Thanks to everyone for the encouragement and support of Friday Fiction - it's always heartening, as a writer, to know that people are enjoying the story.
For those who need a recap, Mickey Spencer has been caught in a lie - a fake business card touting herself as a private detective with Warner and Sons Investigative Agency instead of just the accounting clerk (AC). Unfortunately, the son who discovered her lie has blackmailed her into cooking his expense account. Mickey, with a smidgeon of spunk, does a little extortion herself and demands to take a case of infidelity. With both players having too much to lose, they agree to the terms of engagement.
For those looking for more detailed story, Mickey has her own page at the top of this blog. The work in its entirety can be found there - along with the crossword clues and answers that headline each part. Last week's crossword answer (4 Letter Word for Hint) was Clue. Don't forget to play along this week and leave your guess in the comment section.
We join Mickey on her first night of surveillence.
Part 9 ~ 6 Letter Word for Plot, Subplots, Red Herrings (tiers) ~
"You’re that reporter who was here last night."
I fished around in my purse since my hand was still encased within its folds and found the cardholder I had filled with my new false identity. "Here." I slipped it through the opening. "I wondered if I could ask you a few questions about the woman’s disappearance two years ago?"
He inspected the card, turned it over and then flipped it back. The sweat of nervousness had my shirt stuck to the faux leather of the driver’s seat. At least it wasn’t running down into my panties.
He finally pocketed the card and gestured for Mickey to open the door. "Come on in and we’ll see about getting Sammy his meal, he’s getting agitated."
With the car locked up tight and my purse slung over my shoulder in the hope I didn’t look as frightened as I felt, I followed Ray and Sammy into the bar. The early hour meant the smoky atmosphere hadn’t had time to settle like a thick fog and the smell was more of cleaning product than stale beer and sweaty men. The lights were up full giving me a chance to actually see the place in all its splendor.
‘Nice dive’ didn’t sound like a good conversation starter, so I slid onto a barstool and ordered a beer.
"You wantin’ sumpin’ to eat? Ray does a mean chili."
They both looked at me, waiting for me to order. Gramps would order the chili. "Sure, why not."
Which took Ray out to the kitchen and left me alone with Sammy. Not the man I needed to question. Well, nothing like solidifying my disguise. "Do you remember the woman who disappeared in this area a couple of years ago, Sammy?"
"Pretty girl. She liked to hang around here at the bar. I think Ray was feeding her, too."
Ray returned with two steaming bowls of chili balanced in one hand and a plate with chunks of bread in the other. He slid them onto the bar. "Food’s up. Enjoy."
Sammy tucked in while Mickey let hers cool. "Sammy says the girl that disappeared hung around here at The Anchor."
"Saw her a few times. Like I told the cops, she’d come by looking for a handout and then leave as soon as her belly was full." He leaned against the bar. "Just like Sammy’ll do as soon as he’s cleaned his bowl with the bread. The mental aren’t looking for friends. And they certainly don’t want saved like those in the shelters try to do."
"She had mental issues? I don’t remember that being mentioned in the news articles?" I didn’t miss the twitch in Ray’s right eye or the change in his posture. He went from friendly bartender to unfriendly stranger with a simple crossing of his arms.
"Thought you were a reporter? Didn’t you cover the case two years ago?"
"Ah, no. I was working in the administrative offices of a newspaper until just a while ago when I realized I wanted to take a more active role in journalism." Not far from the truth, just substitute investigative agency and detective work. Plausible, but believable? I held my breath.
"Good for you for following your dream."
I’m sure my shoulders slumped with the heavy exhalation. I picked up my spoon. "I don’t think the family knew she was living on the streets. I understood she had been down here working."
"Families are usually the last to know or the first to hide the ugly truth."
"Take Sammy here. His family has convinced themselves he’s working out of state. It’s easier for them to explain to friends and neighbors."
Sammy smiled at me while swiping the bread around his bowl. Not nearly as intimidating or scary as when I first saw him standing outside the bar, but he wasn't the reason I was sitting at this bar. I needed to stay focused. "Still, mental issues, runaway, what have you, her family must want to know what happened to her. How would you feel if your girlfriend just disappeared without a trace?"
"You wouldn’t like not knowing where Mandy was."
~Copyright: Janet S. Corcoran 2010
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