Leather Lace and Lead Part 2 | By: Donald Harry Roberts | | Category: Short Story - Mystery Bookmark and Share

Leather Lace and Lead Part 2

Leather lace and Lead Part two  

Langstaff looked at me like I was a half baked and half frozen candy apple. I dropped on to a chair and leaned back. Don’t guff me Bud. You need help so choke it
out and don’t waste my time”
“Whataya talking about Rouge?” Langstaff asked with feigned innocence.
“Come on Gil. This isn’t the time for games. You sent that dame to me. Alicia More. So quit your dancing and give me the dope.”
Gil got that familiar grin on his ugly mug that says he wants me to squirm a little. “You know damn well I can’t talk to a gumshoe about it.”
“Yah, yah, Buddy and you don’t carry a back up gat either.” I played his cat and mouse game like always. It made him feel better about breaking the rules. The file on my clients brother was sitting on his desk, open for all the world to see.
“Want a coffee.” He offered as he stood from the chair. “Sure Buddy. Strong and black.” I said as he walked away. As soon as his back was turned I perused the file. It only took a couple of minutes to figure out More was tagged dead to rights, at least on the surface. But there was a snag in the fabric of the investigation. A snag that gave me an idea and it should have been a warning too, but I didn’t pick up on it until I was into the case, up to my belt in bull with out a shovel to dig my way out.
By the time Langstaff got back I was loping out the door to slip and slide back to my office.
I had walked to the cop shop and was wishing on the way back to the office I had driven. Walking turned into muscle wrenching exercise I knew would come back on me tomorrow and I’d be aching from ankle bone to noggin. Twice my feet slid out from under me and I landed square on my butt. By the time I got back to the office I was soaked from the belt loops down and shivering like a leaf in a March wind. As soon as I was inside I stripped off my wet clothes, poured a shot of liquid belly warmer and dropped into the sofa chair in my private office. Then I closed my peepers and reviewed the More file. I got one of those memories that don’t quit. I see something and it stays there until I erase it.
Like I said there was a snag in the report. Most people would have missed it because of its subtlety. Sgt. Landstaff had seen it too, and underlined it in pencil. That was why he sent Alicia More to me and had doubts that her brother had committed murder.
“The suspect is left handed.”
It was only five words but spoke volumes when one had read the coroner’s report that determined the assailant was likely right handed.
Beside all that the case profile was immaculately worded. In my opinion it was nearly perfect, too perfect, and there was a lot more to the crime than a simple mugging. Langstaff wanted me to find out what that something was, with out becoming involved.
My stomach grumbled. I hadn’t fed it since mid morning and then only a stale onion bagel and a cup of old coffee. I pulled on a dry pair of socks and trousers and went across the street to Jazz Blues, my haunt and sometimes office. Slip sliding across the road my taste buds started watering for a burger and fries with vinegar and ketchup and a cold draft beer. I was at the door ready to walk in when a big black limo slid to a stop at the curb and a creep that resembled a six foot gorilla with and attitude bulged out the driver’s door and aped toward me. I turned sideways to make a smaller target and waited for the fists to start flying. Instead he stopped three feet short of reaching me and said in a crazy, out of place child like voice, “The Boss wants to talk to you Mr. Rouge.”
I took a gander at the back, passenger window but all I could see was the tip of a nose and a bit of chin.
“Tell your boss my office door is always open to clients.”
I didn’t wait for an answer out there in the cold and rain and the gorilla didn’t try to stop me. I went inside and straight to the bar and ordered supper….and waited. I knew who ever owned the nose and chin would follow. People don’t come out in weather like that just to give up and go home. The only real question was, why did they come looking for me?
Jazzy Blues was in its usual late afternoon mood. Ivory Manx was at his big black baby grand easing his way through his own arrangements of some Robert Johnson tunes and stylized versions of Al Jolson and Glenn Miller.
Perched on a stool at the end of the long side of the L shaped bar was the owner, Mandy, a middle aged, blue eyed, buxom blond whose rapport with the customer was one step short of private intimacy with a lot of sugar and spice added for some taste. She’s the type that has a heart of gold but she ain’t no knock over. It was one of her rare appearances. Razor, the bartender usually looked after most things.
Razor was whizzing about serving up drinks and chatting to every one at once and some how managing to keep all the conversations straight.
Mostly there were regulars filling up the tables, or trying there luck at the pinball machines and pool table but there were a few strangers milling about. I gave the place the once over then fixed my eyes on the door. Razor was just setting a beer in front of me
when the street door opened and the gorilla came in, followed by an old man who picked his steps carefully but navigated the steps down easily enough.
He glanced around the room until he found me then, keeping his eyes fixed on mine, shuffled around the tables toward me. When he reached the bar he lifted himself on to the stool beside me and beckoned the bartender with a subtle wave of his scrawny hand. “Beer my friend.” He requested amiably. Then, without looking at me he asked. “Do you know who I am?”

Til next time...QJ

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