It was a cold dark night,

Saturday’s speed writing meeting was, as always, lots of fun. I’m posting what I wrote that day, mostly. It’s been cleaned up (very little cleaning up done). This is just for fun. Don’t know why I went noir, but I did. On tract with the noir mystery thing or too much mocking?

It was a cold, dark night in a cold dark city. The streets were wet with ice, rain, hail, and the scum of the world lurking in and out of shadows. And then I saw him. He was long and lean with a sloppy five-o’clock shadow. Yeah, I know the type. Couldn’t get a date because he couldn’t afford the hourly charges. He was the wanna be tough guy, the guy with a chip on his shoulder because he put it there every morning when his mom woke him up to get to work, the guy who knew how to solve all the problems with the world, the guy who carried a gun to large to compensate for his tiny dick. Yeah, I know the type too well.

He started tailing me as soon as I left the five and dime and stayed close enough for me to see but too far away for me to bust as I sauntered down the strip stopping the regulars with the usual questions. I was searching for another lost soul in the city. Her parents were paying top dollar for my time, so the least I could do was ask around, find out which pimp the gullible sixteen-year-old ditz was working for, find out if she’d been contracted out to another city, or tried working the streets on her own. We all knew I wouldn’t find her, but it made the neglectful, guilt-ridden parents feel like they were doing something.

It was the usual Saturday night drill until I reached Tommy’s Exotic Dance studio. A fancy name for a stinking cheap house of underage ass. That’s when I noticed my shadow left me. I wasn’t complaining. He’s show up again. In the meantime, I had read work to do.

Outside the flesh house, Tommy himself leaned against the brick wall trying to keep his newest furred collar out of the rain and snow. He kept one of his newest commodities out front hustling the tourists to come on inside where the air was warm and the girls were hot. It didn’t bother him that her lips were blue from the hot pants and tube top she wore. Every time her spiked sandals slipped on the ice, he poked at her with his gold tipped walking stick to get back up. 

She took the pokes and smiled back at him, “Sorry, Tommy. I’m, good.” 

“You’re a regular bleeding heart, aren’t you, Tommy” I said as I leaned against the wall next to him. No sense in me standing in the rain, too. Yeah, I could’ve grabbed that stick and stuck up his ass, but what good would it do? Maybe I couldn’t see his bouncer, but I’d lay good money he could see me. Beside, the girl was too much in love with him to make a break for freedom. That was obvious from the smile she gave him.

“Bitch is learning the hard way to not make her quota, aren’t you sweetheart?” I hated the cheesy smile he gave her. I hated more that stupid puppy dog smile she gave him back.

“What ever you say, Tommy.”

“So, what can I you for?” he asked me without taking his eyes of his property.

I held out the picture of the kid. 

“Too fat. Can’t use her,” he snickered. 

I choked back my words. He was scum, but he would know where she was if she was on the street or being shipped overseas. He thought he was a cool player, but I knew how to use him better than he knew how to use his girls.

“Daddy’s looking for her. He’s loaded. Reward being offered for.”

That got his attention. He took his time looking at the picture this time. “How big a reward?”

“Plenty. But I got to get her before too much damage is done.”

“Park it over at the Red Light. I’ll get back to you.”

He didn’t know where she was. The shit rag was going to look for now. That meant that I could take it easy for a while. 

I made my way to the Red Light. It was one of those corner bars where nobody knows your name, at least you hope they don’t, ’cause if they do, there’s a price on your head rich enough to bring the bottom scum to the surface. 

Tonight, it was quiet. Too quiet. You could cut through the tension in the roof with a butter knife and spread it on biscuits like gravy. 

I went to my usual place, mid way down the bar where I could see the whole place in the mirror. Murray, the bartender put the glass of rye in front of me. Didn’t need to ask for it. I lingered over the fumes of moldy grains and pure ethanol as I scanned the room in the mirror. That’s when I saw him, the scumbag with attitude who’d tailed me most of the night. 

He was too dumb to know I’d end up here, so somebody was tugging his leash. That meant trouble. The last thing I wanted was to end up fisting it out in a cold, dark ally falling on ice and freezing my ass with blood all over my shirt. 

“Take beer to the skinny shit,” I said to Murray. He knew what I meant. “Tell to drink one on me before we go out and play.”

Murray laughed, but he dropped the little blue pill into the beer as he poured it into a semi-clean mug. 

The idiot looked up at me and smiled. Shithead thinks he’s so smart. That’s why he’s following me. Somebody don’t want me on the street tonight, but not anybody who knew me or they wouldn’t have hired him. No, this was an out-of-town job, but the only case I had right now was the missing girl with the rich daddy. 

“Put it on my tab,” I said to Murray and walked over to sit next to the now sleeping shadow.

“Time to come out and play, asshole” I said lifting the guy’s head up and reaching into his pockets to pull out his wallet.

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