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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2074753-Over-The-Garni
Rated: E · Short Story · Detective · #2074753
Private detective gets fooled by a hooker with heat
         I was sitting in a gritty miner's tavern in Wallace, Idaho. The place stunk. Stale cigarette smoke was a weak incense covering the stench of industrial oil and grease that overpowers the body odor coming off the men. Crusty coveralls, oilers and greasy caps were the uniform of the day.
          On the stool next to me was Arly Panky of the famous Panky mining family. They are not the kind of family who owns mines, the Panky’s are dirty grubbing, tunnel rats who walk through the headframe and ride down the shaft to make money for whoever owns the hole.
         Arly was the last Panky boy left alive. His oldest brother died in a tunnel collapse years ago. Another brother rode a sputtering B-17 into the ocean off the Philippines. Arly and I had become buddies chasing the Hun back to Berlin. Same war.
         It was Arly’s 30th birthday. The year was 1950. I had come from Spokane to sanctify his birth.
         Arly slugged down the remains of his last schooner and spoke a prophesy of pending doom, “This place is gonna close in twenty minutes.”
          A mere seven hours ago, Arly had crawled out of hole in the ground up at Burke.
         Panky and I exited the tavern and headed to the only place you could buy a beer after closing time in Wallace. We headed to one of the “hotels” staffed with soiled doves. Whore house beer came at a dear price, two dollars a bottle. You could purchase tavern beer for two bits. But when a man has something left in his billfold and he’s not ready for sleep, the employees’ dining room off the Oasis Brothel staved off death by boredom.
         We parked on the curb across from the bordello which operated in a large old Wallace mansion near the city center. We walked around back and knocked on the kitchen door. A squirrelly looking guy pulled the door open slightly. We told him we were here for beer. He guided us to the employee’s dining room.
         Some of the working girls came in between tricks and parading in the show room. They sat at the table and talked freely. Beer tastes pretty good in that company. None of the girls begrudged us for not buying a “piece of cake” which alternated between five and ten dollars depending on the night of the week. The madam at the Oasis made more money selling three or four bottles of beer than she did selling a trick on a slow night.
         I wanted to converse with the women. The younger girls seemed too quick and sassy so I gravitated toward a seasoned hooker. She was drinking coffee. Her fellow employees called her “Dalton”. Dalton was a little aged to be working this craft but in low light she could pass for late twenties. Some years later, I would remark while watching Gunsmoke on TV, that Dalton reminded me of Miss Kitty. They both had the same lovely China white face with a fake mole here and there.
         I asked Dalton if she was from these parts. She was from Minnesota. Her father was a Lutheran Minister out of a wealthy family.
          “Do your parents know what you do?”
         “My father died early. I told my mom that I’m a legal secretary. She doesn’t know nothin’ about legal things.”
         “Do you see her often?”
         “Nope, not at all anymore. She died last year and that started my problems.”
         “Oh?” I feared a pretty face with problems.
         The work light on the wall blinked, on then off, twice.
         Dalton rose from her chair. “I’ll be back, stay here." She reached over and grabbed my bottle of beer. She gulped down the last of the contents. I appreciated her waiting until my bottle was nearly empty. Sharing a bottle would concern me due to suspicions of where her lips might have recently been.
         After she went out, I ordered a fresh beer from the piano player. That’s what everyone called him although I never saw a piano in the place. He looked like the kind of guy who gets a jar of hand lotion for his birthday every year. An ice cold replacement bottle was soon in front of me. The piano player took the empty and two bills from my stack.
         After a long sip, I raised my beer to Arly who was talking too loud as birthday drunks do. He was across the spacious dinner table chatting up a dove who had just hired on at the Oasis. I overheard him telling her that he once taught a German shepherd to bark in Spanish. She looked bored.
         Ten minutes later, the song "The Sheik Of Araby" floated into the room. The music was cut off when Dalton closed the open door behind her. She sat back down in her chair next to me. Her face was flushed and she pulled her hair back, leaned over to my ear and whispered, “I need to ask you something on the Q.T.”
         “Sure.”
         She tipped her head toward Arly Panky, and whispered, “That guy said you were a Spokane cop.”
         “Yeah, for a couple a years. Right after the war.”
         “He said you work private now?”
         “Arly talks a lot.”
         “I got some legal problems in Spokane.”
         “It’s a good place to leave your problems, across the state line.”
          “It's not that easy.”
         “Dalton, ah, is that your first or last name?”
         “Doesn’t matter,” she muttered.
         “Dalton, I do work as a private detective but I’m still a cop at heart. If you’re part of a crime, don’t wise me up to it. Not reporting a crime is a crime.”
         “Like drinking beer after hours in a house of prostitution?”
         “That’s small potatoes. I’m dodgin’ big potato crimes. And I need to take Arly out of here before he puts that new girl to sleep.”
          “Can I tell you a quick bedtime story?”
         “Don’t use any real names,” I cautioned.
         “Okay. Starts like this. Just before the War, a married woman is working in Spokane at the Sunshine Biscuit Company, oops, is that a real name?”
         I nodded.
         “I mean a bakery. This woman gets knocked up. The day after Pearl Harbor her husband says he’s going off to war. But he doesn’t really. He moves a few miles outta town and lives at another woman’s house. The new girlfriend doesn’t know anything about the wife with his kid inside. The louse.”
         “That’s the definition of a louse.”
         “Anyway, the husband dodges the draft board for a year. But finally he feels the heat, and he joins the Merchant Marines. Leaves the new woman. Never writes or calls, anybody. Meanwhile the wife has his baby girl. The little girl gets polio when she’s two years old.”
         “Unusually bad luck,” I lamented.
         “Polio was everywhere. For God’s sake, FDR had it.”
         “Yeah, I heard that.”
         “The mother’s bakery job won’t pay for an iron lung. There’s braces and medical treatment on top of that. So the mother gets a different job, night work so she can see her baby at the sanitarium during the day.”
         “Another bakery job?”
         “No.”
         I looked around at the other doves at the table. “Was this new job servicing mankind?”
         “Yeah, after a fashion,” she shook her head so hard that some of her lovely red hair fell down to the sides of her porcelain face. “Letting greasy slobs lay on top of her for five minutes. Maybe ten times a night.”
          “I’d get claustrophobia.”
         “Five years later, the little girl heals. Goes off the respirator. And learns to walk with braces.”
          “Sounds like a happy ending.”
         “It gets better, then worse. The grandmother of the little girl dies and leaves a big chunk of money to the cripple girl. Five thousand every year, in monthly payments. Then the remaining money get paid in a lump when the girl turns 21. A big lump. The mother quit her night job.”
         “And the ‘worse’?”
         The little girl’s father comes back to town and finds out about the inheritance arrangement. He wants half of each month’s payment. But doesn’t wanna be the father.”
          “What did the mother do?”
         “Told him no, forever no! I’d already divorced him for abandonment during the war.”
         “End of the story?”
         “No. The son-of-a-bitch got an attorney and went to court and had me declared an unfit mother due to the former night job. He got three johns to snitch me off in court. Even paid off the madam, who sang like a Christian canary. He gets himself declared the ‘parent of custody’, so he can be the banker in charge of the inheritance.”
         “He’s got the girl now?”
         “Hell, no. He put our daughter in a kid’s home on Boone Avenue, down by Gonzaga University.”
         “And the inheritance money?”
         “He gives the orphanage $55 a month for her care and pockets the rest.”
         “That is sad.”
         “I offered to take her in for nothin’. She’s my baby. I told him that he could keep all the money. But he’s no dice because he thinks he’ll get relieved of his custodial rights which means the inheritance.”
         “Legal complexities,” I remarked.
          “I gotta sister in St. Paul who would be next in line to take custody. When that louse is out of the way.”
         “Is he going somewhere?”
         “Always. He can’t be found, keeps moving around Spokane. Hiding out. But I’m gonna get my daughter sent to my sister.”
         “How so?”
         “The same way he beat me. I’m going to get him declared unfit. Every penny I've saved will be going to a lawyer. But first I need a private detective, like yourself, to find my ex and snoop out his evil. Something that’ll disqualify him in a court of law.”
         The work light on the wall flashed on and off again.
         I took out a business card and slid it into her palm.
         She stood up, looked in the mirror and attached the few hanging strands to her main coiffure.
         “When you come to Spokane, we’ll talk about this in my office.”
         “She stared at me hard, “Is tomorrow okay?”
         “Sure. Not early. Noon?”
         “I’ll bring a lunch,” she advised and walked out to the showroom.
         The young woman whom Panky had been chatting up, also rose to go to work. She smiled at him and remarked, “It’s been a business doing pleasure with you.” Her remark went over his drunk head.
         I signaled him and pointed at the back door.
         Arly frowned.
          “Unless you want some of her for your birthday present?” I offered to buy.
         He grinned like a school boy, “No, she's just for talking.”
         “Think it over,” I suggested, “She’d probably rather lay you than go on talking to you.”
         We stood on the back porch of the Oasis and smoked half a cigarette before he realized my insult.
         I dropped him off at the Panky house on the hillside in Wallace and drove back to Spokane. The slightly pink horizon showed in my rear view mirror.The sun would soon be up.

         At noon I opened the door of my office on the second floor, down the hallway from the Walk-In Dentists in downtown Spokane. Avis DeHaven, my sole employee, was seated at her work station in the outer office doing what she does best, specifically, looking good and filling in crossword puzzles to relieve her suspicion that she may have a dormant pimple about to rise to the surface.
         She didn’t look up from her puzzle until I spoke.
         “Any messages?” I inquired as inconvenient bosses sometimes do.
         “Lawyer Hudlow wants you to find a missing witness. He’s panicked about it. Conrad Malone wants a call, something about more photos regarding the Harvey case.” Then she poured up a cup of her always wretched coffee and set it in front of me along with the written summary of the messages. She returned her attention to the crossword.
          I sipped the aged brew and reviewed the paperwork at the edge of her desk.
         “That’s all?” I asked.
         She uttered a single word, “poison”.
         I turned my cup sideways so that she might observe the black chunks that were resting at the bottom of the cup.
         “Disgusting,’” I said softly.
         She still did not look up, “No, seven letters, starts with an ‘e’. Ends with an ‘m’”.
          “Envenom.”
         “Mmmm, maybe,” she muttered and began writing furiously in the matrix. “There are many kinds of poison.”
          “Poison can be a verb,” I reminded her and started for the door to my office.
         “Oh, yeah,” she popped up with an afterthought, “There’s some glitzy female in your office. She came in ‘bout half an hour ago with a picnic basket. Says she’s got lunch for you.”
         “Geeze!” I slapped my forgetful head. Avis was permitted to direct waiting customers into my office because I didn’t want them to be put off by the smacking of her chewing gum or questions like, “What’s a six letter word for an African hunting trip, that ends in ‘i’?”
         Avis explained, “I figured she might have the wrong office but I knew you would eat a free lunch even by mistake.”
         “Type up a memo to the staff,” I mustered a sharp tone, “If there’s a client waiting in my office when I come in to work, I am to be informed of that fact before advising me of anything else.”
         “Isn’t a missing witness important?” she raised her perky little nose and sniffed before excusing herself, “Without a witness, don’t the wheels of justice grind to a halt and all that blah, blah?”
         I gripped the knob of my office door and rebutted, “The witness would not be missing if Hudlow paid for testimony at the going rate.”
         A pause before opening the door, gave me time to recall the details of my early morning Oasis conversation with Dalton. I wondered if that was her first or last name.
         Dalton looked very fresh and non-prostitutish. Even without the troweled make-up, she had a beautiful face.
         I set my paperwork on the desk and shook her hand.
         “I brought lunch.” She had set out a spread on the desk. Previously the finest meal eaten on that desk had been a can of pork and beans with a pint of whiskey of the youngest age.
         “What can I do for you?”
         “Win my daughter back,” she beseeched with eyes watering.
         “Well, yes, let’s eat and talk business,” I quickly spoke hoping stave off a crying jag.
         She began serving up lunch and details including a 10 year old photo of the errant father of her child.
         Her words refreshed my slightly foggy memory, including the part about me finding her ex-husband and getting the goods to on him. Something to beat him down in court.
         She didn’t have a lawyer in mind so I recommended Harry Hudlow. I cautioned her that he was not the best lawyer in Spokane, but certainly the crookedest. She liked that.
         After Dalton had given me every relevant fact and the huckleberry pie was eaten, I walked her out into the hallway with the promise that I’d be on the case like a bulldog and pledged to feed my pertinent discoveries to lawyer Hudlow who was more like a reptile than a bulldog.
         When I came back into the office, Avis spoke, “Client?”
         “Yeah, child custody.
          “Did she find us in the Yellow Pages?”
         “No, word of mouth. Arly Panky’s mouth. We are known in Idaho houses of ill repute. She wants to get her daughter out of an orphanage.”
         “Well, can’t a mother do that just by showing up at the door alive?”
         “Legal complexities. And speaking of that, call Hudlow and tell him that I’m coming over to discuss a new client.”
         She took time from her crossword to make the telephone call.
         I went back into the inner sanctum and grabbed my notes on the Dalton case. Then walked through the outer office slipping into my protective meeting-with-the-lawyer coat.
          “Hudlow says you can have half an hour.”
         “If he doesn’t hear an ambulance going down the street.”
         “What a nasty thing to say. And about your partner at that.” Avis made the remark with her eyes and head still focused on the crossword puzzle.
         “He’s probably getting his afternoon shakes and needs to go the bar for a bracer.”
         “He’s your partner and you speak of him so badly. I wonder if you downgrade me in front of others?”
         “Not as long as you keep your skirts short, your blouse tight and smile. You’re the only advertising we have besides the phone book and Arly Panky.”
         I went to the door and turned to say goodbye.
         But Avis spoke first, “Arrogant and pretentious? Starts with a ‘P’.”
         “Pompous,” I suggested.
         “Maybe. How do you spell it?” I did.
         “That works!” she acknowledged, “I was trying to fit in ‘private eye’ but it’s got too many letters.”
         I slammed the door so hard that the glass window with my name rattled as I walked away.

         After my consultation with Lawyer Hudlow, I began the search for Dalton’s ex-husband, whose named turned out to be Frank Garret. Since he enjoyed the lion’s share of the monthly inheritance, I guessed that he didn’t have an employer. I checked with my insider at the city water office, but Mr. Garret’s name did not come up as a resident .
         None of my street contacts knew of the guy. I showed a five dollar bill along with his photograph but none of them would even make up a story.
         I called the law office in Minnesota handling the distribution of the inheritance. They said the information was secret. Hudlow sent them a lawyer letter and got a no thanks. Finally, my insider at the main post office picked up the name Frank Garret. He had a postal box. It was at the Hillyard Post Office, at the north end of town. A hardware store sat on the end of the block and a Chinese laundry across the street. Both had a good view of the Post Office, But I found the laundry too humid and the back door of the hardware store had lots of foot traffic.
         Dalton told me that the inheritance check hits town about the 5th of every month. Today was the 29th so I had time to rest up.
         I began lurking on the 3rd of the new month and spent the next two days watching the entry of the post office. I sat in my car across the street. I wasn’t concerned about hiding, Frank Garret didn’t know me from Whispering Smith. Garret showed up on Tuesday morning, the 5th. A fidgety guy driving an old Hudson. He was less gaunt than his photographs. After he left the post office, I tailed him over to the bank around the corner on Market Street. He went inside, did some banking and then drove to the Garni Tavern in midtown. I parked and followed him into the joint.
         Mr. Garret was pulling out his billfold when I came in. The bartender laid out an index card on the bar along with a schooner of beer. Garret studied the index card and then dropped three or four bills on it, apparently a monthly bar tab. That was good news for me, now I knew where he was based.
          I had a couple of surveillance beers but nothing other than common chatter and cigarette smoke were exchanged between Garret and the bartender. I got tired of the Garni’s ambience and went out to my car across the street. I sat there for another couple hours until Garret came out of the tavern’s front door. He didn’t go toward his car, instead he went into a doorway adjacent to the bar. It was the entry to the apartments above the Garni Tavern. I ran across the street hoping to follow him closely enough to see which apartment he entered. I didn’t make it. The stairway and halls were empty. The mail boxes didn’t show the name “Garret”.
         I strolled back into the Garni Tavern. I jumped on a stool at the bar and ordered a glass of beer.
         When the bartender delivered my beer, I said, “Say, the guy who just left, I think I was in the war with him. He lives in the apartments above?”
         “That he does.”
         “Is his name is Frank? Frank Garret?”
         “Frank Matson’s his name. Wait a minute, you a cop?”
          “Not so’s you’d notice.” I left a tip for his tip and exited the Garni again.
         The mail box list at the front door of the apartments had an “F. Matson” in apartment number 32.
          I went back to my car and grabbed some magazines out of the trunk. I hiked back up the stairs and rapped once on the door of number 32, then quickly shuffled down to knock on door 34. The door 34 was answered by an elderly woman just before the door opened at apartment 32. I began a magazine sales pitch to the woman but glanced at the man opening the door of number 32. It was him. Frank Garret shut the door quickly. He didn’t look like a man who would subscribe to a magazine.

         For the next two weeks, I kept an eye on Garret. I had to be careful. Now that he had seen my face, he might recognize me.
         He seemed to be a loner. No women spent the night and day visitors stayed for an hour at most. He drank at the Garni Tavern, nowhere else. My spine got “snoops” curvature from slumping in my car parked across from the place.
         Other than living under an assumed name, i.e., Frank Matson, Garret seemed to be guilty of only venial sins. Hudlow had a couple ideas about baiting Garret into a crime but I wasn’t having any of that. It was curious that Garret kept a post office box in Hillyard rather than eight blocks away at the Main Post office on Riverside, but a distant postal box was not a crime.
         I telephoned Dalton and told her that her ex-husband appeared to be living a boring life without any criminal activity.
         “You can’t find nothing?” she griped.
          “Well, he drinks a lot of beer.”
         “I knew that.”
         I tried to let her down easy with boring accounts of my daily observations. I told her that Garret was residing alone under a fake name but apparently not spending much of the inheritance. And that the two hundred dollars she had paid me should be the end of it all. The case was over.
         Dalton cried on the phone for a bit and then pleaded with me to go with her to the orphanage. She asked me to pose as her daughter’s father to assure that she could see the girl. Unfit mothers only got 20 minutes of supervised visits every other Sunday. This was Thursday afternoon.
         It was the least I could do. Dalton got a ride to my office and we headed for the Children’s Home. It wasn’t hard to get us an audience with her daughter.
         “We’re here to see my daughter, Rita Garret,” was the only lie that I had to speak at the orphanage.
         Frank Garret apparently wasn’t a known visitor at the institution. Dalton stood behind me wearing a net faced hat with her hair pulled down around her cheeks. She moved ahead of me when the girl was brought into the room. Her daughter was a beautiful child about 10 years old who walked with one leg braced.
         Mother and daughter hugged. Dalton brushed the girl’s hair with both hands and kissed her repeatedly. They both cried. I moved down the hall so they might have privacy. After a while, I noticed a matron giving us bad looks so I went to Dalton, “We’ve gotta go.” She hugged her daughter again and whispered, “Rita, I promise that I’ll get you out of here, and soon. We’ll be back together just like old times.”
         After we left the place and got back into the car, Dalton asked, “Can we go see him?”
         “Who? Garret?”
         “Yes.”
“What good will that do?”
          “I want to make a deal with him.”
         “He’s got all the cards. You’ve got no hand.”
         “Please?” Her eyes were getting damp. She stuck a hundred dollar bill in my breast pocket.
          I drove us to the Garni Tavern.
          Garret was not in the tavern so I guided Dalton up to apartment 32. I knocked. A voice through the door bid us to enter.
         Framk Garret was sitting at a table against a wall in the living room. Part of a steak and a whole spud sat on his plate.
         We entered further into the room.
         There wasn’t much light in the apartment, only the table lamp shining on Garret’s dinner.
         “Somebody wants to talk to you,” I held out my hand, palm up to Dalton, not sure if he could see her in the dim light.
         He looked up, “What do you want want?” Then turned back and sliced off a bite of his steak.
         I fixed a nasty gaze on him, “She wants to talk to you.”
         “She’s crazy,” Garret said.
         No one moved for a couple of seconds after that remark, even Garret stopped chewing.
         Suddenly Dalton make some furious movement with her purse. Garret reached over and pulled the chain on the lamp above the table.
         The room went dark.
         The sound of a chair falling over was followed by gun flames from the direction where Dalton was standing before the lights went out. Two shots.
         I slapped myself against the wall until I found the light switch at the door.
         When the lights came on, Frank Garret was laying on the floor in the middle of the room with two holes spurting blood out of his chest. Dalton had fallen back into the sofa and was wide-eyed looking down at Garret. The gun was on the floor.
         I went to my knees to pick up the gun then moved over to see if Garret was salvageable. The blood spurts had turned into a flowing red fountains. I ran out into the hall and banged on a couple of doors while shouting for someone to call an ambulance.
         I went back into the apartment, I felt Garret’s carotid. No pulse. He was a goner.
         I turned to Dalton. She had not moved. She only stared. I hadn’t seen it at first. A steak knife was buried up to the handle above her left breast.
         Garret had planted it before the bullets did their work. She was probably dead sooner than he was.
         I sat down next to Dalton on the sofa, to consider the nature of grim irony.
         The cops came.
         They took my statement regarding how these two people happened to be together in death. Everyone seemed to agree, it was my fault.
         I stayed in Garret’s apartment until the coroner’s office came and hauled the dead bodies off to the morgue.
         Dalton was a lovely corpse. I stumbled behind her gurney down the stairs to the wagon below. As the driver opened the back door to the ambulance, I pulled back the sheet from Dalton’s face and said goodbye.
         I went to my car, got in and started the motor. I sat there for a few moments until the ambulance pulled away, then slowly eased out on to Main Avenue. My first stop was the liquor store. They sold me a bottle of anti-thinking solution and I went to my office to salve my brain.

         The next day, I put a fire under Hudlow to get the newly orphaned daughter sent back to her aunt in Minnesota. Two days later the little girl left on a train for her aunt’s house in St. Paul.

         A year later,Avis DeHaven left my employ to take up a receptionist job in the office of the walk-in dentist down the hall. It took the dentist a couple of weeks to realize that Avis had lied about her w.p.m.’s on the application. And she didn’t work well with folks who were old enough to take their teeth out at night.
          After Avis left me, I didn’t hire a permanent receptionist. Avis never asked for her job back, she just showed up chewing gum. She sat down and started working crossword puzzles at her old desk. She stayed on.

         Six years after the return of Avis, I came in the office one morning, the worse for wear. I had been up all night waiting to snap some quality black and whites of two lovers leaving their bungalow at the Shangri-La Motel just off the Boulevard. The errant husband had a lot of assets. Harry Hudlow would make that night’s sex the most expensive the husband (hereafter referred to as the respondent) would ever enjoy.
          Avis poured me up a cup of coffee and reported that she had heard a mouse crawling in the wall.
          “Call the building superintendant. Any messages?”
         She looked around for notes to herself, “No.”
          I grabbed the newspaper off her desk and stepped to the door of my inner sanctum.
         “Oh, yeah. There is a young lady waiting in your office.”
         “What?”
         Avis moved a couple of sheets of paper and found a note pad. “Let’s see, she said her name is Rita Garret and that you knew her mother.”
I tilted back and forth a bit, “That’s all?”
         “She said it was personal.”
         Dread was one feeling in the mix that made me slow to open my office door.
         Rita Garret stood and turned to face me.
         She had only seen me once, 10 years ago at the orphanage. She called me by my name and apologized for not making an appointment. She was dressed in finery not often matched by the local Junior Leaguers.
          Rita showed no effects of her childhood polio. She had her mother’s stunning looks and great physique except more willowy than her mother.
          “What can I do for you?” I asked. It seemed a stupid thing to say after what had happened 10 years ago but I asked it anyway.
         “I’ve read the police report of my parents deaths. But the police weren’t there. You were. What happened?”
          I closed my eyes for a long blink and breathed deeply.
         Rita kept her poise as I narrated the sad tale, although she went a bit teary-eyed when I got to the part about me not spotting the knife handle protruding from her mother’s chest until after I had determined that her father was dead.
         “Your mom was dead before your father. She went quick.”
         Rita told me that her mother was buried back in Minnesota and that she had not been permitted to attend the burial. And that she was happy living with her aunt in St. Paul but was now going to attend college in California.
         Rita Garret did not condemn me outright although she slighted my I.Q. more than a little bit, “You must feel bad having brought together two people who hated each other so? Both of them armed with deadly weapons. How could you not know something awful would happen?"
          I shook my head without answering. She had a right to ask the question. I wish I had an answer.
         Apparently done with me, young Miss Garret rose to leave.
         We walked through the outer office in silence and said goodbye at the front door.
         After Rita Garret left, I was stuck with the memory of a similar case, a particularly nasty turn of events in which Hudlow and I were fooled into winning a case for an evil plaintiff. We had crucified the innocent defendant. Lies told by both sides. People died. Hateful people can be very deceptive. They are good at fooling others, just like Dalton fooled me. Dalton intended to shoot Garret the day she hired me. Maybe she saw it as her only choice to save her daughter.
         Lawyer Hudlow was philosophical about hateful people, “If it wasn’t for people hating each other, you and I might be pumping gas and washing windshields.”
          “Does that help you get to sleep at night?” I inquired.
         “That and a stiff drink.”
         My recollection of the wisdom of Lawyer Hudlow was interrupted by Avis DeHaven tapping a pencil on her desk as she looked down at her crossword puzzle.
          “Killing two birds with one stone? Ends in ‘e’.”
“That's an 'adage',” I suggested to her.
         “No, two words,” she clued me in curtly.
         “How about ‘double homicide'?”
          “It fits! She threw the pencil down and rose to her feet, “I need to go home early.”
         “Promise me you won’t work so hard tomorrow?”
          She didn’t answer or wait for my permission. She did pull her coat off the rack. On her way out the door, she remarked, “This place is killing me.”
         After Avis had gone, I locked the door to the office. This place was killing me too. Dalton’s daughter hated me for making her an orphan. How could I know the hooker carried heat?


THE END
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