Dick Casey's on the job!
|Since I'd sent Stella to the big house three months earlier for snuffing out her twin sister, business had been slow. I needed a new case and I found it in a package left in the middle of my desk.
I gave the gift the up-and-down. I wasn't so jingle-brained from my one-man Christmas party at the gin mill to blindly open the offering. I wasn't a sucker, after all.
Pulling out my bean shooter, I used the muzzle to flip over the tag.
Happy Holidays to my most esteemed peeper
I ripped open the present to find a crumpled note nestled under a mound of candy canes.
"The Candy Cane Killer!"
The local flatties had been trying to pinch this goon ever since he'd started snatching chippys from the clip house, dressing them up as elves, and letting them dance from the town's yuletide tree.
Flattening out the wrinkles, I read the cryptic note:
You better not shout, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why…
"Santa Claus is coming to town," I snapped my fingers, reached for my flogger, and stepped out into the icy streets. With a shiver I entered the hash house, slipped into a cracked leather seat, and yanked out a deck.
"Casey! Thought I told you not to come here no more," Micky snarled.
I passed the goose a fin and his face relaxed into a smile.
"Then again, what kind of friend would I be, turning away my favorite gumshoe?" Micky sneered, "If'n yer lookin' to tighten the screws, yer tootin' the wrong ringer."
"I'm just sniffing for a wire on a bad egg." I cocked a brow and blew a ring of smoke above my noodle. "What do you know about…Santa?"
Mickey's laugh boomed across the restaurant. "Not much, Casey. I ain't never been on the nice list so Santa don't favor me none."
I crushed out my gasper. "C'mon, you big palooka…" I slid a yard across the table. This night was quickly emptying my pockets of scratch.
"Word is there's a new Santa workin' the mall," Mickey sniffed, grabbing the bill. "That's all I knows. Now I think it's time for you to drift."
It was as dark as a goog on a jasper when I slunk into the empty mall.
"Seasons Greetings, Santa. You've been made," I aimed my gat at the fat man. "Or should I say, Candy Cane Killer?"
"Ho-Ho-Ho! Looks like someone's been naughty," Santa pointed with a peppermint stick. Glancing up, I spotted a dame, noose wrapped around her pipes, balancing on a balcony rail.
"What'll it be, Casey? Save the broad or catch the killer?"
"Both," I lifted my bean shooter and put a shell in the rope, freeing the kitten from her strangled hold. In another instant I was squirting metal at Santa's lid.
"Merry Christmas to all," I blew the end of my hot muzzle before stuffing it back in its holster, "And to all a good night!"