It was the thought going through my mind because it was exactly where I wanted to be: Anywhere but here.
The fat man’s body sat heavy in the chair and he could have been sleeping, the way his head lolled back all slack-jawed, and his arms hung. Only no one would sleep here. This sewer stank.
The dead body probably wasn’t helping. There were two bloody holes popped in his chest, neatly on either side of his tie. Well at least his eyes were closed.
I should have got out of there but Hutchinson had offered a tidy sum and I wasn’t about to pass it up. “Get it together, Jack,” I urged myself.
Hutchinson had asked me to track down a family heirloom, a painting of a racehorse his granddaddy had owned or some such. He said the item had been stolen but he’d somehow gotten word it had been fenced to a pawnbroker on 5th. I went to see the broker that night. I didn’t think much of the case but I thought highly of Dominic Hutchinson – that is, highly enough of the name when it was scrawled across a check made out to Cash.
With a little convincing the broker gave up a man named Dalton who owned a cafe on 12th and Bayview. Dalton is where things seemed to get seedy. I had asked a couple questions at the cafe. In retrospect, not such a great idea. But turned out Dalton hadn’t been seen for a week. The last anyone had seen him was at the waterway. So that’s where I went. I don’t know why the open gate to the sewer had drawn me. Maybe I’m just drawn to low places that way.
Down the stairs and shadows, I knew something was wrong even before I saw the dead man in the chair. I picked my way through the muck, mindful of my loafers. The irony of dodging puddles in a sewer to riffle a dead man’s pockets wasn’t lost on me. I pinched the corner of his jacket and prayed he didn’t carry his ID in his pants. Luck was with me, if you could call it that, the brown leather slipped out and sprung open in my palm.
“Carl Morella,” I read his name out from the driver’s license. He didn’t respond. I don’t know if I was more disappointed or grateful.
I had no idea who Carl Morella was in all this. I did know of the Morella family though; a small time hood family connected to a mid-level mob family, who of course were connected to a bigger one and so on, all the way up. That’s just how it worked. This Carl Morella was small time, but the cash that had sprung the wallet suggested he was into something lucrative.
I couldn’t resist. I pocketed the cash along with the notion that Carl here hadn’t been killed for money.
“What kinda killer brings a chair to a sewer?” I asked myself. But if I knew, I wasn’t telling.
Seemed like a dead end. In the morning I would have to give Hutchinson the bad news, that it looked Dalton had skipped with the painting. I’d also have to call Delilah Ambrosia, give her the equally bad news that her boyfriend, Lionel Tucker, was alive and well.
Looked like disappointments all round.