I wasn’t top of the line at anything; just another run-of-the-mill schmuck. But every lowdown Joe has to pay their rent on the first and so my shingle read, ‘Gumshoe.’ A shitty enough name only slightly better than attorney at law, some would probably say. But for my money it was a moniker with moxie in a trade that was right up my alley. Besides, the good folks with the state bar had said my solicitor days were kaput. So the wet paint outside my door read in simple block letters, 'Gary G. Abernathy, Gumshoe at Large.' I thought it clever enough. And to the point. Let the other private dicks go all New Gothic or Courier New with their gold-embossed ‘Private Investigator’ for hire titles. We all got our angles.
Tuesday. The only thing good about it was it was one more day down the calendar; a fat, double crisscrossed X past Monday. Alright, it had two things going for it; it wasn‘t Monday, and I was on the job. First call in two weeks, if you don’t count collection agencies and my landlord, that is.
It wasn’t my first time being summoned or otherwise finding myself at a landfill. Fact is, of the nine major dumps in the tri-state, I was intimately familiar with ten. Dirty diapers and the rest of the disposal of humankind, to include the disposing of humans in a fashion quite unkind. But even being that hip to the tune, as soon as I topped the heap, I knew I was in the stink like never before.
The Betty Boop who’d called this meeting, a Park Avenue hooker I’d known in passing but never gotten around to knowing professionally, was reclining among last week’s news and banana peels with her best eleven o’clock dress hiked up to her pretty little neck along with a necklace of piano wire. Fashion to die for. And the good boys of the city’s finest, well, the poor, purple-lipped minx must have called them, too. Otherwise, how the hell else could they have been there snapping photos ahead of me.
It didn’t come as a complete surprise. I’d been set-up before. Late for the dance and left leaning against the wall until the lights clicked on. Fine and dandy. I was bored. So let’s let the great bronze gates of Hell swing wide, we had a quorum: a corpse, a chump, and just enough cops to trample us both.
“Hey, nickels for brains, how about letting a buck buy into this game,” I hollered a bit too loudly to get their attention. Maybe it was that or the decomposing naked prostitute, but two of the eight on hand went for their guns. Thankfully, I slipped and landed on my keister with two empty palms in the air before any lead started zipping down range my way.
“Gary! Detective Gary!”
If only the rookie who’d leaned in to help me to my feet could have eaten another tuna melt to add to his foam-fleck parade. How could a man’s breath beat out the rotting refuse of the teeming masses? A riddle for the ages. I turned my face from his. Bad idea. Blood and semen. I closed my eyes and shot the loudmouth in the head to shut his gob. Okay, not really. If only. But as I found my feet my hand found a severed finger in it. Top notch detective work. The rookie’s mouth was agape and so I deposited little Betty’s lost pinky in it.
The crime scene was officially contaminated.