The Bloody Whorehouse
By Michael D. Davis
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.”
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?
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
Irma said in a voice that broke glass two towns away,
“you got arrested without me.”
have a phone call or nothing. You didn’t even think of me.”
thinking of you Irmie. You were working last night.”
“Someone has too.”
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.”
officer behind a desk mumbled, “alcoholic asshole,” loud enough for everyone to
“Okay,” Count said, “he thinks I did it, but who
cares. Let’s go.”
Countey if that’s all it is. No hard feelings just remember to invite me next time.”
were walking out an officer said to Irma, “don’t I know you? You look familiar.”
arrested me last year for prostitution. Don’t worry no hard feelings, dearie.”
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
“What?” Count said.
“How else am I supposed
to figure out what you’re pissed about?”
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.
just gonna sit here?”
“That’s the plan.”
gonna look into this at all?”
woman in the park, fucks sake, you aren’t even gonna try to clear your 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.”
“For me, Countey, will you look into it for me?” Irma put
extra syrup in her words.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
hey back and added, “So, how many teddy bears did you have to murder to get that
Irma made a face and said, “None, they died naturally.”
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?”
shit you were here last night. Do you know who was here a few hours ago?”
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
“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.”
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.”
“Of course not,”
Irma said, then thought about her answer. “We don’t think so, anyway.”
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.
of that,” Dotty said, “your tabs due.”
“So, are my library books.”
like it by the end of the week or you’re cut off, Count.”
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.
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.”
face dropped a few inches. “That was my biological mother, I was talking about my
“Bullshit, you dumb fuck.”
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?”
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.”
fine. Maybe you’ll have my money by then Count? I’ll bring a bottle of wine.”
started towards the bar saying, “Don’t bother, mom likes brandy.”
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?”
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.”
of drinking where’s the bartender?”
“Not here yet.”
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
“Yup, woke up in the Pennypacker park on a bench next to a
“That blows me out of
“How’d you hear?” Count asked pouring drinks.
bulls were in earlier, pissing off Dotty.”
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.
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.”
why are you here?”
“Bitch, where else am
I supposed to be? Home with the closet? I work here.”
Count said moving his glass around. “So, you remember what happened last night?”
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.”
remember that,” Count said.
Irma giggled, “Sounds like a fun night.”
was, Sour, was there like anything or anybody weird around last night? Anything suspicious?”
was that girl that followed you in.”
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.”
you don’t remember this at all?” Irma asked the Count.
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
“Good times were had there, baby,” Sour said. “Pennypacker
park’s where I lost my virginity.”
true you’re the one that should get their name on a bench.”
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?”
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?”
it some thought and said, “Dead in an Iowa whorehouse, and you?”
“That’s my girl. What do they say, together to the end?”
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.
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.
walked up to him and said, “Buddy, can I ask you a few questions?”
in cotton turned to look at Count. “You?” was all he said.
Countered the Count leaning on the counter.
“What are you doing here?”
you some questions.”
“No, you aren’t.”
“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?”
because you’re an ugly drunk grocery man and she’s an ugly whore.”
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.”
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.
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.”
Count said, “my bottle of bourbon broke.” He pointed to the remnants on the
“Now,” Irma preceded, “you gonna answer our questions?”
not now, Irma,” Count said pointing to a teenager on her cellphone. “Bulls
are comin’, we gots to scram.”
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.”
blocks away as they slowed at a stop sign Irma said, “That work as planned?”
plan to lose my bourbon.”
“What do we do now?”
nap, nourishment… lay on the couch like a lemon peel in the landfill.”
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.”
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.
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.”
please,” Miss Pinky said with a snort. “Cut the crap, what are you doing back
here after this morning?”
“Turning myself in.”
and your mother wouldn’t stand for such a foolish thing.”
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.”
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
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.”
“What? Did you want the killer’s name and address? How
about his unlisted phone number?”
“It would be nice.”
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.”
you’re mean today.”
“I’m just telling the truth, honey.”
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?”
“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.”
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.”
guess that’s it. Thanks for the help.”
“No, problem. Hey, how’s
your mom doin’ I haven’t seen her in a while?”
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.”
just be delighted, I will make a pie if no one objects.”
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?”
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?”
see why not.”
“Then who you think killed her?”
of my head, I’d guess it was that fee fo giant at the burger joint.”
“Yeah, how you feeling?”
A large bruise had started to form on the side of Count Whortons already mangled-looking
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 guess I’ll go to work for a while then, see if I
can turn any tricks.”
“At the store, yes, but
I think I’ll call in. You know, may have murdered a woman and all.”
I better let you sleep. Unless you wanna screw around some.”
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.”
like that a lot, Irmie.”
“Okay,” she said,
“I’ll go get the naughty toys,” before patting his leg and heading towards
“Just no whip Irmie, I’m really tired,” Count
Whorton said already asleep.
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.
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?”
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.
hell are you?”
“Rea Coatwell, we, well, I tried to talk to you
“You’re the girl from Dotty’s.”
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.”
out the door and held it for her as she went in and up the stairs.
“I won’t be a minute.”
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.
the problem, Countey?”
“Girl just showed up at my door,
says she’s the one from Dotty’s last night.”
at my place, can you get out of here?”
“No problem, it’s
a regular, and we were just finishing up.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
“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.”
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…”
drunk or something?” Count finished.
wrong with your sister?” Irma said.
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?”
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?”
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.
Irma looked at Count, he glanced back, his yellow
eyes big like that of an old man finding a penny on the ground.
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.”
you think your sister’s doing drugs?”
“Do you have a picture of your sister?”
Rea said taking out her phone and showing Count a picture
of a bright shiny teenager.
“Do you have any paper photos?”
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?”
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
“I only know him as Blippy.”
I doubt it, but it may say on his Facebook page if I can
Rea kept her face on her phone for several minutes
as Count wished there’d been something in that flask.
we are… um, Tyler Liptone.”
“There pictures of him on there?”
“Sure,” Rea handed Count the phone
and he swiped through the pictures.
“Look at that.” Count showed
her the phone, a picture of Blippy on it.
that in the background?”
“That big guy? He looks a little familiar.”
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
“Murder, Count, that means all hands on
deck including front desk people.”
you do me a favor?”
“Get me an address.”
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.”
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?”
I thought, thanks Miss Pinky, you’re a lovely and
“Shit, detective Klunkel’s coming
“Give him my love.”
Miss Pinky said before slamming the phone down.
was that?” Klunkel said, now up at the desk.
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.”
“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.”
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.
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
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.
face?” Count said.
“So, what am I doing here?”
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.”
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.”
we go in there and I get out Tara. Then we talk to Blippy.
You gonna have my ass.”
“If I have to.”
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
“What the fuck do you want?” Blippy said.
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.”
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
“Get some clothes on.”
“What? Who are you?”
matter, get dressed.”
“No,” Tara said not moving defiantly.
“Listen, girl, I’m detective Klunkel
of the Quartertown police department and your sister Rea Coatwell
was found dead earlier tonight.”
“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.”
in a heap screaming and crying. Count grabbed her shoulders
and pulled her up. “Get your clothes, now!”
She disappeared into the house.
the fuck was that?” said Kenny.
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.”
kinda fucked up.”
“Eh… little bit.”
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.”
“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.”
shut the door as Tara started a screaming of a different
Back inside, Blippy was put in a chair and Kenny
stood over him like a hammer waiting to be dropped.
you with me pal?” Count said shaking him.
you,” was the response.
“Good, now do you know Ginny Hollis?”
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?”
do you get your drugs?”
who’s your supplier?”
“Why should I tell you?”
rabbit punched Blippy in the side of the face.
“Fuck, fuck fine it’s
that son-of-a-bitch Darren Hollis.”
last time you saw him?”
“I don’t know, night ago or two.”
do you meet?”
“Club across town…Dynamite Dotty’s”
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.
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
The paper on Blippy’s lap read: Hello
I am Blippy, a drug addict and pedophile. I am badly injured, please help.
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.
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
“Detective,” Count said as him and Irma
sat up and straightened. “Good, you got my call.”
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.”
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.
Irma said, “first of all he didn’t do it.”
“But we know who did.”
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
“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.”
she’s not dead.”
“I think he’s got that, Countey.”
girl’s got a missing sister with an asshole pedophile
boyfriend and a babysitter that was none other than dot, dot, dot Ginny Hollis.”
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
“Night of the murder, Sour left early,”
Irma said. “Also didn’t drink as much as usual.”
nothing,” Klunkel said, “no proof in that.”
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
“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.”
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.”
Klunkel said, “I will look into 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.”
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
Irma and Count sat on, watching and drinking
as Klunkel pulled Darren over.
Irma said looking down, “he’s got the sneakers on.”
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.”
too,” said Irma.
“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.
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.
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.
know, ma,” said Count, “take the belt to me later will ya?”
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.”
I went down for it?” Count cut in.
“If it’s gonna
lose me money and you owe me money, so fuck yeah.”
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.
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,”
“For what,” she said then saw him
at the wall. “You serious?”
“I am, but just one thing.”
do all of this together?”
“Till the bloody whorehouse end, Countey.”
“Love you too, Countey.”
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.
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.”
“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.”