Cold Bullets and Hot Babes: Dark Crime Stories

Cold Bullets and Hot Babes: Dark Crime Stories Read Online Free PDF Page A

Book: Cold Bullets and Hot Babes: Dark Crime Stories Read Online Free PDF
Author: Arlette Lees
Tags: crime series, hardboiled mystery, noir crime stories
murderous perp, you’re dragged in front of Internal Affairs.
    Officially, I was home on medical leave. I’d never been here. That didn’t mean Stafford wouldn’t pay for this. It just wouldn’t be tonight. I pulled myself to my feet with a loud groan and pulled my cane out of the grass.
    A neighbor stuck his head out of a second story window.
    “Shut the fuck up or I’m calling the cops! People are trying to sleep here.”
    A cold rain fell as I drove down the strip. The bars were closed and the Rescue Mission was locked down for the night, its gold neon cross reflecting on the wet asphalt. There was no sign of Rory or her car, just a bum sleeping in the doorway of the pawn shop and a stray dog raiding a garbage can along the curb. My knee had ballooned to surreal proportions. The damp cold crept into my bones and I shuddered.
    I collapsed in my easy chair with a brandy. Stafford had made an effort to wipe blood from Rory’s purse, but there was enough in the creases to warm the cockles of a lab tech’s heart.
    But, was it her blood? It could have been Tiffany’s or even Stafford’s. I was contemplating my next move when Pug called.
    “Mom’s been driving me nuts,” he said.
    “Tell me about it.”
    “One of Vin’s boys found Rory’s car by the old slaughterhouse. It had a flat. There was blood on the steering wheel and a cell phone in the mud. They checked the abandoned building but came up empty.”
    “Pug, Rory didn’t own a cell phone. Did you hit redial?”
    “The battery’s dead.” He cracked his knuckles, same as when we were kids and he was up tight. “I brought Mom up to date. She expects the worst, but doesn’t she always. Who knows, this time she could be right.” I heard him take a pull on his cigarette and cough the smoke out. “God forgive me, but dealing with Rory is like trying to take a shit in an outhouse full of bees. You can’t get no peace.”
    I smiled.
    “You’re a real poet, Pug. I ever tell you that?”
    I told him about my encounter with Stafford...the purse...the blood...the torn knuckles...the teen he was boinking. I sensed Pug’s wheels turning in the silence.
    “Meet me at The Aces,” he said. “We’ll put two and two together.”
    Pug, my younger brother, owns The Aces High Pub, a front for his gambling operation and other stuff I don’t want to know about. Mick, my older brother, is a parish priest at St. Finnbar’s. Me? I followed Dad into The Job after he took a bullet in the back a week before his retirement. That’s us, just a typical family in Little Ireland, east of the factories.
    * * * *
     
    I was in agony. I was out of pain pills and my knee was so swollen it refused to bend. As dawn broke with a rumble of thunder, I dragged into Dr.’s On Duty on my way across town.
    An M.D., who looked like a high school student, drained a liter of suspicious green fluid off the joint with a needle the size of a garden hose. He gave me an ominous look, like in the movies when the doc is about to saw your leg off.
    He walked to the phone.
    “Who’s your doctor of record?”
    “Look Doc, all I need is more pain pills.”
    “Not from me,” he said. “You’re staying off that leg, right?”
    “Absolutely.”
    * * * *
     
    Vinnie Natoli was sitting at a table with Pug. He hadn’t missed many meals since I’d seen him last. He had deep circles under his eyes and a few buttons missing from his vest.
    “Well, if it ain’t Quasimodo,” he said, squinting through a toxic layer of cigar smoke. I hobbled across the room and eased painfully into a chair.
    “We heard about the punk nailed you with the shotgun. Heard he was only seventeen.”
    “His first caper didn’t go well. Until Father Nolan straightened out my shit, I was headed down the same dead end,” I said.
    I leaned my cane against the edge of the table and stretched my leg out in front of me. Vin looked at me and waved his cigar.
    “Don’t give me that shit,” he said. “You never would have
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