Not One Clue

By: Lois Greiman


I gripped the receiver tighter, because it was true. He’d done me a favor when my own life had been in danger, but I wasn’t about to pay up without gaining something. “Promise me you won’t use the gun and I’ll come get him.”

“I can’t—”

“So you’re going to screw him, too? Like you did his mother?”

“Fuck you,” he said, but his voice had gone scratchy and he didn’t hang up. A niggle of hope nudged me.

“Promise me and I’ll make sure he’s safe until you can take care of him yourself.”

“I can’t take care of no one.” His voice cracked.

“Not if you’re dead.”

He swore, then the line went quiet, almost silent, except for the humming keen in the background. “Promise,” I said.

“Okay.”

“Say it.”

“Damn you!” His breath hissed into the receiver for a moment, then he said, “I promise,” and after rattling off the address, hung up.





3


Maybe skinny’s okay for them runway models and little girls who ain’t yet got their monthlies. But real women oughtta have them some heft.

—Ella Brady, Chrissy’s

favorite grandmother



My hands were shaking like castanets as I hung up the phone. Harlequin canted his head at me. “Micky Goldenstone,” I said.

He blinked. I turned in a haze, searching for something. What was it? Shoes. I would need shoes. A pair of sneakers caught my eye. At least I thought they were a pair, but it hardly mattered. Crime scene victims rarely put a lot of stock in couture. I slipped into the tennies and remembered a half-dozen other victims I had seen in the past few years. Gooseflesh skittered across my arms. Scooping a denim jacket from the chair beside my bed, I dragged it on and searched for my purse. There. My keys. Beside it.

Checking for my cell, I said good-bye to Harley and stepped into the night. It seemed unreasonably dark on Opus Street. Popping down the Saturn’s noisy locks, I started the engine, flipped open my phone, and dialed Rivera. Still busy.

I called 911 next and was promptly put on hold, but I had already punched the address into my GPS and was turning onto Foothill Boulevard. Too late to turn back now.

The song with those lyrics popped erratically into my head. I tried to pop it back out, but it had a foothold. I mouthed a few words, feeling sick to my stomach. Traffic was light. Murphy’s Law. The only time I didn’t really want to go anywhere …

“It’s too late …” My voice sounded hollow in the dark interior of the car. The lights from the dash made my knuckles look as sharp and fragile as bare bones.

“… to turn back now.”

“Nine-one-one. What’s your emergency?”

“Yes!” My voice sounded spastic. I’d forgotten I had been put on hold. “I’d like to report a …” What? “Crime.”

“What’s your name?”

I gave it, then marched out all the information I could. It wasn’t much. “I think someone may have already reported it,” I said.

“Very well. Are you in a safe location?”

“Yes.” The song was still humming through my mind when I hung up and wheeled onto Greenbriar. Something streaked across the road in the darkness ahead of me. I gasped. My foot jerked over the brake, but whatever it was had already disappeared.

By the time I pulled up to Jackson’s curb my heart was pounding like Judge Judy’s gavel. Lights were blazing in the two-story house. It was Spanish Colonial in design, old-world elegant with a railed second-floor balcony and tall, narrow windows. No ambulance loomed in the broad street out front. There wasn’t a police car in sight.

“I believe, I believe, I believe …” I held my Mace in one wobbly hand and stepped from the dubious safety of the Saturn. My knees felt unsteady, but managed to carry me up the curving, red-tiled walkway. The world felt surreal and oddly skewed.

It was then that the screen door squeaked open. I jerked at the sound.

“That you, Doc?”

Micky stood in the doorway, dark skin shiny from the ambient light. A muscular Don Cheadle.

“Yes.” Hallelujah and praise the Lord, my voice sounded as if I were not about to pee in my pants. “Are you okay?” I asked, and ascended the tiled steps. The interior of the house smelled odd. Like college with something added. Blood maybe. The idea made my guts twist.

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