Lost Contact With Her A Month Ago, a short story

Posted on November 20, 2011


This is the third of my Craigslist backstory short stories.  The premise:  the story explains a real life Craigslist ad (featured at the end), rendered in a hardboiled style.  The first two are here and here.

Craigslist backstory – Lost Contact With Her A Month Ago

Body dump.  The two patrol boys who’ve been here for an hour kicking dust around have stationed themselves upwind for a reason.  It’s always a body dump in this ravine; the coroner should move his office out here to save on gas.  I get a good whiff as I get close to the stiff and I’m thankful it’s not hotter and that there’s a breeze.  The patrol boys whoop at some joke and I scowl at them, but they couldn’t care less.  One of them makes a swishing gesture at me.  Real funny.

The guy is face down in only a little blood.  Like I said: body dump.  At least the palookas had the good sense not to move him.  He’s wearing a dark shirt, cheap shoes, and pants that look like they’ve been sat in for days.  He’s got a shoulder holster on, but it’s empty.  I pace around him looking for things I don’t find.  I take some notes.  The coroner shows up and we talk small about his daughter’s Confirmation.  Then we roll the guy over.  He’s got two entry wounds in the chest (no exit wounds, small calibre stuff), food stains down his shirt, and he needs a shave.  He’s had too many cheeseburgers and too many smokes and too many solo bottles, and I guess two too many bullets.  I don’t know who this guy is, but I know what he is.

Private detectives are either corrupt ex-cops, peepers, or drunks.  Usually all three.  They’re the wretched of the earth, these guys.  Nobody does that kind of work for the glamour or the girls.  Mostly it’s divorce jobs, or finding some runaway too scared to get more than three blocks from the bus station.  Those sorts of jobs don’t usually end in a ravine.

I toss his pockets and find a handful of his business cards.  “George Cuddy” and a phone number.  There’s nothing else on him, no wallet, no cash, no ID, nothing.

I make some inquiries in a few bars that happiness forgot, and wind up in a low-ceilinged office.  The place is a dump, with tired chairs and this off-yellow paintjob.  I toss a couple of tissues at the plump little secretary.  I guess she thought George was just on another bender.  I guess she was sweet on the guy, the way the taps are flowing.  I never have any comforting things to say, so I just keep quiet.  I ask about his business partners, grudges, ongoing cases.  She tells me that business has been real slow, with only one active case.  She keeps it together enough not to cry all over the folder she hands me.  It’s filed under Walsh, and it’s a thin file.

The basic facts, and that’s all there are, are these:  two weeks earlier a girl named Brittany Walsh comes in looking for help.  She’s trying to find a guy named Danny Streit.  According to Cuddy’s notes she’s skittish and scared and won’t tell him hardly anything about this Danny character.  She has a withered photograph, and describes the guy as mean.  She won’t say why she wants him found.

The secretary tells me, after she’s pulled herself together a little, that dear George had a got a call from Brittany a few days ago.  He left the office saying that he was going to go meet her, and he didn’t come back.  “She was so pretty, I thought he… and her…” she starts, and breaks down sobbing again.  Sure, sweetie.  He looked like a real ladies man.  I tell her to call me if she hears from Brittany again.

*    *    *

On my way home I drive by my old house.  There are lights on inside so I speed up.  I don’t want her to see me.  She’s long gone.

*    *    *

Two days later I get a call.  Britney is at Cuddy’s office, the secretary tells me in a conspiratorial whisper.  Keep her there.  I push the car hard and get there fast.  As I pull up a knockout redhead bursts out the front door in a hurry.  She’s got those big sunglasses on that are all the rage, so you can’t see what she’s thinking.  I badge her and she slows down.  I see she’s got a cab waiting.

“Miss Walsh.”

“Yes, that’s me.”  Practiced sweet.

“I’d like to talk to you about George Cuddy.”

“Then talk.”  Hard.

“Do you know he’s dead?”

“Yes.  I read about it in the papers.”  Deadpan.

“You were his client, what did you hire him for?”

“To find an old friend.”  Make me tell you.

“Did he succeed?”

“I don’t know.  I lost interest in it anyways.”  Cold.

“So why did you come here today?”

“Am I under arrest?”  I know this game.

“No.  Not yet.”

“I didn’t think so.”  Stop me.

She smiles at me patronizingly and makes to leave, choosing a path directly through me.  But I don’t step out of the way.  I step into her instead, and grab her left wrist, hard.  She flails at me with her free hard, and slaps me, but it doesn’t phase me.  I pull back her sleeve before she knows what I’m doing.  Marks.  Just like I thought.  “Tell me I won’t find what I think I’ll find in your purse” I growl at her.  She goes slack and quiet, and mutters a few curses.  The cabbie makes like he’s going to be a hero, but my eyes convince him to get back in the car and mind his own damned business.  We continue our friendly chat for a bit, but I don’t get much out of her.

And then everything goes black.  It must have been that cabbie, sapped me.  I wake up with a hyperactive kid bashing piano keys inside my skull.  She’s long gone.

*    *    *

A couple of days later Danny Streit falls out the window of a downtown hotel.  Death by misadventure.  Sure.  I don’t catch the call, but I head down and brace the Concierge.  I ask about her.  Nothing.  I describe her.  His eyes light up.  “Oh yes, her” he says with some venom.  “Of course.  She checked out this morning.  Her and her awful dogs.”  I slip him $50 to shut up and let me see her room without telling anyone about it.

It hasn’t been cleaned yet.  I dump the wastepaper basket and find some receipts, and the phone number of a doctor who cures certain ailments.  I waste time checking that out before I hit the Greyhound.  Sure enough she left earlier that day.  A ticket kid remembers helping load the dog crates.  He thinks she was headed to Ottawa.  Damn it.  It’s too far and I have too much going on as it is.  The local cops tell me they’ll keep an eye peeled but I never hear anything from them.  Every now and then I place an ad in the locals there.  Every now and then I drive by the house.

—————————————–

looking for Brittany Walsh – m4w

Im looking for a brittany Walsh age 26 stays in ottawa and has 2 dogs. Lost contact with her a month ago any info appreciated.

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Posted in: Fiction