THE WILL'S THE WAY
~ By Absolutely*Kate,
as gleaned from Detective Nelle Callahan
As we look back into our tale of two trenches trudging a tough night, the rain-washed streets are easing some pain-washed minds. So it seems, well, so it seems. It's not always as it seems, as they say. But it seems so here, on this street . . . on this night, doesn't it?
"Mean streets, Callahan? But aren't mean streets just yesterday's versions of chivalric forests? We all have to travel them. Immerse oneself in the destructive elements and become tougher, finer, more aware of what the world is handing out, dealing down. Sometimes the dealing's dirty. Sometimes it's aces up. We travel them, the mean streets and bewildering forests to find where we're headed ourselves," reflectively sighed the tall man under a dampened fedora, pausing the tower of his shadow in what light flickered beneath an aging grey lamp post, to pull his deck, light his Lucky. His gaze took all the perimeters in. This was not a streetcorner of optimum desire. "Uh, it is Miss Callahan?"
"Interesting take there Mr Harry. You're a tough guy with a lotta learnin' under that soggy fedora. And yes. No miss on Miss. Proud of skirting some slippery slides down some pitfalls in matrimonial affairs. There are collisions that stop your heart and there are long lonesome highway crashes of the bad road variety. Why am I telling you this Buster? You're a guy who's been around, seen his way through forests and mean streets, and seems to be able to string together words with more than two syllables. There are days that's actually remarkable to come across in my line of work. Now, about this finding something you're looking for -- "
The 1949 dark DeSoto skidded in the puddle off the curb of the confab of the detective and her new client, a tall man itching, but quietly so, with something to tell, who preferred to be hailed by the moniker of Harry for the time being. No tellin' yet who he really was, how close he carried his story. No time to read those pages right now. An arm which meant business took a shot in the dark to stage a near miss near the Miss. No mistaking that miss. Warnings seldom are. Nelle stepped into the street, stooped low and plucked a slug from a 45 still spinning against the curb as the car spun speedy its getaway. No plates. She'd bet a berry it was a bent car on the lam. Looked like three goons with all the shoulders attached within.
"Friends of yours Callahan?"
"I've made a few along my way. Howzabout you? Anyone know of all the dick joints on all the streets in all the world you were gonna walk into mine tonight?"
"I was possibly pondering that point myself Nelle. I can call you Nelle now, right? We've just had our first share of lead squirt our way. In places like Bolivia that's as bonding as riffling romance. And, could this be our coffee shop?"
"Sure, sure, you got the right to call me Nelle, Wise Guy. Yep. This is it, Hill o'Beans. Best cup o'joe a dark rainy night can brew. You'll see. I like my coffee. Gives me pause to ruminate. You ruminate a lot instead of just bumping gums, don't you Harry?"
Albert DeFonse Magrudy heard the little silver bell tinkle yet again above the doorway where he brewed the best beans this town had ever sipped. Despite the drench of trenches creating new rivulets in his tired linoleum under the Hill o'Beans' coat tree, he smiled up large when he realized it was Nelle. Never a dull encounter when Nelle was at the counter. This fellow with her though - some little tick at the back of his mind told him he'd seen him before. Couldn't place where. Couldn't place when. It'd come to him though. It always did. He ambled over, spiffing up the pale blue apron he favoured as the couple settled into their swivel stools.
"What's it all about Albie? World treating you jake?" As soon as she'd shot her customary greeting to her customary coffee guy, Nelle winced at the stab even saying 'jake' still jabbed. The tall man who'd kept his damp fedora in place noticed. The coffee man with the twinkle to his eye and the jut to his chin noticed the notice.
"Same new same new Miss Nelle. Life be what you brew. And you?", with a glance to the fellow still giving him the once over under the soppy brim, "What's it for you Bub?"
"Cup o'your strongest and a piece of lemon pie. I like my pie when I take my time to talk to a delicious dame."
Nelle tugged a few tangles of damp tresses out of the back of her collar and mocked a Get-this-guy glance with ol' Albert. Swiveling into the now smug smile of the man still going by the moniker of Harry, she visibly relaxed into the familiar aromas of a fresh brew and an old strain -- Frankie Lane's Mule Train finishing up on the yellow Philco behind the battered counter. A good place to start in ~
"Why the smug smile? What d'you need me to find that a smart fellow like you can't find, that the cops can't find? Huh Harry?"
"Smile's cause I like your style. You don't flinch much. Knowing that comes in handy should I ever need a clear-thinker in a tight spot. You've known tight spots Callahan. You've come through."
"Fair enough. Now, what is it that you've lost or misplaced or cheesed in the wrong nook of the wrong cupboard?"
Strong black coffee in white porcelain mugs with a pungent piece of lemon pie on a chipped blue plate slid before the two main attractions at the battered cream counter. Only other customer was that guy in the back booth with the newspaper who'd come in just before these two. Albert slipped back to some sorting of spoons and rattling of forks while he took the jib jab jive of their conversation in. No grifter or button man was going to pull a flimflam on his niece, and that's what this slick bruno seemed. Unless he proved otherwise.
"I didn't lose it. I just can't find it."
"Is it there? Does it exist?"
"I wouldn't have come rapping on your door, Miss Goody Gumshoe and be gulping black coffee with you now -- HEY, THIS IS GOOD -- if I didn't know it was indeed there -- real, true, solid."
"You gonna tell me what it is so's I can find it all the better?" Nelle sipped, watching his eyes. There was something about his eyes. She'd never seen them stay in one place for too long.
"It's a will."
"Will? Duck soup Harry. Eggs in the coffee. No offense Albie. Easy solution to your convolution. You just need to find a lawyer's door for your rapping, not a detective's."
"Why d'you need me then Harry?"
"I went to his office. I found him behind his desk. A Mr Gerald Dunnigan, Esquire. With two holes plugged where his Esquire used to be his yap was closed. This mouthpiece just wasn't talkin' Callahan."
Across the Hill o'Beans Coffee Shoppe, way back in the corner booth, sports pages rustled more than just the news that Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus was shot in Chicago by deranged fan Ruth Ann Steinhagen.
The radio switched to a new tune, Evelyn Knight warbling "A Little Bird Told Me" . . .
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
There'll be more.
There's always more
brewing than a Hill o'Beans
brewing than a Hill o'Beans
when trouble's on the scene
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I'm Detective Nelle Callahan.
I've met some of you before and no doubt I'll run a lookover on some of youse when we meet up some dark rendezvous that spooks or sparks a soul. But for now I gotta case -- and a dead guy and something to find, as well as finding out why I should be finding it. I'll keep you posted ... You take care now. Don't take any wooden nickels, hear?
(c) 2010 ~ Author Absolutely*Kate
graced by HippyDream, KAGoldberg and Joel Emberson photos
*AT THE BIJOU*
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