I turned my banging head over to the left to catch a glimpse of the clock. The one eye not smothered in a pillow could only make out the little hand on the 3. The long hand was no where to be found and just as well since my attention was snatched up by the telephone ringing. I sloppily picked it up drooling a bit onto the receiver, “Finch.”
“Toby. You drunk?” Only one man called me Toby, my brother. Everyone else called me Tobias. My mother called me Toby once upon a time, but we put her in the ground ten years ago. Pops never came home from the war so who the hell knows what he would’ve called me.
“Jesus Roger, I was sleeping. I was lit a couple hours ago. What’s doin’ to ring me at this hour? Millie throw you out again?”
“My brother, the clown. No we got a call you might be interested in. A rich suit. Shot twice in the head with a 22. In his office. Head down on his shiny black desk. Most of the rest of him was on the window. Found your card in his pocket.”
I hoisted myself up and over the side of the bed. I took a cigarette out of the pack stuck between my sweaty hip and my blue shorts. I sucked it in between my lips as natural as a breath and lit it with one quick strike of a match against my nightstand. It’s none of your business where the matches came from. “Let me guess. 75th floor of the Ivory Tower?”
“If that’s what you’re calling it. You workin’ for him?”
“What was it for?”
“A robbery he was trying to keep quiet.”
I stood up and went searching for a glass I hoped was holding on to a sip of scotch for me. I flipped on the light. It just so happens it was turned over on the floor near the bed. By the taste in my mouth I’m guessing I got to it somewhere between 1:30 and 2:15. “Not really. What are you the board of review?”
“Do me a favor and stop by the pen tomorrow afternoon when you shake that night of yours off. We might need to ask you a few.”
“I got a whole lotta nothing to tell you.”
“I’m sure you do. Sleep tight, princess.” There was a click.
I hung the horn back on the hook and shuffled my feet into the kitchenette off the side of the room that doubled as a bedroom, living room, and dining room. I was living light these days on account of a fire that took out my place three months ago. It was a nice nest. Bad wiring. It had a couple of rooms and a hallway. Some wood floors to walk on and a nice big tub in the bathroom. A place you could take a lady back to and let her imagine herself playing house and painting the walls a bright yellow. I considered this one-room dump to be a temporary situation. But for me temporary could see me through to the next flood.
I lit the stove and put on some coffee. There was no use in going back to sleep. I was up and my client was dead. Shot in the head and I could think of about 15 people off the top of my scotch-soaked noggin who would want him cold and quiet. He was loaded. He was powerful and he stepped on a couple big toes to get to the 75th floor of the tallest building in the world. But it wasn’t my case now and probably never would be. It would be a high profile murder splattered all over every rag in the city. Coppers, my brother included, would be all over it and the commissioner himself would be standing in front of every two-bit news man reassuring the citizens of this fair city that he and his finest wouldn’t rest until this man’s murderer was brought to justice. Except they’d never find their guy? I had my theories as to why.
Eventually I found myself sitting in my pathetic excuse for a green armchair listening to the coffee percolate and thinking what a crime my kitchenette was because I fancied myself quite the cook. Next thing I knew I was pouring a cup of the joe and mixing it with cream and a finger of scotch. That and two eggs scrambled on rye would’ve been breakfast, but it was a little too early for all that and I was out of eggs and rye bread.
It was already shaping up to be one hell of a day.