It was the dead of night, when everything good and clean went to bed and everything else came out to play. This wasn’t the choicest part of town but there were worse places to be. She was all legs and a cigarette, holding up the wall outside the bar.
“Hey yourself,” she whispered.
“What’re you doing out this late, miss the bus?”
“Something like that.” Blew out a cloud of blue smoke, staring down at her toes as if they might listen to her and take her someplace warmer.
“Looking a little rough around the edges, kid. You okay?”
The hand feeding the smoke to her lips was shaking ever so slightly. Yeah, it was dark and it was snowing, but that twitch wasn’t from the cold. I edged in a little closer, took in the mussed hair, the smudged makeup, the rumpled clothes. Not like her, not from what I knew of her anyways.
Met her at a corner a couple blocks from here, trying to do what good girls shouldn’t and not very good at it. I could tell she was new, all legs and nerves and none too sure what to do. She flashed me a weak smile and I flashed my badge.
Took her in, slid her a cup of coffee, and watched her mascara river down her cheeks. She was a good kid, didn’t do anything wrong, just couldn’t seem to get things right. You see a lot of this, pushing a beat, just didn’t have it in me to do the paperwork. Not when I’d been down that road myself, deep, dark, and no way out. Then somebody held out a hand and I grabbed at it.
“Too close for comfort?”
“Where is the little schmuck; I’ll have a talk with him.” It was my idea, putting her on to him. Nice quiet little temp gig, you know, do the typing, do the mail, do her nails, food and rent stuff. Took to it like a duck to water, smile as wide as a river, cute little bounce in her step. At first.
“Upstairs, in the office. Only he ain’t leaving.”
There was a pause in the conversation while I digested the news. If a pause could possibly get pregnant, this was gonna be twins. Took a deep breath, blew out my own icy blue cloud.
“Murder’s twenty years, honey,” I whispered. “Been down that road a couple times before, not a nice place.”
“Yeah, I know. You gonna bust me?”
”Thinkin’ about it.”
The wail of an approaching siren broke the still of the night. Her head turned towards the sound, staring into the gloom like a deer in the headlights. I’d seen that look before, too.
I buttoned up my peacoat, stuffed my badge into my pocket, and made to leave. “See ya around, kid.”
“Yeah. See ya.”
She spit out her cigarette, exhaled deeply, and turned to face the oncoming music.
Me, I held out my hand, she grabbed at it, and we turned the corner.
L Flewin lives and writes in Winnipeg, Canada. His passion for writing covers the gamut from corporate newsletters and manuals to children’s books, e-zine mystery fiction, and western short fiction. He has several online publishing credits including winning a CBC song writing contest. Larry is passionate about his craft, and is never far from a pen; plots are where you find them. He is active in his community, a volunteer driver for Winnipeg Harvest, and has just published his first full-length novel, The 26th Letter. He is currently working on on his third novel.
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