The coffee was good at Sullivan’s. It was rich with a hell of a kick where most other places in the area served liquid chalk or something burnt at the bottom of the pot. The coffee was good but the company was not. Sure I liked Captain Hagher well enough but the man was a top brass policeman and was usually more of an obstacle than he was assistance. Even if the Captain believed him about not having anything to do with the murder, there was still a tension in the air. Harper had two standard moves in a tense situation and one of them involved pulling his gun. So, he lit a cigarette. Nice guy that he was, he lit the Captain’s too.
“Harper, I have a problem.” The captain said after a long drag on his cigarette.
“We all have problems, Hagher. What’s your problem specifically?” Harper
“Besides a private dick who thinks he’s smarter than he is? I have your card in a victim’s pocket. That’s what we call a lead. You say it doesn’t mean anything. The cop in me says different. Care to comment?”
“I told you out there. She was a client but her case was closed. All that was left was the billing and I’d be crazy to take out a client before they paid.”
“What was the case, Harper?”
“Hey, I’ve got a little bit of ethics, Hagher. She may be dead but it was her business. Show some respect.”
“That’s cute, Harper. I don’t think you even know how to spell ethics. You’re a private dick, a gun for hire. Just tell me what there is to tell.” The Captain said with a sneer. It made me clench my fists under the table.
Now I had a problem there because I do have ethics. I do have a personal code and I tend to stick to it even when I’m hungry and it would be so easy to betray my clients. My problem was that two blocks away there was a frail laying in the street and somebody put her there. In the end the dilemma was easy. Dames win every single time. I wasn’t about to let the Captain know he’d won so easily though.
“Alright, Hagher, you’ve got my back against the wall. I’ll talk.” I said with a growl.
He smirked as if he had won something and leaned back and sipped from his second cup of coffee. “I knew you’d come to see things my way, Harper. So spill. I’ve got a murderer to catch.”
“I realize that but if I empty my guts, I want in.” I fixed him with my hardest stare to show I meant business. My wallet was pretty thin at the moment with almost no hope of resuscitation. Truth and justice for this lady was fine and good but my landlady takes paper money.
“You want in? Well, I’ll see what I can do, Harper.” Something about the way he stumbled over his words made them less than honest to me.
“I’m in or I’m out, Hagher.”
“You spill or it’s handcuffs for you.”
“If I’m not in then handcuffs it’s got to be.”
“Damn it, Harper. Don’t do this. You know they got me by the balls with the budget.”
I leaned in slowly wand looked him the eye. “Don’t tell me not to do something, Hagher. I will do it. I’m doing it now. Put me in.”
The was a long drag on his cigarette and a sip of coffee. He repeated both again after an exasperated sigh. There was a glare and deathly silence. I tried not to show my enjoyment.
“You’re in but only to save me paperwork and because my detectives are overworked.”
“Hire better detectives and you’ll close more cases.” I said with a smirk.
“I’d love to hire better detectives, Harper, but I’m hiring you. Now spill so you can get to work.”
“She’s a high class little number from Iowa, made her way east and brushed off the dust to make it in the big city. She gave me that much for free but didn’t much talk about herself. She hired me to follow her husband around to see what piece he was getting on the side. I found her husband with a sweet woman on the west side of town. I let her know and gave her my bill.”
“That’s it? Geez, Harper, it wasn’t exactly worth the wait.”
“Well, as long as I’m on the case now I’m going to go question her husband. I would think that would be obvious.”
“Trouble with that, Detective, is that her husband is the other victim. Dead on a bed in the Biltmore Hotel.”
I blinked. “He’s what?!”