Tales of Men is a blog series showcasing short stories, prompts, and other writings.
Cry Murder, Part II
“That all familiar achy wave of presentiment filled Solomon’s gut and cued the timing for another drink. All eyes were fixated on the scrawny, sleepy private detective with no tolerance for criminal trickeries.”
Albert Solomon’s impatience for cigarettes and sleep made him abrasively inquisitive.
“Who is the dead man? And why didn’t you call the police? There’s nothing for me to do here beside drink your bourbon and stand around uncomfortably. What’s the catch?”
Big Man gave a lobbying look around. No one seemed to dispute the request on account of the silence. Solomon traded a look of dissatisfaction, “There are one too many secrets in this house and I only have the time and patience for one. One of you better start on what really happened…”
Suddenly, Miss Miller shuffled around nervously and gave the impression that she wanted to speak up but was unwelcome to do so. Big Man knew it just as Solomon knew it. She was hiding something, maybe everything. Solomon briefly began processing all the information to connect the dots. Big Man caught on to shifting eyes and responded unfocused, “The highball, huh?”
Solomon speculated motive for his invitation to the murder scene. Why was he called so late in the night to visit an incriminating scene. It didn’t add up. Solomon moved himself over above the body. No one uttered a sound.
Big Man interrupted his thoughts, “Look, Mr. Solomon, we got a problem here, okey?”
He stared silently for a minute, lit a fat cigar and drew on it a couple times blowing big clouds of smoke. Solomon steadily observed that Sally Boy had sluggishly relocated to the front door. Solomon stood near the large bay style window in the living room. He was close to the body and recognized he was now confined to a corner. It was an unforeseen arrangement.
“Well, what do you know? Your guard dog blocking the front door and you mounted to the mantle like a tomb stone, should I feel concerned?”
Big Man rested one arm on the mantle above the caged up fireplace smoking his fat cigar, “I like ya, Mr. Solomon. Ya see things for what they are…”
“I wouldn’t have a spoiled record of unemployment if I didn’t.”
“And wise! Wise guys ain’t so bad, they can take a joke…and a hit. Can you take a hit?”
Solomon squinted his eyes in defense, “What are you getting at? I told you already to be up front. If the next word isn’t the truth, it’s third strike.”
“This is just one big game though, shamus.” Big Man’s voice seemed to drop by eight octaves. He appeared malicious and relaxed enough to giggle.
“You’re big, Big Man. I’ll give you that. But there are men better than half larger the size of you that I’m more nervous about.”
“Lotta’ talkin'”, Big Man said with bruised ego, “for a wise guy in a corner…”
A surge of electricity reeled through the floor boards. The rain had stopped. Big Man experienced a transference of demeanor, as if he was possessed. The clock on the wall produced a fast tick. He raised his left eyebrow and a smirk began to grow. That all familiar achy wave of presentiment filled Solomon’s gut and cued the timing for another drink. All eyes were fixated on the scrawny, sleepy private detective with no tolerance for criminal trickeries.
“Jig is up. What’s your end game?”
Big Man’s lip curled, “Today’s ya lucky day. Been chosen for a good deed, Mr. Solomon.”
“You seem good enough to fair on your own…you’ve got dough and friends assured. You’re wasting your time with me.”
“Now don’t go and get scared on me, shamus. I hadn’t told ya what the deed was yet.”
“Well…what are you waiting for?”
Miss Miller let out a ghostly wail, “James, please…I, I’m so tired.”
Big Man appeared to be both irritated and empathetic. He laid out his deck in strict fashion – “Deal’s this – we gotta dead man gettin’ blood on my new shoes. Now, I ain’ in any place to go into detail. I’m the kinda guy who is down to business, okey? No need to ask too many questions before pullin’ a gun…in the right situation.”
The shamus drew his gaze towards Big Man’s bulky hands. A gun looked directly at him and the two exchanged iron scowls.
Sally Boy was leaning against the front door and appeared to be half asleep standing up with one eye open. Miss Miller was sitting on a blue worn love seat biting her knuckles half listening to the events unfolding and half spellbound in a day-dream more thought-provoking than a murdered husband and very nearly murdered private detective. Her mouth gaping and a pile of finger nail scraps lay at her feet – the widow should have been grieving the loss of a husband and instead issued the aura of encumbrance.
“That’s a dangerous piece of metal in your grip, Big Man. Think it over. Fast.”
“Are you getting tough now? I thought it over. And the jig is good. Stabbed Mr. Miller in the gut. A dirty, dirty deed shamus. See, if ya was copper smart ya’d know I gotta shoot ya in the gut to get an eye back. Only fair.”
“You murdered Mr. Miller in cold blood and presume I’ll take lead for it?”
“No one presumes nothin’. The lead is comin’ whether you want it ah’not. We ain’ takin’ the fall for a night of crazy. All it is.”
Miss Miller contorted her frame to spring a nasty expression, “Don’t you start with that crazy talk.” She curved back around to stare into vast nothingness.
Big Man’s nostrils flared as his shoulders raised in defense, “Shut up.”
Solomon wanted to distract the two to avoid the lead. He needed to find a way to get out. He wondered why Big Man didn’t use the gun on Mr. Miller. The now sober private detective slightly inched over towards the direction of the front door without notice.
“It’d be a good start not to think ’bout movin’ or ya dead!”
“So, what, you kill me like you did Mr. Miller?”
Miss Miller abruptly arose from the love seat bewildered and hysterical,
“What are we doing? No, no! Oh, Phillip.”
The bourbon escaped Solomon’s body quicker than a steam engine. Adrenaline filled his veins with composure of spirit that resulted in calculated temperance although he persuaded himself to be rewarded with another glass of bourbon once the late night came to an imminent end. “What happened to Philip Miller? And no tales.”
The widow planted her face into her hands and let out an overdue weeping before admitting ultimate guilt, “Philip found out about us. Poor Philip. He loved me in his own way, but, he couldn’t stand the idea of another man. So, he called a detective…”
“I assume I’m the detective who found you out, huh? I assume I’m taking the fall for Mr. Miller’s untimely murder. You maybe even planned a backstory and all – something like blackmail? I won’t take the fall. Even if I’m not too keen on living.”
Big Man stood stone faced and seemed to be rather indeterminate on the matter of retort. The girl polished her hands together in an edgy routine. Sally Boy didn’t seem to be too certain of the time and perhaps of his own awkward existence. Decaying tension donated to the musty scent of the room.
Big Man was ready for the game to be over, “Don’t jump the gun now, shamus.”
He raised the gun from across the room and laughed. The gun looked up at Solomon getting bigger with each passing second.
“Stop it! We can’t, James. We just can’t!” shouted Miss Miller as she walked towards him.
Big Man’s blood pressure appeared to rise. “Shut up,” he said while grinding his teeth.
“You don’t own me, ‘Big Man’,” hissed Miss Miller. She was a lioness on the prey. She went right up to Big Man lowered her shoulders, bent her knees and asked politely to hand over the gun in his firm grip. Big Man gave in to her charm while visualizing suggestive things – he handed over the weapon gently in her opened hands. She leaned in for a soft kiss on the cheek and whispered something into his right ear as she pushed the gun into his belly. The blonde dame pulled the trigger without a seconds thought.
Big Man worked to get his final word out. “Bitch”, he muttered menacingly.
He dropped to the floor like a stack of bricks – it was a demolition zone. Blood trickled down his leg staining his new alligator shoes. Sally Boy opened both eyes in the fullness of his own power and bolted out the front door to undoubtedly never be seen again. Miss Miller turned around slowly – her mouth unbolted and her eyes bigger than grapefruits. Weakened with sin, the troubled dame dropped the gun to the floor. She stared at her dead husband and whispered, “I just wanted to be loved with inspiration. Forgive me, love.”
Solomon felt relieved yet confused. The small crew had it all planned out from the very beginning. It was a poorly orchestrated scheme out of pure desperation. He kicked himself for being a subpar shamus, and made up lies to make up for his incompetence. All in a solid day’s work, he thought.
“I suppose it’s time to call the police…” Miss Miller said, shamefully looking at the two bloodied bodies on the living room floor.
Solomon scratched his forehead at an itch that didn’t exist. “First..let’s have a drink.”
He walked to the living room, stepping over two dead men, and poured two tall glasses of bourbon. He handed the almost overfilled glass to Miss Miller. The two drank the strong liquor uninhibitedly. Solomon failed to find the appropriate words – he couldn’t find much fault in the glamoured up blonde as she was ravishing, guiltless, and weary.
“Well the rain’s stopped, now I need a bath…” declared Solomon while dreaming of his next cigarette.