This is the start of a detective noir piece that I was thinking about extending for a later assignment (then I read the rules and realised we can’t do that so this is just the start of a detective noir piece ).
“A Late Arrival” by S. Dawson
Leaning back in my chair, I tipped back my whisky, savouring the burn as it slid down my throat and settled the fire in my stomach. Closing my eyes, I inhaled deeply on my cigarette and listened to the soft click-clack of Missy’s typewriter. There was a pause in her clicking, and I heard voices. My nine o’clock must be here, about damned time.
I looked up as my office door swung open, the early morning fog drifting in from the open window, diffusing the harsh overhead light, giving her an angelic look.
She was dressed modestly, knee length brown skirt with a slit half-way up giving a teasing glimpse of her thighs. Her stockings were silk, high end, shoes, too, must have cost a dime. Her blouse clung to her in all the right places, buttons straining over her voluptuous bosom. She had a vulnerability to her that screamed to stay the hell away.
“Cigarette?” I asked, offering her the crumpled pack. Her long legs took her to my desk in two strides. I caught the subtle hint of rose as she leaned towards me for the light. She straightened and exhaled deeply, the smoke curling in front of her. I watched her deep red lips wrap themselves around the cigarette and forced myself to look away.
“Take a seat.” I nodded to the chair and she lowered herself into it, perching neatly on the edge and clutching her expensive purse tightly. “Now, what can I do for you Mrs….?”
“Waters.” She smiled demurely. “Christine Waters. It’s about my husband, detective.” She had a deeply seductive voice, one that spoke of untold desires and broken promises.
“How can I help?” I asked, trying to force the smile I didn’t feel.
“He’s missing and I’m worried something awful has happened.” She touched a handkerchief lightly to her eyes.
“Why would something have happened?”
“He’s a driver. He does odd jobs for people. Deliveries mostly. Sometimes just driving.”
I smiled at her. “The only folks who ‘just drive’…well, they ain’t up to much good.” I shrugged, crossing my arms.
“No, please, you don’t understand. He’s just a driver. He’s a good, sweet, kind hearted man but Daddy didn’t approve of him, so we eloped.” She dabbed at her eyes again and I leaned back against my desk. “Daddy was so mad that he cut us off, we had no money so…”
“Your husband took a contract.”
She dabbed her eyes again. “Yes.”
“Who’s he working for?” She gave me a look. “It’s important.”
She shifted nervously. “Well,” she lowered her voice, glancing around the office, “The Conway gang.”
The Conway gang. Gangsters, smugglers and who knew what else. A bad lot. Figured that she was a gangster’s moll.
Standing, I walked to the door, thrusting my hands in my pocket. “No offence, lady but I’m gonna get my nose broken if I even go near this case.”
“Please.” She was on her feet in an instant, grabbing my hand. “You have to find him, I’m so worried.”
I narrowed my eyes at her. “There’s something you’re not telling me.”
She looked away and I admired her soft profile, perfect ruby red lips, baby blue eyes – a face only Greta Garbo could dream of.
“A few nights ago, the Dobson twins came to visit Freddie, that’s my husband. They sat in the kitchen playing jacks, and they thought I was asleep, but I could hear them discussing something about a robbery.”
My ears pricked. “A robbery?”
“A man called Christopherson, he owes them money.”
I inhaled sharply, Marvin Christopherson practically owned this town, nothing happened without his say so. I was heading for an iceberg without a lifejacket now.
“And they wanted your husband’s help to get him?”
“Right. They left four days ago, and I haven’t heard anything since.”
We talked for some time afterwards, as she sobbed calculatedly into her handkerchief talking about her sainted husband and her pitiful life. I escorted her out, making a promise to clear the matter up as soon as possible. The front door closed with a click and I turned to Missy.
“So, what do you think?” I asked, leaning against her desk and picking up the paperweight.
“I think you’re asking for trouble,” she replied, leaning over to take the paperweight. “You want some eyes?”
“Sure. Get down to the police archives, find out what you can about the husband, Fred Waters.”
“What about the Conway gang?” I paid her to have sharp hearing.
“See what comes up, and the Dobson twins. None of this is sitting right.”
“Sure thing Rock.” She stood up and crossed to the hat stand. If Christine was all blonde hair and leg, Missy was short and stubby. Made up for it with sharp piercing emerald eyes hidden behind lightly curved spectacles. I owed my life to her many times over.