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The Case of the Crooked Ex: chapter 2
An hour later I watch her walk out my office door, she looks just as good walking away as she had sitting in my office. After she disappears around the corner I walk back into my office, I grab the glass of scotch and down it in one gulp. The ice had long since melted and sitting there for longer than an hour hadn’t done anything to lessen its kick; it was just the thing to shock me back into reality. How do always get myself into these kinds of situations, beautiful dame who needs my help potential for death both hers and mine and very little chance of getting paid. I had to be a fool to take this case but it was just one of those things I do. Trying to stop would be like trying to stop the sun from rising or making the snow stop. I can hear my kid brother’s voice in my head already
“Dames, a pretty face is going to get you killed Josh and them Dames aint worth it.”
So says the kid who is head over heels for a new girl every week and each time it is true love, at least until the next one smiles at him. He is right though I am a sucker for a pretty face and a sob story. Hopeless romantic and all, what can I say I’m not that jaded.
I need another drink and maybe some grub and I know just the place to get it. If I’m lucky I could even get a lead on the case while I’m at it, if not well at least I could try and get the image of those big brown eyes and full lips out of my head, who am I kidding there’s not enough booze in town to get that woman out of my head.
I take my shoulder holster off the coat hack in the corner and slip it on, adjusting my suspenders so that the two don’t tangle each other up. Nothing worse than needing to pull your gun out fast and getting it caught in your suspender so taking a minute to getting everything situated wasn’t a wasted minute. Taking my gun was probably overkill but heather wasn’t the only one who had people trying to kill her and having my .45 with me has saved my life more than once. I pull my jacket on over top of the holster and then pick up my gun from the open drawer on the right of my desk; it’s the second drawer down and not visible from the front of the desk. See I am not stupid I may have been reading the paper but I still had some protection handy. I check the safety and make sure there isn’t a round in the chamber before putting it in the holster.
I pull on my fedora and overcoat, shutting the lights out as I go. Force of habit makes me lock the inner office door as well as my outer office, the lettering on my door still visible in the soft light of the hallway. Fallen Angel Investigations, Josh Barron P.I. What can I say I had a flare for the dramatics, plus I was no saint far from it although it did seem to attract the type of people looking for miracles, I help those I can I guess.
The snow has slowed down and the fresh coating makes ever thing look peaceful almost like a Rockwell painting still slick as hell though. I walk the three blocks as carefully as I can, wet snow is great fun when you are a kid but when you get older walking home in a wet pair of pants is no picnic. As I round the corner the soft neon glow of my second home welcomes me in. The big red “Charity’s” was like one of those illuminated “Jesus Saves” crosses you see at missions and churches promising salvation to all who need it, only in this case the only salvation I’m looking for is a full belly and a stiff drink.
The place is practically deserted, bad weather always dampens the night life and for once I am glad the place isn’t packed with cocktail sipping socialites and well groomed bankers and lawyers looking to cheat on their wives. The bartender is working on hanging Christmas decorations around the huge mirror that lined the back of the wrap around bar in the center of the club.
“The snow is bad enough Danny-B, you got to add to it by putting up decorations too?”
“Bosses orders, Jonesy besides I like decorating and it jazzes the place up a bit don’t you think?” he says not turning around from what he is doing. He is a good kid but the whole I like decorating thing confirms some suspicions I have had for awhile but haven’t bothered to ask, not really my business, besides like I said he is a good kid.
“If by jazzy you mean depressing then I think you are doing a great job. The Kitchen still open?”
“Don’t you listen to him Danny, it is coming along nice. Jones why are you messing with my help? They don’t know you are a heartless cold bastard that hates anything fun.” a voice from behind me said. Danny had stepped off the step stool he was on and come down to where I was.
“Yeah Jonesy, they still have the grill on what can I get you.”
“You get back to work Danny; I will take care of this poor excuse for a real man.”
I slowly turn around and lean back against the bar with my elbows resting on it, I push my hat back on my head a bit. “What would you know about a real man CR?”
“Enough to know you ain’t been one in a long while Jones.” She spat back, standing there with her hands on her hips and looking like she wanted to slap me as well. What was with these dames tonight?
“Once upon a time I was man enough for you CR and I seem to remember you had no problems with me then.”
“Well that was before Dee got her claws in you.” She laughs walking towards me “Now get off that stool and give me a hug”
I wrap her small frame up in a big hug lifting her off the ground.
“Whoa there Jones, that a gun in your pocket or you just happy to see me.”
I set her down and kiss her cheek, “You know me, CR Poppa Sam’s great equalizer, never leave home without it.” Patting the outside of my coat to indicate my gun.
“Well do me a favor keep it in your pants; I can’t afford to have my place busted up.” She says while walking behind the bar.
“Nice thanks CR.” That makes her chuckle and the soft blonde curls surrounding her face move her with her laughter. She is wearing a sleeveless white blouse that is kinda of ruffled in the front with a long string of pearls tied around her neck falling among those ruffles, her navy slacks and sensible black shoes further drive home the point that it was a slow night. CR usually didn’t dress down unless business was slow, her business thrives on having a certain image and she makes sure that image was just what she wants.
“What can I get for ya Jones?”
“How about a burger and fries and beer, with maybe a bourbon chaser?”
“How about a nice 12oz porter house with a baked potato and some carrots with a nice glass of milk to wash it down? You look like you haven’t been eating again.”
“Just the Burger CR, let me worry about eating.”
“Don’t make me call your mother Jones, that is one tough broad that you cant charm.”
She walks back towards the kitchen and I take a long pull on the cold beer she set out in front of me. CR and I go way back. There was a brief moment where we were hot and heavy, but that faded and now she was probably the best friend I have. I know there isn’t much I wouldn’t do for her and she is one of the few people I trust to have my back. She walks back a few moments later a basket of dinner rolls in her hands.
“Eat and don’t give me any sass or I will dent that thick skull of yours.”
“Jones you’re cute but not that cute, call me Mam again and I will pull my gun and show you how good I am with it.”
Ok everyone calls me Jones because some stupid kid we went to high school with thought it sounded cute to say Josh Jones really fast, that is until I gave him a black eye and a few missing teeth. After that CR thought it was a great way to tease me and it sorta stuck, pretty soon everyone did it or some variation like Danny-B there with jonesy. I didn’t mind it at all and really what was the harm except that at times when CR said it there was just something about it that screamed say one more thing and I swear to god I will kill you. Ever met a woman that can make one word do that? If you have you know what I am talking about.
“So where you been hiding.”
“Waiting for a case CR, can’t pay the bills without working a case and I don’t get those unless I’m at the office.”
“Plus you don’t wanna mooch off me too much right.”
“Well there is that too” I smile at her
“Put the dimples away Jones they don’t work on me, besides I have given up hope of ever seeing a dime out of you. So what’s the case?”
“Who said I had a case?” Ok I’ll admit that it wasn’t my finest moment but my mind was still running circles around those dangerous curves I had seen a short while ago.
“The case Jones, now!”
“Typical case CR some dame who thinks her ex is trying to kill her. Should be pretty cut and dry.”
“Something the police can’t handle though right?”
“You know the Cops have their hands full lately, besides they usually don’t get worked up until there is a body.”
“The fact that she is gorgeous doesn’t hurt either though right?”
“Well it doesn’t hurt.” See how I walked right into that one, distracted I tell ya, although I just manage to duck as the glass CR was drying flew over my head.
“Jesus CR what was that for? Never guessed you for the jealous type.”
“jealous! JEALOUS! Listen here you jackass, how many times are you going to risk life and limb for some skirt that doesn’t give a rat’s ass if you live or die. Did if ever occur in that pea brain of yours that a jealous ex husband might just kill you as well? Jealous don’t flatter yourself Jones.” She grabs a dinner roll as she storms away and throws that at me as well, this time hitting me in the head. “Danny, take care of that drunken piece of trash and make sure he pays.” She screams on her way to the back.
“Still haven’t learned how to talk to women have you Josh?”
“It’s a talent I guess Lieutenant, takes years of practice.”
“Seems like you still need the practice” he laughs before sitting down on the stool next to me
“Well I will get it right eventually.” I laugh back “I was hoping you would show up tonight.”
“Got a case I take it, so what do you need?”