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Christmas Noir: Day Four

Fancy’s Note: I should point out that the title of Day One, Day Two and so on does not indicate days in the story. When the boy was writing these, he wrote a small section for each day he intended to post it. These should probably be chapters rather than days, but he was too lazy to change it and I thought it lent a nice air to the story so I didn't make him change it. In fact we're only on day two of the story right now. It might be fun if the reader played a game of spot the reference, as the boy took some time in placing certain things into the story.




You’re not actually allowed to call it a mall really. It’s called the Summerset Collection and they have people who will break your legs if you refer to it as a mall. It is a mall, in all technical and realistic ways, but a mall is some place that common people shop and this place is in Troy. I always figure that it’s a safe place to meet people though, particularly if I want to do it quietly. No one would ever suspect me of actually going to a mall, nor most the people I need to meet secretly. Since no one would ever think of looking for us there, it’s the perfect place to meet.

I was sitting at one of the tables on the third floor section with served as a food court, drinking cola from a paper cup and waiting for Noonan when I spotted my fellow traveler. When you are being followed by someone, it’s easy to tell because of the way many of them act. Look for the person who isn’t looking at anything particular and is defiantly not looking at you.

He was dressed in a brown corduroy suit that had come with a vest and a brown bow tie. He was looking at people as they passed by, the shops across the way from where we sat, his plate of food, but never at me. To test this I stared at him for a good long time, daring him to look up at me. Despite the fact that I was sitting and staring at him, he never even glanced in my direction. It hard to not even look at a person who is staring right at you, try it sometime and see if I’m not right.

I heard Noonan’s foot steps behind me and finally turned around after what might have been thirty seconds and daring the man in the brown corduroy suit to look at me. I caught a motion of his head as I turned. He’d looked up at me before he was completely out of sight, bad move on his part. It was unfortunate that he would confirm my suspicions like that as it meant that he was not as adept at playing the game as I was. Either that or I am a paranoid nut, just like the shrinks said.

“There is a man in a brown suit looking at you.” Noonan said as he dropped a large manila envelope on the table between us.

“Yes.” I said picking up the envelope. “I was just having a staring contest with the top of his head.”

“Huh.” He said rolling his tongue around in his check. “Who’d be following you this early?”

“No idea.” I said shaking my head, “You and the fat man are the only ones who know I’m on the job.”

One of Noonan’s big hands landed flat across the envelope. His voice sounded concerned and a little strained. Noonan wasn’t a particularly tall man, but he was pretty big for his size. I didn’t know what his full reaction would be, but I didn’t like my chances if I had to fight him for the file.

“Why does the fat man know?” He asked carefully.

“He’s paying the bills on this one.” I said yanking the envelope out from under his fingers. “I’m working for myself, or more accurately Christmas, but he’s funding the expedition.”

“Yeah.” He said. “But the fat man?”

“He’s got the cash to pay my bills.” I shrugged and opened the envelope. “What do we know about this?”

“This is just a few more details.” He said pointing at the pages of copied reports. “She was found in the parking lot, six hundred dollars in her wallet, rings on her fingers. We found a necklace that had been torn off caught on her coat, but it had probably just been snapped off during the attack. Nothing was taken, and there wasn’t any rape or molestation that we could find evidence of. They just dragged her away from where ever they found her, went to town on her and left her in the parking lot.”

“Find her purse?”

“No.” He shook his head. “But I’m assuming she dropped it where ever she was grabbed.”

“Anything in her system?”

“Not anything that wouldn’t normally be there at this time of year.”

“Ah.” I said.

“Yeah.” He nodded.

“So besides being drunk as a lord and high as a kite, she wasn’t impaired in anyway?”

“No.” He said.

“What kind of lights were they that they tried to strangle her with?”

“String lights.” He said with a shrug. “You know, the kind that are on all the trees this time of year. White lights, I think, just normal ordinary lights.”

“Okay.” I said coming across a picture.

I won’t describe the eight by ten color glossy photographs, which did indeed have circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one. They had been taken in a hospital room, after the doctors had said that she was stable enough for that. They were of the form of an adult woman, one with perhaps more pounds that might have been thought to be healthy. She hadn’t been like that when I’d known her. She’d ballooned quite badly in the last few years and had doubled her weight. If it was her, I’d need to see ID or fingerprints to prove it. The face was badly smashed, and then it had been cut up with some kind of knife. The final word on it was that while I knew it was her, it could have been anyone.

I put the photographs face down and read the report quickly. Noonan had been right, they didn’t really tell me anything else besides the exact location she’d been found and other such details that while they might have seemed important to who ever was writing, they were useless to me.

I put the packet of papers and eight by ten color glossy photographs with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one saying what each one was back in the envelope. I then pushed it back towards Noonan and leaned back in the chair. He slid the envelope the rest of the way towards him and sat with his hand on it.

“So, where do you think you’ll start?” He asked.

“You’ve talked to Church?” I asked,

“Yeah.” He nodded. “Last night after we found her.”

“And the fat man?”

“Today.”

“So in order for me to cover anything I’ve got to go in a different direction.” I said tapping the table. “Someplace where you’re not going to look right away. Someplace where no one would think to start.”

“Where would that be?” He asked.

“The beginning of course.” I said smiling at the thought. “You’re starting at the end and trying to work back to who did it. I think I’ll start at the beginning and follow the trail to the place where it leads.”

“Won’t that take a while?” He asked.

“Not the way I do it.” I said shaking my head and pointing to my nose. “This nose always finds the quickest route.”

“Are you trying to be some Victorian throwback or something?” He asked.

“You don’t like my the nose knows shtick?”

“No.” He said plainly.

“Well fine.” I said with mild dejection.

I wonder what might have happened if Noonan’s phone had rung a few minutes later. I might have stumbled around a lot longer than I had, without the crucial clue which came up because of it. Of course like everything in that case, I missed it for the longest time, but it did eventually tip me off. The point of course was that Noonan’s phone rang just at the moment when I was going to announce how busy I was and that I had to get going. His cell phone made a noise though, and I was horrified that I recognized the Crazy Frog song coming from his pocket. He held up his hand and opened the flip phone to press it to his ear.

“Noonan.” He said professionally. “Yeah? Where? Say again. No, it’s fine. I’m going to bring Collier with me, he’s lending some consultation. No, lending, he won’t cost us anything. Yeah. We’ll there in a little while.”

He closed the phone jotted down a few things in his ubiquitous notebook, rubbed his chin and looked up at me. He then looked behind me and tilted his head a little, following that by making a sweep of the mall food court.

“My minder gone?” I asked.

“Yeah.” He said and sounded slightly confused. “He was there when I answered the phone.”

“Not to worry.” I said. “What am I being dragged along to?”

“They found her car.” He told me. “In Pontiac of all places, in some liquor store parking lot.”

“Did they?” I asked.

“Yeah.” He nodded again. “You want to ride with me?”

“No.” I said, “I’m willing to bet the man in the brown corduroy suit knows where we’re going, let’s let him know that we know too.”

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
sparkfrost
Dec. 4th, 2006 03:43 pm (UTC)
Hehe, I like it! Im excited to read it day by day. :)
greyweirdo
Dec. 4th, 2006 06:50 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you like it. I hope it remains exciting and interesting.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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