A Night Up In Smoke

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Two gun shots ring out. A detective who happens to be nearby. A crime scene that doesn't add up.

Submitted: February 07, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 07, 2018



It was on the catwalk where the shots rang out.  Two clear recalls echoing through the alleys connecting the mess of buildings in this ghetto.  No one stirred.  Nothing changed the world.  It was still a typical night in the city, except someone was dead.  It’s nothing new in this city – for a person to die, for a person to be killed.  Lives are like cigarettes; they’re easy to toss away, even if they haven’t burnt out yet.  There’s always another in the pack.  Unfortunately, lives mean something to someone.  This life would mean something to someone, too.

I had only been a couple blocks away when the shots rang out.  Imagine that, an off-duty detective in the vicinity of a murder.  It took me some searching to find the scene of the crime – the ghettoes of this city are mazes of apartment complexes, a lot of inter-connected alleys and few streets.  It’s like the city planner wanted to stir up trouble between the impoverished and desperate, and a series of alleys is the best way to create trouble for unfortunate souls.

When I found the body there was no suspect, no witness.  Not even a damn cat.  The body lay on the platform, eyes still open in terror, arms spread like an angel’s wings, legs bent to the side in nearly uniform position, her blonde hair dyed bloody red.  Leather jacket, purple thin-strap top, skirt, and calf-high boots.  Her clothes were clean, save for the blood pooling under them.  Not a usual sight for these parts, but not unusual depending on the girl.

This poor cutie didn’t look like the victim of rape or abuse.  This just looked like plain, old-fashioned murder.  The wrong place at the wrong time kind of deal.  But plain murder is an antiquity these days.  There’s always a motive.  There’s always a pathetic excuse for a human being on the other end of a gun.  There’s always someone to hunt down.  This wasn’t no suicide, afterall.  It was murder.

I had to leave the scene.  With the quarter in my pocket and the payphone four blocks down, I called into headquarters.  It would take them ten minutes to get over here, which gave me time to inspect the scene, find any clues lying around, and take notes.

I returned to the scene quick.  Nothing had changed, except a cat lingering on a trashcan lid near the walkway.  As I left the alley and entered the small court, I kept my eyes peeled for anything off.  The problem with being in the ghetto is that everything is off.  You can’t always tell what clue pertains to your case and what’s from another crime that hasn’t been investigated.  Here by the catwalk, however, all seemed clean.  It was a high traffic area during the day, afterall.  Nothing suspicious would be lingering for us to find.

The first thing I noticed was not one person was in sight.  In a place like this, there is always heads poking out of windows, lights going on, concerned citizens wanting to make sure the deceased is no one they know.  Here, however, not a light was on.  All shades were drawn, windows closed.  Everyone asleep so it would seem.  A little unusual for two gunshots.

The next abnormality I noticed was on the body.  Two shots, but only one wound.  A shot to the head.  Pretty odd, too, considering the gun sounded like a revolver firearm; a .38 special if I’m right.  It must’ve been fired from some distance then, because the entry wound was a clean hit, and from what I could see, the exit wound was a clean one, too.  Whoever fired the gun is a skilled shot.

But what about that second bullet?

I took down my notes, keeping my eyes keen for anything else.  The sirens approached.  They’d have one hell of a time navigating the alleys to get here.  Perhaps it was best that the area remained clear of nosy neighbours.

No footprints, no blood trail, no lead.  For now, it’s a phantom murderer.  But that’s going to change.  I’m on the case now.

I spent my time searching for that damn second shot.  Were it by the trash cans or impacted into a wall, hit the ground or through a window, I couldn’t find a trace of that second bullet.  A perplexing mystery.  How key would that second bullet be?  What if it was embedded in the perp?  But that raised more questions.

The noise of the sirens flooded the alleys, bleeding into the courtyard.  I could hear the coppers hustling through the maze, their handcuffs jangling as they rushed.  Now the lights started turning on in windows.  Now heads started poking out.  Now people were curious.  More than ten uniforms arrived on the scene; what better way to grab peoples’ attention?

My partner was one of the first to reach the court.  He knows these alleys as well as I do.  He kept the uniforms from approaching the catwalk and possibly contaminating any evidence - some boys in blue seem to love spoiling a crime scene for us detectives.  I guess it comforted them to know they wouldn’t climb any higher than the gutters.

I was back by the body again.  My partner cautiously approached.  I signaled that it was okay, but he kept the runts back anyways.  He’s a good detective.

Eying the body, he clicked his teeth.  “Pretty little thing she was,” he said.


“How close were you when you heard the shots?”

“Four blocks away.”

“And you immediately responded?”

I knew what he was getting at.  It’s always important to cover the bases when privy to information others aren’t.  It’s not an accusation.  It’s assurance.

I nodded.  “Yeah.  It took some finding to get here, and no one was around when I made the scene.  No onlookers.  No window peepers.”

That struck him as odd, too.  “That’s unusual in these parts.  The only time they don’t look is if they’ve been instructed not to look.”

“Or if they know the perp is someone who could get at them if they squeal a word,” I added.

“You think it could be someone with influence?”

“Maybe.  Whoever it is is a crack shot.  Look at that entry wound, Jimmy.”  I pointed to the girl’s head.

Jimmy took a knee to inspect it.  “It’s clean.”


He looked over the body.  “She’s clean, too.  I don’t think she was a street Betty.”

“Me neither.  Broads on the street are never that pretty.”

“The ones with their own bed are,” he said with a knowing look.

I nodded.  “We’re going to need to shake the fences of these yards anyways.  It won’t hurt to get some insider insight while we’re at it.”

Jimmy agreed and got back to his feet.  “It’s a clean kill.  Clean scene.  Clean crime.”  He didn’t like it.  I could tell.  “And no suspects?”

“They got away clean.”

Jimmy took down a few notes, did his own inspection of the area.  The uniforms were allowed to come in and do what they do.  It wasn’t long before the snap-happies started setting up their cameras to document the scene; the flash bulbs lighting up the place every second like it was noon day.  The bloody things always hurt my eyes when they go off, particularly at night.

More window peepers showed their faces.  They only had three different expressions.  In every window you looked at, they were either curious, sad, or concerned.  If they looked anything else, you knew they knew something.  No one here looked to know anything.  Investigations were never easy, but you could always hope you’d get lucky.  Not tonight.

Jimmy and I left the scene to have a private discussion.  Coppers always have loose lips when it comes to dirt on dicks.  We didn’t need none of them prying into our business.  We worked out a game plan, paved some of the details we had to go on, and readied for a long night and an even longer morning.

I decided to have a cigarette.  My night was already up in smoke.

© Copyright 2018 Jeff Bezaire. All rights reserved.

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