in the apartment went off and both the girl and the kid came out, looking as chummy as ever, and got in.  Sydney followed the cab to a house in a bad part of the South End.  He watched the two get out and hurry inside.  He figured the place was one of Ginger’s.  After a while he parked in a dark alley off the street and took out his .38.  He pulled his hat down and walked around the building looking for an open window.

A couple of Ginger’s boys stood in the back smoking and cracking wise.  Through a side window Sydney could see Ginger and the girl sitting at the kitchen table.  The man’s face was calm and no redder than usual; the girl was flush and angry.  She had the papers from the Councilman’s office spread out on the table.  Her voice was shrill, and through the window he could hear the girl yelling.

“Why don’t you ask him?  Everything looks like he did.”

Ginger’s low response was inaudible, but it freaked the girl out.  Her voice became higher and louder.

“Why are you asking me that? I don’t know, I keep telling you!” She was frantic and Wolfe watched the red haired man reach out and pet her hand, speaking low and soothing.  He watched fear fill her pretty blue eyes.

“I told you everything I know.” He heard her say.  “The wife’s hired a private detective.  I don’t think she knows either.”

The rest of the conversation was lost to posterity as a dog came around the side of the house and began to bark.  Sydney slowly moved away into the darkness.  He brought the car back to Chris, watched some t.v. and smoked.  Then he went home.  He poured himself a drink and put on a record, by the time he woke up it was morning.


The Case. Part 3.

The next installment from Amanda Hester.

————————————————————————–

When he got to the councilman’s office the girl was there.  She was shuffling through papers at her desk in a hurry, and her cheek, where Ginger had hit her, was beginning to bruise and swell.  Her eyes were red, maybe from crying, but she looked angry and dangerous.

Sydney put on his most official and innocuous tone, “You Sally Shields?”

She looked up, startled and defensive.  “Yeah, who wants to know?”

He pulled out his notepad and pencil, “I’m detective Wolfe.  Mrs. Daniels asked me to look into her husband’s disappearance.  I just wanted to ask you a few questions if that’s alright.  Maybe we could go somewhere more private to talk?”

She stuck her lip out sulkily and hunched her shoulders, “Sure, of course I’ll help however I can.  If he is disappeared or whatever, but I don’t know what help I’ll be.  It has nothing to do with me, I’m sure of that.  Here, we can go into his office – you’ll probably want to see that next anyhow.”

“Yes, thank you that would be perfect.  Just routine questions, you understand. Like you say, we can’t be sure that he’s even missing at this point.”

He followed her into the room.  Most men would have said she was an attractive girl; she had the perfect balance of fragile and crazy to drive most men wild.  Sydney wasn’t fooled though.  He’d met her father a few years back during a job that nearly killed him, a nasty piece of goods.  She had the Turner nose, and he imagined that wasn’t the only thing she’d inherited from her father.  She was relatively skinny, but strong, and her clothes were strategically chosen to hug her best features as she walked ahead of him into the Councilman’s office and sat down.

“Mind if I smoke?” He asked her, sitting down in the second chair.

“There’s no smoking in the building.  But I don’t care if you want to.  There’s no detector in this room so it doesn’t matter.” She looked at him as he lit a cigarette and made a slight show of thumbing through his notes.  Her eyes were blue.  “You don’t look like a cop” she said.

“Yeah, I’m not. Not anymore anyway.  Private detective.  Mrs. Daniels hired me this morning, she didn’t want to bring in the police just yet.” He looked at her straight.

“Sam’s a bitch.  But she’s not dumb, probably doesn’t want any of her secrets getting out.  She’s a total control freak you know, I bet she’s just using you.”  The girl pouted a little and crossed her arms in front of her.  “I told her, and I told you, this has nothing to do with me.  I don’t know nothing about it.  He probably just went away on business and didn’t tell her.  That’s what I’d do, all the time if I was married to her.  What do you want from me anyhow, Private Detective?” She spoke the last two words with an insulting sneer.

Sydney smiled at the young girl.  He liked her, she was neither bright nor stupid; pretty enough, but not beautiful; mean and self centered, but not cruel.  She reminded him of girls he had grown up with in Truro; girls who mindlessly pursued any avenue of escape from the tedious suffering of their lives.

“Yeah, okay.  Where’d you get the chip for the Mrs. from, she not like you or something?” His eyes mocked her.  The girl continued to make faces at him.

“Yeah, she don’t like me much. So what? She’s one of those women, I told you, a real control freak.  She’s always coming into the office checkin up, even when Mr Daniels was out, looking over his shoulder, messing through files and stuff. You know the type: no one can do anything as well as she can, that kind of attitude. Doesn’t want her little pet husband embarrassing her or something, sure, I don’t like her, but I’m stayin clear of it.” She slumped in the chair, looking over her crossed arms at the detective, her eyes sulky and stubborn.

The detective looked back at her smiling still, his eyes were mischief.  “So what is it Ginger’s cut you out of Sally? You get the Councilman hooked on drugs, or something deeper? You don’t know where he is? That’s fine.  How’s your daddy doin up in Glace Bay?  I owe him a couple inches of steel, and maybe a right cross.  But you deal straight with me little girl, maybe I’ll forget I owe him anything.”

The girl’s face turned bright red and ugly.  She leapt out of her chair at him trying to claw her way through him to the door.  He grabbed her by the waist and pushed her roughly back into her chair. He growled at her while out of nowhere he pulled a cold black .38.

“Come on now sweetheart, play nice.  Let’s just sit down here and calmly have our little conversation.  I’m just trying to do my job, no reason why it needs to bring any trouble to anybody.”

She sat very still, her hands holding the arms of her chair, as she eyed the gun in the man’s hand.  It was unexpected.  She moved her gaze from the gun to the man’s eyes.  He sat down across from her and smiled, the gun on his lap still aimed at her.  He didn’t look like a man who carried a gun; those were just the kind of men you didn’t want to cross.  She wondered if he was right in the head.  She licked her lips and smiled, she tried to pretend to relax.

“Alright then,” she said, “let’s talk.”

“Yes, let’s.” He continued to smile slightly at her.  She wondered why, the gesture looked incongruous in his tired ugly face.

“Who’s Ginger? I don’t know what you’re talking about” she started.

“Clearly.”  He teased her.  She chewed on her cheek unconsciously.  Sydney found it cute.

“Alright, fine. So, you’re so smart then,” she said with forced lightness, “you should know I’d rather take my chances getting shot by you here, than give up Ginger and his business.  That’d be suicide, and not just for me.  I ain’t stupid you know.  We can sit here, and you can shoot me as you like, but I ain’t talkin about nothing that ain’t you’re business.”  Her eyes moved warily back and forth between his face and the gun.  She sat perched on the edge of her chair; her hands, now in her lap, twitched and fidgeted betraying the action of her mind.

 

-6-

 

Sydney looked easily around the room.  It was rather typical, some papers on the desk, a framed degree on the wall bragging of an MA from some prestigious university.  A few photographs set around, of Councilman Daniels with the Mayor playing golf, or with the Premier.  He wondered if he would find any liquor in the desk.  He got up and began to look for it.  The girl just continued to sit there, she watched him out of the corner of her eye.

“What has the Councilman been working on lately?”  He asked her as he broke into the locked side drawer of the desk, and pulled out the scotch and glasses that lay within.  He poured them each a drink, and put the files that he found beside them in the large pocket of his overcoat.

She hesitated, but then took the drink and replied.  “I don’t know.  He does stuff with construction.  I just answer the phones, and make appointments, and sometimes I do filing.  I don’t really understand most of it.”

Sydney wondered if that was true.  Sally’s type was used to people thinking she was dumber than she actually was.  She may or may not have graduated high-school, but he was fairly certain she would be able to grok anything important.

“When was the last time you saw the Councilman?” He asked her.

“Monday evening, I told Mrs. Daniels that, I had a dentist appointment the next morning and he had appointments all that afternoon so I didn’t see him Tuesday, I don’t even know if he came in.  He hasn’t been into the office since.”  She looked at him steady and calm.

“So you didn’t see him at your apartment Tuesday afternoon?”

“No, why should I have?  And before you ask, no I don’t know where he is.  I wish I did . . . it’s been very awkward.”  She finished her drink and let him pour her another.

Sydney put the gun away and smiled at the girl, his eyes still teasing.

“So you weren’t sleeping with him then?”

She rolled her eyes and smiled slightly, “Sure I was, but not Tuesday, and I still don’t know where he is.”

“What about Ginger? He know?”

The girl’s eyes snapped toward the detective, cold as ice.

“I told you I wasn’t telling you shit about Ginger.  What’s he got to do with it anyway?  You should be careful asking around about him.  But then you do look stupid, maybe you are.”  Brassy now that the gun had disappeared, she downed her drink and glowered at the detective.  “I’m done talking to you anyway.  The Councilman doesn’t even bother to come into work, I’m going home.”

He nodded as she tentatively got up to leave.  He got up, leaving the scotch and glasses on the table.  He followed her out to her desk.  The papers she had been collecting when he arrived where sitting there.  Like she’d said, they related to various municipal contracts for projects in and around the city.  She put them into her bag as he leaned against the office door and watched her put her coat on getting ready to leave.

“What would the Councilman be doing tonight, if he hadn’t taken a powder . . . you?” He asked her, still teasing.  Despite herself she smiled.

“Ha, no.  He and the Mrs. had some big charity fundraiser or something, over at the Lord Nelson at 7pm.  Who knows, maybe he’ll show up and I won’t have to ever see you again.” She winked at him, “happy thought.”  She walked away, swishing her hips like a girl pretending in her mother’s high heels.  Sydney continued to smile at the retreating figure and lit a cigarette.

He smoked as he went back into the office, looking through files and papers and drinking the Councilman’s scotch.  He went out and riffled through the girl’s desk, pocketing cigarettes from a pack found in the left hand drawer.   Aside from these he also found a receipt from the previous Monday for what looked like drinks at a hotel bar, across the top someone had written “T. Grey” in pen.  Sydney guessed it had been Daniels, even though the receipt was found in the secretary’s desk along with various other business notes and invoices.  Wolfe tucked it into the pages of his notepad and decided to head over to the Lord Nelson.

 


The Case. Part 2.

Second post in The Case of the Missing Councilman by Amanda Hester.

Sydney Wolfe sat chewing his lip.  Martha came over and poured him some more coffee.  He looked at his notes and thought.  Finally he left some money on the table and got up to leave.  He had a brown wool overcoat hanging by the door and a hat, the kind men wore when his father was young.  It had belonged to his grandfather and was about as old and worn as the overcoat it didn’t match.  He put both on and turned his collar up against the cold as he waited for a taxi to take him to a bar full of criminals down on the waterfront, next to the stockyard.  He rubbed his face with one hand and spit onto the sidewalk, then bummed a cigarette from one of the punk kids who hung around outside the diner and put it away in his pocket as the cab pulled up.

‘The Can’ was a dive where the liquor was cheap and the clientele disagreeable.  You went there mostly for drugs and information, nobody bothered you unless you asked them to, and the pool tables were free.   As he walked in, the bartender greeted him with a small nod and poured him a shot of bourbon. The Can didn’t serve anything but hard liquor and cheap beer, their bourbon was alright though.

“Heya Syd, been a while.  How’s tricks?”

“Good enough.  Digs around?”

“Yeah, in the back.  Don’t starts any trouble though, if you’re gonna shoot him you take it outside. Alright?”

“Yeah sure.  You know of a girl named Shields?”

“Nah. Who’s she?”

“No one. Thanks”

Leaving money on the counter he took his drink over to a shut door in a far corner, knocked a few times then went inside.

The back room was dimly lit and full of smoke.  Three tables were set up around the room where people sat drinking and playing cards.  Some of the men in the room looked up as Sydney entered, some didn’t.  Looking around, the detective found his man and headed over to the far table where he dropped some money and sat down.  He played two hands before Digs spoke to him.

“So what is it you want this time Wolfe? You still saying as I owe you something? Cuz I don’t owe you shit!”

Digs Murphy was a tall well built black man who ran drugs back and forth across the border; he had a cousin in Maine and liked to sleep with the girls who worked the Yarmouth Ferry.  Mostly he was a middle man.  He did a solid business without any ambition to better, and so he never got left outside when it rained.  Back when Detective Sergeant Sydney Wolfe didn’t drink Bourbon and still had a badge, Digs was just a young kid using his pretty voice to keep him out of prison.  These days cops and crooks alike would tell you ‘Digs don’t sing; not any more’, but that didn’t mean he didn’t still have the goods.

Word on the street was: the last time Digs had seen Wolfe he’d put two bullets in him; and that maybe the washed out detective was interested in a little pay back.  Word had also gone around that maybe Digs owed Wolfe two large for a favour he’d done him a few years back.  Either way, word on the street was wrong.  What had really happened was that Wolfe had caught some lead while covering for Digs and had won $100 dollars off of him later that night in a disputed card game.  Reality being rarely so glamorous as rumour.

Wolfe began to smoke; hardly looking at his cards, but bidding like he had.  He took the next hand before he replied.

“Yeah well, maybe you do, and maybe you don’t.  I’ll tell you what though, answer me a question, and maybe buy me a drink, and we’ll call it even.”

The black man considered this while he lost the hand.

“Well, I don’t know that I like playin cards with you gumshoe.  But yeah, okay.  Sammy! Get this guy another drink, we’re gonna go over to the corner and smoke.”

While Sammy went to get drinks the two men left their cards and went into a corner where the men in the room moved aside to let them be.  Sammy came in with their drinks and left them to it.  Wolfe smoked the black man’s cigarettes like they were his own, putting the butts in his pocket, and Digs didn’t mind.

“So whaddya want?” The young man asked, leaning against the wall and looking handsome.

“I need some information for a case.  What do you know about a girl named Sally Shields?  Been running around up-town with a Councilman, probably into drugs. . . Councilman Daniels, but you didn’t hear the name from me.”

“Yeah, maybe I’ve seen her.  Not always around here, but up town like you say.  She’s into coke and maybe something more.  Wrong name though, she’s Sally Turner, daughter of Tiny Turner, you remember, that gun runner from out in Glace Bay.  Word is she’s in Ginger’s gang and that they’ve got some big business coming into harbour from overseas, next week maybe, couldn’t say.  I don’t know about any Councilman, but it might still be her.  She’s cleaned up real nice and pretty to see ever since she got out of goal last spring.  That’s about all I know, which is why I’m tellin you any of it.  Now how about you skip off!”

Sydney Wolfe nodded and took a few more cigarettes to keep in his pocket.  He finished his drink, put on his hat, and left the bar.

-4-

The cab dropped the detective off at a small but well lit bachelor on North St.  A red cat met him at the door.  He picked it up and it purred, getting hairs on his corduroy.  Sydney sat down at a small table, poured himself a glass of scotch and spread his notes out before him; those he had taken in the diner, as well as those he had just finished writing on the cab ride home from The Can.  He smoked the cigarettes he’d taken from Digs as he looked at the pieces of paper that lay on the table.  After a while he left them as they were, to talk amongst themselves maybe sort themselves out a bit.  He took his drink over to the couch that doubled as his bed and put a record on repeat, hoping to sleep for maybe an hour or two.

He woke more than two hours later to banging at his door, and opened it on a small shifty criminal named Simon that he knew from around—the man used to be a rat back before the force and Sydney’s drinking had had their little disagreement. Wolfe didn’t like the man, never had.

“Whaddya say Syd? Long time.”  The dirty little man had shifty eyes and a nervous tick that never went away.

“Sure.  What do you want Simon?”  Wolfe kept his body in the doorway so that the man couldn’t see or get into the apartment.

“Say, you gotta drink for an ol’pal?”

“No”

“Awe common man, whaddya gotta be that way for? We go back don’t we?”

“Sure.  What do you want Simon?”

“Oh alright, suit yourself, I don’t care. Stuck up, washed out, dick. . . Digs sent me to give you this.”  The man hesitated and then handed him a folded up piece of dirty paper with writing on it.  “Digs said as you’ld at least give me a drink for my trouble.” He whined.

“Yeah well, thanks for the message.  Digs was wrong, but I’ll give you something more if you don’t hit it.” Wolfe took the piece of paper and glowered with some menace at the irritating man.

“Awe common now Syd.  Geez.  You’re gonna be sorry one of these days that you treat people so raw.”

“What, you threatening me Simon?”

“No! common Syd, nah I’m just sayin as, you catch more flies with honey an all that.  Alright, alright, I’m goin. Geezus!”  The man shuffled away quickly and grumbling; his ticks jumping all over the place.

Sydney went back over to his table and the puzzle of notes that he’d left there, to read the message from Digs.  It was written tidy and clear, it said:

Turner bird and Ginger came in a little after you left.  Had a row, real scene.  She’s not too pleased with the way things are going (however that is).  He shut her up real nice.  She left, he stuck around.  Cards and not much chatter.  I didn’t mention as you’ld been around.

You owe me two now.  Don’t forget it.

— D.

It was getting on 430-5p and Sydney figured it was about time he headed up town to the Councilman’s offices.  Putting on his overcoat and hat he went out and grabbed a cab.  It was grey and raining, it often was.

Stay tuned for next weeks post of part 3!


The Case. Part 1.

Here is the first post in a NEW series of fresh local lit. My loyal contributor Amanda Hester has written an awesome short story which will be released to you every Sunday over the next 6 weeks. The story is based in Halifax and will keep you on the edge of your seat!

Case of the Missing Councilman

By Amanda Hester

-1-

The first time Samantha Daniels met with Sydney Wolfe it was at a small diner in the West End of the city.  He was roughly 40 years old and had shaggy, greasy hair the colour of dry autumn mud; it was thinning and he pulled it back behind his ears whenever it fell into his face.  He had on a worn corduroy suit, which she would see again in subsequent meetings, and his white shirt looked slept in.

Sydney Wolfe P.I. did not immediately inspire confidence.  He was clean shaven, with sporadic patches of missed stubble.  He was lean, average height, he slouched.  His green eyes were tired and cynical, and hung heavy in his face.  As Samantha walked into the diner, she found him sitting at the bar with a half drunk cup of coffee and a half eaten turkey sandwich.  He was dumping the tobacco that remained in smoked cigarette butts onto a small piece of ‘roll your own’ paper, which early on in their conversation she would watch him roll and smoke.

“What inspired you to become a private detective?” She asked, trying to make conversation as she ordered herself a cup of coffee.

“I hate people” He answered without specific intonation, in the same voice that he ordered a piece of apple pie.

“My fee is $75 per day plus expenses, I find out you’re lying to me my fee is $100.  So don’t lie and it’ll save me time, and save you money.  You can tell me everything you got to say here, Martha’s about as dumb as she is deaf, and me, I don’t judge” He said all this in a rolling monotone, nodding at the waitress, and stopped when he had finished without giving any sense that he waited for a response, or even that he had spoken at all.  He just continued his business with the cigarette ends and finished his sandwich.  Looking up at Martha he ordered another coffee.

When Samantha began to speak he looked at her evenly with his tired eyes, listening to what she said.  His pupils remained fixed, his breathing even.  It was disconcerting for her that he showed no sign, no recognition, or awareness even, of what an attractive woman she was.  She spoke nervously at first, trying to lure him into some sympathy with her plight, but he just looked bored and began to tackle his pie.

After a while he turned to her and began to smoke.

Martha called from the back room “Oy! Syd! There’s no smoking in here.  Put that out!” He ignored her.

“So, you can cut the pretty ingénue act, I’m not buying it.  I’ll tell you later if I need any back story, you just cut to the chase and tell me what you’ve got going on.”

Samantha looked at the dirty little man, her face flush.  She sipped at her coffee and said, “Alright then”.  The man summoned Martha who poured them more coffee and they moved with it over to a booth in the corner, where the man, continuing to smoke, pulled out a dingy looking note pad with a broken wire. As Samantha spoke he wrote on it with a stubby pencil and she noticed his hands were narrow and feminine.  She wondered if he had ever been anything other than what he was now.

-2-

Samantha Daniels’ story was more or less exactly what one might expect.  The pretty daughter of a successful lawyer, she had grown up smart and arrogant, and in society.  She’d married young and married well, and soon after had grown bored with her friends, her money, her husband, and her life.  Now in her mid to late 30’s (an age she never admitted to) she struggled with ennui and a mild addiction to prescription drugs.  She had affairs, but her husband didn’t care.  He had affairs and she didn’t care.  She generally tended to dislike everyone she met, but then she generally disliked herself.  Having graduated with a degree from Yale, she was a part-time investment broker and held the chair for various women’s clubs and societies.  She was an extremely competent and composed person; she was also profoundly unhappy.

As she spoke quietly to the private detective she played unconsciously with her fingers in her lap.

“My husband, Councilman Daniels, has been having an affair with his secretary for about six months now.  While I hardly care about that, I have recently had it from a good friend that the girl in questions, a Miss Sally Shields, may have a disreputable past that, were it and the affair to get out, could significantly damage the chances for my husband’s re-election.”

“When I spoke to my husband about it a few days ago he became enraged, quite uncharacteristically so.  But then, he has been acting strangely for months now.  He has been moody and irrational.  I have encouraged him to go and see a doctor, but. . .  I especially worry about his heart.  He has been so odd lately, sometimes pale and sweating, and the next day flush and feverish.  At any rate, if he has been to see a doctor, he’s not informed me of it.  But I do know that he went, after we spoke last, to go and see that woman.  I know it because he told me that was where he was going.  I don’t know whether he went to break it off, or to carry on with her, but I know he went to see her. .  I even followed him . . . out of concern . . . he went to her one-bedroom on Charles St. . .  After I saw him go in, I left.”

“The thing of it is . . . is that this was three days ago and I have not seen or heard from him since.  I have left tentative messages with all of our friends and at his office, and as far as I can gather he has disappeared. What is strange, however, is that his secretary, Miss Shields, has been in to the office every day.  I went in yesterday and asked if she had seen him and she lied to my face that she hadn’t seen him since Monday, which is the day before I followed him to her apartment.  I asked her if she could account for his continued absence from the office and she said she could not, but that maybe he had gone out of town on business and just failed to let either of us know.”

“Is that likely, I mean, has your husband ever done anything like that in the past?” The detective asked this unobtrusively.  He watched her calmly, his head tilted slightly forward.

“No. No, that is just it, not at all.  It is not something Herald would ever do.  He is not absent minded or thoughtless.  It is all a very great mystery.  I am, indeed, beginning to become quite worried.  But you see, especially with the possibility of the Shields girl being involved, I hesitate in going to the police, because of the publicity and the questions.  It is very important that I understand better just what is going on, before I involve anyone in an official capacity.  That is why I have come to you.”

Samantha Daniels took an envelope out of her bag and handed it to the man across from her. “Here.  This is $500 and my private number, it should cover your costs to begin with, I imagine.  I’ll expect to hear from you in the next day or so.”

The man took the envelope and, folding it, put it in the inside pocket of his jacket. “Yes, thank you. That’ll be enough for me to start.  Where exactly are your husband’s offices and what was the address on Charles?”

Samantha wrote these down for him on a clean page in his dingy notebook.  After a few moments of silence she pulled her things together and made to leave.  “If that will be everything Mr Wolfe, I really need to be going.  Thank you so much for taking the case I suppose.”

He looked at her again, with those inscrutable eyes.  “Yes, of course.  One last question Mrs. Daniels, have you ever known your husband to take drugs of any kind?”

“No, of course not, it would be absolutely out of the question for him.  He has a career in public office, and he is simply not that sort of man.”

She put on her coat, smoothing the front of it, she put on her gloves. She was unruffled, composed.  Nodding farewell to the man in the worn corduroy who still sat in the booth, she calmly left the diner and hailed a cab to take her up town.

 

I told you you would love it! Part 2 coming next Sunday!