The Toughest Frail Pt 1

To the police Lucy Hart was just another dead body. She was just another homicide case to run down so they could close another file in a never ending quest for a raise or a promotion.  To me, she was my client or at least she had been.  Now she was face down on Sullivan Street and starting to smell.  I had wondered where she was with that last check and now I knew.  Damn, I wish she had just skipped out on the bill.

My name is Caleb Harper but most people who know me just call me Ace or just Harper.  I’m a private detective and most of my cases involve catching people doing what they ought not to do and that meant cheating spouses.  Ocassionally I ran down leads for the police but those jobs were few and far between.  I was good, damned good but times were tight and I had sunk to living in my office’s second room.  I had hoped when the Captain called that they had a job for me.  This did not smell like a job.

I took one last drag of my cigarette and then stamped it out on the pavement, still damp from last night’s downpour.   The city of Baltimore had been drenched all week and tonight was shaping up to be another rainy summer evening.  The uniform standing with me gave me a sour look and didn’t flinch when I gave him one back.  I bent down and picked up the butt and walked it over to the trashcan and gave the cop a good hard look as I dropped it in.   He still did not flinch.  I had to respect that but I did not have to like it.

The uniform was there to babysit me while we waited for Captain Hagar.  I had a tendency in the past to get a little too curious when left alone at crime scenes.   The police did not seem to like that sort of behavior so they assigned me a babysitter.  He didn’t look all that talkative which was great because I wasn’t in the mood to talk to any grunts.

The good Captain took his sweet time too.   He came walking up and waved his officer away so we could talk.

“Captain Hagher, to what do I owe the pleasure of getting dragged down to a crime scene this early in the morning.”

“It’s nine in the morning, Harper, and I would think it was obvious why you’re here.”
“And supposing it’s not?”

He gave me a look that would chill the heart of any lowlife.  A look he probably used in interrogations all the time.  “It should be, Harper.” He pointed over at the body that even now was being covered to stop the press from snapping a picture. “We found your card on her person and her being dead and all.  We thought you might have something to say about the whole thing.”

“If I checked in with you every time one of my former clients died, I’d be a regular fixture around the precinct.  I don’t know anything, Captain.”

“And would you say the same under a hot light at the station?”

“I’m telling you Captain, I had nothing to do with the frail anymore.  Well, maybe  an unpaid bill but that’s it.  Honest Injun.”

The Captain sighed. “I trust you, Harper.  I trust you about as far as I can throw you but I trust you.  Mind if we get a cup of coffee and talk?”

“Only if you’re buying.  Give me coffee and I’ll say anything you want.”

“That’s what I like about you, Harper. Your strong sense of ethics.  Let’s hit the shop on Walton. It’s just around the corner.”

“I know where it is but lead the way and I’ll follow, Captain.”

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