Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hassle

by Josh

"Hello, suspect," I said, and sat down across the table from the son-of-a-bitch.

He shifted his bulk - seriously, Dude must've weighed close to 300 - and rattled the handcuff on his left wrist either in acknowledgement of my presence or in frustration at the fact that the boys in blue were making a big man like him wear a bracelet.

"They tried good cop and bad cop," he mumbled. "What are you supposed to be - baby cop?"

Ha. So funny. I stared him down. His small brown eyes eyes were sunk into his massive head, almost as if they were an afterthought.

I gave him my name. Maybe he'd heard of me. But he didn't say a word. Maybe he hadn't heard of me. I couldn't imagine those small brown eyes were much good when it came to reading.

I continued, "I've got a few questions for you, if you don't mind."

He leaned forward. His handcuff scraped against the wooden leg of the old, chipped table, and for a moment, I wondered if the bastard weighed enough to splinter the furniture. Given that I was unarmed and that this ugly chum was suspected of killing a man in cold blood by wrapping those fleshy mitts of his around the poor fellow's neck and squeezing, the possibility that the table might break and temporary free him to do whatever he wanted with me...well...let's just say it remained a priority concern.

"My first question is this," I said. "Did you kill Albert Addams?"

He blinked. Didn't expect me to open with that one, did you, you shitheel?

"I don't believe in buying the lede," I explained, and offered him my best puckish eye-twinkle.

The corner of his lip raised in a sneer. "Who do you think you are?"

"I told you. I'm a writer. I'm here helping the police."

"I don't talk to secretaries," he said.

"I'm not a secretary, not that there's anything wrong with being a secretary. Some of my favorite agents have secretaries. So are you going to answer my question or are you going to sit there like a two-year-old and have a tantrum?"

"I could pop your head off your body like a cork."

"How nice for you," I said. "Is that what you tried to do with Albert Addams? Maybe you're not as strong as you think. When the police found his body, his head was still quite attached to his shoulders."

"You got no idea what you're talking about."

I was tempted to show him some pictures from the crime scene. I had them in a folder on my lap. But I had a feeling that doing so would have been about as helpful as showing a carpenter a photograph of a house he built. I might spot some pride in those small brown eyes, but nothing more. And besides, I'd boasted to Detective Wheeler that I could crack this nut in ten questions and I had seven left to go.

"One of the reasons you were arrested," I said, "is because you were last seen arguing with Albert Addams at a construction site the afternoon before his death. He was the primary contractor of the job and you're a lowly welder and yet you two knew each other well enough to shout so loud that your epithets were heard over the grinding of all those tools. Albert Addams wasn't a big man, not like you, but by all accounts he's the one who approached you and he's the one who picked the fight. So tell me, buddy, what was this beef about?"

"Don't know, don't care." He shrugged those boulder-shoulders of his and leaned back in his chair - at least as far as the chain on his handcuffs would allow. The bones of his chair groaned from the weight of his body. If this were a comedy sketch, it almost would have been funny. This was not a comedy sketch.

"The other reason you were arrested, "I said, "is because the gloves worn by the killer to strangle Albert Addams match the split-leather welding gloves you wear a regular basis at work."

"Lots of guys wear the same gloves."

"But only you were seen arguing with the victim. Did it piss you off that Albert Addams was right?"

His lips curled into a frown. "Right about what?"

"He must've been right about something. He walked away from your argument with his head held high and witnesses say you spent the rest of the afternoon moping. Let me guess - he found out your sexual preference leans toward little boys. Is that it?"

The fucker almost took the bait. I could see it in his eyes. But he didn't lunge forward or growl at me. He just seethed, which was unnervingly worse.

Only four questions left.

But I had no idea what to ask.

Hm.

It was time to do what all writers do best: procrastinate.

"He had a daughter,"I said. "Ten years-old. Her name's Emilia. Sweet girl. Misses her father something fierce. She likes to play softball. Supposedly she's the best on her team."

"She's just OK," he replied.

I blinked. He looked away. I didn't.

"Now how would you know that?"

He didn't answer. He didn't have to. My mind flitted back to the details I'd been given about this man, his job, his family...

"You have a daughter too," I said. "She's around ten, I believe. I've only got two questions left, but I think you're going to like them. The guys on the other side of that mirror - they're going to love them. Here's my first question. Who won the game this weekend, Emilia's team or your daughter's team? Keep in mind we'll be able to find out."

The behemoth grumbled something along the lines of "They cheated."

I stood up and headed to the door.

"I thought you said you got another question," he snarled.

I stopped and pivoted toward him. "Oh yeah. Last question, and this really applies less to what happened the other night and more to, you know, the next twenty-to-forty years of your life: you prefer the top bunk or the bottom?"





Bonus news: I'm currently running a monthly contest on my website! Purchase the 99 cent ebook of my critically-acclaimed first novel
Nuclear Winter Wonderland from either Amazon or B&N, and email your receipt to joshua@joshuacorin.com and be registered to win a $50 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice!

10 comments:

Meredith Cole said...

Josh-
Love your line about showing him the crime scene photos--that it "would have been about as helpful as showing a carpenter a photograph of a house he built. I might spot some pride in those small brown eyes, but nothing more." Now I'm wondering how your hero will get him to crack...

Joshua Corin said...

Thanks, Meredith! I hope the ending left you Snickers-satisfied!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

No fair! I want to hear the other seven questions!

Great writing, as always, Josh!

Joshua Corin said...

All finished, Becky. Hope you like!

Michael Wiley said...

A lot of fun, Joshua. I see a series in it. Something like *Castle" but less smug.

Jeannie Holmes said...

Wonderful post, Josh! Very clever. :)

Joshua Corin said...

Thus my title, Michael =)

Joshua Corin said...

Thanks, Jeannie!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Much better with those 7 questions filled in! Thanks for finishing it up, Josh!

Michael Wiley said...

Ahhhhh . . . Castle/Hassle. Of course. But shouldn't it be "Hastle"?