THE DAMP FEDORA
~ By Absolutely*Kate
It was raining that night in the City by the Bay. A hard rain. The kind of rain that washes the regrets from men's souls and streams the chalk outlines off the sidewalks. I was in my office, waiting for the phone to peal a ring-a-ding-ding. I had just finished a case which had me peeking behind the Iron Curtain under cover so deep I'd almost forgotten my own name. But it was worth it. I had stopped a war, broke a Ukranian heart, and made enough money to put me straight with some old and very unpleasant acquaintances. Now that I'd paid my landlord the rent I owed on my office, I was finally back up to broke, on the nut and needing new fast action.
I heard the crunch of his heels before I saw his silhouette go rugged over the frosted glass of my office door. He rapped that glass like he really meant it.
"It's open, " I called out.
He stepped in like the breeze off a good Narragansett sail and strutted his stuff serious to my desk. "You Callahan?" he barked.
"That's how it reads on the door, mister."
"I'm looking for something. You find somethings?" He challenged like a chip with a man on its shoulder. You could cut his bluster with Ace Hardware's finest power tools. Yet, I knew my stuff. I let his bluster muster and his jets cool. Hey, I'm no fool.
"That's the business I'm in. What's the searching you're for?"
Only sound was the scratch of his match. To make it darb, he did it off the side of my desk. Nope - flinching wasn't in me, nor was his check if I did. So wise guy, that's the way it's gonna play. He took a deep drag on a Pall Mall. I actually had places to go and promises to keep on keeping on but not the desire to have it known. Nix on that. Though this, I'd bet the George Washington under my steel file cab -- Yep, my bottom dollar -- was going to prove verrry interesting. Time wasn't on my side to wait his tease test. At the moment the ash got too big for itself I watched the ruby red manicure of my left hand slide a blue crystal ashtray his way. At the same time my right hand readied accoutrements to become my write hand. The canary yellow pad moved an inch closer and the yellow canary in the cage did likewise. "Your name?" I queried an easy one.
"I could be any Tom, Dick or Harry . . . hell, even just your average Joe, " he front parried. A no nonsense look leveled his nonsense. Our eyes locked for just a split. No blink, no flinch. Same bottom GW ruled out the Joe right away - no profile fit average on this bub.
"Hows 'bout I just call you Harry until all four of you figure who steps forward?"
Imperceptible smile mingled with the gauntlet of one perceptible hand doing the slow mo with his dampened fedora. Soon a soggy spot was morphing my mahogany. I hate when someone messes with my mahogany. Matter of pride. Matter of principle. As a matter of fact this darn rogue's tryin' to get under my skin.
His plush eyebrow challenged.
I quirked back, double time.
Statements understated are best understood. "Harry it is," his voice lowered, timbre of pillow talk. Ticked me off, that talk. Reminded me of my partner - well, former mush partner but still stuck as a gumshoe partner - Jake. Since that jingle-brained chippy had chirped in his nest, things were no longer jake with Jake. Timbre like that's tough to take. Timbre that makes you fall once makes your caution take root and branch out. Didn't know who was going to get a rise out of what first, but no one was seeing this dame flap under the warmth of any cool breezer.
"Fine -- I ever get wild over you, I'm all set with lyrics." Now, to burst the urge of his puss to show non-expression all over again, and to get his damn damp fedora off the new puddle on my old mahogany, a change of venue was in order. Time to blow. "Cup o'Joe, Harry?"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Trenches kept stride. Professional pride, ya know? No tippin' of the mitts goin' on here. We gave each other the old ups and downs along the gutters of the silent slosh that ran up State Street, that gritty fate street. Even the shadows know who's boss on a mean street.
"Tough place. People seem bewildered by the world they see around here." His gruff observation edged down the cool night air the rain had forgotten to freshen up.
Reminiscent of the way the wind's song played on my mind, my response shot out same temp as that disheartening air ~ "That's what a town without pity will do."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
There'll be more.
There's always more
when a guy like this
struts serious in your door.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I'm Detective Nelle Callahan.
I've met some of you before and no doubt I'll run a lookover on some of youse when we meet up some dark rendezvous that spooks or sparks a soul. But for now I gotta case -- well it looks like it. I'll keep you posted ... You take care til then. Don't take any wooden nickels, hear?
(c) 2010 ~ Author Absolutely*Kate
graced by Bryan Costin and Michael Penn photos
*AT THE BIJOU*
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