the claim of mystery

part I

laney tailed the car for 20 minutes before making a wrong turn and losing it. she pulled over swiftly, pulled out her flip, and dialed .. c’mon, she thought, we’re losing him .. but nothing. she flipped her phone shut and thought up some alternative routes that could get her there faster, but at this point, there was no telling if plans had been changed. she got out of the car and walked into a nearby cafe. the rain had started again and a warm cup of coffee seemed like the only next reasonable move. she grabbed the dailies and turned to the international film section. her last boyfriend had turned her on to it. at the thought, she crumbled up the section and left it there on the table, her half empty coffee mug sitting on top of it.

she walked out back to her car to find a lovely surprise .. a brand new boot and a tow truck already hitched up for the ride to county. she stood there at first not moving. “this ol’ here yours?” the tow truck driver asked her. “oh god.” “well, if you wanna pay it outright now, it’ll save ya a trip.” “how much?” she got out her wallet and handed the man a check. he took the boot, left her with the ticket, and was gone. 

then her phone rang in her pocket. “laney here. what is it?” pause .. “where? i’m right here, there are no signs of ..” laney checked her other pocket for the .. it was gone. “shit! right. i’m on it. gonna need some more eyes and ears down here.”

part II

laney sat across from her superior in his musty apartment on south 5th. “laney, this has gotten out of hand.” 

”i know.” 

”now, we’re gonna be dealing with press. not to mention the misfortunate bystander now being accused of the murder. right place, wrong time.”

it was still on again off again raining outside. a blurred scene from the 14th floor. 

”did you at least recover the amulet?” 

”well, i did. but it’s a fake.” 

his fist slammed down on the desk. 

“good god woman. any leads?”

“i have a few. just give me one more day.” 

the door closed, the elevator descended, and laney found herself standing in front of her car for the second time that day with a parking violation.  

she pulled the ticket out from behind her windshield wiper and went to crumble it up in anger when she noticed something written on it. “if you’re looking, you’ll find. follow the ticket trail to its end, and there, you’ll find the beast its attached to.”

didn’t make sense. this trail led her straight to county and the guys over there were only good at watching cartoons and chugging milk cartons. none of them had a spine enough for this kind of work, and surely not the belly for it. 

she reviewed the day. inconspicuous moments that pieced together something rather shitty. she was only farther away from finding the real amulet and connecting it to the murder on melbourne, and life had only thrown her other irrelevant disturbances, not to mention the misfortunate bystander from the morning. there was only one thing she could do now. she’d have to call him.

part III

”hi jim. great, yes.” sarcastically. “right. cool.” again. “jim, look, you know i wouldn’t be calling if i didn’t ..” he cut her off, sexual slights, his wry humor. she was now holding her flip a few inches away from her face. “meet me at the cafe on first and cherry. i’m hanging up now.”

part IV

first and cherry.

jim stood there all handsome looking, leaning against the brick wall and peering out from underneath his cap. laney walked past him, grabbed his jacket and pulled him into the alley without making eye contact.

she pulled out the note. "what do you know about this?" she slammed it into his chest.

"long time no see to you too." he looked at the note. "i recognize the writing. a visiting agent called in from the big guns. but there's no way he wrote this willingly."

laney sighed and started to think, pacing in front of him. 

"it doesn't make sense. we all know there's corruption but it's happening in the hands of the ones who call the shots and the rest of them are too small minded to notice anything outside of deviations from their snack routines. but the murder? that's almost too sloppy to be their work."

"do you still have the amulet?"

"how do you know about that?" she snapped.

"we at county know a little more than you'd like us to."

"we're no longer in possession of it. anyways, the one we did have was a fake, so it was all a ploy to get us looking in the wrong direction."

"right, well kid. looks like you got what you need from me unless.."

"shut it, jim. and we're not done yet. i need you to help me with some background checks. plus no one knows the streets like you do. one more time. for old time's sake."

he smiled wryly, nodded to her and winked. 

"your car or mine?"


to be continued ...

Copyright 2019 ⓒ / Forrest Gallagher