Episode 1: One of the Good Guys
“Great, just great…” said Tony
“Another one, splayed out like so much chopped liver,” I agreed.
“Is that what that smell is?”
Murder was always a messy business. Then again, so was cleaning trash off the streets. You’ll find me right in the center of that Venn diagram.
“Are there ever?”
“We get stories from the neighbors?”
Tony pulled out his notepad. “Lady two doors down said he was always working late. Across the hall confirms, and adds that he never seemed quite right. Gentleman on the second floor had a charming tale about two sparrows who outsmart a fox.”
I sighed and massaged the bridge of my nose. “You get a statement from the landlord?”
As if on cue, a heavyset eastern European gentleman. Hairy, smelt like sausage something awful.
“What is going on?!” he demanded.
“Sir, I’d ask you to lower your voice and keep back, this is a crime-”
He got in my face. “You listen, buddy. This is my building-”
I’d had enough. I grabbed Sausages by the collar and slammed him against the wall. “It’s Guy, buddy, and I suggest you get your ass off my crime scene before I drag you in for questioning! You got that, Sausages?”
“S-s-sausages?” he asked, sweating.
I released him and wiped my hands on his shirt, acquiring more sweat. “You’ll be hearing from us if anything turns up.” I turned to my partner. “Let’s get outta here, Tony.”
Tony smirked as he followed me out onto the street. “Looks like it frosted last night.”
“C’mon, I need a drink.”
I hunched my shoulders into my coat as we walked down the boulevard to my favorite hole-in-the-wall. The frost from the night before clung to anything that wasn’t asphalt. The smell coming from the sewer grates reminded me of my mother’s cooking.
“Where we headed, Guy?”
Bernie’s Irish pub. Out of the way, almost no crowds, a place where a guy could get a drink in peace. Most people didn’t get why an Irish pub would exclusively serve Mexican cuisine, but I didn’t care. Bernardo made a mean chalupa.
“I need a drink.”
Tony rolled his eyes. “After you.”
“C’mon, happy hour is almost over.”
Bernie was a financial genius. Happy hour was nine in the morning till noon every day, three dollar shots and five dollar top shelf. In the winter he let nature keep his daily meat shipments chilled, so happy hour also meant two for one chalupas, before the meat spoiled in the afternoon sun.
I pushed open the heavy oak door to the establishment. A quick scan confirmed we were the only ones in the place, and I made a beeline for the bar. Bernie was waiting for us, cleaning the counter with a rag.
“Guy Manson! How’s it goin’ Jefe?”
“Long day, Bernie.”
Tony straddled a barstool. “Just a water for me, Bernie.”
“Not a morning person?”
Tony forced a smile. “I try to lay off the tequila shots before noon.”
Bernie turned to me. “What about you, Jefe?”
I counted off on my fingers. “Whiskey, tequila, and two chalupas,” I said.
“Breakfast of Champions and a pair of O’Lupas comin’ up!”
As Bernie disappeared into the kitchen, Tony took a swig of his water and turned to me.
“So what’s our next move?”
I sighed. “We need a lead.”
“And we’ve got nothin’.”
“Five guys don’t wind up like yesterday’s chalupas without some kinda trail!”
Bernie was back. He slid me a glass and a plate.
“We gotta report back to the Captain, Guy.”
I slammed the whiskey and grimaced. “Not yet.”
“We were supposed to report in as soon as we were finished in the apartment.”
“So why can’t we go back to the station?”