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Skeletons Without Halos 13

Updated on February 26, 2016
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Nightcat is a freelance writer who enjoys crafting short stories for her readers in the fantasy, mystery and horror genres.

A Bittersweet Chapter

Welcome to our latest chapter and the one that got me a little teary eyed. I try to keep this series fairly light and packed with action, but sometimes serious issues do crop up. As savvy readers know the only good violence occurs in or favorite books and movies. Violence in real life is never OK and as one young character will learn, seeking help is vital.

So, please, if you are in a difficult situation get the help you need, it is out there. There are safe places you can go and there are always people willing to listen. I care about my readers and don’t want any of you thinking you are in this alone.

And you are certainly not alone if you’ve joined the growing number of readers for the series. After the story is a chapter list to let you jump to any part of the story you missed and chance to leave feedback via comments and a poll.

As always, all writing and photography are my original work. If borrowing for Internet use a link back and credit where credit is due are appreciated. The video below is included to enhance your reading pleasure only. If you own the copyright and want additional credit and links or the video removed, please let me know.

And I thought it was high time Chester got a chance to give us his point of view, so enjoy!

Your Music For Tonight's Tale

His Best Girl

I watched my best girl get up and draw her gun and was proud of her as Nicky left the table. I had a good idea that something was going on but made out like it was nothing. Nicky is as hard as steel but a soft as a kitten when it comes to her feelings and I like reminding her she is all she needs to be to be a great detective. Watching her was like watching myself when I’d still loved being a detective and for one aching moment I wanted to grab my own gun and be at her side protecting her as a partner ought to.

At my nod Victoria joined her. Nicky, in a way, bless her, is like a little kid and I could see her eyes light up to be on the case again. The problem with being a kid is that it was all a great adventure to her sometimes, and she’d rush right in like she and the bad guys were playing cops and robbers.

I gave them a moment then followed. It hurt to see Sugar down like that. She was a good kid, she’d arrived in the land of the dead with nothing but a recipe and a dream and I’d seen to it she made it. I know what you’re probably thinking and you’re wrong.

Nicky’s the only gal for me. I used to watch over her back when we were alive and there’s something about a dame who once dropped a thug off a bridge for attacking an elderly boss who’d reformed that makes my heart sing. She believed in people and as she knelt with Sugar I was in awe of her. Nicky was one of the good guys. She was a heroine in the city whether she knew it or not.

Skeletons Without Halos

Sounds like Chester figures Nicky should have one, doesn't it?
Sounds like Chester figures Nicky should have one, doesn't it?

The Perfect Gentleman

We’d returned to our respective apartments, and to tell you the truth it was only so my lady love could change into something more comfortable without me taking a swipe at those gams of hers. I try to always be a gentleman with Nicky. Always. I respect her like I respect all women, though, admittedly, given some of the forbidden fruits you may have heard of reaching our shores you may find that hard to believe.

But I’ve always believed that if a consenting adult wants to earn a living it is their business how they go about it. But back to Nicky and our current story. She was one in a million, she truly was. She’d been the only one I could truly trust right down the line, and yes, I had had her brought over. That sounds cruel, I know, but it was the only way of assuring I’d have my right hand woman where she belonged.

And I’d already made bone meal out of everyone involved as they’d disobeyed my strict orders to make it as painless and swift as possible, something I admit I’d never understood. No one, and I mean no one would ever take Nicky’s place, though plenty had tried. There was something about her I couldn’t define. A toughness on the streets that evaporated the instant anyone needed her and a need to protect every citizen, good or bad that sent me over the moon.

There was a knock on the door and I answered it to take Nicky into my arms and press my teeth to her lips. How it didn’t give my beautiful doll the heebie jeebies I don’t know, but that’s another thing that was swell about her. She’d taken to the land of the dead and all the skeletons around her like a duck to water. And as she returned the kiss and wrapped her arms around my neck I reminded myself I was the luckiest boss in town.

A Skeleton In Love

Chester's feelings For Nicky are wonderful, aren't they?
Chester's feelings For Nicky are wonderful, aren't they?

Dinner And A Case

We had coffee brought up and a steak dinner, then were delighted to receive our own case files. I wasn’t going to be a boss playing at being a detective, I was going to get to be the real thing, thanks to my Nicky. “You sure about this, Nicky?” I asked softly, sure she’d change her mind and pick a detective from the force now that Vicky had bowed out of the case.

Nicky smiled at me, that radiant smile she only gave to me and I found myself smiling back. “Yeah, I’m sure, Chessie.” She said and it was all I could do not to giggle at my nickname. Few people knew it, but she’d picked it up from the railway kitten, claiming I was her own little Chessie, and tough guy or not, I turned to mush every time she said it.

We set out our files side by side, going over the photos. I suppose we could have used laptops or notebooks or the like, but I liked having a hard copy that wouldn’t crash and couldn’t be hacked. I started idly humming to myself as I looked over the photos, a habit I’d had back when I’d been a detective. Nicky looked up and seemed charmed.

She looked back down and whistled. “Now how’d I miss that?” She asked and pointed to one of the rolling commercial baker’s racks. Shoved underneath was a hat like a chef might wear, but not the kind Sugar had been wearing.

“You think our bad guy left it?” I asked and Nicky nodded then made some calls. I didn’t mind letting her take the lead. I honestly enjoyed watching her at work. Nicky frowned and looked over at me, gesturing to the hat in the photo as she hung up.

“The hat, just like our mysterious assailant, disappeared and of course no one thought to dust the front door for prints. How he got out the back and managed to get up front so fast is what I’d like to know.”

“Could have been an unlucky customer who ran instead of staying to be a witness. I’d run too if I saw two bosses kneeling over a stiff.” I winced. “I meant a victim, sorry.”

“True. But maybe he thought he could get the drop on us and Sugar warned us in time. This is why I wished more stores sprang for actual video cameras.” She said and I nodded in sympathy. A lot of store owners did get the best, but just as many had fake systems, as if they thought the real thing would invite the bolder criminals to come knocking.

The burdens of being the boss of bosses are many, so I made a mental note to get one of my men to suggest each store get cameras, and get the best. I liked that my town was well run and despite what you might think, homicide was not a major problem as all the criminals knew I was the ultimate authority and I tended to make examples out of transgressors.

A Good Man In A Bad Town

Well, not too bad a town as long as our Chessie is running things.
Well, not too bad a town as long as our Chessie is running things.

A Night At The Belmont

Twenty minutes later we were finished with our case files and I had a surprise for Nicky. I was excited to see if she’d go for it, but dug a cigar out of my pocket and went through the motions of getting it started. As I puffed away, I said, as casually as possible, mind you: “A James Cagney film festival is playing down at the Belmont. We could go if you want.”

And her eyes lit up at my teasing. We liked doing things from around the time we were alive as occasional treats and the movie theater often arranged special screenings of select classics. And not just for us, though a short time later I was getting Nicky’s seated in our reserved box. The Belmont had been an opera house once upon a time and there was something nice about watching the films amidst all the opulence.

I put my arm around Nicky and she cuddled in close as the previews started. “Popcorn? Peanuts? Candy? Soda?” A voice asked behind us and I got us a little of each. It wasn’t like I could put on weight and I enjoyed showering Vicky with attention. The skeleton withdrew, leaving us cuddled up in our box.

“Happy, Nicky?” I whispered and she snuggled in closer in response. “Good. I never want to see my best girl unhappy.” I said, planting a kiss on top of her head. Nicky giggled slightly in response and we settled in to watch the film.

There was a slight commotion below us as the first film ended and before the house lights came up. It sounded like a scuffle and we both sat up and looked down into the darkness. At first I couldn’t make out anything but the dim lights at the end of each aisle and the discrete flashlights of the ushers as they came quickly to the scene but as my eye sockets adjusted I saw two young skeletons in leather jackets and blue jeans, obviously rivals for the same girl, being drug out while the girl sat in tears.

I sat back with a relieved sigh. “For a moment there I thought we had a new case on our hands.” I said. Nicky’s mobile buzzed and she answered in hushed whisper then hung up.

“Sorry about that, Chessie, but it’s what we thought. They already picked up the owner of the steak house around the corner from Sugar. He wanted to open up a bar in the space and she refused to sell. He’s swearing on his mother’s grave he didn’t do it, naturally.”

“Naturally. Well, case closed.” I said happily as the lights came up. “You want anything else, sweetness?” I offered and she shook her head and leaned in to kiss me chastely. I loved that about her too, she could make anyplace a romantic adventure.

We stood and stretched, looking at the milling crowd below. The girl still looked upset and Nicky being Nicky went down to check up on her. She looked troubled at whatever the cute little bobbysoxer was saying and escorted her back up to sit with us. “Both boys are greasers. Jimmy’s good to her, but Bobby could use a lesson on not hitting a lady.” She showed me the girl’s bruised arm bones and the girl sniffled.

“Easy now. You’re OK, you’re with us. Got a name, sweetie?” I soothed.

“Suzy. Everyone calls me Suzy Q.” She sniffed again, but tried to look brave for us and my heart broke for her.

“Well, Suzy Q, there are people out there who can help.” Nicky said and slipped an abuse hotline card into her trembling hand. “And it isn’t your fault, so stop blaming yourself.” She soothed. She plied Suzy with a coffee a female officer had brought, and wrapped a blanket around the trembling girl.

I realized the police had been notified right after the fight and soon a second female officer appeared to escort the girl home. Suzy followed her then ran back and hugged Nicky tightly. “Thank you.” She whispered, then was off and I thanked the powers that be once more for having such a wonderful woman at my side.

Do You Like Suzy Q?

Well?

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If You Need Help, Please Get It

I teared up a little writing that. Our Chester might be the boss of bosses but he’s not the type to hit a woman. And as I point out for my readers of any age, if you are being abused, please get help. You are not to blame and it isn’t your fault. It takes courage to get out of a bad situation but you are too precious to be stuck in a dangerous environment.

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