Low City

By MK Alexander

Crime & mystery, Hybrid & other, Historical fiction

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3 mins


from CHAPTER 5

As I emerged from the alley a car rolled up Commercial Street and slowed beside me. It was the gray Pontiac T-37. Ricky Durbin was inside. He rolled down his window and called out: “Not bad for a dead guy.”
“W-What?” I stammered, unsure if I heard him correctly.
“You died this morning. Heard it on the scanner.”
“I did?”
Ricky laughed at my expression. There was a ringing in my ears. “Not so silent alarm,” he said. “Still, everybody else is kind of busy.”
“With what?”
“Like I said, you’re dead, murdered.”
“Maybe it was just an accident.”
“What kind of accident?”
Ricky shrugged. “Care to explain any of this?” he asked with a grin. “Looks like I can add B and E to the list. What did you just steal?”
“I needed a file from inside,” I said, and stood there rather helplessly.
“What kind of file?”
“A letter addressed to me.” I held up the envelope.
“I hate that lady anyhow. She’s evil.”
“Well, she creeps me out.” Ricky grinned again. “You need a ride?”
“Um, I guess.” I stepped closer to his Pontiac.
“What’s with the big stick?” he asked.
“Hurt my ankle.”
“So, if you’re not dead… who are you?” Ricky looked me up and down with a glance. “What— are you like Gary Sevens’ brother or something?”
“Yeah, that’s it exactly. Twins, separated at birth.”
“You’re kidding.”
“I’m not.”
“You got a name?”
“Patrick, Patrick Jardel.”
“Hey, I’ve seen that name in the Chronicle.”
“Yeah, my brother borrows it sometimes.”
“Where you from?”
“Did you kill him?”
“Of course not. Who’d kill their own brother?”
“Cain, Abel maybe.”
“No, it’s not like that at all.”
“Suicide then?”
“No, I wouldn’t commit suicide.”
“How about your brother?”
“He wouldn’t either.”
“Murder then,” Ricky concluded.
“You just said it was an accident… What do you know about all this?”
“Only what I heard on the scanner.”
“Which is?”
“They pulled a DB from the apartment above the Depot Grill.”
“A DB?”
“Dead body.”
“Not totally sure… but a male caucasian, I heard.”
“Not a woman’s body?”
“Something you’re not telling me?” Ricky grinned.
“No. Just hypothetically.” I paused for a second. “How did he die?”
“Shot, poisoned, strangled?”
“Don’t know, probably waiting on forensics.” Ricky urged me closer. “Where were you last night, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Asleep in a hammock.”
“Oh, up at North Hollow, in the high dunes?”
“That’s right.”
“Anyone see you there?” Ricky asked.
“A coyote maybe.”
“Not much of an alibi.”
“I’m just sayin’…” He turned to smile. “Come to think of it, I’ve seen that black Saab parked along the path sometimes.”
“Well, I was supposed to go to the Beachcomber last night, but I fell asleep.”
“So you didn’t go?”
“Can’t remember exactly.”
“Whoa, you must’ve really tied one on.”
“Yeah… Were you there?”
“For a little while.”
“Did you talk to me?”
“Not really sure… might have been your brother.” Ricky looked me up and down again. “Well, hey, you don’t much seem like a killer to me. Come on, get in,” Ricky urged, and the door opened partially. I hesitated but complied. “Heard some chatter; the victim, um, your brother, last seen at the Beachcomber… I think with Suzy Chandler.”
“Big Suzy?” I asked.
He turned to me. “Super-hot Suzy, you mean?” Ricky laughed. “I heard they found his wallet in the surf, where the high tide left it… some footprints, maybe drag marks.”
“It wasn’t in his car?”
“His wallet.”
“How would you know that?”
“I saw it there yesterday.”
“Hmm…” Ricky accelerated down Commercial and wound his way to Longneck Road. “Was that you driving the Nine-Three?” Ricky asked.
“Yesterday, across from Fred Flintstone, over there, by Surf City.”
“Fred Flintstone? Oh, you mean the giant inflatable Barney Rubble.”
“So it was you.” He grinned. “You borrowed his car and he didn’t know?”
“Something like that.”
“So… Mr Jardel, how much you think the cops know about you?”
“You make for a good suspect.”
“Oh, well, I just arrived… for a visit.”
“Even better,” Ricky said and made a face. “Did you leave your stuff in his apartment?”
“What stuff?”
“Suitcase… clothes, devices…”
“Funny you say that, all my stuff was stolen.”
“Stolen? When?”
“Yesterday. At the bus depot in Fairhaven, my carry-on, laptop, phone… everything.”
“Really?” he asked doubtfully.
“Lucky I had my bus ticket. Took the shuttle to the rotary.”
“Figures… tough part of town, the South Side. I guess you’ll need some new stuff.”
“Clothes, socks, toothbrush…”
“Hey, I wonder if identical twins have identical fingerprints?”
“Just wondering…”
“It’s a good question. I don’t really know.”
“I heard they don’t… wonder if they’ll find your fingerprints in that apartment?”
“Maybe on a coffee mug.”
“A what?”
“A mug of coco, and maybe the shower knobs.”
“Shouldn’t you, like, be there for your brother?”
“I have a funny feeling that it’s best not to get involved just yet.” I paused. “Don’t want to complicate things…”



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