Friday, August 17, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge: Opening Line

This week's Flash Fiction Challenge from was to pick an opening line out of three. I went with "Thursday was out to get me."

No title, working or otherwise. Not so good at this PI stuff, but I do love it.

word count: 1375 (and still a sloppy, too-fast wrap up at the end)

Thursday was out to get me.

I played the video footage back again. Sure as shit, that was him and my gal, Friday, tucking bugs under my lampshade, and wiring my ficus in the corner. I knew I couldn't trust the girl - you can never trust a girl, but I didn't expect Thursday to turn on me. We'd been in business together for years. He was the Watson to my Holmes.

I sat back in my chair. It creaked and I sighed. We were so close to nailing the Mayor as nothing but a puppet for the gangsters. Thursday was supposed to be getting surveillance photos of the Mayor's afternoon closed cabinet, which pretty much everyone knew involved every mob boss head in the town. Even the cops knew, but no one cared. No one except my client, and she was going to be disappointed.

Who bought him off? Friday probably worked for one of the bosses, maybe even the Mayor directly, but who could buy Thursday? He hated everyone in town, except me. Seems I was wrong about that exception. I hoped they paid him good 'cause his family was going to need that cash when I buried his ass. Something was bugging me about the whole thing though.

Thursday helped me wire the video in my office. He knew it was recording twenty-four, seven and he knew I checked it before I came into the office every day. It didn't make sense that he'd plant bugs for someone else without taking out my feed first.

I hit replay again.

Friday kept look out the windows, flitting between them like an agitated bee. Thursday went to the lampshade first. Amateur move. He knew better. After the lamp, he pulled out a set of wires and went to work in my ficus. I love that ficus. It was hard to watch him rough it up like that, but there was something there. He looked nervous, and then - there it was. He looked directly at the camera and he looked scared. It all made sense now, but didn't make me feel any better.

Thursday wasn't out to get me - it was worse than that. I stopped the tape, pulled my phone out of my pocket. I dialed Mrs. Thursday. No answer. I called the kids' school, asked about them. Thursday made me an emergency contact, so they were happy to dish. The kids didn't come in today; Mrs. Thursday picked them up yesterday and said they wouldn't be to school for a couple days due to a death in the family. I hung up before I could say that there hadn't been, but if I didn't do something right there would be.

I dialed Thursday.

"This is Thursday." He sounded cool enough. I played along.

"Thursday, it's Vince."

"Vincent! Yeah, what's the problem boss?"

Thursday never called me Vincent. Nobody called me Vincent. "I locked the keys to my office back home. You in town? Able to come let me in?"

"Ahhh," he stalled. "No can do, Vincent. Death in the family and all, me and the missus are taking the kids out of town. I might not see you for a few days."

"Sorry to hear it, Thursday, real sorry to hear it. Let me know if there's anything I can do for you or the family. You know they are as good as mine, too."

"Sure, sure thing. We're hanging in there. Sorry I couldn't help you out with the key. If we weren't in such a hurry, I'd meet you halfway. Gotta go, Vincent."

"See you soon, Thursday." And that was it. We were really going to have to work on our code-speak if we both got through this. Best I could guess was they were listening in. Maybe it was only to his end, maybe it was to both, and maybe they were at the Halfway Inn. I had to assume Mrs. Thursday and the kids were there, too. I know that's how I'd do it if I were them.

I went down to my office and piled up the evidence we collected so far on the Mayor. I took pictures of it all and sent it to the phone I keep in my safe, then I burned my phone’s SIM card and tossed the phone into the compactor. I deserved a new one if I pulled this off without getting myself killed. I put the evidence in a briefcase and put on my good shoes. A man shouldn’t die wearing bad shoes.

* * *

Friday sat behind the clerk’s desk at the Halfway Inn, twirling a lollipop against her lips. “Hey Vincey, sweet of you to visit me at work. How’s business?” Pretty sure she was calling me a sucker. Also pretty sure she was right.

“It’s been better, but let’s not dance, sweetheart. I didn’t wear my dancing shoes. Where’s your boss?”

She started to play innocent, so I pulled back my jacket to show her my piece. “Why so serious, Vincey? Besides, I don’t know what you mean. Mister Crisper ain’t here.”

“Not Mister Crisper,” Crisper was the owner of this shoddy excuse for a flophouse. He didn’t have a clue what was going on below decks.

“I ain’t got no other boss but you, then, Vincey. But I can’t take a break til Mister Crisper gets back to take over the desk. You wanna wait up in 113?” She slid a key across the counter.

“That sounds like a great idea, sweetheart. I’ll get things ready for you.” If they were upstairs, they didn’t want any more of a mess than I did, that was good news in a tornado of bad. I took the key and went up the stairs.

One of the muscles was waiting outside the door. “That the stuff you’ve got on Mr. Calone?”
“Might be. Who’s asking?”

“Doesn’t matter. That the only copy?”

“These are all the originals from my office. No copy prints left there.” It wasn’t exactly a lie.

He grunted, seemed satisfied. “Give it to me. I take the case, I check it out. I walk away, you wait 10 minutes, and then you can go inside and take what’s yours.”

“Why don’t I just do it after I give you the case?”

“Wouldn’t want you following us, Mr. Doonan. And it gives the boys a chance to toss your place to make sure.” He grinned like he was the most clever man in the world.

I could wait and I wasn’t worried about them tossing my office. I’d eat my hat if they found my safe, and my shoes if they could crack it. I handed him the case and he shuffled through the papers and the pictures. When he seemed satisfied, he walked away, humming some song I didn’t recognize.

The hall was too quiet when he was gone. I started getting nervous. I put the key in the door knob after five minutes, but it wasn’t the right key.

I kicked in the door.

Thursday was tied and gagged, in a chair by the window. He was slouched forward and I couldn’t see his face, and I was glad. He wasn’t breathing. Mrs. Thursday was laid out on the bed, not moving. She probably wasn’t going to move again, judging by the amount of blood soaking the mattress. I didn’t see the kids. I kicked in the bathroom door. Both of ‘em, Lucy and Thursday Junior, were wrapped up like cocoons in the tub, but wriggling like worms. At least they were alive. I left them there to look at the scene a couple minutes more.

When I cut ‘em loose all they wanted to know was where was their mom, where was their dad. I made them put on a blindfold before I took them through the room, told them I would explain when I got them home.

I used the room phone to call the cops, though they probably knew exactly what had happened, since it was cop cuffs holding Thursday to the chair and his missus to the bed. They knew me, and the sarge let me take the kids home after a quick statement. I was their legal guardian now.
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