Blood on the Paddle – Chapter Two
April 2, 2015
If John Garrison was going to find the messed up, psychopathic sonuvabitch knocking off and chopping up all those lollipop women, he needed information. And he knew precisely the place to find some loose tongues.
Rule number one of being a smart detective; learn who drinks where. So being a high-functioning alcoholic had its perks, after-all. If Garrison was looking for the lowdown on hookers, he’d haul ass to Mac’s. If he wanted the skinny on a crooked cop, he’d hightail it to Rudi’s. But O’Halligan’s was where the poppers hung out. Every afternoon after school finished, you’d find a dozen of them in this seedy dive, resting their lollipops, downing scotch and wondering where it all went wrong.
Garrison pushed open the door, momentarily casting pure natural light across a place that didn’t need or want illumination. The joint was dead. If there wasn’t a lunatic on the loose bumping off poppers, this place’d be jumping – well, slumping. But now there was only a handful of hardy paddle-hags propping up the bar. Garrison pulled out his badge and sidled up to the large woman sucking on something brown and debilitating.
‘Haven’t you been instructed to stay home, Ma’am? You know it’s dangerous out there for someone like you.’
‘Someone like me?!’ The old dame cackled – her rapidly yellowing teeth nearly as luminous as her tight knee-length high-vis number. ‘I ain’t scared,’ she slurred. ‘I’d welcome it. YOU HEAR ME?!’ she suddenly bellowed. ‘I’D WELCOME IT!’
Every day, in the papers, or on the news, the city fathers patted themselves on the back. Talking of the boom – a new golden age and an end to recession. House prices had risen again. Bonuses had rocketed. Champagne corks had joined them. But there was little cream to be found at the bottom – out on the streets. Try telling one of these poppers that the good times were back. They’d laugh in your face. There was no hope here. Apart, perhaps, from the faint hope that the next whiskey would dull the pain enough to bare.
‘No-one cared about us poppers until someone started bumping us off,’ she grinned sardonically. ‘I welcome it,’ she whispered sadly.
Garrison turned to the bartender and ordered the woman another scotch – plus one for himself. As he tipped the spiky liquid into his mouth, he felt a tentative tap on his shoulder.
‘I saw him,’ a timid voice said. ‘I looked into his eyes.’ Garrison turned, the sting of alcohol still ringing out around his oesophagus. She seemed fragile and scared. Her oversized high-visibility coat gave her a vulnerable air – like a child huddling for warmth and security in her father’s jacket. But she was no child. Her adult bosom assured Garrison of this.
‘I’m Detective Garrison,’ he said, re-producing his badge.
‘Sandra Rebecci,’ she nodded.
‘Who did you see, Miss Rebecci?’
She looked around nervously and leaned in close. ‘The devil himself,’ she whispered solemnly.
‘Really?!’ Garrison gasped, turning pale with horror.
‘Well— no. The murderer, I mean. I saw the murderer.’
Garrison breathed an audible sigh of relief. ‘So— you didn’t see Satan?’
‘Oh, thank God.’ Garrison took another sip of scotch to settle his nerves. ‘Why did you say that then?’
‘Sorry. I just meant that he was pure evil. I guess it was for effect.’
‘Well next time, just— say what you mean. OK?’ Garrison shook his head despairingly. ‘So, Miss Rebecci. If you saw him, why didn’t he—’
‘Kill me too?’ she asked. Garrison nodded gravely. ‘He said—,’ she paused. ‘He said he wanted to save me until last.’
To be furthered…