Harry Clemens surveys the Chicago Club. It looks like a million other dives he’s been in looking for his daughter. This one is just one of the many clapboard and glitter pig-wearing-rouge the North has to offer. Take The woman across from him, she spied him the minute he elbowed his way in here with the police detail and glommed onto the whiff of money. Some of the goons at the door met him with brawn, but she parted them like swing doors with that same slick smile painted across her face. Harry wasn’t fooled. It was the eyes that always gave them away. Hers were lined and tired from a life of hard nights and whatever it took to stay awake through them.
She sits across from him on the table looking down at him giving him a look at the web of spider veins crawling up her extra long legs. He tracked them far enough to see the blue steel of a small calibre weapon strapped to the inside of her thigh.
A widow’s bite, he’d heard it referred to.
She sucks on a cigarette while the cops Harry brought with him comb the place. Behind the dining tables a kid sweeps up awkwardly, his hand in a makeshift bandage. The fingers are a sick mixture of fish belly white and thunderhead purple.
Behind him the argument between his cop and the barkeep had grown strangely quiet and Harry was reminded that there was a world that existed behind the one his eyes could see. Places where deals were made and laws were little more than suggestions to men with money.
“Slate? yeah I seen him around.” Grace, the singer, was eyeing a black and white snapshot Harry took from the apartment. “Comes here once in a while. Talks a little, drinks even more. Sometimes talks to Mr. Collisetta, sometimes just to Charles at the door. You’re not from here eh? Askin’ all these questions. I would remember a guy like you walking into a place like this. Hard not to. So what’s the gag, Slate owe you money or something?”
“Something like that.” Harry muttered, his eyes searching the dark windows of the offices above the bar knowing the real boss lurked like a spider deep in shadow, watching from a dark crevice in case Harry became too tangled up in the web. Harry wasn’t worried. He had a pearl handled knife that would make great pest control.
“Ha. well get in line pal. Sure he talks pretty smooth, but he’s
run a tab long as my arm. Now, you on the other hand, you look like you could show a gal like me a good time.” Her attempt at flirting was pushing a chair out with her heel clad foot and looking at him like he was on the menu.
“you’re sure you didn’t see who he was with earlier? anything at all would help.”
“sorry I wish- well, maybe I did see him with someone. Tough to say.” Harry felt his stomach turn, he couldn’t believe she was trying to shake him down. He sighs and tosses a five cent piece into the white folds of the tablecloth. “Word to the wise missy, You’re not squeezing anything else from me. I pay what the merchandise is worth.”
She makes like she’s going to slap him and thinks better of it. “figures. bird’s of a feather.” she mutters. She doesn’t give him the satisfaction of reaching for it, but she doesn’t take her eyes off it either.
“He was hobnobbing with some loudmouth. I’m sure you know the type. They moved from the bar and I lost sight of them from there. Good riddance you ask me, they were cramping my style. Harry doesn’t bother with a thank you, just pushes back his chair and leaves her to revel in his absence. Across the bar the two police officers tasked with searching the back rooms emerge with satisfied smiles and empty palms they lift to the ceiling when asked if they found anything. Above them Harry sees movement behind the darkened glass and wonders just how many pairs of eyes were on him. The cops make for the door. Harry makes for the kid sweeping.
This week in Second Saturday Stories the Noir Thriller Skeleton Unburdened continues. Our hero Percy Slate has found a lead on a missing doctor that's led him to a rooming house with a group of soldiers he barely knows. It seems like the perfect place to hide from Harry Clemens and his police protection as they track him through the city. But as night lightens to morning Percy is plagued by horrifying visions of his deceased wife. Are they horrors of a scarred past, or grisly premonitions of warning? Find out today at 3pm when Second Saturday Stories runs "Detective stumbles into house of horrors: Second Saturday Stories" look for it under the classic black and white title card.
New readers and fans alike can catch up on Chapters 1 to 5 here and read below to find a link to Chapter 6 and 7.
Chapter 6 - Nestled in a dark corner of downtown North Bay the Chicago Club glows like a hot ember in a dying fire. It's a place Private Eye Percy Slate knows well, because showing his face at the club means his death. But when the case he's following leads to a charismatic stranger who saves his life, he has no choice but to keep digging. Will this new development lead Percy to close the case, or to a dead end in front of a firing line?
Chapter 7- Private Eye Percy Slate is in danger, he just doesn't know it yet. When he befriends a pack of ex soldiers he feels like he's finally found where he fits; until they disclose a plan to rob a well known mob run casino and want Percy along for the ride. Percy knows what the hired guns at the Chicago Club can do, and the ragtag band of soldiers doesn't stand a chance. If the group goes through with this suicide mission, Percy could lose the only lead in a case getting colder by the minute. He comes up with a plan last minute, but will the charismatic leader go for it, or has Percy's luck finally run out?