The entry to Piggy’s place was much different this time. I knocked on the door gently and waited for Piggy to come. He opened the door and looked at me nervously, fear leaping across his face. Had he not been the timid type deep down, I think he would have slammed the door and run for it.
“Calm down Piggy.” I said holding out a hand. “I’m not gonna hit you this time.”
“Promise?” he asked.
“Yeah.” I nodded and tried to smile a reassuring smile “I promise.”
“Okay.” He stepped back and opened the door wide enough for us to enter.
Alice and I walked in, and let him close the door behind us. I went into the living room, which was less than ten steps from the door, and looked around for anything I might be able to sit on. I didn’t see anything that I really wanted to try and deposit my end on so I let Alice and Piggy enter behind me and just stood. I looked at the photo he had said was of his mother and reached for it. I took it from the shelf and walked up to him tapping the glass.
“This is your mother right?”
“That’s right.” He nodded and took the picture from me.
“She was called The Duchess in her professional circles, did you know that?”
“I know who my mother was and what she did.” He bristled slightly at the way I was talking.
“And do you know it was her assistant Amy Cooke that killed her?” I asked.
His tongue worked around his mouth, pushing his cheeks and then the area around his lips out at odd angles. He then set the picture frame down and rubbed his chin for a second, I think because he could cover his mouth when he did. His head made a motion that could be construed as a nod. It might have been him agreeing with me, or just agreeing with something inside his own head.
“Okay.” He eventually said.
“And are you further aware that after doing that Amy Cooke went under ground for a while and re-emerged as Amy Heart?” I asked and then held my hand out to Alice, as if I were presenting my partner in a magic act.
“I’ve got her full dossier here.” She said handing over her phone.
He went through it fairly quickly, which I decided meant he was just skimming the thing. He didn’t really need to have a full read anyway, just enough to tell him that we were telling the truth. He rubbed his eyes free of what might have been tears and handed the phone back to Alice who stuffed it into her pocket. He looked at me, and I could see that he was really having trouble controlling himself.
“What do you want?” He asked after nearly an hour of looking at me.
“I want to get Columbia home to her parents.” I said. “Her mother and sister and worried about her. I’m sure if his head wasn’t so far up his ass that he can see out of his own nostrils her father would be concerned as well. Do you know where she is?”
There were tears running down his cheeks, he bit his lip so hard that there was blood dripping down his chin. He nodded when he looked at me and a sound escaped him. It was half sigh, half sob as it came out. He touched his chin and when he brought away his hand, he noticed the blood. He sort of jumped a little when he noticed the red stain on his thumb and wiped at his lip.
“I’ve gotta go wash my face.” He said looking at his hand. “I’ll take you to where she is. I mean it’s not like she’s being held or nothing. She’s just hanging out. I gotta take a wiz.”
He stood up and walked up the stairs, going into the bathroom. I heard the water run and looked over at Alice, but there was no warmth there. She looked like she didn’t approve of all my methods. She didn’t look angry, just slightly perturbed.
“What?” I asked.
“Are you more subtle when you’ve slept?” She asked.
“Sometimes, but when I’m tired I just cut to the chase and speak my mind.” I said and then winked at her, “By the way, nice tits.”
“Thanks for noticing.” She smiled slightly.
The toilet flushed and the door to the bathroom opened upstairs. Piggy walked around the upper level of his condo for a moment, I heard something rustle up there and folded my arms, letting my right hand slip into my jacket and unclasp the strap over the Webley. He came down the stairs a few moments later with a jacket on.
“Ready to go.” He said.
“You won’t need that.” I said was we walked towards the door. “Already getting hot out there.”
“You’ve got a jacket on.” He said.
“I’m so cool I get chills in an oven.” I said which shows how tired I was. To make such a lousy joke at that sort of hour.
“Me too.” He said and I just shrugged it off as we went out into the already too hot air.
We walked to the car and got in with only seconds to spare before our skin melted off. Alice turned air conditioning down to its lowest setting and blasted the fans so that we were almost frozen solid by the sudden rush of air. Piggy told us how to get to the place where Columbia was which wasn’t a house. It was an old office building in Detroit, and probably had been abandoned for several years. I only barely noticed the desolation of Detroit as we drove, feeling more the rumblings of my belly. I looked at my cell phone and noticed that it was well past noon by the time we pulled up.
We walked into the building behind Piggy and just kept walking behind him to a conference room. When we got there, I found just about everyone I didn’t want to see. Columbia sat next to Amy, who was sitting next to Dee’s stupid twin. There was an empty space next to the fat smiling man, and I sort of figured that was the location that had been vacated by Mister Cat. There were a lot of other people sitting at the table, but by describe them, they might as well have just been a pack of cards for all the distinction one had from another.
“Hi Jack.” Amy said, smiling warmly at me.
“You killed my best man.” The fat man next to her said.
“Shut up stupid, we all know that Heart is the Queen around here.” I said and walked towards the table. “Columbia, let’s get you home.”
“Jack.” Columbia whined.
“No.” I snapped. “Get out of that chair and go get your purse. If you want to hurt your father, have the stones to go do it face to face with him.”
“It’s okay Columbia.” Amy said placing a hand on hers. “Go home and explain to your father exactly why you’re doing what you’re doing. I think Jack’s right, he needs to hear that it’s coming from inside his own home”
Columbia got up without another word and walked out of the room. I looked at Amy, who was looking at me warmly. She smiled and kissed her finger, then pointing it at me and blowing.
“Why the charade then?” I asked. “If you’re going to let me take her…”
“What the hell are you doing?” Amy asked looking at Piggy.
I turned to see a gun in his hand, which he had been carrying under his jacket, which explained why he had it. Had I been thinking, I would have checked him to make sure he wouldn’t do anything like this. The tears were back, which was going to cause him problems if he tried to shoot.
“You killed my mom, you fucking bitch.” Piggy said through his tears.
“This isn’t the time or place.” I said, because I’d heard it in a movie somewhere. “Piggy!”
His head turned towards me and he looked like he was about to say something. There was a sound like someone working the slide on an automatic pistol and then another sound of an empty shell hitting a wall. Piggy’s face became one of shock and I turned to see a silenced Ruger in Amy’s hand. She pulled the trigger twice more and the pained look on Piggy’s face grew more desperate. He dropped the gun and fell fore ward.
“Piggy!” Columbia shouted and fell towards him.
“Stop it you stupid girl.” Amy said standing up and pointing the gun.
My hand must have been moving on it’s own without tell me because when I raised it to point at Amy the Webley was already in it. I aimed it at the center of her head, which would have exploded like a melon if I fired at this range. She looked at me and convulsively pointed her gun at me. She then smiled and tried to play it light.
“Come on Jack.” She said smiling at me and licking her lips. “How is this going to work?”
I didn’t say anything, just watched for the slightest sign that she was about to shoot. Alice went to one knee and tried to pull Columbia away.
“I can skin the wings off a fly in mid air with this thing.” She said tilting the gun but still aiming it at me. “I could easily have killed you last night, but I never want to hurt you.”
I just stood, silently aiming.
“You’re not even going to banter with me?” She sounded a little sad. “That’s kind of disappointing. We really should have banter at a time like this.”
“I’m really fucking tired Amy.” I said simply. “Been a long fucking day.”
“Oh Christ! You still haven’t been to bed have you?” She slumped her shoulders and bent her knees to try and look cute, while keeping the gun trained on me. “Jesus Jack, you should just dump this case and get some sleep. I would offer to put you to bed, but you wouldn’t get sleep that way.”
I thumbed back the hammer, as it was the only witty thing I could think of. I heard Alice and Columbia leave the room and head out the door.
“Okay, fine.” She laughed and set the gun down on the table. “Does that make you happy?”
“I’m not going to be happy for some time.” I said as I walked out of the office backward.
“I’m not going to chase you this time.” She said as I backed out of the office. I suppose I probably believed her, but I still didn’t turn around until there was a door between us.
When I got out into the street, I saw a red SUV sitting at the corner, and another drove up behind it as Alice pulled out into the street. I had a feeling we only just missed being part of a much bigger outlay of blood by leaving when we did.
Only 4 more entries, then the contest begins in ernest!