Murder Me Tenderly
by Gary Clifton
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3, 4
Geno examined the heap of broken drunks on the floor. “What happened?”
Daisy, still standing naked-plus-bandaid atop the bar piped up. “That dude on the bottom started it, Geno. Then the other two jumped in and Jonic kicked all three of ’em’s asses.”
“She’s right, Geno,” the bartender added in his fat man’s wheeze.
Geno rolled his cold dark eyes toward the door. “Get the damned music back on. Daisy wiggle your skinny ass.” He shouted, “Next round on the house.” The twenty or so drunken customers watching in a semi-circle gave a desultory cheer and the bar’s normal dysfunctional activity resumed.
After learning they had assaulted an ex-cop and that Geno Feet would have their ’nads in one jar and their eyeballs in another, the gaggle of battered warriors held a brief conference. Jonic heard Clone One threaten something about “kick her,” but was well aware that drunk talk seldom carried beyond a night sleeping it off. Besides, he’d wager Daisy could probably muscle up with all three anyway.
After carefully jotting down the driver’s license information of all three, Jonic helped them to an old pickup on the parking lot and watched the vehicle chug away.
Stuffing the scrap of paper with the three rednecks’ vitals in his pants pocket, he re-entered the club. Geno was waiting in the doorway.
“See you in my office, Jonic?” Geno rasped. His voice was sandpaper grating on a window screen.
This mope wants to fire me, we don’t need to talk in an office, Jonic thought as he followed Geno’s waddling backside down a narrow rear hallway. He gets physical, I break both his arms. Without invitation, he took a seat on a plastic chair across from a battered desk.
Geno lit a very long cigar. “Jonic, you screwin’ my wife?”
Jonic, long past anything being a surprise, paused, then said, “I’m sure plenty of guys would like to.” He searched his mind as to how many might actually want to.
“That a ‘no’?”
Jonic nodded. He knew very little about Megan Myleski Colbacci, except that she was prone to mingle too closely with some of the losers who showed up to watch her dance. He neither knew nor gave a damn just how far the flirtations and brushing of her nude breasts in a stranger’s face went, but he suspected the worst. Apparently so did her husband.
Until Geno had whisked her off to a quickie marriage in Las Vegas several months earlier, Megan had been the only dancer at the Rooster who could have stood naked on the front sidewalk and attracted anything besides undertakers. She still danced at the club on Saturday nights, packing the house like an overstuffed sardine can. If the stupid oaf he’d just tossed out wanted to grab a handful of a real woman, he should have acted while Megan was in action.
“You still doin’ private eye stuff?”
“Whadda you charge?”
“Hundred an hour plus expenses.”
“Hell, I don’t make a hundred an hour.”
“I round off to the smallest figure.”
“Rounding off figures?”
“No, screwin’ Megan.”
“What makes you think...?”
“The way she acts. The phone calls she gets and whispers, ‘I’ll have to call you back.’”
“Maybe talking to her mother?”
“At three in the damned morning?”
Geno looked up, his expression like an overweight rat. “Yeah, guy used to bartend here. Name was Dan Johnson. Fired his ass for tapping the till. I’m thinkin’ he’s workin’ at a hotel on Stemmons, maybe the Wiltshire Royale. He was always bird-doggin’ her. If I really thought it was him, I’d take care of it myself.”
Jonic nodded. Interstate 35 was called “Stemmons Freeway” in that area of Dallas.
“Whoa, Geno. I’m not signing on to the end of a hit. I’ll look into your wife, but there’s a limit to how much violence I’m gonna...”
“Naw, Jonic. Jus’ talkin’, you know.”
Yeah, I know well enough, Jonic thought. He figured the last comment was correct. If Geno had any firm connection between Johnson and his wife, they would not be having this conversation. “Anybody else, Geno?”
“Yeah, a motorcycle cop named Fratatello... Jimmy Fratatello. I saw her making up to that big dumb rat, right here in my own damned place.”
Jonic knew Fratatello; he was inclined to chase nearly every skirt he encountered.
“Hey, Jonic, me ’n Mario can handle bouncer duty for a day or two while you try to figure out what the hell gives with my wife.”
* * *
As Jonic made his way back to the bar, Daisy waylaid him in the darkened hallway. She was still adorned only in the bandaid rig, but the dim light couldn’t hide the wear and tear. Jonic avoided intimate inspection.
“Chris, that guy jumped on the bar? He was in here Saturday night for Megan’s show. A dude told me he was carryin’ a piece. Said if that lump Geno messed with him, he’d put his fat ass in hell.”
Jonic brushed by her. “Thanks for the tip, kid. A jerkoff with only one pistol? He was outgunned by at least half the place. He should have used it tonight, I guess. He shows up again, I’ll shake him down.”
* * *
Jonic stepped outside in the humid August evening heat and called Susie on his cell phone.
“Hey, Tarzan,” she chuckled. “You in jail? You need to come home and inspect me with that magnifying glass again.”
He explained the job he’d just stumbled across and instructed her to be ready to take the old van they used for surveillance, park in front of Geno’s North Dallas mansion the next morning, and watch Megan.
“I’m on it, chief,” she said. “We getting paid?”
“Yes. Park down the street. See what she does, where she goes, etc. I’ll get some sleep and relieve you around noon.” He gave her Megan’s description and the address.
“On it, boss,” she repeated. “I’ll leave you a couple pieces of cold pizza in the fridge. Wake me up if you need company. ” She hung up.
* * *
Copyright © 2016 by Gary Clifton