The last bit by Amanda Hester.
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?”
“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.
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.”
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.