Tag Archives: story

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.

 


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!