The Case of the Red Fox [PG-13]

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The Case of the Red Fox [PG-13]

Post  Jarod on Tue Oct 13, 2009 6:31 pm

In response to my Halloween costume post, I wrote this. I'm not sure if it's good or not, I tried to keep in with the film noir / pulp 1930's private eye paperback feel.

I'm not sure if I'll be doing any more of this. I may or may not. That being the case, I don't see a reason for a discussion thread. If you have an opinion, you're free to post it here. If I add more, I'll separate it into two threads.

I added a rating because there is a rule about keeping things PG-13 and under in this guild. I know it's not always followed, but I take it seriously. That said, there will be some foul language and a bit of suggestion in this story. Not much, just enough to add flavor. Figured I'd at least warn you.

I hope you enjoy it, such as it is.

~* The Case of the Red Fox *~

The clock ticked. Motherfucker, I wish it would stop. Not that I mind clocks, you know. Nothin' wrong with 'em, just when you've heard the same goddamned thing for a month, you start thinking of something that might shut it up. A lead slug, for example. Wouldn't be the first time these walls had a little extra metal in them. Wouldn't be the first time for me, either. I'm a private eye.

I spit the smoking butt into the tray and tried to imagine the ticks were crisp greenbacks. The only thing that managed to do was remind me that I haven't eaten a meal in a week. I guess Lucky was right, whiskey isn't a meal, no matter how much you drown yourself in it. tch, well at least it takes the mind off. ... ah shit, that's the gun.. no, I won't be eating that just yet.. right side.. there it is, silver flask and just enough burbon to make it through the day. Clock says it's still 11am. Like I ever cared.

The booze did the trick, the clock was replaced by a steady pounding in my temple. By 8 o'clock I was ready to go home, but there was someone who wasn't. I saw her shapely silhouette outside my door just as I grabbed my coat. She knocked on the glass with one finger. The sound made a chill run down my spine. I didn't like those. I've been in situations hotter than the barrel of Fox's gun and still found time to light my cigarette. Chills down the spine were a red flag I usually avoided, even if it meant food. I was out of booze though, so I opened the door.

Her stiletto heels, red as her dress, red as her lips, clicked louder than her knuckle on the glass. The curves ran straight up her dark body and didn't miss a beat. Her lips were as full as a loaded pistol and her hair was black as a loaded alley at night. There's that chill again.

She looked at me as if I wasn't there. "Detective, I'm sorry to disturb you," she spoke. She sounded like she was trying to sooth a kitten. Or a cougar. Had I not actually been disturbed I would have made up an excuse. Since I couldn't take my eyes off of her, I made up an excuse. "No problem, Miss, I was just stretching my legs."

"Do you always work this late, detective?"

"'Late' is a state of mind, I could go all night if I had to."

"Mm, well, I won't be upset if I keep you up, then."

I wasn't sure what was harder, the lump in my throat or... well let's just go with the lump in my throat. Fun is fun but a hot meal goes a lot longer than a late snack. Down to business.

"What can I do for you, Miss?"

"I need your help, detective."

"You and a dozen others. More specifically, what can I do for you?"

"Well I..." She let herself in and closed the door with her hips. I couldn't help but let my eyes wander down there. Thank God for hats with low brims. "I'm afraid I'm rather embarrassed by all this..." Funny she should say that about a speech so well-rehearsed. "I believe I've been framed for murder." ... yep, there's that chill again. Figured I should play it safe on this one.

"That's a job for the police."

"I can make it worth your while..."

She leaned toward me, and my eyes couldn't help but wander again. As they were busy in her dress, she reached into her purse and drew out an envelope full of bills. Why do dames always have envelopes full of bills? Haven't they ever heard of a bank? The case was starting to sound like money. Not easy money, the kind I like... but money nonetheless. I indulged myself.

"Who died?"

"A dear friend of mine," Yeah, I'll bet. The tears are simply gleaming in your eyes. "her name was Ayame. I think you might have run into her."

Ayame. She was small time trying to be big. Lotta heart, that girl, but never seemed to get anywhere. All the perps had a name for her...

"Misfit? I put her away years ago. A few times. How'd she cop it, and what do you have to do with her?"

"I knew her when she was young.. she came to me a month ago, so afraid of her life of crime..." Lie. "She simply begged me for a place to stay, so she could clean up. I had to, detective. I couldn't turn her down. I put her up in my apartment, and she was so good to me. I... Oh god.." I already had my handkerchief held out to her. Some things you just learn after a while. She dabbed her eyes and choked back... something. When she handed the rag back to me I couldn't help but notice it was still bone dry. "I came home.. just three days ago.. she was dead.. in the middle of the room.."

The rest of the story wrote itself, but I needed more details. The problem was that this dame wasn't going to give me what I needed; she probably rehearsed her lines on the way here. I needed to ask a question that gave me some lines to read between.

"Not a suicide?"

"Oh, no detective. She was stabbed several times."

Yeah, lines like that one.

"Did she have any visitors while she was with you?"

"No, detective.. though I wasn't home all the time, and neither was she."

"Did she seem... irritable or uneasy before her death?"

"Not at all! She was doing very well, she was very happy."

"Did she speak of anyone?"

"We occasionally talked about her past.. but she never said someone might want to hurt her."

"Does anyone else live with you? Any witnesses?"

"No detective, I live alone and the police questioned everyone in the building. No one knows anything."

"Any idea why anyone would want to frame you?"

"None at all, detective. I haven't done anything wrong."

Pretty cut and dry. I wasn't going to get much more out of her, she was playing this game and had it down tight. I had to wrap it up and figure stuff out for myself.

"Can you tell me anything peculiar about the scene?"

"Well.." Paydirt. "there was a piece of paper.. looked like a business card.." She reached into her purse again. She really should have rehearsed this better. She drew out a small piece of paper, definitely a business card. Had some blood on it. I took a look at it. For the first time in a month, food wasn't the only thing on my mind. "I can't make anything of it. Can you, detective?" I sure as hell could, but why would she... dammit, that was a question I needed answered. That meant I was going to have to talk to her.

"No, but I'll look into it." I slipped the card into my breast pocket.

"Thank you, detective. If there's nothing else...?"

"Payment. $50 dollars a day plus expenses." She almost seemed disappointed as she licked her lips.

"mmm.. I suppose that's fair. If there's anything else you need... anything at all..."

Yeah, I need you out of my office.

"Your name would help."

"Liah."

I nodded. "That'll be all. I'll be in touch."

She smiled and walked out the door. Normally I'd watch the curves until they got to the end of the hall, but my mind was on something else. I pulled out the card. The blood was dry, just a little bit on the corner. The design stood out clear as day, and brought back so many memories that I drained the last from my hip flask. A fox-ear headband. Something was very rotten about this, and I didn't like it one bit.

At least the damn clock shut up.
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Re: The Case of the Red Fox [PG-13]

Post  Jarod on Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:38 pm

The rain beat down like the questions in my brain. The only difference was that the rain was cold but the questions burned hotter than the gates of Hell itself. I tried to think about the case but all I could think of was her. Why, after so many years, did she just fall back into my lap? Someone up there had a sense of humor, but this joke wasn't funny. Misfit wasn't the brightest, but death? She didn't deserve that. A white coat maybe, but not a dozen stab wounds. And what did Fox have to do with it? At least the dame was right about one thing; someone was being framed.

My tab was getting to be as loud as the damn clock this month, but Lucky would understand. His bar was small, but the people who found it never left. Good booze made good barflys. Lucky was no slouch either; sharp as a tack and a tongue that could talk down a steamroller, though you wouldn't know it to look at the guy. Thin and blond, like some rich bastards prissy son. He's an ex-con, we called him "Lucky" because he went in and struck it rich, then got out before it got too hot. Everything seemed to go his way. He's the only con I know who played the game and won. I won't lie, it always cheered me up in a twisted way to know that I could dig up a mountain of dirt on the guy but I could never touch him. Not that I'd want to touch him. He swings one way, I swing another. Still, if you ever needed a good meal, a good drink or a good word, Lucky's was the place.

He winked at me when I walked in, then grinned and shook his head as I walked over to the bar. He pulled up a Silver Phoenix on the rocks, as if he knew I was coming. "Sunny told me a skirt walked out of your office. Figured you could use a drink." Damn, he was good. "I'll-" "No need to say you'll pay me back, handsome. I know an Angel like you could never turn down a pair of big blue eyes." Damn... he was good. "Only yours, Lucky." He laughed and I cracked a grin. God, I needed that.

"So spill the beans, hot stuff. Give me all the dirty-dirt."

"Murder. Misfit copped it three nights ago."

His eyes went wide. I told you, we all knew her. He took a few seconds and a few breaths, but his tone was gone. "So.. I.. I take it you're looking for who did it?"

"That's the plan."

"Any leads?"

"Yeah..." I reached into my breast pocket and pulled out the card. He damn near fainted at the sight of it. "No... she would never..."

"They had a history."

"So do we, but you don't see me trying to snuff you." I took a drink, didn't say anything. "I don't like it, Angel. This stinks like the bum going through my trash." He was as sharp as ever. Hopefully he was sharp enough.

"I need to talk to her. Find out what she knows. Has she been in?"

"Last week, with some huge guy who wouldn't let me touch him. Said she was hiding out by the city." I knew what he meant. "City" was code for "CD," the Chaotic Dragon Pub on the outskirts. If the cops ever found that place, crime in this city would vanish faster than Lucky's hotwings on a Friday night. The owner of the place let perps hide out in his apartment, for a hefty percentage.

"What did she do this time?"

"Raided a small-time sherriff station two towns over. Stole some guns and a car." Shame, Al won't get a big cut out of that. Something like that was like buying a loaf of bread to Fox, but that's still a slice of heat.

"Who was the goon?"

"Tiger. Real knuckle-dragger. Built like a statue of a Greek god and as thick as one. Heard he got 30 to life for stealing a car bare-handed, then killing a cop bare-handed. I'll give you three guesses how he got outta from jail."

"Bare-handed?"

"When he couldn't bend the steel, he tore the cell door clean off the hinges." That one earned a whistle.

Guns, Al and a scapegoat. All recent aquisitions. Even if I didn't think something was up, I would think something was up. I wasn't interested in going toe-to-toe with a guy who broke himself out of prison, but I needed to know what was going on with Fox. I took a gulp and sighed. The booze burned as it ran down my throat like quicksilver. The Phoenix was a special blend that you could only get at Lucky's. Guaranteed to put you down or wake you up. Probably why so many people never left; the cure for the hangover was more booze. "Why do you do this to yourself, Angel?" Funny, I was just wondering the same thing.

"If I didn't, I still would, Lucky."

"A smart guy like you could do anything. Weren't you going to be a doctor?" Yeah, a surgeon. Apparently I had a bad attitude, so they wouldn't give me the time of day. Lucky grabbed the brim of my hat and pulled it up. He was only one of three people who I let do that, and one of them was me. He looked at me with what could only be regret. "Such pretty blue eyes... and here you are, living a life of black and white."

"I'm no angel, despite what people call me."

I drained the glass and stood up to leave. "Then why do people call you that?" I had an answer, but that's a story I needed to keep to myself for now. I pulled my hat back down and walked to the door. "Thanks for the drink, Lucky." He sighed. "Any time, Angel. You watch your ass out there."

Lucky always left himself open for a wisecrack. I walked away without one.
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