THIS WEEK ON MOONSTONE CLIFFHANGER FICTION-
Moonstone Books and ALL PULP proudly bring you the conclusion to a a two fisted detective pulp tale from MOONSTONE CLIFFHANGER FICTION featuring the radio icon YOURS TRULY, JOHNNY DOLLAR ! This is a pulse pounder from Pulp author Eric Fein! This tale can be found in the SEX, LIES, AND PRIVATE EYES collection available from Moonstone at http://www.moonstonebooks.com/
THE PRETTY CORPSE MATTER
Part Two of Two
by Eric Fein
“So why’d you do it, Brody?” Lundy said.
“My foot is killing me. I need to go to the hospital.”
“You will,” Lundy said. “First, you’ll answer my questions or I’ll shoot you in the other foot.”
We were in an interrogation room in the Fifth Precinct. I was leaning against the wall watching. Lundy was sitting across the table from Brody.
Lundy flipped through a folder, “You’ve got quite a record, Frank. Assault and Battery, Breaking and Entering, drugs. And now rape and murder.”
“I didn’t do nothing to no one.”
“That’s not what Alice Allard’s autopsy shows,” Lundy said.
“Who’s that?” he said.
“The woman you murdered,” Lundy said.
“Never heard of her,” Brody said.
“Maybe, you’ve heard of her father, Stephen, the retail tycoon?” Lundy said. “Naturally, he’s pretty upset. So are his close friends, the mayor and the governor. They want this case wrapped up and the killer sent to the electric chair.”
“You can’t prove I did it,” Brody said.
“We have your prints all over the apartment,” Lundy said.
“Crowley ran prostitutes out of that place and I used them.”
“Doesn’t matter. You’re taking the fall for it. The question is how hard. If you confess now, I’ll talk to the D.A. The choice is yours. Life without parole or the chair.”
Brody looked like he was just kicked in the groin. His mouth opened and closed like a tuna’s but no sound came out.
“Not so tough, now,” Lundy said.
“What if it was an accident?” Brody said.
“Go on,” Lundy said.
“It was dark and I was drunk. I thought she was Marie. I was angry at Marie for getting Crowley after me. I was just going to rough her up a little. She screamed. I just wanted to shut her up. I never meant to kill her.”
“What did you do with the necklace?” I said.
“What necklace?” Brody said.
“Allard had a diamond necklace worth $25,000. It’s missing.”
“Well, I didn’t take it!” Brody said. “You think if I had I would have been holed up in my rattrap apartment?”
“I believe you,” I said.
He and Lundy looked at me like I was nuts.
“Thanks for letting me sit in, Lundy.”
“Where are you going?” Lundy said.
“To play a hunch,” I said. “I’ll call you later.”
Expense account item five: $3.35, cab fare to East 89th street.
* * *
“Mr. Dollar,” Marie said. “This is a surprise.”
“May I come in?”
“Certainly. Please excuse the mess. The police only left a few hours ago.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
There was an open suitcase sitting on the couch overflowing with clothes and toiletries. Her teddy bear was packed in it, too.
“Going on a trip?” I said.
“Yes,” she said. “I can’t stand the thought of spending another night in this place.”
“I understand,” I said. “Where are you headed?”
“Las Vegas. I have a cousin there.”
“Las Vegas is an expensive town. You need money to live there.”
“You need money to live anywhere, Mr. Dollar.”
“True. I’m sure you’ll find a job. Of course, you could ask Mr. Crowley if he has any associates out in Vegas.”
“No. I don’t want him to know where I am going.”
“Okay. I can give you a lift to the bus station.”
“You don’t have to.”
“I insist. Let me help you with that suitcase. It must weigh a ton.”
“That’s not necessary.”
I ignored her and made a big deal out of trying to get the suitcase to close.
“You’ve just got too much in it,” I said. “If you get rid of the bear, it should close just fine.”
I took it out and she grabbed at it. I held tight as she pulled on it. The seam under the bear’s right arm ripped and a small package, wrapped in tissue paper, popped out and hit the floor.
We looked at each other for a long time before she burst into tears. I picked up the bundle and unwrapped it. Inside, was the necklace. Marie collapsed onto the couch.
I pulled over a chair and sat down in front of her.
“Why?” I said.
“Because, that necklace was my ticket out of here. The money I could get for it would stake me to a new life. Why shouldn’t I take it? Alice took plenty from me. Before she showed up I was Crowley’s girlfriend. I was the one he let sing with the band.
“As soon as she showed up, he had me flat on my back servicing every scumbag with the cash to pay for it. Alice didn’t care. She thought being a gangster’s girlfriend was thrilling.
“When I found her dead. I realized that it was supposed to have been me. I wasn’t scheduled to work last night, Alice was. But, she had a bad cold so I took her shift. I can’t tell you how many times clients have beaten me. And the things they make me do…no one should have to do that. No one.
“Before I called the police, I messed up the apartment to make it look like a burglary gone bad. How did you know it was in the bear?”
“Just a hunch. The police ripped this place apart looking for it. They also hit several pawnshops. No necklace. Then when Frank Brody was arrested, he admitted to everything but stealing the necklace. I remembered the way you held onto the bear, even taking it with you to the precinct. Despite all you’ve been through, it struck me as odd that you would walk around with it all day. I came here hoping I was wrong.”
“And now you’re going to turn me in,” she said.
“I should. You’re guilty of theft and tampering with evidence. On the other hand, the necklace has been recovered. The murderer is in jail. I don’t see how turning you in makes the world a safer place.”
“Thank you, Mr. Dollar.”
“Now, finish packing. You’ve got a bus to catch.”
Expense account item six: $3.25, cab fare to the bus terminal.
Expense account item seven: $55.00, a one-way ticket to Las Vegas.
* * *
I made sure Marie Davies got on the bus without a hitch. In addition to the bus ticket, I gave her $500.00 as a finder’s fee for the necklace.
Afterwards, I stopped at the Allards and gave them the necklace. I explained about Marie. They agreed that she shouldn’t be punished.
Expense account item eight: $.10, phone call to the Fifth Precinct.
Lundy had a few choice words for me when I explained how I got the necklace back. He threatened to arrest me for interfering with his investigation and aiding a fugitive. In the end, though, he knew I was right and dropped it.
Expense account item nine: $14.95, train from New York City to Hartford, Connecticut.
Final remarks: Some people live a charmed life and don’t appreciate it. Others, struggle just to survive from one day to the next. Alice Allard, despite being born with a silver spoon in her mouth and having a world of opportunity at her feet, made all the wrong choices. She threw away the good life for one of excitement. Only, it was the wrong kind of excitement. She turned out to be the wrong girl in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the end all she had to show for her life was a pretty corpse.
Expense account total, including the $500.00 finder’s fee for Marie Davies, don’t bark Pat, you got off easy this time, $598.65.
Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.
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