Sunday, 23 October 2011
A Chain of Souls
Me and Sheri Lamour were talking, shooting the breeze. Work was slow that week and there was little else to do. The office needed cleaning but one look at Sheri tells you everything you need to know about her. She don't do cleaning, her skills lie elsewhere, and mine mostly involve drinking and solving crime.
We don't do cleaning.
“Anything interesting?” I was talking about the book in her hand, not the small television permanently on mute. It’s a box for stumblebums grazing on fried chicken or breeding the new feral horde. Give me a book I can open or close, occasionally burn. In my experience screens are only good for regurgitating lies, else salacious tattle from broads with more silicon than brain. Jeez. I like a broad with something to hold. I just don't want to be knocked of my seat when they turn.
Sheri ignored me, her eyes on the book. I noticed she had only four pages to go and I was down to my last four fingers of bourbon. For the moment it was quiet, the way I liked it. But the fly was about to land in the ointment. When she closed that book Sheri would be wanting to talk about it, and the bourbon wouldn’t last that long.
She closed the book, a small smile on her face. “That was one damn hot book,” she said.
Did I tell you that Sheri has a voice like honey and a figure to match?
“Who’s it by?”
“A dame called Zannini. Maria Zannini.”
A shiver ran up my spine. It was that kind of name. Sheri noticed. She pouted, her lips like dark cherries holding a worm.
“What’s it called?”
"A Chain of Souls"
“Any good?” I looked at the cover. “And what’s with the pointy hat?”
Sheri shrugged helplessly as if to say what the hell do I know? You’re the detective, big guy. “I think it’s good,” she said at last. “A lot of people do. They say it’s her best yet.”
I gave her my shark's smile, the one with teeth. "What else do they say?" I've always found 'they' useful. Rumour's cheap. Informers you pay.
She took out her lipstick. When she brought that thing to her mouth the world stopped, and she stopped talking; only I wasn't finished with her. Not yet. She must have seen it in my eye; anyway she stopped, gave that secretive smile of hers that makes me go whoozy.
“The FBI rates it. Bob Mueller's bought a copy for every agent.”
“Bob Mueller, eh?” Never trust a man who sounds like a yoghurt pot, they're either Gestapo or Red, and all three amount to much the same thing. Even so I don't prejudge; it's not the American way. "It must be good – so what’s it about?”
“Two hot angels – one working for the other side – but brooding over the same broad who can’t quite make up her mind.”
Tell me a woman who can. “Hot, you say?”
“Not in your league, Clay, but hot, yes. I’d say so.”
She said it quickly, too quickly perhaps. “You think I’d like it?” Hell, I wanted to see who my competitors were.
“You like breaking hearts?” She sounded like she was going to burst into song. She sounded like Hank Williams. The thought was distressing and I closed my eyes, even as she said the killer line. “I guess you do, Clay. I guess you do.”
“Okay, pass me the goddamn book. Anyone dressed like that can’t be all bad. And what’s with the rosary beads. . . and the gloves?”