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Michael D. Davis
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flippingfrozenfinger.jpg
Art by Steve Cartwright 2019

Flipping the Frozen Finger Farewell

 

By Michael D. Davis

 

When Posey Peale walked into the grimy, dark bar all kinds of eyes from all sorts of skulls looked her over. She walked up to the counter, her beautiful body wading through the pool of degenerates.

“I’m looking for Count Whorton,” she said.

The bartender, a man with a face like a movie star and a body big enough to give anyone trouble said, “Why’s someone like you looking for him?”

“Because I need his help,” Posey Peale said, “And am I correct in saying I just found him?”

A smile spread across the bartender’s face like mildew in moist weather. “You think I’m Count Whorton?”

“Maybe.”

The bartender burst out laughing. He laughed so hard his side started to hurt and tears formed in his eyes. He only stopped to get a few other men in on the joke and they started laughing just as hard.

“Hey, what’s the joke here?” Said Posey severely.

“Sorry Miss,” the bartender wiped his eyes. “I’ll show you where Whorton is.”

He took her outside and showed her a door on the front of the building opposite of the bar entrance on the right. He opened the door where a lump of a man slept on stone stairs leading to a second-floor apartment.

“Is he in the apartment up there?”

The bartender smiled. “That's his place, but he seems to be taking a nap on his porch.” He turned and left Posey at the bottom of the steps.

“Um… Count, Count Whorton,” Posey Peale said standing in the door. “Count Whorton?” He didn’t wake or even move, just laid there like a dead man.

Posey went up a few steps and started shaking his shoulders while repeating his name until the Count awoke saying, in an accent like no other she’d heard of, “If you desire to preserve your futile life, leave me alone.”

Although his face was turned away from her, resting flat on the cold stone she heard him clearly. And she ignored him.

“Count Whorton, I must speak with you.”

“You may leave a note, but Count Whorton isn’t here.”

Posey leaned and held up the wall with her shoulder. “I am not leaving.”

Count Whorton released a long groan. “Fine,” He stood up and walked through the apartment door, leaving it open for her. By the time she shut the door, he was in the bathroom. Posey perched on the end of the couch as she waited.

Count Whorton finally burst back out of the bathroom. “I owe you my gratitude.”

“What for?”

“If I slept any longer there would have been no requirement to retreat to the John if you get me.”

Posey smiled stiffly and said, “I do.”

Posey Peale looked at the Count under the light and she was brought in on the bartender’s joke. Count Whorton was a short, pudgy, no-necked creature with skin the color of a wet napkin. He had a hunched back and deep, dark circles under his eyes. Hidden under his hat was short, dry hair like nothing else in nature and when he smiled his fat cheeks contorted in a look of pain to reveal only the top row of his yellowish-white, crooked, animal-like teeth. On the outside, Posey released a small smile for having mixed up the very different-looking men and on the inside, she shuddered at Count Whorton’s grim appearance.

“So,” the Count said, “Divulge what you came here to, then scoot at no slow pace.”

He walked into his shoebox-sized kitchen and took out a plastic fast food cup with a bent straw then slithered up and sat in a large chair opposite Posey.

“Well, I need your detective services.”

“Stop right there, I don’t do that anymore. I’m a part-time night stocker at a grocery store and a full-time drunk. So, if that's all you needed you can be getting along about now.”

“Hey,” Posey said, “I went to a friend. A friend that comes from a long line of cops. And I said I needed someone. I needed a private eye like you see in the movies, one that doesn't keep records, but always solves the case. One that can take care of himself and always has a bead on everyone but won’t be running to the papers or the cops. And he said you. I was told you’d be grumpy, odd, probably drunk, and overall unpleasant, but that you’d help me.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, granted I thought you’d look like the bartender downstairs but nonetheless.”

“Please, that pretty boy has less brains than a goldfish. So, who is this rare human being with the badge in his blood and a few kind words to say about me?”

“Nick Nash.”

“Christ, the Nash family.”

“Yes, and he sent me here.”

Count Whorton looked Posey over, his sleepy dark brown eyes darting over her from head to toe before finally sighing heavily. “What’s the problem?”

Posey reached into her purse and brought out a plastic baggy. “I found this in my mother’s mini fridge.” She tossed the baggy over to him. Count Whorton looked it over without opening it. Then he threw the baggy back at her saying, “so, it’s a finger.”

“Which was located in mother’s mini fridge,” Posey said her eyebrows lowering.

“Assuming your mother has all ten of hers, did you confront her and inquire where the lone digit originated?”

Posey shook her head. “No, what a conversation that would be. ‘Mother I was nabbing some of the good liquor you keep in your room when I found a finger, care to explain?’ Anyways, I know who’s finger it is, I think.”

Count Whorton leaned forward. “Who’s is it?”

“My sister, Violet’s.”

He reached into his jacket over his cardigan, pulled out a cigarette, lit it and leaned back. “So’s your sister dearly departed or just missing one of her nose pickers?”

“My sister’s alive and well.”

“So, she’s missing a middle finger, you find a middle finger. Where's the problem here?”

“Well,” Posey paused then said, “How do you know it’s a middle finger?”

“I’ve seen my share.”

The corners of Poseys lips perked up. “Well, the thing is a few years ago Violet, due to a kitchen accident, got an infection in her left hand and had to have it amputated.”

“So, you got a finger that you believe to have at one time or the other sat at the end of your sisters now, I’m guessing, hook hand. Why not go to your sister?”

“There is something else as well. My brother went missing around the same time of my sister’s hand.”

“Missing?”

“He was nineteen, my parents say he ran away. He left a note, but it just wasn’t like him.”

“When did this all happen?”

“Six years ago, I was thirteen and my sister was sixteen.”

Count Whorton put out his cigarette. “Alright, I’m slightly interested. My fee will be a thousand dollars.”

Posey gave him a shocked look. “That’s pretty steep.”

“Something tells me you can afford it.”

“Fine, I don’t have it on me.”

“That’s alright, we’re leaving anyway.” Count Whorton sucked on his bent plastic straw then put it down and went for the door.

Posey stood up. “Wait, where are we going?”

He opened the door and started down the stairs saying over his shoulder, “Your humble home to get my payment and to find the former owner of that finger.”

On the sidewalk, out front, Posey was leading the way to her car when a shrill voice that could split wood called, “Countey.” Across the alley, leaning out the ground floor window of a brick apartment house was a chubby, light brown skinned prostitute in her early fifties. She wore blood red lipstick and a low-cut top that was fighting a losing battle to contain her large breasts.

Count Whorton turned to her, showing his hound dog teeth in a smile. “Irma Side, how are you doing?”

“Same as always, Countey.”

“Is there anything I can do for you?” asked the Count walking from Posey to the prostitute.

“I just didn’t know if you wanted me to come over tonight.”

“Well, I’m not in the money as it were.”

“That’s okay, you’ve owed me before. Unless you want someone else, like her. Who is she?”

“That is my client, I’ve taken a case.”

“What’s her name then?”

Count Whorton’s brows furrowed. “I didn’t ask,” he turned, “Miss disembodied-finger what’s your name?”

Posey reddened and said her name.

Count Whorton turned back to Irma. “Posey Peale, I asked for a thousand for my fee.”

“She looks like she has money.”

“Yes,” he turned to Posey then back. “You think I should have asked for more?”

“Maybe she’ll give you a bonus.”

“Anyways, after I get paid, I’m right back here. Me, you, a bottle of booze, we’ll make a night of it.”

Posey's stomach turned a bit as Count Whorton and Irma kissed. The sight of the ugly man smooching the aged hooker in broad daylight wasn’t a sight for school children.

After they got in the car Posey said, “So, your girlfriend’s a hooker.”

“We are not in a formal relationship. She’s a friend and I’m her regular.”

“Well, you could tell she’s a prostitute a mile away. She might as well advertise.”

“She did for a while,” Count Whorton said, “Put up a sign in the window that said come in Side for 75$ Irma Side prostitute Apt. 3.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes, but the police made her take it down. I thought it was proactive. There are more prostitutes here in Quartertown than there are trees in the park. You have to find a way around the competition.”

The Peale family had money. That showed in their house which stood taller than all the other domino-like houses on the west side of the city. Following Posey inside, Count Whorton saw a woman cleaning about and could tell she was the maid.

Posey led him into a sitting room and said, “Wait here, I’ll go get the money.”

“I kinda got dry mouth, anything to drink?”

She pointed to a cabinet then left the room.

Count Whorton went to the cabinet. He pulled out a bottle of bourbon and brought it to his lips. When he returned it, two-thirds were gone. He put some in a glass and walked around.

The pictures around the room contained Posey, her parents and some other mucky-mucks. Count Whorton couldn’t pick out the sister at first till he figured out she was wearing a high-end plastic prosthetic for a hand. (Money can buy anything.) As he was examining a silver framed picture, a tall older man came into the room.

“Who the hell are you?” said the old man.

Count Whorton faced him.

“Christ, the last time I saw something like you in this house I had to call the exterminator.”

“You must be Mr. Peale.”

“I am, and you?”

“Count Whorley Whorton, investigator hired by your daughter.”

“What for… don’t tell me. This is about Peter.”

“Could be.”

“Of course it is. She’s been obsessed with her brother since he… went away. Is there any way you can talk her out of this?”

“I get paid by her, not you.”

“Fine,” Mr. Peale went over to an old rolltop and took out an envelope. “Here's five hundred, in cash, tell her there's nothing to it.”

Count Whorton took the five bills and put them in his pocket. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Posey came back into the room. “Hi, dad.”

“Posey.”

“This is Count Whorton, a friend. I’m gonna show him the house.”

Mr. Peale nodded his head. “Good to meet you Count.”

Once out of the room, Posey gave Count Whorton a check. He slid it into his pocket with the five green misters.

“I’m taking you to Peter’s room, so, you can look it over.”

Count Whorton just nodded. He felt slightly drunk from the bourbon, but it was a good feeling. Posey led him to a room on the second floor. The contents of it had been swallowed up by boxes stacked against a wall.

“Why’s his stuff in boxes?”

“Mom says it’s if he wants us to ship it to him, like I believe that. I think she just didn’t want his room to be his room anymore.”

Count Whorton opened a box and rifled the contents. There was nothing special. He went through two more uninteresting boxes before the fourth which held an old cell phone and power cord. Sitting on the bare mattress of the bed, he plugged the phone into the wall. It lit up and turned on easily. Posey hovered over Count Whorton like a vulture over a retirement home before he told her to sit down. There were several un-deleted texts from May, 2012. All to and from someone listed as Nick in the contacts.

Peter: moms being a bitch again

Nick: like usual?

Peter: Been worse lately

Nick: Why?

Peter: Just has… and it's not just me she did something bad to Violet

Nick: What?

Peter: I can't tell you… I’d just like to tell her off for once. If not for me then for Violet and Posey

Nick: I’d like to see that.

“Who’s Nick?”

“Nick Nash, he and my brother were best friends. He doesn't think Peter ran away either. That’s half the reason he gave me your name.”

Count Whorton searched more on the phone until he found some pictures. There were several, all taken on a gravel pathway. Peter and Nick starred in most of the shots accompanied by a few others of similar age. In the last photo, a woman that looked like a human prune stood in the background like looming death.

“Who’s that?”

“My mother.”

“Where were these taken?”

Posey took the phone. “Just outside, the driveway used to be dirt and gravel. We put the cement down some years back.”

Count Whorton took the phone, slipping it in his pocket as he stood up with a hand on the wall to keep himself steady. Posey stood up next to him, her legs spring loaded. “You know what happened to my brother.”

“No.”

“You have a theory at least.”

“Yeah, I got a theory,” Count Whorton said, “but theories in this business are like toilet paper to a grizzly bear. You can have loads of the stuff, but if you don’t know how to use it, it’s just thin scratchy paper on a roll. I do have a hypothesis, but I can’t go telling it. It would just be a bunch of words said by a hard-to-look-at drunk. However, we have something putting bullets in those words and that's that frosty finger of yours. Hell, you give any shitbrained boy in blue bearing the badge a finger and he’ll want to know two things, ‘whose is it?’ and ‘how did the owner happen to lose it?’ you follow?”

“Yeah, I follow. Does this mean you’re going to the police?”

“Do you want to?”

“I don’t know.”

“Look here, you aren’t paying me to run to the police. You’re paying me to put two and two together. So, I can tell you what I think right now and leave you to do what you will.”

“What’s this?” said a voice from the door. It was Posey's mother. She looked just how she did in the picture on the phone. Her dark bug-like eyes crawled across the room, spreading disease as they went, finally landing on Count Whorton. “Who is this ugly man?”

Posey jumped like a scared cat at the woman who stood in the door cutting off the room’s air. “This is Count Whorton.”

“Why is he in this room?”

“Because,” said Count Whorton, “I believe I know what happened to Peter. Um… apologies what's your first name?”

“Julia.”

“Well, Julia, let us go downstairs. Find your husband, your other daughter, have a drink and solve a mystery.”

“My son ran away.”

“Well, let's talk about it.”

Mr. Peale and Violet were already in the sitting room when the three of them filed in. Julia took a chair and said, “Phillip, get this horrible looking man out of our house, now!”

Mr. Peale started to get up from the couch.

“Keep your seat, Phillip,” Count Whorton said making his way to the cabinet. “I’m gonna have my say and leave.” He pulled a bottle out, opened it and drank.

Violet looked at the faces in the room. “What is going on?”

“Violet, I assume,” Count Whorton said, “the daughter with the missing hand. You know I personally would have gotten a hook.”

“Who are you?”

“I’m the one saying your mother killed your brother.”

“That's absurd.”

“Then her and pops buried him in the driveway, then paved it over.” Count Whorton fell into the corner of the couch cradling the bottle of booze. “The way I got it figured is Julia, granted I just met her, is a supreme bitch and if we were in the wild, she would have ate her young. But we ain’t. So, when Petey stood up to her, told her off as it were, she killed him instead of eating him. And Pops helped bury him and cover it up because, well, the damage was already done and he’s a mucky-muck who wants to stay that way.” Towards the end, his words started to slur as he felt the weight of the liquor.

“That's insane, I loved Peter,” Julia said.

“Did anyone else catch that?”

“You said ‘loved’, not love,” Posey said.

“Well, that thing was talking about him in the past tense and I made the mistake of doing the same.”

“Sure.”

“Wait,” Count Whorton said, “I forgot the finger. I think what set Petey off was him seeing his mom whack off his sister’s finger.”

“That was a kitchen accident,” Julia said.

“Don’t think so. I think teenage daughter in a heated moment gave you the finger and as punishment, you took it from her. Hell, a bus passed me the other day and an eight-year-old gave me the bird. Anyways, I bet you didn’t plan on infection taking the rest of the hand or Petey boy seeing you do it.”

“It was an accident.”

“If it was an accident,” Posey said, “Why’d you keep the finger?” She held up for all to see the plastic baggy from her purse.

“You kept it?” Violet said, “why, why?”

“To show you,” Julia said sternly, “show you what you get when you do such things.”

“Julia, how could you?” Mr. Peale said.

“Shut up, you spineless shit. If you were a better father none of this would have happened.”

As Julia talked, Violet started to cry, Mr. Peale sat as stiff as a corpse and Posey made her way to the phone. Count Whorton stood up slowly, straightened himself, then his hat. He sidled up to Posey and gave her the cell phone.

“I’m gonna bug out before the bulls get here, darling. I’m also taking this bottle. Something tells me if you’re on that phone, moms and pops will be moving in behind cement walls and not be needing it.”

“Do you have to leave before the police come?”

“Yeah I do, told Irma after I was done here we’d make a night of it.” And with that one of the ugliest men Posey had ever seen walked out, he had fifteen hundred dollars in his pocket, a bottle of liquor in his hand, a drunken buzz on, and he was on his way to his old hooker.

The End



ym75bloodywhorehouse.jpg
Art by Steve Cartwright 2019

The Bloody Whorehouse Detective Agency

By Michael D. Davis

 

Chapter One

 

When the stick stabbed the soft part between his ribs for the third or fourth time Count Whorton said in a voice as smooth as dry skin, “one more poke and it goes in your eye socket.”

“This one’s alive,” the poker yelled.

Count Whorton opened his eyes and waited to see if the poker was right. He was. The Count was laying on something hard. What or where he wasn’t sure. He rolled over and fell to the rock bottom; which was the cement base of the park bench. The cold dirty cement’s slap cleared enough fog to remind Count Whorton where he was. The night before he’d been walking home, more drunk than human, and got the idea to take a shortcut through the Phillip M. Pennypacker memorial park. This was an idea so awful that only a hungover Count that spent the night on a bench could see the fault; he lived nowhere near the park.

It’s better the night is clouded and broken into crumb and bit memories that comes from a night of cheap booze. Something told him that if he did remember everything that happened last evening it wouldn’t be his most cherished memory. Then again how would he know?

Laying on the cement like a dazed slug Count Whorton looked up at the two twenty-something fools in running shorts that were one mistimed jostle away from falling out onto the sex offender registry. Count took all the detective skills, common sense, gumption, shrewd astuteness, and little gray cells he could muster and deduced the one with the stick was the one that woke him. The Count got up on his knees then leaned on the bench. For the first time, he noticed the back of the bench which said: “In Memory of Cliff Skipper.” That is nice, Count figured, if you have to spend the night on a bench why not Cliff Skipper’s.

Count Whorton propelled himself off the ground the same way you propel a frisbee into the air, although with less form and accuracy, because he saw no other way around getting his ass off the ground. When he finally reached a standing position, he heard something hit the cement. Count looked to see what he dropped and saw a large hunting knife covered in dried blood. The two runners stared at Count and the knife then one of them turned and looked behind him at a body in the grass.

One of them said into a phone he had to his ear, “you need to get here quick.”

 

Chapter Two

 

Count Whorton sat in a cold stone-walled room filled intoxicatingly with his own smell, a smell strong enough to wake a dead horse. His ass hurt from the metal chair; his hunch hurt from sleeping on the bench; his head hurt from the booze the night before, and his throat hurt from answering the same questions again and again. On the last go around he’d asked for a nip of something just to keep his strength up, but no one was amused or obliging. Not even when he showed his crooked yellow teeth in a look of pitiful dehydration.

Finally, after God knows how long officer Klunkel came in and said he was free to go. Whether they didn’t have enough to hold him or believed the fact he was too drunk to kill anyone, Count Whorton didn’t care.

Klunkel said as Count reached the door, “if you killed that girl we will find out. If you didn’t… we will find out that as well. Just don’t do like the PI’s do in the movies sticking your nose into where it doesn’t belong trying to prove your innocence. This ain’t no movie.”

“Gosh Klunkel,” Count Whorton said, “I thought we were friends. Plus, I thought this was a movie, with my dashing good looks and your winning personality. Don’t I look ready for my close up?”

Klunkel gritted his teeth. “Anything that gets close to you needs shots afterwards.”

Count saw her before he even entered the room. She was sitting in a chair looking as pissed as ever wearing a large purple fake fur coat and hat. It made her both look like a hunter and fake fur trapper of children’s imaginary friends. Also impossibly beautiful. As Count walked in, Irma Side stood up, she was more than the average woman, she was taller, wider, curvier, older and she knew how to use it all as a soldier with his gun. Many wouldn’t look her way if they didn’t already have a few under their belt or were just desperate with a few bucks to spend. But Count Whorton loved the light brown-skinned beauty and against every force in nature, she seemed to love him too. When the Count came right up to her in the middle of the police station Irma slapped him across the face.

 “Countey,” Irma said in a voice that broke glass two towns away, “you got arrested without me.”

“Just detained.”

“I didn’t have a phone call or nothing. You didn’t even think of me.”

“I’m always thinking of you Irmie. You were working last night.”

“Someone has too.”

“I know Irmie, love. And I didn’t even do anything today. I just woke up in Pennypacker on a bench with a bloody knife and a dead woman ten feet away. They thought I did it, I said I didn’t, now they don’t think I did.”

A uniformed officer behind a desk mumbled, “alcoholic asshole,” loud enough for everyone to hear.

“Okay,” Count said, “he thinks I did it, but who cares. Let’s go.”

“Fine, Countey if that’s all it is. No hard feelings just remember to invite me next time.”

As they were walking out an officer said to Irma, “don’t I know you? You look familiar.”

“You arrested me last year for prostitution. Don’t worry no hard feelings, dearie.”

 

Chapter Three

 

After Count Whorton took a shower that was needed more than a cure for cancer and slipped into some new crummy clothes that looked just like his old crummy clothes he took a drink, a seat next to Irma and the remote.

Flipping through the channels Count felt a great disturbance and he knew exactly what it was. He looked at Irma who had been staring at him since he sat down.

“What?” Count said.

“Don’t what me.”

“How else am I supposed to figure out what you’re pissed about?”

“You know damn well what I’m pissed about.”

“I am most assured I don’t have the simplest of clues.” Count turned back to the TV and kept turning over channels like dead leaves.

“You’re just gonna sit here?”

“That’s the plan.”

“You aren’t gonna look into this at all?”

“What?”

“The dead woman in the park, fucks sake, you aren’t even gonna try to clear your name?”

“My name was too dirty to be cleared before the woman in the park. Secondly, it’s a police case. Thirdly, no one’s paying me for this. They are paying me to be a night stocker at the store so that I’ll do. And six-hundredthly I just want to stay home, Irmie I had a tough night.”

“Whose fault was that?” Irma stood up and went to the door. She put on her purple fur hat and her purple fur coat then turned back to the Count who still sat in front of the TV, not watching it. She walked over and stood between him and the TV saying, “Countey, love.”

“No,” Count said.

“For me, Countey, will you look into it for me?” Irma put extra syrup in her words.

“No,” Count said, trying but failing to ignore her.

Irma whined and walked to the side of the couch. She bent down, kissing the Count on the forehead and the cheek. Then she plunged his head into her voluminous chest and writhed about letting him go only seconds before he died of oxygen deprivation.

Count stood up slightly angry and said, “fine, fine we’ll go. But don’t you know you could have killed me there, don’t you listen to the narrator?”

Irma ignored him, she was too delighted. “This is gonna be fun.”

“Yeah, it’s gonna be a hoot,” Count said, “I was at Dynamite Dotty’s last night. Let’s start there, I could use a drink.” The count downed the glass he had in his hand and went for his coat.

 

Chapter Four

 

Dynamite Dotty’s is a place on the other end of town, it’s the only gay bar around. There is one little thing and one big thing that keeps Count Whorton coming back. The little thing is Dotty herself. She wears button up shirts, jeans, leather jackets, and her phone on her belt like a six-shooter. Dotty has dynamite hellfire red hair and if God fell from heaven, she’d wear heels, but she still wouldn’t surpass five-two. She’s also a good friend. The big thing that keeps him coming back is the thing that keeps him coming back to every bar in town and that’s the booze.

The place hadn’t opened yet when they walked in and Dotty sat at a table eating take out and listening to a drag queen with a wig higher than her, singing voice belt out a tune on stage. Count took a seat and stole some fries. Irma pulled up a chair saying hey.

Dotty said hey back and added, “So, how many teddy bears did you have to murder to get that coat?”

Irma made a face and said, “None, they died naturally.”

Count ate some more of Dotty’s fries and watched the singer on stage. She was alright but needed more work before she went on in front of paying people. Whether it was the song she picked or the voice that she played it on it had a way of making a dog feel like his cat just died. Count turned to Dotty, “I was here last night, you know if I hung around anyone?”

“No shit you were here last night. Do you know who was here a few hours ago?”

“Patrick Swayze?”

“He’s dead, you fucking moron,” said Dotty. “Plus what would he be doing in a gay bar in the middle of Iowa you expired-milk-looking piece of shit.”

“You’re a lovely friend, Dotty.”

“Damn right I am. I was talkin’ about the cops. They came in askin’ about your drunk ass.” The singer was done on stage and just standing around listening to Dotty curse until she noticed. “Wasn’t half bad—go backstage and talk to Nicky two necks.” The singer walked off and Dotty got back to cursing. “I didn’t tell them shit, not that there’s shit to tell because you don’t seem to do any fucking thing but drink anyways. Except the times you start a brawl or get on stage and sing like sheet metal in a broken fucking dryer.”

“I don’t remember that,” said Count.

“You wouldn’t,” she said having attitude that walks hand and hand with her voice.

The Count leaned over the table still eating Dotty’s food. “Come on Polkadotty, the police think I murdered a woman.”

“Did you?”

“Of course not,” Irma said, then thought about her answer. “We don’t think so, anyway.”

Dotty gave a sigh like a balloon dying a miserable death then said, “fuck, I don’t know. You were hanging around Sour Kraut. So, ask her.”

“Good,” Count said, “I need a drink,” and got up out of his chair.

“Speaking of that,” Dotty said, “your tabs due.”

“So, are my library books.”

“I’d like it by the end of the week or you’re cut off, Count.”

“Strange, that’s what the library said.” Count fished out a cigarette, slightly bent, put it between two chapped lips and lit it as Dotty made a face that once caused a grizzly bear to commit suicide.

Irma cut in with, “He’s just joking, Dotty… everyone knows he can’t read.”

This lightened Dotty’s eyes and gave Count a moment to strike. “I could pay you Dotty, but you could also ease off… after all two years ago today,” Count paused to look choked up. Irma rolled her eyes not so much at the acting, but at the feeble attempt to it. “My dear mother died,” Count finished then with a clincher, he crushed his hat to his chest and gave a pitiful hangdog look that worked most times when his mother died.

“Count,” Dotty said crossing her arms over her chest. “I saw your mother just the other day at the store. I have to admit she looked pretty good for two years dead.”

Count’s face dropped a few inches. “That was my biological mother, I was talking about my stepmother.”

“Bullshit, you dumb fuck.”

“Shit,” Count said, putting back on his hat.

“I can’t believe you thought that was gonna work, fuckin’ moron.”

“He does it all the time,” Irma threw out.

“I bet he fuckin’ does, Jesus Christ. Also, Count, you should visit your mother more often. I mean how old is she?”

“I don’t know, but I’ve heard rumors that she killed Abel and blamed Cain for it. And for Christ in a cave, I visit the old bat every few days… when I remember. We just had dinner there on Monday for fuck’s sake.”

“Yeah, she invited me to dinner when I saw her.”

Irma took the wheel on the conversation from here. “How about Friday? We’ll come along too.”

“Sounds fine. Maybe you’ll have my money by then Count? I’ll bring a bottle of wine.”

Count started towards the bar saying, “Don’t bother, mom likes brandy.”

 

Chapter Five

 

Sitting at the bar on a stool like a priestess on her throne was Sour Kraut. She was well over six feet tall heels or no heels and wore a dress that was snugger to her body than a key is to its lock—pinker too.

Count Whorton slipped into the chair next to her like an elephant into a tunic. “How you doin’ Sour?”

“Bitch, you should know,” Sour said giving Count a look. “Saying just another, just another last night. I ended up puking everything up in my closet.”

“Speaking of drinking where’s the bartender?”

“Not here yet.”

“Fuck.” Count Whorton slipped out of his chair like an elephant out of a tunic and gave it to Irma who managed it better. In his element among the bottles behind the bar, Count found some bourbon and three glasses.

“Hey Irma,” Sour said, “I heard Count had a murderous hangover.”

“Yup, woke up in the Pennypacker park on a bench next to a dead woman.”

“That blows me out of the water.”

“How’d you hear?” Count asked pouring drinks.

“Two bulls were in earlier, pissing off Dotty.”

Count drained his glass while everyone else sipped then poured himself another. “Not much for hair of the dog?”

“What?” Sour said.

“I was just looking at your glass.”

She gave a slight smile then said, “I often catch men looking at my glass.” That made everyone smile.

“No, seriously,” said Count.

“Seriously? Seriously, I feel like shit and think if I drink too much I’ll be running right back to the closet.”

“So, why are you here?”

“Bitch, where else am I supposed to be? Home with the closet? I work here.”

“Whatever,” Count said moving his glass around. “So, you remember what happened last night?”

“You mean about you? Like how you made two women hold out your scarf so you could play limbo or when you sat on that poor man in the wheelchair’s lap and told him what you wanted for Christmas or when you got up on stage and sang the best of disco.”

“I don’t remember that,” Count said.

Irma giggled, “Sounds like a fun night.”

“Probably was, Sour, was there like anything or anybody weird around last night? Anything suspicious?”

“There was that girl that followed you in.”

“What girl?” Irma said.

“Twenties something, long hair, I don’t know. She followed you in trying to talk your ear off then that big guy who works over at that fast food place next to that auto shop dragged her out. He was wearing the uniform.”

“And you don’t remember this at all?” Irma asked the Count.

“I remember doing some errands and getting a little thirsty. So, I went to a bar then I did a few more things then there was this other place then I remember vaguely here. Then of course Pennypacker Park.”

“Good times were had there, baby,” Sour said. “Pennypacker park’s where I lost my virginity.”

“If that’s true you’re the one that should get their name on a bench.”

“Please,” Sour said standing up. “I don’t need a monument tying me to this town. Bitch, where do you see me in five years? I will tell you where… headlining a place a lot bigger than this in a town a lot better. Now I gotta do some work, see you all later.” Sour walked away in only a way she could.

Count Whorton grabbed Sour’s partial glass and downed it saving the rest of the bottle like an orphan from a fire by putting it quickly under his coat. “Ready, Irma?”

“Where we off to?” Irma said finishing her drink.

“I’m hungry, so why don’t we see a big guy about a burger?”

“Sounds good to me, but Countey I want to ask you something first. Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Count gave it some thought and said, “Dead in an Iowa whorehouse, and you?”

“The same.”

“That’s my girl. What do they say, together to the end?”

Irma smiled. “Yeah, the bloody whorehouse end.” Then they sent the little hairs on the back of necks standing up with a kiss only they could achieve.

 

Chapter Six

 

The uniform at the burger joint was like most fast food place uniforms a shirt, a hat, and a collection of stains. Count Whorton and Irma recognized their guy two ways; one was that he had to duck at every door he came to so he didn’t hit the frame with his cement block head and cause the whole place to crumble. The second way was he was the only man in a uniform.

Count walked up to him and said, “Buddy, can I ask you a few questions?”

The skyscraper in cotton turned to look at Count. “You?” was all he said.

“Me?” Countered the Count leaning on the counter.

“What are you doing here?”

“Asking you some questions.”

“No, you aren’t.”

“I’m not?”

“No, because you’re not a cop.”

“You’re right, I work at a grocery store. I still want to ask you some questions.”

“Is she a cop?” The big guy pointed at Irma.

“No,” Count said, “she’s a prostitute. Can I ask you those questions now?”

“No, because you’re an ugly drunk grocery man and she’s an ugly whore.”

“Hey,” the Count yelled, his eyes wide yellow pus balls of craziness. “Listen here you fucking fucktard of a fuck, don’t you ever say that kind of shit to my girlfriend again or I’ll shove so many of these little salt packets up your ass anything you crap out will be pre-salted, you endangered ape-looking fuck.”

Kenny, as his name tag read, looked a little stunned and then threw a fist the size of three green bean cans. Count moved, but it still clipped his cheekbone, he fell back and Kenny came over the counter. Count gave a kick at Kenny’s crotch but missed with the aim of a man who loved his booze. Kenny grabbed Count by his pants and lapels and threw him across the room. Landing on a garbage can, Count tried to get his wits about him before Kenny was on him again. He failed. Kenny gave him two rights on the floor before Count grabbed a sticky plastic fork and stabbed it into Kenny’s shoulder or tried to as most of the tongs broke against his muscle. But it slowed him up a second or two giving Count the opportunity to hit him a few dozen times in the head with a plastic tray.

Count Whorton was off the floor and Kenny started to lunge when Irma pulled out her gun. “I wouldn’t,” she said, “or the ugly whore’s gonna shoot ya.”

“Aw, fuck,” Count said, “my bottle of bourbon broke.” He pointed to the remnants on the ground.

“Now,” Irma preceded, “you gonna answer our questions?”

“Maybe not now, Irma,” Count said pointing to a teenager on her cellphone. “Bulls are comin’, we gots to scram.”

“Shit,” Irma said, putting her gun away and making her way to the door.

Passing Kenny on the floor Count said, “Ma and Pa will be back, sonny.”

A few blocks away as they slowed at a stop sign Irma said, “That work as planned?”

“I didn’t plan to lose my bourbon.”

“What do we do now?”

“Home, nap, nourishment… lay on the couch like a lemon peel in the landfill.”

“Really?”

“Fine, we will stop off at the cop shop, see if they identified my murder victim yet. I don’t think I pissed off every cop I know, we’ll find out anyways. But, I wanna drive thru someplace on the way.”

 

Chapter Seven

 

Miss Pinky grew up when moats were dug around residences and three out of four children died of weakness or consumption. Miss Pinky wasn’t her name nor was she a cop, she worked the front desk and no one knew her by any other name. She was a short, stout woman with the unbreakable belief that her poodle cut hairstyle never went out of fashion.

Count Whorton sidled up to her desk, a honey-sweet dead tooth smile on his face. “Grand tidings, Miss Pinky…looking like a fresh picked flower as usual.”

“Oh, please,” Miss Pinky said with a snort. “Cut the crap, what are you doing back here after this morning?”

“Turning myself in.”

“Irma and your mother wouldn’t stand for such a foolish thing.”

“You know that,” said Irma leaning on the large desk.

“Told ya, dummy. Now, tell me the truth.”

“Just lookin’ for an update on my victim.”

Miss Pinky looked around her and over into the back rooms which were all buzzing like a stone-knocked hive then got up saying words that caused Count and Irma to question the trustworthiness of their ears.

With painted old lips she said, “Meet me in the crapper, on the double.”

Count Whorton and Irma shared a look that showed each other’s worry for the tapestry of life and all the decisions that led up to them following Miss Pinky into the can. Then Count shrugged lazily and said, “It’s a dirty business.”

The three of them packed into the woman’s bathroom like three rotten peas into a pod.

“So, the girl’s name is Ginny Hollis, twenty-eight, I believe. She was stabbed multiple times.”

“That it?”

“What? Did you want the killer’s name and address? How about his unlisted phone number?”

“It would be nice.”

“I can’t do everything for ya, honey. Maybe you could surprise us all and use that head of yours for something other than just growing out your bald spot.”

“Man, you’re mean today.”

“I’m just telling the truth, honey.”

“Miss Pinky,” Irma said, “did Ginny have long hair?”

“They don’t have a lot of photos of her just yet, but I’d say that’s a safe bet. Most of the pictures now have been from the scene. They’re still there. Hell, he woke up there, shouldn’t he know about the length of her hair?”

“Hungover.”

“Of course.”

“The DCI coming down?”

“They should already be on their way. Some don’t like it, but Quartertown ain’t Chicago. When something like this goes down you need the big Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation boys.”

“The ones with iron jockey shorts,” Count Whorton said, “I’d want my case put in their hands more than I would the Quartertown bunch.”

“Hey, I work with these guys daily, not all of them are bad… but I agree.”

“Alright, I guess that’s it. Thanks for the help.”

“No, problem. Hey, how’s your mom doin’ I haven’t seen her in a while?”

“Good,” Whorton said, moving towards the door.

“We are having dinner with her on Friday,” Irma said, “if you wanna come. Dotty of Dynamite Dotty’s is coming as well.”

“I would just be delighted, I will make a pie if no one objects.”

“Sounds fabulous,” Irma said.

Count Whorton was nearing the urge to slam his forehead against a stall door when Irma turned ready to go.

Out in the car, Irma drove away from the cop shop. “Where are we going now?”

“Home?”

“What?”

“I need some sleep and a drink and a vacation house and a colonoscopy probably, but let’s focus on a nap right now.”

“Do you think the dead girl is the same girl that followed you into Dotty’s?”

“I don’t see why not.”

“Then who you think killed her?”

“Top of my head, I’d guess it was that fee fo giant at the burger joint.”

“Yeah, how you feeling?”

“Eh…” A large bruise had started to form on the side of Count Whortons already mangled-looking face.

Back at the apartment, Count Whorton stripped off his coat and pulled down the murphy bed.

“How long are you gonna sleep?” Said Irma helping him off with his clothes.

“I don’t know.”

“I guess I’ll go to work for a while then, see if I can turn any tricks.”

“Okay.”

“You work tonight.”

“At the store, yes, but I think I’ll call in. You know, may have murdered a woman and all.”

“I guess I better let you sleep. Unless you wanna screw around some.”

Count Whorton fell back onto the bed in an unbuttoned shirt and pants. “I’m way too tired for anything like that.”

“I could just defile you in your sleep.”

“I would like that a lot, Irmie.”

“Okay,” she said, “I’ll go get the naughty toys,” before patting his leg and heading towards the door.

“Just no whip Irmie, I’m really tired,” Count Whorton said already asleep.

 

Chapter Eight

 

A few hours later Count woke up to the sound of the doorbell hitting his eardrums like a three-car collision. He stumbled across the room swearing as he went and descended the stairs to the outer door.

Count poked his head out half asleep, holding his shirt together like a woman with her robe caught coming out of the shower. A short, long-haired girl barely out of her teens stood on the sidewalk.

“What do you want?”

“Kenny said you were looking for me,” said the girl. It had become dark since Count Whorton got home, but he could see her clearly painted in colors from the neon sign and other lights the bar he lived above had to offer.

“Who the hell are you?”

“Rea Coatwell, we, well, I tried to talk to you last night.”

“You’re the girl from Dotty’s.”

“Yes, I followed you in there because I was trying to speak to you. You   see-”

“Hold it,” Count Whorton said holding up a hand. “You go up inside, turn on the light. I gotta get my… partner.”

Count went out the door and held it for her as she went in and up the stairs.

“I won’t be a minute.”

Whorton shut the door quickly and crossed the alley to the next building. A few steps in he realized he was shoeless. Good thing he didn’t have far to go. He still had the fortune to step on several pebbles, something too sharp to be a rock and something he didn’t look down to see but made a squishing noise. At the other building, Count tapped furiously on a first-floor window. There were a few swears, the sound of a bed creaking, then the window was opened by a topless Irma.

“What’s the problem, Countey?”

“Girl just showed up at my door, says she’s the one from Dotty’s last night.”

“No shit?”

“No shit.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah, she’s at my place, can you get out of here?”

“No problem, it’s a regular, and we were just finishing up.”

Irma shut the window. Count waited on the sidewalk. A few minutes later a man came out buckling his pants, a look of regret on his face. Then Irma came out in a black t-shirt and jeans.

The bare yellow bulb hanging from the ceiling at Count’s place flickered in and out as if battling to cling to life. Rea sat on the very edge of the couch, trying to sit without touching anything. When Count and Irma came in Irma switched on a lamp and joined Rea on the couch, Count put up the bed and found his way to the chair.

“You obviously know me,” Count said, “but this is Irma, my partner. Now, I had some to drink last night, so maybe you could start with what happened.”

“First, of all, I’d just like to apologize about Kenny. I know you all had a… scuffle as it were. And I just think that’s awful.”

Count caressed his bruised cheek because caressing his bruised ribs in front of company is strange.

“You were pointed out to me last night by a friend, during bingo.”

“Bingo?” Irma said.

“Yes, Count Whorton was at my church’s weekly bible bingo game, I help out. He didn’t have any cards, but he still yelled out bingo several times causing a ruckus.”

“I don’t remember that,” Count said.

“Well, Pastor Dave walked him out and one of the older ladies said who you are and what you do so, I caught up with you and tried to tell you about my sister. Kenny came along as well. We followed you into Dynamite Dotty’s and finally, Kenny dragged me away saying you were a…”

“Useless drunk or something?” Count finished.

“Yes.”

“What’s wrong with your sister?” Irma said.

“She’s missing, has been gone for three days now.”

“Why don’t you go to the police?”

“My parents say not to. It’s not the first time she’s gone missing, you see. She has run away before, but never for this long. The first few times we did go to the police, but then she’d just show up like it was nothing.”

“She usually just at a friend’s?”

“Or her boyfriend’s and this last one, he’s just bad. I’m always at work or helping at the church and can’t look after her a hundred percent of the time and neither can my parents. So, they got her a babysitter. It’s not a regular babysitter because Tara is nearly fifteen, but since they don’t trust her, the neighbor girl comes over and watches her. Which she was our babysitter when we were smaller.”

“How old is she?”

“Twenty-seven or twenty-eight, I think. And she said this latest boyfriend of Tara’s is into drugs and might even be a dealer or something. That’s what got me so scared, what Ginny said.”

“Ginny?” Count said.

“Yeah, Ginny Hollis.”

Irma looked at Count, he glanced back, his yellow eyes big like that of an old man finding a penny on the ground.

“So,” Count continued, “how do you think she knew this about your sister’s boyfriend?”

“I don’t know, maybe she saw him somewhere, doing something. She didn’t tell me how she knew.”

“Do you think your sister’s doing drugs?”

“I hope not.”

“Do you have a picture of your sister?”

“Yeah,” Rea said taking out her phone and showing Count a picture of a bright shiny teenager.

“Do you have any paper photos?”

“Um… no.”

Count sighed then got out of his chair and went over to the far wall. He flicked up some wood paneling revealing a hidden area stuffed with odds and ends. Count found a flask, tried it, then swore at its emptiness and threw it behind him like a dead bird he thought would take flight. When he found what he was looking for, he replaced the panel and sat back down.

“Sorry ‘bout that,” Count said, “I don’t use it that much.” He flipped open an old phone and turned it on. “Could you text that picture to me?”

“Sure,” Rea said. She got the number, sent the picture, then listened to the 1960’s rock smash hit that was Count’s ring tone.

“Do you know Tara’s boyfriend’s name?” Irma said.

“I only know him as Blippy.”

“Blippy?”

“Yeah… I doubt it, but it may say on his Facebook page if I can find it.”

Rea kept her face on her phone for several minutes as Count wished there’d been something in that flask.

“Here we are… um, Tyler Liptone.”

“There pictures of him on there?”

“Yeah?”

“Can I see?”

“Sure,” Rea handed Count the phone and he swiped through the pictures.

“Irma,” Count said.

“What?”

“Look at that.” Count showed her the phone, a picture of Blippy on it.

“What?”

“Who’s that in the background?”

“That big guy? He looks a little familiar.”

“Yup.” Count swiped through a few more pictures then handed the phone back. Grabbing the landline, Whorton dragged it over to the TV tray next to his chair, the cord just reaching. He lit a bent cigarette and dialed.

“Who ya callin’?” Irma said.

“Police,” the other line picked up and Count said, “Miss Pinky, glad to know you’re still there.”

“Murder, Count, that means all hands on deck including front desk people.”

“Could you do me a favor?”

“What?”

“Get me an address.”

“Not even if I wanted to.”

“Please, we both know you got a finger in every bowl of soup down there. An address would be nothing.”

“Fine.”

“Thanks, Miss Pinky, the name is Tyler Liptone.”

“Alright, give me a minute.” She paused then gave the address when she got it.

“Thanks, Miss Pinky, hey another thing how old is he?”

“Twenty.”

“That’s what I thought, thanks Miss Pinky, you’re a lovely and wonderful person.”

“Shit, detective Klunkel’s coming my way.”

“Give him my love.”

“Yup,” Miss Pinky said before slamming the phone down.

“Who was that?” Klunkel said, now up at the desk.

“Des Moines reporter, he tried to sweet talk me. Asked me if I look as good as I sound. I said depends, how bad do I sound over the phone.”

Klunkel frowned, “Don’t tell them anything.” He then walked away as happy-go-lucky as a diseased puppy stuck in the sewer, but that was normal.

“Alright,” Count said leaning back in his chair, “I think I can get your sister.”

Rea’s smile took over her face like a planned attack. “Really? That’s great, what will I owe you?”

“Um…” Count thought about it for the first time. “Fifty bucks and a phone call.”

She paid up front.

 

Chapter Nine

 

Kenny looked about as comfortable in his car as a mouse in a cat’s digestive system. The car squished him in two, leaving him little room to breathe or turn the steering wheel. Then again, a school bus would do the same thing for Kenny.

After he parked, Kenny sauntered over to Count and Irma’s rust bucket. He was either going to talk or throw the car to Pluto with little strain.

“I’m here. How’s the face?” he said through the window to Count.

“What face?” Count said.

“So, what am I doing here?”

Count left Irma in the car saying to Kenny, “Rea’s sister Tara is, we’re figuring, in that house with her ne’er-do-well boyfriend Blippy. And I need you to act as my heavy.”

“Heavy what?”

“No, um, I’ll be like the good cop and you’ll be the bad cop. I say things like we’re on your side and we know you’re the brains. And you say things like this fool don’t know shit and I’ve seen more useful shit on my shoe. All while you beat the crap out of him.”

“Okay.”

“First we go in there and I get out Tara. Then we talk to Blippy. You gonna have my ass.”

“If I have to.”

Count Whorton walked up to the door wishing he had a nip of something, then knocked. There was no answer, so Kenny knocked harder. When the door swung open a half-naked, twig-skinny man stood there with a giant wolf’s head tattooed on his chest.

“What the fuck do you want?” Blippy said.

Kenny punched the wolf between the eyes making a few of Blippy’s ribs crack. Blippy collapsed on the floor in a heap that looked like last week’s trash. Count stepped over him and said to Kenny, “Watch him, I’ll find Tara.”

A shooting star must have been flying overhead as Count was talking because just like that Tara came around the corner.

“What the fuck’s going on?” she muttered. She had mussed hair like she just woke up and wore only a large shirt. Count knew her age but thought she looked about ten years old.

“Get some clothes on.”

“What? Who are you?”

“Doesn’t matter, get dressed.”

“No,” Tara said not moving defiantly. “Fuck you.”

“Listen, girl, I’m detective Klunkel of the Quartertown police department and your sister Rea Coatwell was found dead earlier tonight.”

“What?” Tara screeched.

“She was reportedly out looking for you, little girl. When she was killed. We’ve only found the head thus far, but I think it’s safe to say she’s dead.”

Tara fell in a heap screaming and crying. Count grabbed her shoulders and pulled her up. “Get your clothes, now!”

She disappeared into the house.

“What the fuck was that?” said Kenny.

“What?”

“Tellin’ her Rea’s dead.”

“Maybe she’ll think next time she runs away. Either way, it was a little fun; this must have been how Bela Lugosi felt all the time.”

“You’re kinda fucked up.”

“Eh… little bit.”

Tara came back her eyes dark clouds ready to break any moment with another storm. Count shuffled her out to the back seat of the car. She shrunk on the cracked and torn upholstery looking like a kitten in a shoe box.

Count put a finger under her chin and said, “Now, there, there. Don’t worry. Your sisters alive and well.”

“What?” Tara sniffled.

“We were hired by Rea to retrieve you, girlie. If you’re thinking of running I wouldn’t, the driver’s got a gun.” Irma smiled from the front seat then Count said, “Toodle-oo.”

Count shut the door as Tara started a screaming of a different sort.

Back inside, Blippy was put in a chair and Kenny stood over him like a hammer waiting to be dropped.

“Blippy, you with me pal?” Count said shaking him.

“Fuck you,” was the response.

“Good, now do you know Ginny Hollis?”

“Fuck you.”

“Kenny.”

Kenny twisted Blippys nose till it nearly came off making him yelp in pain. Kenny let go and blood dripped from the nostrils.

“Now, do you know Ginny Hollis?”

“No…Fuck.”

“Where do you get your drugs?”

“What?”

“Blippy, who’s your supplier?”

“Why should I tell you?”

“Kenny.”

Kenny rabbit punched Blippy in the side of the face.

“Fuck, fuck fine it’s that son-of-a-bitch Darren Hollis.”

“When’s the last time you saw him?”

“I don’t know, night ago or two.”

“Where do you meet?”

“Club across town…Dynamite Dotty’s”

“I’m done here…he’s yours Kenny.”

Kenny worked him over for a few minutes breaking one of Blippy’s arms and knocking him unconscious. Hopefully, infusing in him the knowledge that if he meets anyone with the name Coatwell again he should commit suicide instead of mingling.

Count found a piece of paper and a pen, he wrote on it, then set it on Blippy’s lap. Kenny smiled and started out. Count called 911, gave them the address then hung up and followed him, but not before taking Blippy’s money and phone.

The paper on Blippy’s lap read: Hello I am Blippy, a drug addict and pedophile. I am badly injured, please help.

 

Chapter Ten

 

Hours later in the Phillip M. Pennypacker memorial park on the Cliff Skipper bench Count Whorton and Irma laid on top of each other in a lewd display of affection as the sun rose over the treetops.

“Dear God.”

Count Whorton pulled his eyes from Irma to see Klunkel standing over them, a twisted look like he just licked a bulldog’s ass painted on his face.

“Detective,” Count said as him and Irma sat up and straightened. “Good, you got my call.”

“Hell of a call, sneaking up on a rookie officer telling him to tell me to come out here alone so we could talk. Fuck, if you want to confess come to the office, you know where it is. That kid is now thinking of quitting the force.”

“That’s a shame, but it’s more dramatic this way. And I said talk, not confess.”

Klunkel didn’t say anything, just stood unmoving in the morning wind.

“Well,” Irma said, “first of all he didn’t do it.”

“Yeah,” Count agreed.

“But we know who did.”

Klunkel remained as silent as a gravestone in July.

“You see,” Count said, “we started by goin’ over and retracin’ my steps because I didn’t remember nothin’. I was drinkin’ you know. That didn’t get us too far. We did learn a girl was tryin’ to talk to me and I ignored her.”

“Fast forward a little,” Irma said, “we get word to this mystery girl who we first assumed was the dead girl, but she’s not.”

“Because she’s not dead.”

“I think he’s got that, Countey.”

“Anyway, girl’s got a missing sister with an asshole pedophile boyfriend and a babysitter that was none other than dot, dot, dot Ginny Hollis.”

Klunkel crossed his arms.

“So, we get the runaway sister and have a convo with this creep. You see, we found a picture of him on the Facebook with someone in the background we recognized. I asked him where he got his drugs and you know what he says, but Darren Hollis. I know what you are thinking, pretty coincidental, the name Hollis.”

“We,” Irma said, “know Darren by the name Sour Kraut, leading drag queen act at a place called Dynamite Dotty’s.”

“We went down there and asked around after talkin’ to the pedophile and I did have a few.”

“Night of the murder, Sour left early,” Irma said. “Also didn’t drink as much as usual.”

“That’s nothing,” Klunkel said, “no proof in that.”

“We talked around to some of the other girls there,” Count said. “A few know Sour was dealing and all of them saw an incident in which Sour fought and hit a woman matching Ginny’s description. Plus, Irma thought of something fantastic.”

“Well, considering Darren probably got rid of the clothes he was wearing I figured that would suck, him being of a larger size, well, mostly I’m talking about his shoes. Sour has some big feet and I mean big feet.”

“They’re allowed to keep things at Dotty’s. We checked, there’s a pair of size 14 men’s sneakers in Sour’s stuff among the wedges and pumps. They had a few bits of blood on them. I think Darren started selling drugs for the money, he wants to be the biggest drag queen out there, but he can’t do it in a town like this. His sister Ginny didn’t agree with it. Ginny warned the not dead girl that her little sister is messing around a druggy, because she saw him around Darren. She confronts him and he kills her. Not just for confronting him, but because she’s bugging in his client’s lives and that’s not good for business.”

“Fine,” Klunkel said, “I will look into it.”

“That’s it?”

“What can I say?”

“Well, here, I will absolutely prove it to you. I stole the druggy pedophile’s phone and texted Darren. My text reads: was in the park last night, saw you and that girl. Then Darren wrote back: what you talking about Blippy. And I said: you know…let’s meet there to talk. Then he said: when, and I said, well just about now.”

Klunkel went from annoyed to infuriated as Count talked and was about to release his fury like air from a pin-pricked balloon when like on cue, footsteps started up the nearby gravel path. Klunkel drew his gun and Count drew a partial bottle he had hidden.

Darren came up the path and stopped suddenly like he hit a wall. He didn’t try to run or fight, he just let Klunkel put the handcuffs on him, looking like he expected this or like there was too much sand in his eyes.

Irma and Count sat on, watching and drinking as Klunkel pulled Darren over.

“Shit,” Irma said looking down, “he’s got the sneakers on.”

Klunkel and Count looked at Darren’s feet and count said, “just gotta find the blood on ‘em.”

Count looked at Darren, one of the few times he wasn’t in a dress, heels, or wig. Just some light makeup and small earrings. “Darren, two things. First is, I was curious since earlier, when we had that drink because you didn’t look as hungover as you were puttin’ on and I’ve seen my share of hangovers. The second is you put on one hell of a show at Dotty’s. I’m gonna miss that.”

“Me too,” said Irma.

“Thanks.”

“I still don’t get,” Klunkel said, “how you got the knife and found the body.”

“The old drunken fuck stumbled over her,” Darren said with a slight smile.

“What?”

“When it happened, I knew it was gonna be trouble. He came along up the path like he followed me, but he was too drunk to follow anything but the smell of more booze. He tripped over her arm, saw her, said he’d help and pulled the knife out of her chest. He then started yelling about murder and police, but he finally found the bench and went to sleep.”

“I don’t remember that,” Count Whorton said, taking another swig from the bottle.

 

Chapter Eleven

 

On Friday night everybody swarmed around mother Whorton’s house. Miss Pinky showed up first, pie in hand. Then Dotty came in her best leather jacket with some brandy and fifteen minutes after everyone else, Irma and Count came through the door.

“You’re late, Whorely,” said mother Whorton. She was an old woman with a bad smoking habit, an oxygen tank always on her heels and a chubby little dog that liked chewing the cord.

“I know, ma,” said Count, “take the belt to me later will ya?”

“I’ll pencil it in,” she said with a smile.

They all sat around the table eating mother Whorton’s great cooking, drinking and talking like it was a holiday.

“God-damn you two,” Dotty said to Irma, “that was the best singer I had.”

“Rather I went down for it?” Count cut in.

“If it’s gonna lose me money and you owe me money, so fuck yeah.”

“Well,” Irma said, “until you find someone, why don’t you have Count fill in with his lovely voice.”

“Fuckin’ hell, I hope you’re kiddin’ Irma. I’d rather shove toothpicks into my eardrums than have that.”

They all laughed, having a good night.

 

Chapter Twelve

 

Back in the apartment after dinner, Count went up to the east wall and put his hand on the wood.

“I think it’s time, Irma,” he said.

“For what,” she said then saw him at the wall. “You serious?”

“I am, but just one thing.”

“What?”

“We do all of this together?”

“Till the bloody whorehouse end, Countey.”

“Love you, Irmie.”

“Love you too, Countey.”

Count Whorley Whorton opened the pocket doors that separated his apartment from his office. Everything was covered with a thick layer of dust. On a far window was painted the words Count Whorton Investigations and Security.

“We’ll fix that,” Count said, “I wanna make it Count Whorton and Irma Side Investigations and Security. Ain’t that nice?”

“Fuck, no, that name sounds horrible.”

Count smiled. “Alright, you pick the name.”

Irma walked into the office that no one’s been in for years and smiled. She turned to Count and said, “The Bloody Whorehouse Detective Agency.”

The End





Michael D. Davis was born and raised in a small town in the heart of Iowa. Having written over thirty short stories, ranging in genre from comedy to horror from flash fiction to novella he continues in his accursed pursuit of a career in the written word.

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