He Dreamt of Murder – Man in a Green hat ©
Quinn sunk into the barber’s chair. Luigi his new barber in Clearview Terrace leaned the chair back and applied the warm shaving lather to Quinn’s neck and face. He opened the straight razor and pulled it back and forth a few times against the leather strop. As the blade was dragged along his throat, Quinn’s mind focused on the conversation going on in the next chair.
“It was a dream?” the second barber, Mac asked.
The young man sighed, “Yes, I think it was a dream. Like I said, I sat straight up in bed like my back was fastened to a spring hinge. My scream ‘No!’ shook the window behind the bed. The scream at the top of my lungs echoed through the house. It was so real.”
“When was that?” Mac expertly evened out the long sideburns with the clippers.
“Just the other night, scared the heck out of my wife. Yeah, it was so real. I was just a little kid sitting by a chain link fence with my hands tied behind my back and attached to the fence. There were three other boys and a little girl all tied to that fence.” A bead of sweat appeared at the man’s temple.
Quinn felt a slight tremor in Luigi’s hand as he listened. A customer walked in and took a seat.
“A young couple was pacing back and forth in front of us. She wore a summer dress and he khaki pants, tee shirt and garrison hat. The boys by the fence were all wearing summer shorts, striped tee shirts and had crew cuts. I heard him say, ‘where did all these kids come from? We can’t fit them all in the car. One has to stay.’ The young woman tried to push him away, but he was lean and strong. ‘Pick one,’ he screamed at her.
Luigi brought the razor down the side of Quinn’s face. The scratchy bristle of the severed hairs rang in Quinn’s ears and was accompanied by the ticking of a clock on the wall behind Mac.
“Is that it?” asked Mac.
“No, there is a little more to the dream. What woke me, and why I can’t get it out of my head is he took a step toward us. It was then I noticed the black baton in his hand. Well, he reared back and that baton struck the boy sitting next to me on the head. That’s when I woke up screaming. It was so real.”
The whole thing has made my wife so angry, she asked me in the morning, “Who is Nora?”
“Nora? I asked. That was ‘No.’ I yelled no. So, it actually happened, that dream? I was not sure.” The young man looked into the mirror that was being held in front of him. Mac grabbed the neck duster brush and swept it over the young man’s forehead, neck and collar.
Luigi brought the razor up under Quinn’s chin a second time. Slivers of lather remained along Quinn’s cheek bones as Luigi wrapped a warm towel around his face.
The young man stood, dug in his pocket and handed Mac, $1.25 which included a $0.25 tip. He thanked him and left.
The man waiting his turn stood and took the seat that Mac had just brushed clean. “See those Cubs get beat last night? What is wrong with that Rick Monday, ya see him flub that line drive?”
Luigi sat Quinn up and wrapped a blue cape over him and ran a comb along the side of his naturally curly hair.
“What did you think of that?” Quinn asked. In the chair next to him Mac listened to how the Cubs lost the game the night before.
Luigi was quiet for a moment. “Sounds like someone committed murder to me. Or that young man ate too much spicy food; one or the other.”
Luigi finished up and grabbed the bottle of Lucky Tiger and applied tonic to Quinn’s hair.
Quinn rose, handed over a $1.50 to Luigi and turned to Mac, “What is that young man’s name? Do you know?”
“Who, Anthony? He works over at the Texaco. He goes by Tony.” Mac went back to trimming his customer’s hair.
Quinn thanked him and left the shop. He stood in the doorway, hair neat and in place. He had a very close shave and he had that fresh from the chair talc and tonic smell. He headed toward his ’46 Town and Country and headed back over to Elm Street turning over and over the dream he just heard relayed by Anthony.
As he pulled into the driveway, his thoughts turned to his date with Betty. She had mentioned a little Italian place and they agreed they should give it a try tonight. Quinn and Betty had spent a great deal of time together over the last couple of weeks. Neither considered chasing cases the same as getting to know each other.
For the second time in a few weeks Retired Detective Quinn Moosebroker donned his blue suit, Kate Moosebroker adjusted his tie and kissed him on the cheek as he left the house and he made his way in his 1946 Town and Country toward Maple Avenue to pick up Betty Atwood.
Betty was sitting on the edge of her sofa wearing her, not quite new, Shamrock green dress which made her feel young. She had heard of an Italian restaurant named, The Lamb Bor’s Linguini, near the edge of town and thought Quinn might enjoy a good meal.
He arrived, walked to her door and knocked. They gave each other a quick kiss before going to his car where he held the door for her. She got in and slid to the center of the bench seat and when Quinn got inside she was by his side and smiling.
Arriving at, The Lamb Bor’s Linguini, Quinn saw concrete Corinthian style planters with newly planted Italian Cypress aligning the entryway. Inside a wall mural done by a local artist of, The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, adorned one wall. Quinn silently thought he hoped the food was better than the mural.
Betty seemed happy with the place and it was not his intention to compromise that feeling. Once they had been seated and wine and dinner were ordered Quinn began to tell the story he heard at the barber shop.
“Oh, that is such a terrible story.” Betty began. “What do you think? Does it have any merit?”
“It has my curiosity piqued.” Quinn replied. Their meals were placed in front of them. Quinn watched Betty pick at the plate. “I can at least go over to the Texaco and see if there are more details to gather. Maybe I can gather some family history to see if there really is a puzzle to solve.”
Betty’s mood changed, she pushed food around her plate but ate very little. When the waiter passed she ordered another glass of wine.
Quinn stopped eating and talked to Betty as she finished her second glass. When done, she put the glass down, “Can you take me home?” she asked.
They arrived at the curb in front of Betty’s house on Elm Street. Betty gave Quinn a quick kiss on the cheek, “Call me tomorrow.” She pat Quinn on the chest and slid across the bench seat and let herself out before Quinn could get her door.
The 1946 Town and Country quietly pulled away from the curb through a murky darkness. Quinn rolled the window down and let the night air wash over him as he pondered the telling of death of a boy child. He estimated Anthony’s age and guessed that if there was a homicide it took place in the early to mid 1950’s. He cut across town and headed out on a lonely stretch of highway that went through rolling farmland. No street lights and wide open space was what he needed tonight.
Betty’s house seemed cold to her this night. She straightened her kitchen and prepared for bed in eerie silence. Hours into her sleep the hair on the back of her neck bristled as she heard something drag across the wooden floor of her bedroom. The noise punctured her sleep and she sat straight up in the dark room. Through the fog of sleep, she saw, on the brass footboard rail two small hands. She struggled to bring into focus the ghost of a small boy.