It's an arduous task, prying into the dark and creeping things. Plenty of people won't even acknowledge the belief in ghosts and goblins, let alone consult a detective about it. And the cops? Solving the stranger side is not their interests. Mir knows it well because he used to be one of them. Now he works for himself, which implies most months the bills go unpaid. This month is not exceptional either.
Year 1920. Mir Jack. Mir is a detective. But, he doesn’t investigate cheating wives or crooked business partners. He investigates things that go bump in the night . When a beautiful lady strolls into his office and says someone is trying to kill her, he smells danger. Too bad he needs the cash.
How he got started with paranormal investigations is a long story. Something took his wife from him. Jane was his whole world. Now she's gone. He has been running down leads ever since.
His office on the second floor named with a title " Private dick next door" . It's exactly the sort of place you would not expect a private dick to hang his hat.
Packed with hidden trap doors and secret stash barrels, the detective office is just an inconvenient cog in a high-end candy smuggling operation. As our private eye is puzzling over his clues, the pigeons are peeking in through his skylight to make sure he's occupied.
Despite being low on budget , sometimes Mir buys candies for the magnificent mischievous little candy smugglers living in the neighbourhood. They are a bunch of restless agile kids who sell information in exchange of candies.
It’s a hot sunny day. There is a big long cloud, and it's stretched out, like a rope. At the end of it, the sun is like a yellow hole .
The sunlit clouds drifted across the clear blue sky. Trees swayed gently in the breeze in the warm tropical sunshine.
He is at the office, sat on his office chair with his feet propped atop his desk, a paperback in hand, he reflected " If any one came into my office at this moment he would think I was the epitome of the happy and able private detective-and he wouldn’t be too far off the mark" , when a leggy blonde in a pinstripe mini-skirt and a black fedora with a lipstick the colour of temptation saunters in.
The sweet smell of aroma lingers in the air so that when Mir crosses the threshold it's like a shot of adrenaline right to his heart. Silence crashes down around him. She smiles.
"I must be surrounded. She could have me killed right now but she won't. Where's the sport in that? So much more fun to have me loose my mind. But I won't. I won't." Mir thinks to himself.
She steps nearer, the aroma is now so heady it's almost poison. He wants to hold his breath but this is not going to be quick.
Mir settles deeper into his swivel chair, laces his fingers behind his head and says "Captivating dame like you walks into my office -- usually leads to trouble. "
She takes a seat in one of the tatty office chairs across the desk from Mir and crosses her legs.
"Sign on the door says you are a detective."
"So it does. What can I do for you? " He said this with a half-anxious expression which he had practiced in the mirror many times.
"Someone’s trying to kill me." she says.
"Why the hell anyone would one to kill such a gorgeous looking woman? "
"That's what I want you to find out."
Mir chuckles. "Fair enough. However, the introduction between us hasn’t been properly sketched yet. "
"Bubble Tease. "
Mir coughs and clears his throat. It's suddenly hot in here. The urge to put a finger in his collar and tug is being strongly resisted by him. "And why do you think there is an attempt to kill you? "
She doesn’t answer right away. She shudders almost imperceptibly, but Mir pretends not to notice. He waits her out. A silent pause for a right amount of time is being celebrated.
Finally, she says " I'm part of a performance crew at a club, Mr. Mir Jack. In fact, I am the singer of the team and have become the most popular member ."
He's curious as the way her face pinches as she admits this, but he merely says " Call me Mir. " and leans back in his chair knowing she is about to explain herself.
She nods and takes a breath.
" As I mentioned, Mir, I am the most popular crew member from the performance team. I am now the top singer -- the reason they sell tickets. I think that's why someone is probably trying to kill me. Only, not in any normal sense. You see the other previous no. 1 spot holders all died. "
Bubble shrugs. " Varieties of ways. Foxxy got run over by a bus and Rita fell out of a 7th floor window. "
" Sounds like a pair of unfortunate accidents ." Mir tells her.
"That's what the boys down at the station house concluded." She gets up and paces the floor. "But, you don't know all the facts. "
"Excuse my ignorance. Apparently, I happen to be not an omniscient deity" Mir replies sarcastically.
Bubble laughs and says " I will spit the facts and clues, alright. Just hold your fire."
"I am listening. "
"Foxxy was paranoid of crossing traffic. It was practically a phobia with her. Her father got run over and killed when she was 11 years old, you see. It stuck with her. "
" That sort of things always does. "
" She was always cautious. There’s no way in hell Foxxy walked out into traffic without checking first. "
"Either of them take drugs? Or any drinking issue?"
She gives him an exasperated look. "Just because we are dancers and singers doesn’t mean we're booze hounds as well, Mr. Mir Jack."
"You didn’t answer my question."
"It's true that Foxxy likes to hit the bottle sometimes, but she wasn't drinking that night. I am certain of it because I was with her all day till she left. And Rita... She was strait-laced. A good lad. She fell out of a hotel window that doesn’t open. Just fell right out. Even the police couldn’t explain it. "
Mir leans back and makes a steeple out of his fingers.
"That is suspicious indeed. The bobbies look into it?"
She snorts. "In a city like Deadslump? No one cares if a couple of singers and dancers turn up dead. The cops list it as accidents. "
"Big blue meanies aren’t really open-minded about this sort of things." Mir agrees". "Howbeit, I don't entirely blame them because their ignorance stems from the lack of expertise on this subject. They cannot see beyond the realms of this reality's logic. So, anyway, what do their deaths got to do with you? What entice the belief that you are next? "
Bubble inched over her own thoughts like a measuring worm. With a brooding look, she responded " Both were headliners. Both were popular and had my part. Someone or something killed them, Mir. I just know it! Won't you help me, Mir? "
Mir weighs his options. This is the first paying gig he has seen in a while and he could really use the money. Despite the urge for asking expensive payment, Mir felt sympathy for this girl.
At the moment, he felt like he would have given anything for the power to soothe her frail soul, tormenting itself in its invincible ignorance like a small bird beating about the cruel wires of a cage. However, without money, it’s not possible for him to properly investigate since he has no money at all at the moment. So, he decided to ask for a mid-range payment that should be not more than sufficient for the investigation.
"Of course I will help, but I don't work for free. "
"I understand. How much? "
"50 dollars a day, plus 70 upfront." He tells her.
Bubble gives another long look, like she could see right into his very soul... figuring out what type of man he is. Mir suppresses a smile as she renders her verdict by opening her fashionably small pocketbook with a deft click, rapidly counting out the money. After the clarification of the money part, he turns on to real business.
"So, did they have any enemies? Financial problems? Debt that she is not repaying? Any jealous ex-boyfriend? "
Bubble only shakes her head.
"So what about you, then? Any enemies? "
For a heartbeat or two
she breathed in, held the air, and let it out. With a quivering lip, blinking eyes, color rising in cheeks, she said " No..Not exactly enemy, but my ex-boyfriend does appear at the club regularly. But, he does nothing troubling. It's true that he is a creep and his presence discomforts me. He knows it very well and may be that's why is regular at the club. He comes in every Friday night. "
"Tell me more. " Mir inquires.
"He has a flushed rosy skin with dark coaled eyes. And a ring on his pinky."
"Can you give me his address?" Mir asked.
"Absolutely." she replies. With vice-like grip, she grabbed the pen and started writing the address in a paper like a thousand candles lighting the way.
"Here. " She says.
"Alright. These were essential clues. I will start my investigation grounded on these intels."
"Thanks for taking my case, Mir. I will see you on Friday night? Really hope you will be there to see my performance . "
"Count on it, doll."
Mir appreciates the view as she walks out and after Bubbles is gone, Mir stacks his feet back to the desk. He was stunned. Mechanically, he opened the lower right-hand drawer and took out a bottle of Scotch and a glass. He poured himself a generous shot and, while sipping it, pondered how to handle this tricky situation.
There’s an ample chance that it’s all coincidence, but Mir doesn’t like the monkey business with this pervasive creepy ex-boyfriend.
He opens the paperback novel he'd been reading before Bubble's entrance and tries to find where he left off.
Before he can do that, from the window a loud quizzical outcry of meowing came. It's his sneaky friendly fluffy pet cat, Puffy. His whiskers are as long as a ball of unravelled string, fluffy like balls of rabbits fur, and fur is as black as a solar eclipse. This is no ordinary cat. In fact, Mir was told it was extraordinary when he acquired it from that oracle fortune-teller with mesmerising stare.
Mir thought he was duped, but gradually he has come to realise that this cat has a sort of premonitory power. In short, it’s basically a warning system. The loud unusual meowing means an admonishment to some unfriendly visitor is on the way. Hostile tourist looking for trouble .
Mir rushes to the window for a look down at the street and spots his landlady's car parked at the curb. He is almost three weeks behind on the rent.
Going out the front is out of option. He will have to cross her on the stairs. He could remain here--but that would mean surrendering some of the financial endowment he has just received from Bubble.
He can lock the door and dissimulate his absence ; pretend as if he is gone.
Another option is to go out the window and down the fire escape.
Finally, he can just face the landlady and haggle over reducing the payment and negotiate half.
Rushing like a mouse that has just noticed the shadow of a cat’s tail lashing against a white wall, wasting no time, he takes his coat from the rack near the door and retrieves his mini-monster known as .38 Caliber revolver from the desk before unlatching the window. He also wears his special contact lenses which was gifted to him by that mysterious oracle. It helps him to see through the barrier of this reality and any invisible supernatural aura.
A cool breeze floods the office and riffles case notes on the desk. He has got one leg over the ledge when Mrs. Willyhammer raps on the frosted glass window pane set in the office door.
"Mr. Mir Jack?" Her intrusive squawky voice muffled by the door. " You are late with the rent. Again. "
Mir evades onto the fire escape, closes the window behind him and climbs down the rusting ladder to the alley. He drops the last few feet to the asphalt and scares away a scruffy stray dog that had been nosing through the garbage .
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