Nick PT Barnum's Dog Eats Dog
Margie Hernandez's husband was shot in the kitchen by an intruder according to her testimony. He was on his back near the dining table, several wooden chairs were broken around him. There was an obvious struggle and the room was sealed off by the police. Angel Hernandez's face was smooth and unworn. He looked so much younger than his thirty-five years. His face was locked and his empty eyes stared at the base board just beneath the sheet rock and above the kitchen tiles.
The medical examiner later determined that the bullet that killed Angel Hernandez fully penetrated his heart at a rising angle. The shooter was obviously shorter than he was, and that was all the police had to go with. Margie Hernandez couldn't accept that, so she hired Bridgeport's finest Private Eye, Nick PT Barnum.
Several more weeks went by and Nick wanted to meet with his client. She suggested a crowded place and he agreed. It didn't bother him, he would have met her in a dark alley in the roughest neighborhood in town.
There was a lounge on the first floor of The Bridgeport Holiday Inn, and on the walls outside the doors were posters and notices of bands that were scheduled to perform live. Nick Barnum's client was sitting there at the far end of the bar waiting for him.
Nick sat down and said nothing. He ordered a draft and took two slow sips before acknowledging her.
“You know?” she asked.
He nodded up and down.
Margie Hernandez wanted to say nothing after that. Her mind was twisting and struggling as reality kept slapping her around like an unwanted step child. Nick Barnum could see anger and fear in her eyes at the same time. He knew what he uncovered could bury her behind bars for a very long time.
“You hired me to find your husband's killer,” he said after two more slow sips of his beer. “I did find out who killed him. Do you want to talk about it?”
“Does the police know?” she asked.
“Then maybe,” she muttered. “Right now, and all last night I was thinking about Angel. I was thinking about what I did, but I'm not sorry for it.”
Rubbing her face, she rattled, “I swear Nick, even now I wanted to put my fist through his dead face. For years he manipulated me, beat me, and threatened to rape and kill my ten year old daughter if I told anyone what was happening beneath our roof. Every night I huddled in a corner with my child and a kitchen knife waiting for that son of a bitch to go to sleep.”
Margie Hernandez stood up and started to pace. “I never thought I had it in me to take a life, but when pushed came to shove I had to do it. There is a boiling point in every soul and I sure as hell reached mine.”
“The gun?” Nick asked.
“I bought it from a drug dealer.”
“You know him?”
“No,” she replied. “I wore a wig, dark shades.. and dressed like a hooker. I told him that my pimp was beating me up and I wanted to stop him. He couldn't tell me from Adam.”
“The good thing about this,” said Nick. “You did not press any assault charges. That's going to keep the detectives from looking in your backyard.”
“Are you going to say anything?”
Nick Barnum was not at all uneasy. He studied her face and worked in the facts and the issues and then weighed in the predicament. “I'll tell you this. I keep all my client's cases confidential. I was hired to find out who killed your husband, and I did. The case is closed.”
Her eyes were wide.
“But if Kimber, Chambers or O'Brien ask me to open files for them,” he hesitated. “ I will, but I doubt that they suspect you. Margie, you left nothing open.”
“But you,” she whispered. “You're a loose end.”
“Yes, I am a loose end.”
“I can shoot you in the back...”
Yeah,” Nick smiled. “You can.”
The conversation and the case was closed as far as Nick Barnum was concerned. He finished his draft and wiped his lips. He stood up and winked at Margie Hernandez and then walked out of the lounge.
© 2016 Frank Atanacio
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