There was something dangerous in that air tonight. It might have been the lingering thunderclouds, or the ugly rain they sputtered. It could have been that bottle of bourbon, as yet unopened on the corner of my desk. But, most likely, it was the redhead in a dark blue dress.
She was soaked from her lovely head down to the muddy blue shoes, rain slicked hair covering half of her face and a bitter scowl covering the rest. Body heat literally caused steam to rise from her, and I could feel it rising in me, too.
“You listen up, Marvin Sheer,” she hissed at me, her blue eyes glistening, mascara running. “You promised you’d find my husband’s body so I can have him declared dead. I paid you in cash for results. And I want results!” She slammed her hands down on my desk, making me jump in my chair, a wave of fear cascading down my spine.
I stood up, pushing the chair back hard against the scuffed wooden floor. I was trying to remain calm and collected. Too much heat, despite the nip in the air outside. I decided I could use a nip myself, and reached for the bourbon and two glasses. I poured two fingers for her and three for me.
“Have one on me,” I told her as I finished pouring. She gave me a hard look for a moment before she grabbed the glass and gunned it. Only the slightest of twitch as it burned its way through her.
“Careful,” I said. “Bourbon is made to be sipped.”
“What about my husband?” she demanded, as she set the glass down. “I told you where you’d find him. Did you even go to the park?”
“Yes, Mrs. James. I did go to the park. I went to the exact spot, between the three oak trees. But, your husband, he wasn’t there.”
The quick twitch of her eyebrows and the left corner of her mouth were the only signs of surprise. She was good. Better than I had expected.
“That can’t be,” she said, her voice softer. She’d been beautiful once, but life has a way of smashing your face over the years. Her scars were emotional. Mine, physical. I suddenly felt ashamed of myself. What was I doing to this woman?
I turned away. Looked out the window at the fuzzy, grey rain and slick streets under the sodium lantern street light. Lightning flashed and I turned away from the flash, catching her reflection in the mirror. She was taking something heavy from her handbag. I knew I only had one shot at this.
“Your husband is alive, Mrs. James.”
I saw her startle in the mirror. I didn’t think she’d shoot an unarmed man in the back, so I took my time and opened the pipe box. The .38 was there, my Angel of Death.
“That can’t be true, Sheer.” She may have been convinced of that once, but she wasn’t anymore.
I turned sideways to my left, my right index finger curling into the trigger.
“It is true, Mrs. James. I talked to him myself.”
“What? What did he tell you?”
“The truth, dollface.”
She jerked when she fired the snub pistol. Bits of wood and plaster fluttered down into the pipe box behind me.
“He told me to give you this,” I said as I turned and fired. At this range, the Angel of Death doesn’t miss.