The Language Of Love: A Short Story
The haze of smoke that filled the club could have been cut with a knife. Not just any knife would do it. No, this was the smoke of the sophisticated and the upper class. It would take a good strong, expensive knife to cut through all that. He had to hand it to him, Rocky had done it again. He had said he'd bring 'em in, and bring them in he did. The bodies of the rich and famous where so tightly packed one could barely squeeze through. Making his way to the bar Wayne took up one of the stools that allowed the drunken and eager to show their age a chance to order more than was necessary.
"What'll it be?"
"Whiskey." He didn't intended to drink it, he never did. But when one was on the job it was necessary to blend in and fit the profile of those around you. The long jacket he had recently acquired, also known as borrowed, from a nearby chair allowed him to fit in with the tired business men from up on Fifth. His hat, snagged from a peg near the ever crowded entrance, gave him the appearance of the more mysterious who sat in the shadow drenched corners. The whiskey obviously branded him an easy going man who could toss a few back with the best of them. His shoes, slightly scuffed and dusty, identified him as a working man - one who wasn't afraid of a little dirt. Dirt was what he had come after. The dirt of which would solve the latest puzzle beguiling the city. Two nights before a man who attended this very bar had been murdered in the back alley. With no enemies and no motives, the police where calling it a suicide made to look like a murder. Wayne knew other wise and he intended to prove it. Somewhere in this very room his guilty party awaited.
"Murder He Says" (The song from which the lyrics in the story are used.)
"Finally found a fella, almost completely divine
But his vocabulary, is killing this romance of mine"
The nice, clear, sultry voice of the singer caught nearly every ear in the joint. She had a talent, that was for sure. "She's something isn't she?" Rocky slapped a hand on his shoulder as he appeared beside him, his eyes trained on the red headed beauty with vivid green eyes.
"Looks like you found the one thing they all wanted."
A short burst of laughter came out of Rocky's mouth as he slapped him on the shoulder again, blowing a cloud of smoke inhaled from a cigar that dangled between his fingers.
"He says, 'murder', he says, every time we kiss
He says, 'murder', he says, at a time like this
He says, 'murder', he says, is that the language of love?"
"You should meet her sometime. She's a great gal!" The smell of alcohol coming off of Rocky told Wayne that everyone would appear swell right about now. "I need to mingle. If you need anything you just come looking!" With another slap Rocky was off into the crowd, disappearing just as fast as he had showed up. He had always been the more liberal of the two. Even in their younger days, he was always the one more willing to throw himself out there than to think logically about anything. The sounds of the band taking a sharp and steady solo reminded him that the club would be closing in a few hours. He needed to get to work, and fast.
The young red head as long since abandoned the stage, leaving it to a younger beauty with much darker hair. Her voice wasn't as rich, but her looks more than made up for that. Eyes stayed locked on her as she worked her way through the number, making a visual connection with several of her admirers. He had to hand it to her, she could work a crowd just as easy as her predecessor. Speaking of which, he felt the eyes of the red on him, taking in his appearance and his demeanor. She was sizing him up, judging his motives for being here. One glance over and she locked her eyes on his. Ignoring her entrancing gaze, he turned instead to Rocky who had managed to make his way back to the source of his current stupidity. "You think John was really killed by someone in my club?" His loud voice carried several feet, turning heads in their direction. Perfect, just the way he had planned it.
"I think who ever did it was after his fortune."
"Fortune? HA! Everyone and his mother knows John was broke! If he had a fortune he squandered it away like everything else in his life."
"Maybe. Or maybe it was all a show and the rumors are true."
"Rumors? What rumors?"
"Oh come on, you've heard it. The one he wrote in his will. About being buried with his fortune." He had the attention of several people now, ears pricked in anticipation. "He didn't want anyone knowing cause he didn't want his family fortune being wasted." Slapping his empty whiskey glass, which had been drained into a very appreciative older gentleman's glass, Wayne continued on with his performance of the blubbering drunk. "Story goes it's buried right there with him."
The wind was cold and whipped at his jacket as he stood in the grave yard. He had returned the borrowed hat and coat before leaving that bar. He might borrow things from unsuspecting people, but he'd never leave with them. The shiny new grave maker was a few feet away from where he stood hidden among the shadows. He pulled his watch from his pocket, the cold chain running across his hand as he held it up, letting it slide until he got to the watch. Flipping it open he noted the time to be a quarter after midnight. The club had begun to close a half hour before. Just as predicted a car slowly approached the cemetery, lights shutting off quickly after they landed on the grave. A slim dark figure emerged from the car, a shovel in hand. The sound of feet moving across the yard was hardly noticed. His suspect was certainly not one of size, but someone with a light frame that could easily slip into odd places without being noticed. The moon peeked out from behind the clouds just as the shovel touched the earth. One quick flash of red told him all he needed to know.
John had been dating the red head for sometime. She had hung on his arm at every event, every gathering they attended. Accustomed to a life of luxury, she had no knowledge of John's lack of fortune. Faking his life like so many other in his situation, John always dressed the part of a gentleman. When he turned up, dismissed from life, in the alley behind the club he so frequently attended, there was no doubt in Wayne's mind as to who the killer could be.
Working his way into the crowd at the club, he made sure to catch her eye. She almost immediately recognized him as a friend of John's. When her number was finished she had made her way to the bar, quietly mingling her way into the crowd to determine his reason for being here. Playing his part, he had faked the news of a fortune filled rumor. After hearing the news she had excused herself from the ever growing group to presumably finish her act.
Ditching the club scene Wayne had made his way out the graveyard where his old friend rested. Standing a mere few feet away from the grave he had a clear shot of the girl when she pulled up in her fancy automobile. Hidden among the shadows he watched as she pulled a shovel from the short trunk and went to work. He allowed her a few scoops of the soft earth before confronting her and ending the mystery.
Confessing to the crime shortly after being discovered, the story soon became clear. After learning of his lack of fortune, John's lovely red haired lady had gone into a fit of rage and accused him of lying and deceiving her. Determined to set the story straight John had tried to speak with her, resulting in a heated argument that lead to the fatal moment. Just as the song she sung had stated, 'murder' was all she heard in those words. One quick, anger induced shot ended the argument in the back alley. Fleeing the scene, the girl had managed to play a grieving innocent party, until she heard the rumor. Determined to gain something from the relationship she waited until the club had closed and gone to the grave in the hopes of finding the secret fortune. After being discovered she realized her days of hiding were over.
The Inspiration Behind The Story
Dedicated to my grandfather, Harry Wayne Schieber. A lover of mystery and adventure, his thoughts on the cover art inspired me to write this story in honor of him. Although he is no longer with us, he remains in the hearts of those he loved.
© 2014 Bakerosity