(Instructions to Reader: Listen to the “L.A. Noire Main Theme” while reading)
Tonight was a night like any other. The street lamps struggled to peek through the sheets of rain that blanketed the asphalt. Passing cars slowed to a crawl, as if they were looking for companionship on the saturated street. Hotdog vendors and newspaper stands closed down as the water on the sidewalk began to pool up.
And here I was, private investigator and amateur vintage furniture Craigslist seller, Duke McCann, alone, peering through the dusty venetian blinds. The boys down at the precinct called me ‘Ole Dookie’. My secretary, Dolores, called me ‘Puke in the Can’. My ex-wife, well, she didn’t call me anymore.
I sat in my old Mid Century Office Chair / Very Nice Condition (NO PHONE CALLS), sipping cheap whiskey from a cheap glass. The last few days had been tough, as they usually were for someone in my line of work. I’d lost two big cases to a new private eye who had just moved in down the street. He was young and arrogant, like I used to be, but he could sweet talk his way into the hearts and purses of any wife in town who was suspicious of her husband. His name was Richard “Clothbound” Newfoundland III. I both hated and admired him, but there was little I could do to win back those cases he’d taken right from under my nose. I was getting old, and I knew it.
I walked over to the dreary 1960s Walnut Antique 6-Dresser with Attached Mirror – Local Delivery Available that was in the corner of my office, pushing some old magazines to the side. My secretary had left some notes that came in while I was out. More responses to my latest listing for the sale of a Large Danish Modern TEAK Coffee Table with Smoke Glass Top 42″ by 42″ – $249 FIRM!!! (NO TRADES). It was hard to let this one go, but I needed the cash. The first one read as follows:
Message from: Jimmy Drakely
Message to: Puke Face McCann
Note: Saw your ad. When can I come by and have a look at the table? What are the dimensions? Will you take $75 for it???!!
I loosened my neck tie. It was going to be a long night.
This one was going in the garbage, seeing as this Mr. Darkely was having trouble discerning that the information he was requesting was in the title of the ad. Either that, or he was just another two-timin’ Joe who was trying to make a decent profit off a genuine piece of Teak. I crumpled up the note and tossed it in the wastebasket. Time for the next one:
Message from: Patty Gemini
Message to: Poop Mouth McCan’t
Note: Would you be willing to trade? I have a PS2 with 5 games and a 32” TV that has been barely used. Let me know ASAP!!!!
I managed a smile and knocked back the rest of the swill in my cup. The offer was almost as tempting as when Big Lenny had offered me the position of Senior Cigarette Salesmen at The Blue Oyster club downtown. But not that tempting. I had filled up my glass before the note found it’s new home amongst the rest of the trash.
But then, suddenly, a third note caught my eye, just like Slim Willy Jenkins had nabbed that fly ball against the Yankees last Christmas to win the series. The note read like this:
Message from: Douglas Perkins
Message to: I QUIT DUKE!!
Note: Very interested in your Teak table. I have cash and will be present at your office tonight at 9:30pm. I look forward to meeting you in person.
I glanced over at the Chelsea U.S. NAVY 24 hr ships antique clock! on the wall. 9:24. I wasn’t sure what that was in Navy time. I had to move quick to clear off all of the discarded sunflower seed shells that had accumulated on the table over the past two days. My ex-wife hated when I did that, just like she hated my work and how it eventually tore us apart. I missed that woman, just like the local war hero Phil Masterson missed his amputated leg. She had been gangrene in my heart, just like the gangrene in Phil’s leg, which had to be amputated because of the gangrene was spreading throughout his body.
The bell rang promptly at 9:30, right as the rain outside was starting to let up. I adjusted my collar and checked my revolver to make sure it was loaded. One bullet. Guess I better not miss the first time, if I even needed it. You could never be too careful in this town, seeing as I was a private investigator and an amateur vintage furniture Craigslist seller. I put the gun in my coat pocket and moved downstairs.
“Who is it?”, I barked through the thin door.
“Douglas Perkins. I’m here for the table, Mr. McCann”, came the smokey reply.
I opened the door to see HER standing there. 5 foot 2 with eyes that could melt a man’s heart and cool his blood, which would eventually kill him. She was to die for, and I wouldn’t mind the cold grave I would have to lay in if it meant even a chance with her.
“Douglas?”, I inquired, taking her **VINTAGE CASHMERE/FUR LADIES COAT** as she stepped in out of the fleeting rain.
“What? Can’t a girl be named Douglas too?”, she quipped. I knew she was going to be trouble, because Douglas was not a woman’s name at all. I’m pretty sure it was illegal to name a woman Douglas.
“No, but please come upstairs. The table is yours if you like it”, I smiled as we ascended the staircase, walking past my collection of Vintage 1981 or 1982 ESPN Launch Sports Posters- Set of 5.
I entered the doorway of my office and heard a click. I knew it.
“Oh, I like it alright, Mr. McCann”, she said, pointing a Smith & Wesson XL Pistol with Accessories Case (Black) at my forehead. “But first, let’s have a drink”.
She casually walked over to my Gorgeous Ornate Antique Wood Liquor Cabinet – Like New!! and opened the door with her free hand. She pulled out a >>Stunning Vintage Whiskey Glass<< which was part of an ornate set I had acquired last year from an estate sale. I watched as the alcohol reached the rim of the cup.
“You like your whiskey strong, I see”, I commented as my hand moved closer to my coat pocket.
“Not as much as I like my Teak antiques, Mr. McCann”, was her reply. Her voice seemed to quiver when she said ‘Teak antiques’. Curious. Who was this broad, and what was she up to?
“Well, then maybe you would be interested in taking a seat on my L(.)(.)K! NICE VINTAGE SOFA/COUCH. It’s very comfortable”. She hesitated at first, but then averted her penetrating gaze for just a moment. I knew I had her.
Before she could take a seat, I yanked out my revolver and squeezed off the single round. Her eyes went wide and she dropped to her knees as the bullet shattered the Vintage Sterling Silver Broach By Phillis (Cash Only) that was directly over her heart.
I had never shot a dame before, especially one this beautiful. But it was a hard world, and we all have to make hard choices. I kicked the gun out of her now limp hand and kneeled down to take her pulse. It was fading fast, and she was bleeding out onto my Vintage Top Quality 100% Wool Victorian Floral Rug (Smoke & Pet Free ). She didn’t have long.
“I…”, she struggled to speak. I came closer to her lips as the color quickly drained from her face. “I want you to know, that it wasn’t about the…” I held her hand as the light in her eyes began to fade. “…about the money”. A tear ran down her cheek as the rain started up again. “It was always about the Teak”.
I took a deep breath as she let out her last. “It’s always about the Teak, sweetheart”. I got to my feet and reached for the telephone. “It’s always about the Teak”.