My Gun Is Stuck

You’d have thought the president was in town, there was so much traffic, but I made it to my office without anybody gunning for Spike Bammer. A slow day? Maybe. Or could it be they all wised up?

Velcra hobbled to the door on her band new crutches. I was glad to see she was finally out of the wheelchair, even if she did insist on keeping it handy for possible future use. That last caper had been a close one. Costly, too. My tailor said I should be dead, that five bullet-holes in my jacket were one too many. I promised I’d pay him soon, but I didn’t think he needed to know Velcra had been wearing the jacket.

Her good hand rested a cup of coffee now on the other arm’s cast. I couldn’t see through her facial bandages but I didn’t have to. I knew than under them she was beautiful and that she was smiling.

I saw fresh blood on her bandages, and the forty-five was already in my hand. It’s there so much I had it surgically fitted, along with a Swiss Army knife component, just in case I ever get to eat. I knock back a fair amount of beer, but with the exception of an occasional cup of coffee, nobody ever seems to put food in my way. Spenser’s got it knocked like that. The guy can suck down a seven-course meal in three lines of dialogue, and he’s the only P.I. who eats homemade muffins for breakfast. He even gets time off to make them himself. I digress, sure, but I get paid by the word.

I realized Velcra’s red smear was lipstick in the vicinity of her mouth. She saw me staring at it.

“A girl has to keep up appearances,” she cooed through the mouth-hole in her bandages.

I smiled at that and realized I was the luckiest gumshoe in the world. I’d rarely have a case if it weren’t for Velcra getting bashed up so often.

“Someone’s in your office,” she said. “I think it’s a client.”

I could tell by the way Velcra moved that she was nervous, so I followed the gun into the office.

“I’m going to the ladies’ room,” Velcra said.

Smart kid. Get out of harm’s way.

The client in my office wore a slinky black nothing over a body that went from here to there and back again, taking its own sweet time about it. She offered all the scenery you’d ever care to see, and I ached to take her for a drive but settled for taking in the curves. I finally came to a screeching halt even though my motor kept racing. I know it sounds like unprofessional behavior, but it’s this kind of sexy stuff that keeps my editor and my readers happy.

Ms. Slinky’s ensemble must have been held together with imagination, considering the way she shrugged out of it. She wore nothing underneath, except for another dress.

“I guess I overdressed this morning,” she said, slipping into my chair. “I must have slept in my clothes.”

Velcra was at the door. “I’m back from…” She stopped, her bandaged eyes fixed on the dress on the floor. She refused to look up, but I thought I saw wet spots form under the eye-holes of her cast. She turned to leave without noticing the dress had caught on the end of a crutch. It slinked out after her.

I returned my attention to the client. “You didn’t come in here just to do a stripless tease. Give.”

“I’m in trouble and I need help.”  She had the kind of voice that made trouble sound alluring.

“What kind of trouble and what kind of help?”

“The kind of trouble that can only be helped by a guy named Dike Dammer.”

“Spike Bammer,” I corrected.

“I think someone is trying to ki… “

The phone rang and I motioned for her to be quiet. Whatever Someone was trying to do, there was no need for the caller to know.

“Doesn’t your mummy answer the phone,” Ms. Slinky asked. Her voice bordered on sardonic.

But she was right, it was Velcra’s job. The phone continued to ring, so I picked up the receiver.

“Is this Wife Slammer?” the caller asked. The voice was unmistakably male.

“Spike Bammer.”

The room exploded into chaos. A slug went through my chair and ripped into the desk, leaving a fresh scar to go with all the old bullet-holes. There was glass everywhere and a breeze whipped through the office. Whoever did it must have shot through the window.

“Get down!” I shouted, but there was no need to. I realized Ms. Slinky had been sitting in my chair.

I called Bat Maimers at police h.q. and told him what had happened.

“What else is new?” he asked.

“What do you want me to do?”

“Take a vacation. The last time the lab boys went over your place the only fresh prints they found were their own from the day before.”

“Come on, Bat. You’re dredging up ancient history. That was a week ago.”

“I’ll get a crew over in the morning. The president’s in town and we can’t spare anybody from special duty.”

“He picked a lousy day for it. Traffic’s brutal.”

I went to the outer office to tell Velcra to call the glazier, the cleaning service, and the undertaker, and then to go on home early.

She’d changed into the slinky dress and was lying across the desk. What little material there was clung to every bandaged curve the way a heat wave clings to the city in mid-August. It had fallen open in places to reveal lacy black underthings she’d drawn as a concession to modesty against the alabaster. There was a gloss of fresh lipstick, and I was about to give in after all these years to her ongoing invitation when I saw this time the red smear was blood and Velcra was on the desk because she was unconscious.

I brought her around and poured a couple of drinks from the bottle I keep for just such emergencies. It was nearly empty. I made a mental note to tell Velcra to pick up a fresh bottle on her way to work tomorrow. I stuck a straw through the mouth-hole between the smears of lipstick and blood, then propped the drink on her arm and bent her head so the straw was in the liquor. She slurped it up gratefully.

“Did you see who did this?” I asked.

She lifted her head from the drink and shook it, no, spurting booze through the straw and onto me and all over the place.

“Listen,” I told her. “There may be millions of people in this city, but two of them are right here—you and me, kid. Three if you count the one inside and that narrows it down some. I’m going out now into the night and find whoever did it.”

Velcra glanced toward the window.

“It’ll be dark in six or seven hours,” I said. “And then the night will hold the city in its cosmic grip, hiding all the filth and all the slime and all the creeps of the under culture, but not from me it won’t. And until then… I’ll wear dark glasses.”

I was already at the door when Velcra cried out, “Spike!”

I looked back.

“Be careful?” she pleaded.

I smiled and pointed my index finger at Velcra. I winked and cocked my thumb and made a shooting motion. There was an explosion, a gurgle, and another red smear. I was going to have to get used to having the gun attached to my hand.

© Michael McGrinder   2015

 

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Published on December 30, 2015 at 3:47 am  Comments Off on My Gun Is Stuck  
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