All entries for February 2006

February 23, 2006

Chapter III: A small but perfectly curling twist of smoke

A small but perfectly curling twist of smoke drifted out of Ray's office as he rushed past Candy, who was chewing while wrapping something in neon red gift paper. He ignored her cursory greeting and headed toward the door, pulling it open to reveal the ample frame of Detective Donald P. Tannhauser.


“Ray,” came the equally laconic reply. Both men used their words as sparingly as they used their wallets. It came with the territory. “I came over as soon as you called me. The boys finished clearing up the mess downtown a couple hours ago, and I wanted you to take a look at something they found down there.” With that, Don pointed to something on Ray’s desk. Ray didn’t exactly spend much time pushing paper, so he could hardly miss the two inch-thick, brown, leather-bound book sitting in the middle of the otherwise bare desktop.

“Well Don…what’s the deal?” he asked. “You finally finished that novel you were always talking about?”

Don didn’t even crack a smile. He just pointed at the thing, saying, “take a look inside.” Ray opened it, and was, at first, taken aback by the smear of red on the inside of the cover. “We found it on the floor right next to Billy,” said Don. Ray flipped the pages till he came across something. There it was: a picture, in faded acrylic paint, somewhere around the middle of the bulky volume, and it was glaring right out at Ray with dark, almost pitch black eyes.

It was the figure of a man, but barely recognisable as such, since it was clothed in a vast, swirling cloak, leaving only the face wholly visible. In his right hand he held a large staff made from some sturdy looking wood, and from his left dangled a thick chain. The chain seemed to stop all of a sudden in the middle of an empty space off to the figure’s side, as though the picture were somehow incomplete. “And who the hell are you?” Ray muttered under his breath.

He put the book in one of his desk drawers and shut it carefully. It was the only lead he had until Don could get back to him about the coroner’s report on Billy.

Later that evening when the soft rain had begun to melt the snow, Ray stepped out of his office and locked the door. He had let Candy go home early since it was her mother’s fiftieth birthday. Though it was probably the least of his problems right now, Ray didn’t want to have Mrs Soosman dropping by to meet Candy at the end of the day because her ‘peculiar’ boss wouldn’t let her out early at least once this month.

As Ray left the building, however, there were two things he failed to notice. One was the rather mangy looking animal that had been waiting in the shadows of a side alley, and was now heading toward the steps leading up to the door of the building. The other was the steadily increasing rattling coming from inside. A rattling which originated in the top right hand drawer of Ray’s desk.

February 12, 2006

Chapter II: Overnight the rain had turned

Overnight the rain had turned, and in the brightness of the morning the snow covered most of the stony Sunday sidewalks.

The Venetian blinds cast a strange yet somehow comforting light into Ray's office. The familiar surroundings were all that kept his mind from the events of the previous night: the cracked glass pane of his office door, its letters oddly inverted from the inside; and the tapping of Candy's typewriter keys, as though a small community of crickets had set up shop in the next room.

What did all of this mean, he wondered. If his wife had still been alive, she would have told him to stop making the face he was now making. But 25 years of cases had clearly furrowed their way onto Ray's face. But this business with the Blog. Who would have killed her? And why? She never did anything to anyone. And who the hell was this 'Aryan guy' that Billy had told him about? He would probably never know, since Billy had seemingly disappeared off the face of the Earth. Or at least the face of the local petty crime rings.

"Mr Delany?"

"Wh–" he stuttered back into the room. Candy was standing in the doorway, half of her figure showing around the side of the door, the print of her dress as bright as usual.

"We got a call from some guy asking for you last night while you were out," she said, taking the half–chewed piece of gum out of her mouth and carefully dropping it into Ray's trash can, which stood empty – but for the remnants of Candy's gum–based diet – next to the door.

"And?" Candy looked bemused for a moment and then her face brightened into a lipstick–red smile once again.

"Oh, right. Yeah. The guy said his name was…" she hesitated, her face wrinkling a little. "Damnit! I don't remember! But he sounded like he was from out of town. Anyway, just thought you should know. He left this address…somewhere downtown I think," she said, handing him a handwritten note.

The suspension on Ray's car rattled as he turned onto the street in question. A dog was barking non–stop somewhere, and Ray cursed the final whisky he'd had last night after meeting Billy. His head was like a construction site.

Heading toward number 1871, he realised that the barking was coming from inside. The door was cracked top to bottom, the paintwork peeling and the lock almost non–existent. Pushing it inward, Ray almost lost his footing when a huge Alsatian bounded out and past him, howling like a smack addict's withdrawal. Carefully stepping in, Ray had to kick broken wood, bags of illicit substances and even a handgun out of his way. Then he saw it.

Across the room, not much more than a stomach–sickening red streak leaning against the wall, was Billy. Ray was suddenly glad that he'd thrown up last night after that final whisky.

February 2006

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