Saturday morning, and the sun was shining brightly. There was hardly a cloud present to dampen the rays of light gushing from the robin-egg blue heavens down to the smooth tanned shoulders of the pedestrians making their way along the off-white Plasticrete walks twisting through the city. The sunlight glinted off the silvery multitude of spotless windows covering the skyscrapers along the streets where a few quiet, clean and efficient electric cars hummed along, coated with polish that further reflected the perfect sunlight until the whole city was awash with so much light you’d think God himself was beaming down on the happy populace.
There were birds chirping, of course, singing their tributes to the perfection surrounding them. There were sparrows in the green trees and geese in the blue sky; ducks in the blue lake and on the green grass around the lake that sat like a mirror in the middle of the park on the opposite side of the building where I made my home and workplace. Lovers sat on soft blankets with their picnic baskets, feeding each other fresh strawberries purchased from the friendly street merchants, listening to the bird, to the laughter of children running barefoot in the park, and to the old man playing his wooden flute at the pond’s edge. There was no sound from the streets, hadn’t been since the city traffic grid was fully computerized four years ago to synchronize the movement of vehicles and cutting out any need for shouting and gesturing and honking and making the walking public stay on their toes to avoid the sweeping scythe of the grim reaper. All that was gone, and you could hear the birds and laughter and music waft through the fresh quiet air that breezed gently through the city. Birds and children singing and lovers smiling and the fresh air soaking all the stress and care out of the world, leaving only joy and peace and serene contentment. That’s the world outside my building. It’s like this every day.
All of which I mention to explain why I’ve had my windows blacked out and sound-proofed for years. A private dick can’t have constant good weather and cheer running rampant through his atmosphere when he’s entertaining a client. A customer expects the works when they step into the Lone Eye Detective Agency and shovel out a few hundred greenbacks to yours truly, and the works is exactly what they get. You won’t see none of that phony “It’s my pleasure to help you and please enjoy this cool beverage while you bask in the glory of the day” garbage when you ask Trigger Steel, P.I., to find the guy that bumped off your Aunt Trudy. It’s a dark and gloomy office I work in, and that suits customer and crime fighter alike just fine.
Case in point: the dame I been working over verbally and visually all morning is looking at me right now with those big baby blues of hers, and she’s doing it through a curtain of tears. No way she’s looking for someone to flash a big white smile at her and tell her to relax, they’ll find the murderer. No sir. I keep my pearly whites locked up out of sight behind my lips the whole time. That way she knows I’m just as cheesed as she is at a society that would produce a member capable of murdering a friend of the stunning example of bosomy perfection sitting on the other side of my desk. I sit her where she can see the 3-Deo screen on my wall and look all she wants at the night-rain effects pelting down on the images hustling across the dirty artificial streets with their hair all matted down in their faces. And look she does.
But I only bring this up to set the stage. This story should really start at the beginning, as all good stories do. So now let me begin in earnest the story I call (Note to self: Think of a good name for this case. Incorporate the word “Bloody” if at all possible.)
It was early. Real early. An hour when all the decent folk are asleep. I was celebrating yet another case closed with my long-time companion Jim Beam when the motion sensors registered movement in the hall and buzzed a warning. I grabbed my Plastisteel Saturday Night Special model and slipped it into the holster under my charcoal-grey raincoat. A guy can make quite a few enemies when he puts scum behind bars at a regular pace like myself, especially when he steps on a few toes in the process, and the waffle tread of my size 12 has been pressed into more than one set of toenails.
A figure stepped into view on the opposite side of the dirty frosted glass on my outside door. I pulled my battered fedora down another degree to make sure my eyes were in the shadow and set my features in their best scowl. The door crept open slowly, with a distinct non-squeak, I noticed with dismay. Something to fix when the next meal ticket paid off.