by Ian Lahey
Matt Murphy is a private eye. When Matt investigates, cases get solved. Or shit gets real ugly. On good days he manages both.
Today he’s just got himself locked in a room by someone who shut the door behind him while he was exploring. It’s a panic room so no windows… and the door is bullet proof.
Yep. The shitty part is moving along just fine.
The room’s not his, nor is the house around it. It’s his client’s. Miss Candy Kleinhart’s.
Miss Kleinhart came to him the evening before. “They want to kill me,” she said. Her pleading eyes did the rest.
That and five hundred a day plus expenses. Miss Kleinhart has the money. And the looks.
And now she’s safe and sound in a motel, and they don’t have her.
They have Matt Murphy, and Matt Murphy has a gun.
He knows what they’re thinking, he knows they wanna ask him where the hell he put the sexy bimbo, so he makes them feel confident. He lies down on a small sofa and waits. After a while a key softly jingles before unlocking the door.
There’s a creaky floorboard right in front of the sofa and when it creaks he springs up, grabs an arm and down the body comes under him. Pinned by his butt and his caliber nine. Both deadly weapons.
“Hell!” he says, “What are you doing here?”
It’s the sexy bimbo.
Miss Kleinhart says, “I got a call on my mobile. Thought you were in trouble.”
“We are now, they’re already in the house, or around it.” he looks at the open door. Nobody there. Yet.
“What’s that hiss?” says Miss Kleinhart.
He looks up and sees the white smoke pouring out of the air vent. “Shit!” He pushes her out of the room and bounces backwards on the couch.
A split second later he emerges from the room trailing sweet smelling wisps.
“Did you breathe it?” she asks.
“A whiff. Run!”
They rush to the front door. Closed.
“Keys?” he says.
“They were in the door.”
“Gone now.” he says. His vision is blurring.
Multicolored flashlights outside. “They’re coming!” she shouts.
Matt fumbles for her hand. “Lead! Hide us!”. He has trouble thinking now, and he’s hallucinating.
A small herd of orange buffaloes gallop by his side. He hears a jingling noise with every step. The buffaloes start humming “jingle bells” to it.
Miss Kleinhart turns sharply right and they’re in a dark room. She closes the door and crouches behind him. “Can you shoot?”
“Think so,” he replies, “quarter past eleven,” he adds, the polite llama in a business suit thanks him and disappears.
Something in the back of his head nags at him.
“Footsteps!” she says. “Kill him!”
He lifts his shooter and points at the door, still the nagging feeling.
Miss Kleinhart screams as the door is flung open.
Matt Murphy drops his gun and holds his open hands high against the bright light.
“What!… Why?” She shrieks.
“I don’t kill cops.”
A police officer is standing in the doorway. “An anonymous letter in my car windshield said a murder was being committed here.”
“Nearly so,” Matt replies. He stands up, still woozy. “do you know this woman?”
“Yes. I’m investigating Candy Kleinhart’s business for fraud.”
“So you organized this so I could eliminate him and stop the investigation, right?” Matt says, but Miss Kleinhart remains silent until she’s handcuffed and ready to get into the police car, then she looks at him.
“How did you find out?”
“A lot of small things, but especially this:” he takes her by the shoulders and gives a good shake. The house keys concealed in her bra dance with the rest of its contents.
“Jingle Bells.” he says.
Ian Lahey was born in Milan, Italy, from American father and Italian mother. He teaches English Literature in Udine and has two children. Follow Ian on Facebook.