At least four things had gone wrong in the relatively short expanse of Molly Malteses morning. One, her daughter Annabelle had once again given her nurse the slip and was now not in lessons as a girl should be, but presumably venturing around the streets of New York like a rampant little urchin.
Two, she hadn't had a respectable case in a good long while, and her understatedly extravagant lifestyle would soon be getting mighty uncomfortable if the veritable drought of business didn't end soon. She was a private investigator in New York, for heavens sakes, one would think there was a murder on every street corner to be looked after.
Three, she hadn't had coffee this morning, and so she was very irate in general. And four, the police were currently handcuffing her hands behind her back.
"You're sure this is the one you saw?" the older of the pair asked the man standing on the sidewalk. He had a deep, rumbling voice and grey whiskers. The man on the sidewalk nodded vehemently, and the younger officer took this as a cue to yank Molly towards their van, throwing her off balance wildly.
"I've never seen this man before in my life!" she said in supremely haughty tones, drawing herself with effort up to her impressive height of 5"11. Her green eyes were hard peridot, casting a glare sharp enough to cut.
"Yeah, because by all accounts you were too busy murderin' that poor fool to notice!" the younger policeman barked in her ear, yanking her head back by her long curtain of vibrant copper hair. She gasped, and taking that as a sign of his victory, the officer sneered and threw her into the back of the car.
"I was home all evening, you bloody imbecile!" she barked, furious as tears welled up involuntarily in her eyes in direct reaction to having half her hair nearly pulled out.
"Tell it to the judge." was all she heard the policeman mutter before the door slammed shut with an authoratative bang. Molly swore colorfully, then took a deep breath.
They left Molly in the cell for hours without bothering to let her know what was to happen. Thankfully they had taken off the cuffs- the dank cell was depressing enough without severe physical pain on top of it.
Just when she was wondering if Joseph Zeo was around- the police was his jurisdiction after all- she heard a faint rustling from the tiny window above her. Twisting around, she listened alertly, and jumped in surprise when a neatly folded note fluttered down next to her. Quickly she opened it.
"Have I got your attention yet?" the note was signed very legibly, Lolita Mayelle Mirkless. The killer?!
Uncertain what to do, Molly hastily stuck the note in her shoe and looked up as she heard the approach of footsteps.
Marc watched from the shadows. A classic move on his part; a dark detective hiding in the shadows. It was almost as if it were almost comical. But Marc had always been that way. It was how he worked. If he wasn't in his office, he was in the dark creepy alleys. Even some criminals would rather walk down the street than the alley. Not because they were afraid of Marc, but there was no telling who or what could be lurking in there.
But something was different today. Marc watched curiously as Molly was shoved into the back of the police car. It was the first time he had seen her in a long time. The car drove away toward the jail.
Marc shook his head. Oh boy, he thought to himself. He backed into the darkness. He was going to get here out one way or another. Even if he had to remain anonymous and hidden.
**The Police Station**
Marc made his way through using his old detective badge. It was good that he had kept it when he retired. There was no one left ont he force from the time he was on there, so he knew he could pull this off.
Marc entered the hallway full of cells. He guessed where she would be and he only hoped that his guess was good. As the police officer walked by, Marc pick-pocket the keys from the young cop, who had no clue what had happened. And it would take some time before he would know.
The hallway wasn't dark, but Marc knew how to make himself invisible. He popped the collar on his trenchcoat up to cover his mouth and nose. Yes it was a goofy thing but only some people could pull it off. Maybe Molly wouldn't be able to see through this cheap and quick disguise. But then again, Marc knew Molly had a knack for being able to see through stuff like this. And well..she knew him well.
Marc stopped in front of the cell she was in and pulled the keys out of his pocket and dropped them on to the floor, then he kicked them over to her.
"Who are you?" She demanded.
"What's it to ya?" Marc said in a dark whisper.
Molly bent down to pick up the keys for her cell she didn't take her eyes off of him.
"Who are you?" She demanded once more.
"My name is not important. You may not know me but I know you, Molly." Marc whispered again.
"How do you know my name?!"
"I know a lot about you, and I know you didn't do it. I'm giving you that key to get yourself out of here." Marc said.
"When you get out," he contintued, " don't go through the main entrance. Take a right from where you are, and head down that hallway. Go through the double doors that take you out side. There you will find a small hole in the fence. Just big enough for someone about your size to fit through."
"Why are you doing this?" She asked. It sounded as if she was trying to trust him.
"Good luck." Marc said, ignoring her question. And he turned and left.
Molly narrowed her green eyes as the man left. How disgustingly like a 5-cent novel that scene was. Not one to scoff at good fortune, however, she took the keys and had unlocked herself immediately.
She knew the man had told her to exit out the back, but something told her she needed to know more about why she had landed in the chokey in the first place. Crouching low, she stole down the hallway and risked a brief glance around a corner. It seemed as if the officers were mercifully closed up in one of the offices or else in a break room.
She ran full tilt then, eyes scanning the cluttered desks as she went until she saw what she wanted. She had glimpsed the folder as she was brought in, and it seemed to have the crime scene details. Nipping it off the desk, she turned and stole away through the back.
Once outside, she paused a moment and narrowed her eyes at the hole in the fence. It was quite possibly the way the killer had come in as well. Examining the ground beside it, she was gratified to see a row of very decidedly feminine footprints ( her exact size) and upon further examination, three or four strands of brilliant copper hair caught on a ragged edge of fencing. She held them in her hand, and didnt even need to compare to know it was her exact color.
"Oh dear." she said mournfully, realizing the full implications of what this meant before she stopped lingering and snuck out of the small gap, making sure not to leave any evidence herself.
"Pssst, wanna know a secret?" the newspaper boy said. Vulkie raised an eyebrow and came closer to the boy, kneeling next to him, acting as if she wanted to take a paper.
"If it's good info, you'll get 5 bucks kid" Vulkie replied, noticing the little boy smile. He couldn't have been older then 10, 11 years. He was still a boy who needed to be in school, to learn about America and the history etc.
The kid whispered in Vulkie's ear : "I heard from my friend Billy, who was playing in another neighbourhood, that a person was murdered and they caught the killer red-handed."
Vulkie took a paper and paid the boy 5 dollars. "Which street?" she asked nonchalantly, looking around the street.
"5th avenue, near Empire Heights. There should be an alley taped with errr..." the kid began, but Vulkie walked away after she heard the place the crime was committed.
***Empire Heights, 5th avenue***
As Vulkie approached 5th avenue, she saw that an alleyway was sealed off. As she duck under the tape and entered the alleyway, she noticed that a drawing of chalk was made on the ground, the drawing of a murder victim.
As she looked into the alleyway closer, she noticed that a strand of hair was on the ground. Copper hair. The kind of hair Molly has. But....
"Unfortunately, I must say that this piece of hair belongs to your friend, Ms. Maltese" Octavia said.
"Thanks Octavia" Vulkie said and headed off to the policestation, to try and talk with Molly about the murder... (cont.)
***The Police station***
As Vulkie walked towards the police station, she noticed that a woman scurried away from the building through the back. It was Molly.
"Molly, hold up!" Vulkie shouted, but Molly ran away. Vulkie immediately began to run after her.
As Molly tried to shake off her follower, Vulkie tried to keep up with Molly. Molly ran into a restaurant, exiting through the kitchen to the alleyway in the back. Vulkie jumped over a person who was tieing his shoe, ran through the kitchen and entered the alleyway.
As Vulkie looked to her left and her right, she noticed Molly had disappeared in the crowd. Vulkie was breathing heavily, even bending down, swearing under her breath.
"I got to work more on my condition..." Vulkie murmered and went back to her house.
As Molly was hiding behind a corner, looking to who followed her without the person noticing her watching, she recognized the person. "Vulkie... I'll contact you, but not now" she murmered and walked away from the alleyway.
Vulkie entered her house and decided to make some coffee. As the water was boiling, she switched the radio on in the living room.
"In other local news, a murder suspect has escaped. Miss Molly Maltese, currently suspected of a murder in 5th avenue, has escaped with help. It seems Miss Maltese had access to the cellkeys, but no one knows how she obtained them. A police man confirmed his keys were "stolen" in a way, but has no clue as to who the person was. Stay tuned for more..." the newsreporter said.
"Damn Molly, what have you gotten into..." Vulkie murmered and took a sip of her coffee...
It was a cheap move that Marc had pulled. But he knew that Molly wouldn't be too thrilled to see him. Marc left the police station with the feeling of butterflies in his stomach only thinking of how goofy he felt doing what he had just done. It was a feeling he tried to ignore. There were different ways he could get rid of it. Drinking? No. Yes, Marc liked to drink, but gin would only numb this feeling. There was something else.
Marc stopped at the entrance door to the small Italian diner. It wasn't as popular as Sami's Greek Restaurant, but Marc liked Italian better than Greek. "Marc!" Someone yelled. Marc looked up to see a friend of his; Antonio "Tony" Ataviano. The owner of the small diner. "It's good to see you, my friend," Tony said with a smile.
"Same to you," Marc said. A shake of hands led to a quick hug and Marc helped himself to a seat. Tony sat down across from him and a waiter brought out two glasses of ice cold water.
"It's been a while, Marc. What happened?" Tony asked with a concerned look.
Marc paused. "Have you ever lost a friend?" He asked Tony.
"Oh, Marc..I'm so sorry..I didn't-"
"It's good, Tony..you had nothing to do with it..I will admit though..it's my fault..I lost two close friends...one is buried six feet under and the other one is here in the city."
"You talk to her at all since she stopped being your friend?"
"No," Marc lied. He lied because he didn't want anyone to know about his small encounter. "No..I haven't talked to her..been too afraid, Tony. She wouldn't be happy to see me."
Tony nodded. He understood where Marc was getting at. However, he had no clue what Marc had done, and Marc always said, that somethings are better left unsaid. And that was the truth. It took him years to figure that out.
"Well, Marc, if there is anything I can do for youse, then let me know." Tony said. Marc smiled. After conversing with Tony for a while, Marc left, without a single clue of what to do for the rest of the day.
"Trouble, trouble, trouble." Molly murmured to herself, seeking composure and finding it in one swift second. She had arrived at her apartment and ducked in through the fire escape on the balcony, conscious of any tails watching her front door. Hastily she packed and left a note for her daughter to go stay with a friend. She also left a series of numbers, should any ally of hers come through the apartment seeking answers. It was a code she used frequently with her closest cohorts, and they would get it immediately and find the appropriate location to meet her.
12 21 3 25 19. 1 20 20 8 18 5 5.
Ducking out the fire escape again, she all but ran into a local department store. Not even an hour later, she came out the front doors, patting absently at her new wavy blonde wig. Stopping to look into a reflective window, she took stock. She had traded in her wardrobe and apparel for some smart horn-rimmed glasses, a fetching pink scarf, a pink wool sweater and a skirt. She was fairly confident that she would be all but impossible to recognize. Now, to make her way to her rendez-vous spot of choice and wait.
It came to Marc as he left, that he needed to talk to Molly. Or at least see her again. It was a debate with himself. "She doesn't want to see me," he said to himself. "But then again, this is my last chance. I've changed, and I need to prove it," he thought. It was a constant fight with himself. All the while, he drove to her house and didn't realize it until he pulled into the drive way where her apartment was. As he stepped out of his car, and empty pit filled his stomach, and he felt as though butterflies filled his stomach. It was as if he could open his mouth and an endless chain of the insects would just flutter out until there was nothing left.
He walked up the stairs to her apartment and knocked. No one answered. "Odd," Marc said. He knocked again. Again, there was no answer. Slowly, Marc turned the handle on the door. It opened and Marc walked inside.
"Molly?" Marc called out as he stepped through the door way. "You home? Its Marc. Listen, I need to talk. I think its-" Marc stopped talking. Something caught his eye. A piece of paper with numbers on it. It was a code. And he knew the code. Lucy's at Three. He left.
The club was full of smoke from cigars, cigarettes, and pipes. The smell of ever scent hit Marc hard as he walked in. He pulled out his pocket watch and checked the time. 3:02. Close enough to three, Marc thought as he began his search. Walking around the place, Marc could not see or find her. About to give up, Marc sat down for a drink, taking a seat next to a young woman. Blond hair, horned-rimmed glasses, pink scarf, pink wool sweater and skirt. She was young.
"You got a lot of nerve showing up around here," she said without looking at him. Marc let out a small laugh and took a sip of his gin.
"Enlighten me," Marc said. "Who are you? He turned his head toward the beautiful blond girl, who looked at him, giving him a certain look.
"Good lord!" Marc said, nearly jumping out of his chair. The eyes were a dead give away. Molly Maltese.
"I know you probably don't want to see me right now, and well, I wouldn't blame you if you hate me." Marc said. "But before, you say anything, let me explain to you one thing. That night, I went and talked to Father Gesling. And he told me some stuff, and for once, I prayed, Molly." Marc said. And he continued. "Before you hit me, or pull out a gun and blow my brains on the person behind me, I want you to remember these words, 'History can't be undone. But it can be erased.' So now, let me ask you, if we can start over." Marc said.
Molly stared at him. What seemed like minutes was only seconds. And she spoke.
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