(I’ve continued this tale but in an interesting way – just adding a few lines at a time when idling away time in a coffee shop. I’ve then emailed them to myself and edited it at home later on. It’s quite hard to remember where I was going with the tale because days can pass in between writing. You’re have to read the two earlier episodes for it to make sense. Even then…)
‘Yeah, and I just stuffed the wife up the chimney.’
‘I mean, he bled out all over the $20 fake Persian I got from Dirk down at the market on Lutton and 14th.’
‘Least you’ve not wasted bucks there.’
I smiled broad, liking the sharp mind of this girl. She was wasted smiling clothes at dollar-loaded prices to housewives and teenage brats.
‘I mean it, Robert. He came at me, bread knife, would you believe it? I stuck him with the screw driver.’
‘You tell a good story, maybe you should write, not sell coats and jeans.’
Lilly reached out, fingers grasped my jacket collar.
‘I mean it, I killed Steve. Know any good stain removers for carpets? Or any clever lawyers?’
I felt my life stick in my throat.
‘You’re not fooling, are you?
Lilly shook her head, pursed her lips.
‘He was high, been hitting the cocaine since Saturday, he wanted more.’
‘Call the cops? Paramedics? Stop the bleeding?’
‘Why? He might live.’
My hand froze inches from my drying lips. Lilly’s repartee was too good, too sharp. She sounded real. Which meant..?
‘You’re not playing around, are you? Your husband’s dead. At home. Right now?’
Lilly nodded. My life teetered on the edge of an abyss. Walk away, Robert, walk away. But my legs didn’t move. Lilly leaned closer.
‘So, how’d I get rid of it?
‘Tell the cops. Say he attacked you. If he was into drugs you’ve an excuse. A lawyer can use it to dig you out of any hole you’ve excavated by delaying.
‘But I don’t want a shit time in my life, Robert. Get rid of him, and I tell everyone he split on me, my life goes on, with you, maybe?’
I swallowed my rye in one. I bought the girl a coat. She offers me a drink. I think I hit the jackpot. Now I’m a potential accessory to murder or similar.
What happened to the little shop assistant, the one I never dreamed in a million years would go for a drink with me? She’s killed her husband?
‘Yeah, well, no-one’s what they seem, are they?
‘No, I bet you got secrets. Don’t you?’
‘So there. You got five wives, or a jail sentence, or three children by different women. I got a dead husband on the carpet.’
‘Only in the breathing department…’
I sighed. All around life went on; smiles, touches, innuendo, love. Who knew what each had left behind in their houses and apartments? How many had a dead body on the carpet? Literally or figuratively. And each minute we sat here the body hardened, as did our options.
Our options? Had I made a decision?
‘Call the cops.’
Lilly stared me straight. I could almost read the letters spelling disappointment in her pupils. She gathered up the jacket she had removed in the humid atmosphere.
‘Guess I got you wrong, Robert.’
‘Guess I got you wrong too, Lilly. I thought you sold coats.’
Lilly looked at me, turned and disappeared among the crowd of happy drinkers who didn’t have a dead body at home deterring would-be burglars.
I caught up with her on the sidewalk outside the Four Feathers. My hand touched her shoulder. Our second contact.
She spun, alarm for a moment etched on the prettiest face I’d seen in many a month. Perhaps she’d thought I was a cop offering a clean-up service for blood-stained floor coverings.
‘Okay, Lilly. Let us go see the damage. Then decide.’
‘Robert, I knew you would, just knew it.’
Her head buried itself against my biker jacket. Our third contact.
Lilly had an apartment close to her work, a fourth floor four-room basic layout. It must’ve been crowded with a husband. Maybe that’s why she killed him, to get more space.
Noises echoed from closed doors in a corridor cleaned once a year when the cockroaches threatened legal action against the landlord. Televisions coughed up Kojak loving you. Radios sang sweet dreams from ruby red lips as wide as the Mississippi. Was a life decomposing yards away?
Lilly stopped outside number seven. She looked at me, drew a deep breath, slipped a key into a scratched lock. She said nothing; her eyes spoke a noir novel as black as the depths of the Styx.
Air wafted, perfume and takeaways mixed with a side aroma of alcohol.
Lilly glanced left.
I hoped I’d see a carpet laying lonely. It wasn’t. It was embraced by six feet of thickset cowboy. Red check shirt, faded blue jeans greased irregular, and shiny brown boots wrapping ankles up warm. Shame an artist had thrown blood red liquid over the shirt and jeans. Real blood too.
‘Jesus. You weren’t kidding.’
‘Heck of a way to get you back to my place if I was.’
‘Yeah. Now what?’
‘That’s my question, you’re meant to answer it.
‘I forgot, I’m playing the pa-knows-all role here.’
‘What’d we do?’