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A Rainy Night on Drury Lane, Part II — The Brown Note

№121 ~7 minutes

In which I continue part two of the multi-part short story about an ineffectual detective with a lisp.

Welcome back dear readers and take a seat as we dive right back in where we left off. Last time our reluctant protagonist Detective Wentworth was left standing alone with a cookie cutter ring, an envelope of what might be money and a slight erection… again. Suggesting this was not his first time in this particular predicament.

For those of you joining us for the first time you can read “Part I — With Sensual Red Lips” here. Go do that first. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.

Now that everyone’s caught up (that needs to be) let’s get to it, shall we? Here’s your soundtrack for this part. I’ll leave the rain (www.rainymood.com) up to you this time.

Silhouette of man standing in the rain.

A few rain soaked hours later — having slapped Mr. Stiffy around sufficiently — Detective Wentworth found himself at the Brown Note, a sleazy jazz joint for con artists, criminals and aspiring musicians, trying to get a drink from a barkeep imaginatively named Joey. After several failed attempts at ordering scotch, Detective Wentworth has lit another cigarette and settled for beer. Easy to pronounce and a lot easier to stomach than scotch.

“Maybe I thhould become a beer drinker inthtead?” he thinks to himself before finding a vacant table to occupy.

He’s waiting for his informant to show up, a shady immigrant who goes by many aliases but prefers to call himself Nobody nowadays.

“Who are you talking to?”, someone would ask and it would always be the same cheesy albeit effective reply. Nobody. I’m talking to Nobody.

A reply that worked 90 percent of the time. The other 10 percent was usually because the receiving end was henchmen with baseball bats and a score to settle. Nobody had gotten beaten up a fair few times in his life but without other options he had simply played the cards handed to him. A rat in a country of cats, he made the best of the situation — even though that sometimes meant going head-to-head with the henchmen of whoever he had betrayed — to get whatever he needed. “Half loaf is better than no loaf”, Nobody would say to himself when times got even tougher. “Half loaf is better…”

Detective Wentworth’s eyes followed the young woman selling cigarettes from her tray — hoping she would spare him a glance — as he was now drawing the last breath from the last cigarette from a packet he had bought as recently as last night. It was meant to be his last packet of cigarettes. Then again, the Sparrow Brothers case was supposed to be his last case and look how that turned out. “Thingth have a habit of not ending when they’re thuppothed to”, he muttered faintly as the cigarette saleswoman walked by. He gestured towards her and as he caught her attention, she also caught his. “Tharah?” he gasped, but as he left the question mark lingering in the air he could tell by the look on her face that she was definitely not Sarah. What he had at first thought to be the spitting image of his late girlfriend now only resembled her when looked at from the corner of an eye. It was the way she moved that had gotten him dumbfounded but now that he was looking directly at her, he could see clearly. Swaying back and forth like a drunk — she probably had an inner-ear problem just like Sarah — as she reached him he could see that she looked nothing like Sarah. “Eight more beerth and I would have never known the differenthe” he thought to himself.

“Whatll it be, sugah?”

Her accent was thick and she seemed to make no efforts to hide it. Detective Wentworth thought it made her sound slightly retarded but unlike her he made every effort to hide his thoughts.

“Three packetth of Deep Throat and tell Joey I’ll have another beer.”

“Sorr hon, I only gots me two packs of ‘dem Deep Throat left. But I’ll give ‘dem to ya for 23¢”

“Here you go, and you can keep the thhange if you can get that beer here on the double.” He wasn’t convincing anyone that he was cool but there was no point in stopping his attempts now. “Might ath well go the whole hog” he thought to himself and realised that he hadn’t heard that expression since his father passed away. “Never start what you can’t finish”, his father would always say before he would hold him across his knees to pass out what he referred to as Patriarchal Justice. Meanwhile his mother would hide in the kitchen baking and pretending that she couldn’t hear the cries coming from the living room. The memories of his childhood had sent shivers down Detective Wentworth’s spine and his timing could not have been worse. Nobody had entered the Brown Note through a back door and walked unnoticed up to Detective Wentworth just he was reminiscing about his heinous childhood. The already quite jumpy Nobody got even more suspicious as Detective Wentworth’s shivers jogged him out of his memories and back to the cold harsh reality.

“You Mister Wentworth? You not look good. And Nobody not telling nothing to somebody who look like you look!” Nobody’s English might have been broken but his message was clear as day.

“Perhapth a beer would inthtil thome more trutht in me?”, he hoped Nobody would at least understand the word “beer” in his otherwise incomprehensible choice of words.

“Beer? No. Nobody not drink beer. Beer is for zhenshchiny. How you say, woman-people? Two bottles of vodka and Nobody sing like Crested Lark. We have deal, yes?”

Detective Wentworth had kept the cookie cutter ring in the left pocket of his overcoat and now he was caressing the cookie cutter shaped like a Christmas tree between his fingers to remind him of why he had agreed to take on the case. The Sarah look-alike made her untimely return with his second beer just as he was about to agree to Nobody’s terms.

“What’th thith? I didn’t order a beer! Only girlth drink beer! I only drink thcotthh! Two bottleth of vodka and a glath of your thheapetht thcotthh. And make it quick thweetheart!”, he quickly said before she had any time to reply.

Noticeable upset she slammed the beer on his table anyway as she turned around and started swaying back and forth back to the bar. Pointing towards Detective Wentworth and yelling to Joey to bring them “Two b’ttles of Russian water and a glass o’ Horsepiss”, she stormed out through the same back door that Nobody had snuck in through. Detective Wentworth knew he was going to have to deal with her later if he wanted to get a good nights sleep. “Maybe thhe will thettle for an ethplanation and a heartfelt thorry?”

He turned his attention back to Nobody — who by now had calmed down enough to take a seat — and tried his best to look serious as he handed Nobody a worn photograph of a man in his mid-fifties wearing a pinstripe suit.

“Tell me everything you know about thenator McWilliamth and hith dithappearanthe. Why would thomeone want him gone?”

Continue to Part III — Underneath A Turquoise Sky here.

That Story on Drury Lane

Santa Goes Medieval on Everyone’s Asses

A Rainy Night on Drury Lane, Part VII — A White Blanket of Forgiveness

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