Things don't always go as you would want them to go. I looked at the dead body of 26 year old Carol Fisher. She had been mutilated by someone. Stabbed a total of seven times and then shot once in the head. The local police knew who the killer was. The problem was finding him. They had a name. They had proof. They had physical evidence that linked him to the crime and witness evidence. It was enough evidence to put him a way for life.
I was worned that he is a master of disguises. He can disapper with the blink-of-an-eye.
Detective Thomas McDonald looked at me when I was finished examining the body. "I heard about your reputation around here."
"What about it?" I asked
"If you can catch our killer, Charles Craig, I can promise a handsome reward." he replied.
I thought about it. Money. I needed money real bad. I was behind on rent for both my apartment and my office. Money is good.
"Fine. I'll take it," I said and I left back for my office. I reviewed the background and case file of Mr. Craig. This wasn't going to be easy, that was for sure. I decided to make a phone call to a few friends of mine to see if they would be interested in making some decent money in helping to find a killer who could blend in to even the smaller crowds.
It was dark and there was nothing I could do for the night. I'd have to start in the morning. So I went home for the night to get some sleep. The next morning, went to my office to make a call to a few friends to see if they'd be interested in making a few dollars in helping to find this killer.
The note read:
Or better yet, Dear Marc and.....friends should I say?
What ever, I must say that you all are doing an excellent job on persuing me. I must say, this is fun! Some of the most fun I've had since elementary school. I've decided to give you a hint as to where to find me, Except for your good pal, Charlie here, who has probably been the one to give you this note. You see, I know all about you detectives; I know all your strengths and weaknesses, your hobbies, you name it and I know all about it. I have been under your noses, and you haven't even noticed me...however, doing some interrogation to some people (I won't say who, that's up to you to find out) in the bar, and in the tea shop. But who am I to say where you should start looking? Well, cheers for now!
I put down the note and looked up at the gang. "I still say that you rest, Marc." Heimlich said.
"Heimlich......I can't rest. We have a clue here! A lead and-"
"Marc, you really need to rest. You are going to have a heart attack," he replied calmly.
I lowered my head because I knew he was right.
"So what do we do now?" I asked.
" Marc I have a few friends I think may be able to help us if we let them." I said handing him the note from earlier this morning. Marc read it and immediately asked.
" Charlie what are you into?"
" Look, I make no excuse for the factions I help out. I know what they are like and I know their not all good." I replied.
" But in this imperfect world I have to be able to count on someone to help me when things go wrong. And the Green Hand is my best option here." I said setting down.
The look on everyone's faces told me they didnt approve of my "Friends". But I wouldnt use their help without Marc's approval this was still his case and he was the boss.
" Ok look I Marc I came to you with this. I didnt work a angle trying to get leads behind your back. I havent even gone to see them yet. Its up to you and God knows were all tired. But you need to trust me on this. You say the word either yea or nea. And I'm ok with the outcome." I said looking to each and every one of my friends.
All I saw staring back at me was angry faces.......
Mafia? I didn't want any help from the mafia. The last person who had ties with the mafia ended up getting kicked out of this case.
I stared at Charlie. I had only met him about a week ago...may be longer than that.
He was right about one thing. He did come to me with this and for that, I had to thank him.
"Charlie?...." I said and paused for a second or so. "I'll let the Green Hand in-"
"Marc," Molly cut in, "Are you sure that this is the best idea? I mean...Vulkie....she betrayed us! How do we know that HE won't betray us too?"
"He won't betray us," I said. "Think about it, Molly. He came to us with this idea...he didn't go behind our backs like Vulkie did."
"Molly?" Heimlich said, "Marc has a point. But Marc, as much as I, myself, don't like this one bit, it's your call."
After a long moment of thought, I said, "Okay. But Charlie? One chance is all you get with this. If I even THINK you are going betray us, then you're out. Understood?"
"Don't worry, Marc. I won't let you down. Trust me," Charlie replied.
I only hoped he knew what he was doing.
If Molly was a cat, she would have been hissing and spitting, fur on end. Instead, she just dragged hard on her cigarette and gazed at Charlie with slitted eyes as she thought.
The Green Hand. Billings had dealt with a bunch of Green Hands. Nasty bunch, her experiences with them and with Billings put her so far out of her comfort seat she was nearly upside down. Everything in my life traces back to $*ing Billings, she thought, then lowered her cigarette, her voice calm and her brow smooth.
"Charlie, you obviously won't sit here and tell me that the methods used by the Green Hand are anything but horrific, since we both know that would be a damned lie." Molly said pleasantly. "I don't care how up front you are about your involvement with them, if we can use their help, well that's Marc's call. But don't hold it against me if I've got one eye on you from now on, kid. I'd like to trust you but..." she took a lighter drag on her cigarette and winked playfully at him, "Your choice in allegiances forbids me to do so. Not to mention I'm pretty sure you and Vulkie have a bit more history than you let on. At least, the lady presents it that way."
She leaned back again, and then smiled pleasantly at him. "How about that poor aide, huh? Would have loved to have been a fly on his families wall when they told him how he expired. Death by green gunge. Me, I've got old acquaintances from all walks of life but Joe Harris and I, we're personal friends if you catch my drift."
"Well, behave yourself." she finally said, then gestured with her hand, winking again in a way that made sure no one could stay mad at her for long. "Call in the cavalry or whatever you plant-eaters do, eh?"
Some things in life just never seem right. We all have our contacts and underground connections. But going to the mob for help just wasn't one of the things I wanted to do. But at the fact that Charlie came to me about it, that was respect right there and it's hard to come across detectives who have that much respect. Especially when they say "It's your call."
Molly wasn't happy with my desicion, and I wasn't happy with it either. Yes, that sounds crazy but even as crazy as it sounds, one will give the desperate a try.
I felt as though I had no other choice but to say yes. Not because he came to me about it, but because we had no leads at all. All we knew was that Charles Craig was staying here in London for a while, playing a game of cat and mouse.
I don't think Charlie was too happy about giving him only one chance, but if anything, something in me told him to give it a shot. A gut instinct told me to let him talk to them.
"Call in the calvary or whatever you plant-eaters do, eh?" Molly said to Charlie.
So there we were. Five disillusioned detectives, chasing a killer with no leads at all, about to go to the mob for help. As everyone sat there, I pulled out my pipe and lit some tobaco that I had put in it. As I puffed on my pipe, I began to get lost in my thoughts.
I was sitting alone in the back of the bar mulling things over, and had just gotten up to leave when a man bumped into me. “Watch it,” he said. My eyes narrowed. I gave him my “I’m gonna kill you” look, and he turned and ran. As my stilettos made rapid clicks on the sidewalk, I saw something that made me pause for a second. “Who is that in the distance?” I thought to myself, straining my eyes. It looked like Marc…but it couldn’t be. What would he be doing in London? As the man ran around the corner and into what I knew to be a deserted dead-end alleyway, I smirked. I swiveled to a stop, pulled out my gun, and aimed down the alley. It was empty. “What the hell? Where did he go?” I murmured to myself as I looked all around. There was no trace of him in sight. Even more annoyed now, I turned to go over and find out if it was really Marc I had seen before.
A couple of minutes later, as I approached him, I could clearly see it that it was Marc. “Hey,” I said, ad clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Gah!” he yelled and jumped about a foot into the air. When he turned around and saw that it was only me, he relaxed a bit. “Jeez, calm down. You look terrible.” I said, backing up a little and surveying him. “What are you doing in London, anyway?” Marc proceeded to tell me the whole story.
“Wow, it looks like you’ve got a lot on your hands here,” I mused. “And I think I’ve seen the guy you’re after. It’s the jerk I was just chasing down the alley when he suddenly disappeared into nowhere. Hey, let me help you guys find him. I need to bash that guy’s face in.” Knowing better than to question my motives, lest he come to injury himself, Marc gulped, and then agreed. “Come with me,” he said, and proceeded to lead me back to the hotel to meet the others.
Molly inclined her head slightly at the newcomer and smiled. A thought had just occurred to her, and she was working out the details furiously in her head.
Charles Craig had been hired by her ex-husband to assassinate her. She had assumed the job had been put off because of the teams pursuit, but what if he would take the shot...if given the chance?
She took a drag on her cigarette and thought. It would be a tricky trap to rig; one miscalculation and she would be nothing but a murky shape at the bottom of the Thames and a few extra 0's added to Craig's bank account. The thought of being killed didn't bother her so much; she was under the distinct impression that she really wasn't much use to anybody and hardly anyone would miss her if she were gone, but she was afraid of the prospect of great pain, and off gumming up the works for the case that her friends had worked so hard on.
"Tricky, tricky..." she murmured to herself, and every set of eyes in the group swiveled to her. She raised her head and smiled.
"I've had a thought," she began, and proceeded to tell them of the hit, while leaving out all the information about her connection to Billings, and how they could possibly use it to their advantage.
"Do you think using that could work?" she asked, looking to Heim. He seemed the most practical. If anyone could take such a piece of information and twist it to their advantage, it was he.
Now there was six of us. Riza Hawkeye, Molly Maltese, Nellie McKinzey, Heimlich VonVictor, Charlie Cain, and Myself. Molly told us all that her ex-husband had put a hit on her, and hired Craig to carry out the hit.
"So what do we do now?" I asked my self. I asked this question over and over and over again in my mind. As we sat there discussing, it came to me. The simplest thought of all.
I was lost in my thoughts puffing on my pipe when the idea hit me.
"I got it!" I yelled and jumped out of my seat.
"Got what?" Heimlich asked.
"Think about it, Heim," I said, "Charles Craig is notorious killer. We have been chasing him since New York and have ended up here in London. He can't go back to New York because he has no where else to hide. Molly's ex-husband, Billings, is here in London-" I was cut short by Heimlich.
"So if we find Billings,-"
"Then we find Craig!" Molly cut in excitedly.
There it was. Our first big break in the case.
"Molly?" I asked. "Do you know where we can find Mr. Billings?"
Molly tried with supreme effort to control the spasm of unexpected pain that crossed her face and instead smiled tightly. The others looked side-long at each other; every single muscle in her body seemed to have stiffened up until she sat as straight as a pole.
With a self-deprecating laugh, she ground her cigarette out in the ash-tray on the table rather violently and dusted the ash off her fingertips. "I haven't been able to locate Jack since I saw him years ago, gentlemen. That would have been right before he of course, torched my apartment with me still in it..." she smiled at them, but her eyes were steely. She felt an unexpected flash of anger towards all of them; she had wanted to keep Jack out of this. He was her own personal score to settle. "But I'm sure the Green Hand would know of his particular organization, I advise Charlie to waste no time in asking around. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some things to follow up on, when you have news, you may come by my hotel room."
Standing up abruptly, she stalked off and disappeared around the corner, already lighting another cigarette.
Molly got up and left us all. We knew that Jack Billings had something to do with Craig and the murder of Carol Fisher. Why else would he be running to London? We also knew that he had put out a hit on Molly. She was now a walking target for Craig. He could be anywhere in the city, watching us all make our move. But where to find him?
Jack Billings wasn't going to walk up and introduce himself, that was obvious. There was only one thing to do. And that was to ask around.
"Charlie? I want you go find out what you can about Jack Billings and Charles Craig. Find out if the Green Hand knows anything about where they might be hiding."
"Will do," Charlie said. He then got up to leave to begin his investigation.
"Charlie," I called out and he turned around. "No funny business." I said to him.
He knew what I meant. And then he vanished in to the city's crowd.
"What about the rest of us?" Nellie asked.
"We stick together. Charlie knows what he is doing. Every instinct in me as told me to let him go to them. As much as I don't like it, I have a good feeling about this. The Green Hand might know something." I said.
"I think we should pay a little visit to the bar. All the crooks hang out in there, and if we're lucky, we'll find out something about Craig and Billings" I said.
The investigation was underway once again. This time, we had something.
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