Friday, December 8, 2017

First Chapter of Re-launch "Clever As The Devil"





Music was wafting through the air from a relic jukebox, blissfully unaware that there was such a thing as Spotify. I watched the red neon light flash out the bar window, a beacon for the light foot traffic passing by. On the inside, the ambience was more dim and subdued, although I thought that the word ‘ambience’ was pushing it for this place. I gulped the last of my drink and signaled for the waitress. The week had either been full of rain, dark clouds threatening to rain or the vague gray nothingness that overcast days bring. It was like the rain hadn’t washed away any of the dirt in East Alton, it had just worn away all the colors.
Today was the day I dreaded every year. I closed my eyes and exhaled, trying to expel the weight I felt. I saw my father, Douglas. When I was little, I would have him read Sherlock Holmes stories for me at bedtime. I had little use for the silly fairy tales my friends wanted to indulge in. Not that I had a lot of friends growing up. I was either too fat, too smart or once I had gotten some spine, way too sarcastic. I remembered when he would quiz me on whatever TV mystery show we were watching, in a casual race to see who could figure out who had committed the crime. And then there was the time when I was in third grade and I saw him on the living room couch, working on something.
What are you doing?” I asked, bouncing next to him on the couch.
He smiled and lowered the booklet and pencil he had in his hands. “I’m working on this cryptogram, honey.”
I had to be in the middle of whatever dad was doing, so I climbed into his lap so I could see. “What’s a cryptogram?”
Well, I’m trying to work out what the words are in these mixed up groups of letters.”
Oh! Like an anagram!”
Kinda like that, but this works on a principle called a letter substitution cipher.”
I had never heard of that before, so I repeated the words and he smiled. “Here, let me show you.” He said.
Dad then showed me how he would guess at certain words based on their length and placement in the phrase. “For instance, a three letter word at the beginning at a sentence is ‘The’ most of the time. So I would put those letters in those blanks and then see where else they will go based on what letter are under the blanks. Then, its just a matter of going from there and see what you can figure out.”
I pointed at the booklet. “Can I do one?” I had to try it. It was a puzzle, it looked like a challenge and it was something Dad was doing.
Sure, honey.” He tore out a page from the middle of the booklet and got another pencil from his shirt pocket. I knelt on the floor and put the paper down on the coffee table and started to work.
Mom walked in a little later and saw us working with our pencils. “And what are you two doing?”
We’re working on cryptograms!” I exclaimed.
Her mother chuckled and shook her head. “Well, of course you are.” Mom was great with numbers, being an accountant, but she never did really understand me, and to be honest, I don’t remember her really trying.
The memory dissipated with the sound of someone clearing their throat. It was the waitress and it looked like she had been there awhile. I motioned for her to get me another. I looked at my phone to check the time. I had drifted in the bar around 6 and it was 9:30 now. Just as I set it down, it vibrated. With a quick look, I saw it was Mom calling. I tapped ‘ignore’ on the phone, which was hardly satisfying. I wanted it to be the type of phone that I could pick up to answer, just so I could slam it down to hang up. I didn’t know what mom was thinking. The betrayal, not only to me, but to Dad, a detective with the East Alton Police
I took a deep breath and rubbed my eyes. Dad and his partner, Dean Smith, had been investigating the local drug ring for awhile. He got a call after dinner letting him know that a lead he had uncovered led to the discovery of their main hideout. An abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of town and he and Dean went with a SWAT team to check it out.
It was raining early the next morning and I woke up with a start. Thunder rumbled overhead as I looked out my window. His car wasn’t in the driveway. I checked my clock to see it was about three in the morning. I got out of bed and went to my parents’ bedroom. I creaked the door open to peek inside. Mom was alone in bed, sleeping. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck start to rise as I walked to the living room. It was empty and the only sound in the room was the ticking of the clock on the wall. I walked up to the dining room table, where Dad had left some work files. Glancing through them, I found towards the bottom, a cryptogram magazine that me and dad were working. There was a knock on the door. My heart skipped a beat as I ran to answer it, getting ready to tease Dad for forgetting his keys. But when I opened it, it wasn’t Dad. It was Dean. There were two uniforms standing behind him with their eyes downcast. Police lights were flashing red and blue everywhere and when I saw Dean’s face, I knew. Dean started talking to me and I just looked at him in shock, taking in what he saying, but it was like I was underwater and everyone else was far away. Even when Dean took me in his arms because I was crying, I still felt so alone. I was sixteen. And today was was the tenth anniversary of that day.
When I opened my eyes, my drink was there in front of me, like magic. I swallowed my first sip, a hearty exhale coming afterwards. I was nursing a robust and healthy buzz and it was just what I needed. Well, that and something else. The hazy numbness was comforting, but it wasn’t enough. Every time I thought I had drowned out the pain, it would rise again and wrench my insides. Anger, sadness and disappointment, all rolled up in one. And from the several chewed up swizzle sticks scattered on the table, I knew there was quite a bit of frustration mixed up in there too. During the last week, I had kept to myself, turning down invitations for lunch from Bobby and even playful come-ons from Katrina and Derrick, two of my favorites I would see from time to time.
But tonight. Something woke me up tonight. I slipped into my siren red dress with a neckline that plunged just north of obscenity charges. The red of the dress matched my hair. The dress also hugged my ample thighs, which helped my strut get its share of appreciative glances. I got in my car and turned the key. And now, I was in this bar drinking whiskey and cokes like there was going to be a shortage of ice tomorrow. Not that I needed ice to drink. Or a glass. Or anymore, a particularly good reason.
I was taking another sip, when I spied him over the rim of the glass. He was dressed as sharp as the crease in the dark slacks he wore. Black jacket, white shirt, no tie. The bartender had just put his drink in front of him. He looked around and I caught his eye. I smiled and set my drink on the table. I purposely put it down in a straight line in front of me, so his eyes would follow the glass and see the front of my dress. I love my cleavage and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I admire it often and from the look on the man’s face, he liked it as well. I have an hourglass figure with about 30 extra minutes worth of sand added to it and I love every pound. And no one will ever hate me half as much as I don’t care.
The man scanned the bar and then his eyes drifted back to me. I leaned forward in my chair and raised my eyebrows, as if asking a question. The man smiled, grabbed his drink and walked toward my table.
Is this chair taken?” He asked, pointing to one at my table.
It is now,” I said. “My name’s Kimber, Kimber Cassidy.” I extended my hand.
He smiled and shook my hand. “My name’s David, its a pleasure to meet you.”
The pleasure is mine.” I had taken more stock of him when he walked over. He walked with purpose, back straight. He had no wedding ring and when I could get a closer look, no tan line either. No animal hair on his clothes and no signs of excessive wear. His dress was refined, not fussy. A simple gold watch adorned his wrist and he had one ring, worn on his right index finger. I placed his age around upper-30’s, maybe early 40’s and he looked to be corporate, maybe middle to upper management. Banking, I decided.
He pulled the chair out and sat down. “Have you been here awhile?”
For a bit.”
I’m sorry, I didn’t even bother to ask, were you waiting for somebody?”
For you,” I said, taking a sip of my drink, smirking
Is that so?”
On most days, I would have something clever to say, but it was late in the evening and I was about six drinks in, so I made do with “Yep”. I couldn’t help but notice the way he spoke. His pronunciation was clipped and precise, but his vowels sounds were American.
What do you do during the day, Miss Kimber?”
I’m in between jobs at the moment, so right now, I’m enjoying a life of leisure.” The polite euphemism for unemployed was correct. I had quit my job at the city paper and was working to get my private investigation license from the state. In the meantime, the jobs hadn’t exactly been rolling in. But I had saved a good amount of my salary while I was employed and was doing okay for now. “And you?”
I’m an executive in a banking firm and I just got a promotion.”
I high-fived myself in my head. “Congratulations, so you’re out celebrating?”
I am.”
Alone?”
David looked down. “I was working late today, just now got out and most everybody else had already left.”
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.”
But my name’s David,” he said, smiling.
For this evening’s performance, you will be played by a man named Jack.”
I think I’ll stick with David.” He said, taking a sip of his drink.
Okay David, tell me something fun about yourself and prove me wrong.”
He thought for awhile. “My fingers are double jointed?”
Lame.”
I think me and a cousin of mine share a birthday?”
Next, you’ll tell me the highlight of your life was when you had the spotlight in Bankers’ Monthly five years back.”
I had forgotten about that!”
I laughed and shook my head. David smiled back. After some thought, he said, “Okay, the Bible says, Adam AND Eve, so I date both,” he said and shrugged, taking a drink.
I raised her eyebrows. “So the banker is bi.”
David nodded, smiling.
I wouldn’t have guessed that. My radar must be off this evening.”
Really?”
I’m pretty good at observation. I’ve noticed your speech, the way you pronounce things.”
He smiled.
I’d say either you’re not from here or you are and you moved to another part of the country, perhaps up east. Or maybe even out of the country, maybe the UK.”
I’m impressed, hun,” he said, taking a drink, “I was born here in East Alton, but when I was 3, the company my father worked for transferred him to England. We moved there and that’s where I went to school, although most of the time, I was in the LD classrooms.”
You have a learning disability?”
That’s what they thought. I tested out when I got into what they call secondary education over there.”
You were around 11 when you got out?”
He nodded. “I did pretty well after that and was about to go to uni there, but then my dad got transferred back, so ended up going to college here.”
They thought I had a learning disability,” I said. “They put me in LD classes, but after a couple of years, they realized, I was just lazy and hated doing homework.”
David chuckled. “After your astute observation, I would have to say, you’re impressive.”
I lifted my drink. “I’m good.”
David pointed to a man sitting at the bar. “Tell me about him.”
I took a sip and glanced at the man David was pointing at. “He was here when I arrived and has been nursing several drinks. He’s putting them away at a good clip, and he’s three drinks on me, so I’m sure he’s on his way to oblivion if he keeps this up.”
Plus, who knows how many he had before you arrived.”
I nodded. “He’s in his fifties and he used to be married.”
Used to be?”
He piqued my interest when I first got here and sat down, so I went up the bar next to him to refresh my drink and took a glance. His fingers are swollen and thick and on his left ring finger is a deep impression of where a ring used to be.” What I didn’t say is the reason he got my attention was his rate of drinking and his manner of movement, which told me he was pretty wasted as it was. I got the bartender’s attention and gave him a twenty to get the guy a cab when it came time to eighty-six him.
Perhaps recently divorced.” David suggested.
Or widowed. He’s had that suit for quite awhile, both the style and pilling on the fabric say so. From the style of haircut, I’d say he’s been going to the same barber for years. He wears a wrist watch, he has horn rimmed glasses, if he has a cell, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a flip phone.”
David nodded.
Overall, he appears to be a man resistant to change. He longs for the good old days and is full of nostalgia for how things used to be.”
Perhaps he is widowed. That would explain a lot of what you said.”
I shrugged. “It would. It’s a matter of probabilities.”
David thought a bit, while he stared at his drink. He then looked back at me, smiling. “You’re just a regular Sherlock Holmes.”
I smiled and straightened my back. “With an impressive rack to boot.”
There are many things to appreciate about you, honey.”
I smirked and leaned over to him. It served dual purposes, one, to give him a good view. Two, to whisper in his ear certain things that anyone else would think twice to whisper in a man’s ear.
David took a good peek, listened to what I had to say and chuckled. “Is it okay if I finish my drink first?”
I shrugged again. “It’s whatever. If you’re thirsty, I think I can take care of that too.”
David downed the rest of his drink in one gulp. “You tell me where we’re going, honey. Lead the way.”
===
I went to the bar to get blitzed, so I didn’t stray too far from home. Now that I had made a catch, it made sense to just take the short trip back to my duplex and have him follow me. Once we were inside, there wasn’t a lot of small talk. We both knew what the other wanted. Enveloped in a tight embrace, he nibbled on my lips and when he gave my bottom lip a tender bite, I raked my fingernails down his back. He moaned in my mouth and made quick work of unzipping my dress. I did the same with his pants and pretty soon, most of the important pieces of clothing were on the floor.
Most of what followed in my bedroom was the kind of passionate sloppiness that comes from alcohol and deep seated need. His kisses found my favorite spots, behind my ear, down my neck, while his fingers explored my body. I loved the weight of his body on top of me and how he felt inside me. My hands clutched his back as I released all my tension. The combination of my buzz and my long delayed release sent me flying for a bit and my eyes took awhile to come back to focus. He plopped down beside me, laying on his back.
Raising my arms above my head, I stretched the kind of stretch that takes it all out of you, leaving you feeling drained, relaxed and satisfied at the same time. I was still on my dreamy orgasm high when I closed my eyes. And they stayed that way till the phone and the morning sunlight opened them the next morning.
===
I fumbled for my phone, the ringing disrupting my dreams. I looked at the display and saw that it was Dean.
Hello? Dean?” I sat on the edge of my bed, holding my head.
Hey Sparky. I know its a little early, but I needed to give you a heads up. A contact I have at the station alerted me that the police are going to be calling you soon.”
I squinted my eyes. “What for?” I looked back on my bed. David wasn’t there. I walked into the living room and saw that his clothes were gone and no note. Not that I was expecting one.
Where were you last night?” Dean asked.
On a date.” I walked to the bedroom to grab my robe.
Who with?”
What? Why?” I put my robe on and then rubbed my forehead, trying to piece together why the police would be interested.
What was his or her name?”
David.”
David Andrews?” Dean asked.
I shrugged. “Sure, he looked like an Andrews.”
Dammit Sparky, this is serious.”
Can you tell me what’s going on, please?”
A man named Calvin Dunbar was found dead this morning, an apparent suicide. One of his work associates was a David Andrews, who used you as an alibi for his whereabouts last night.”
I took the phone from my ear and looked toward the ceiling. Are you fucking kidding me? I just wanted to get shitfaced, ending up getting lucky and now I’m involved in an investiga--
I put the phone back up to my ear. “You said it was a suicide. Why are the police investigating it?”
I said apparent suicide. I need to get off the phone, they’ll be calling you any minute. Get your facts straight and then call me back when they’re finished with you.”
I hung up and sighed. Dammit, I should have known better. The minute I reached for that dress last night before going out, I should have just slapped my hand, got drunk at home and called one of my favorites over. Or at least, rubbed one out in the shower. I shook my head. Then the phone rang.
Hello?”
Hello, is a,” the caller paused while he shuffled papers, “Kimber Cassidy there?”
This is Kimber.”
Good morning Miss Cassidy, this is Lou Matthews, detective with the East Alton Police. I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions.”
Sure.” I knew better than to be evasive. Dad taught me to be open with them, but only answer what they ask, never volunteer information. I sat down at the dining table. “Can I ask what this is about?”
We’re doing some preliminary checking about something that happened last night. Does the name Calvin Dunbar ring a bell?”
No, should it?”
He ignored the question and asked, “Where were you last night?”
From about 6:30 till around 10:30, I was at the Green Derby.”
There was the sound of scribbled notes. “And then after that?”
I was at home with my date.”
What was the date’s name?”
I sighed. “All I know is David, I didn’t get his last name.”
More note scribbling. “Did he stay the whole night?”
I thought back. “The last time I looked at the clock, it was 12:30 and he was still here. When I woke up this morning, he was gone.”
When did you wake up?”
About fifteen minutes ago.”
You didn’t get your date’s last name?”
I squinted at the insinuation and picked up a pencil from the table. “No, I didn’t.”
I see.” He cleared his throat and made more hen scratches. “Did Dunbar’s name come up?”
No.”
And you were drinking, correct?”
Yes.”
How much? It sounds like your judgement may have been impaired, did you black out?”
I rolled my eyes andI deflected the question. “I can give you a physical description.”
Sure,tell me what you can remember.”
Drumming the eraser on the table, I said, “He was about my height, five ten, and a hundred and ninety pounds. Brown hair, blue eyes, clean shaven. His nails looked manicured and overall he had a neat, well-kept appearance. He had black shoes, shined, dark slacks and jacket, white shirt and no tie. He said his name was David and that he worked at a banking firm.”
Well, that sounds like our guy.”
Anything else?” I asked, tossing the pencil on the table.
One more thing.”
Yes?”
Aren’t you Douglas Cassidy’s kid?”
I blinked. What kind a hell question was that? “Yes,” I answered, “my dad was Douglas Cassidy.”
Wow,” he replied.
Wow?’
Well, its just that I remember when I just made detective, your dad and Dean Smith were the team to beat. Everyone on the force looked up to them. I remember your dad always bragging on you. Either it was some cryptogram you had solved, or some how you had figured out the end of the Holmes story he was reading you. Later on, when you were a teenager, sometimes he’d say how some observation you had made helped him with a break in a case.”
I cleared my throat, just wanting the call to be over.
Well, guess he’d be pretty proud of you now, huh? Thanks Miss Cassidy, if I need anything else, I’ll get ahold of you.”
My eyes narrowed as I ended the call and slammed the phone down on the table.
The phone rang again and I snatched it off the table. “What?”
Sparky? This is Dean.”
Hey.”
How did it go? Who talked to you?”
Lou Matthews.”
Crap.”
Yeah, tell me about it. Besides being a first class shmuck, what else can you tell me about him?”
Well, I remember when he first made detective, he had a female partner but, she didn’t last long.”
Let me guess, he was rude, ignorant, condescending, patronizing and sexist.”
Yeah, sounds about right.”
I shook my head and reached for the bottle of whiskey, but my pounding headache made me think twice about it. I grabbed the tea kettle instead and poured some water in it. “He went on about how my dad would brag on me and boy, times have changed, now that you’re drunk and can’t remember the last name of your ‘date’ last night, if you even knew it in the first place.”
Did you?” Dean asked.
That’s not the point, it’s none of his goddamn business! Mr. Matthews can suck my dick.” I slammed the kettle down on the oven burner, sloshing a little water from the spout. “Fucker,” I said under my breath. I flipped the whistler closed on the spout and turned the burner up.
Well, you gotta remember, after your father died, you went through a pretty rough period and it was on full display. I can’t tell you how many times I came to see you in holding and hear what kinda scrape you had gotten yourself into.”
Died, I thought, that’s nice. Dad was killed, in the line of duty. You should know Dean, you were there. I stopped what I was doing and realized I had been pacing the kitchen. I was in pain and pissed. Pissed at Lou, pissed at David whathisface, but mostly pissed at myself. Last night was stupid all the way around. I took some deep breaths to steady my hands and got a mug off the cabinet shelf. “I remember that. I guess I’m only as good as my last fuck up?”
Dean chuckled. “Something like that. And that goes for everybody else.”
Fan-fucking-tastic.” I mumbled, as the kettle started to whistle. I grabbed a teabag and tossed it in the mug. I turned the burner off, grabbed the kettle and poured some water into my mug, leaving some space to add milk after it was done steeping.
Sounds like you’re making yourself some tea?”
Yeah.”
You’re hungover, got a headache.”
Right you are, detective.”
What happened last night anyway? I mean, that’s not like you.”
I sighed. He was right. “I don’t know. I was restless, I guess. And horny.”
Why didn’t you call one of your friends over?”
Yeah, why didn’t I do that? “I don’t know.” I rubbed my head and added, “You know what yesterday was, right?”
I remember hun, I know its still rough for you, its rough for everybody.”
I snorted and thought of mom. Yeah, most everybody. I went to the fridge to get the milk. “What about this case? What’s up? What do you know?”
You first. Tell me everything you know about him.”
He’s circumcised,” I said, smirking. I stirred some milk in my tea and then took a sip.
Dean let out a breath. “Thanks for remembering that. Anything else?”
I went over all that I observed about him, including correctly intuiting that he was a banker. “He said he was out celebrating, although he was alone. I thought that was off.”
What was he celebrating?”
He said he had just gotten promoted.”
Wait a minute,” I heard shuffling papers as Dean looked over his notes, “he said he got a promotion?”
Yeah, he mentioned he was working late, so that’s why he was by himself and that didn’t feel right to me. It seemed more like he was avoiding something or just trying to forget.” It was then I realized why we had clicked. They were both there last night for the same reason.
I got news for ya. He didn’t get promoted, he was passed over.”
Passed over?” I began to take a sip of my tea, but suddenly put the mug back down, “For fuck’s sake.”
I’ll give you three guesses who got it instead and the first two don’t count.”
Calvin Dunbar.” I rubbed my forehead. It was still pounding. If he had lied about the promotion, what else did he lie about? “How did he die?”
There was no sign of struggle and no wounds on the body. He was found by his wife this morning, sitting at the dining room table, slumped over. There was a teacup nearby that was about empty.”
They’re going with poisoning?”
For right now. They took the teacup, what was left in it and of course, the toxicology reports from the autopsy will tell us more.”
Statistically speaking, men are more prone to commit suicide by firearms or hanging, women are more likely to use poison.”
Plus there was no note. Not that there’s a law saying you have to leave a suicide note before you off yourself, but…” Dean trailed off.
When are they putting time of death?”
Early morning, around two.”
Andrews didn’t do himself any favors using me as an alibi. I told Matthews the last time I looked at a clock, it said 12:30 and then didn’t wake back up til morning and he was gone.”
And you have no recollection as to when he might have left?”
I put my tea down again and tried to think. “No, to be honest, I passed out. I don’t remember.” I heard Dean write more down in his notes and it occurred to me to do the same. I shook my head, some private investigator I was. I grabbed my notebook and pen out of my purse. “They’re going with a murder investigation because of the method and there was no note?”
Actually, the wife, Linda Dunbar is pushing the story that its murder.”
I made a face. “She didn’t know that would make her a prime suspect?”
I don’t know whether she knew that or not, but it doesn’t much matter, her alibi’s pretty airtight. She’s been in Dallas for the past few days on business and had just gotten back this morning.”
I took some more notes and then stopped. “Did Dunbar have a life insurance policy?”
I thought of that too. He probably did, I’m sure they’re checking up on that.”
I put that on my to-do list as well. “Is there anything else I should know?”
Besides, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
And what exactly does that keep me from doing?”
Not a hell of a whole lot.”
That’s what I thought,” I giggled.
Just be careful Sparky.”
I will, Dean, I promise.”

I ended the call and put the phone down. As I sipped my tea, I thought about the possibilities. If someone had murdered Dunbar, the strongest suspect would be David, given he had a possible motive. The wife was ruled out due to her alibi, but something didn’t feel right about that. Poison was a funny thing. You had to be there to fire a gun and stab a knife, but poison was different. The tea was starting to soothe my headache and I started to come up with a plan of attack. Seeing as David had been such a nice guy to involve me, I eagerly took the invitation to dig in a little more.

4 comments:

  1. Ooooh I can't wait to read the finished product! I really like her. Feisty! :) XOXO

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad you like it! 😊

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  2. I loved it! I can't wait to read the rest! I love your erotic mind!

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