Pixie Dust: a Noir Short

There was a light tapping on my office door, and then it creaked open. A petite young dish stepped inside and glanced around the room with wide eyes. They stopped on me. “Mr. Dinger?” The voice was almost musical, more little girl than woman. But she was a woman all right, and a fine specimen at that.

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If the super hasn’t scraped it off the glass yet then it must be me,” I said. I stood and pointed to the best of the two ratty chairs near my desk. “Have a seat. And you can drop the ‘mister.’ Call me Dinger.” She moseyed across the room and looked down at the chair. “It’s clean,” I said. “I dusted just last month.”

She offered a beautiful fine-boned hand, flashed a brief sugar cube smile, and sat. The scent of cactus blossoms lingered over my desk. She was maybe five-two in those heels, but she filled out the tan skirt and white blouse nicely and in all the proper places. Her light brown whispered innocence, but I’d learned the hard way not to trust eyes, especially such pretty ones. She had the face of a Greek goddess. The full lips were painted apple red and begged to be tasted. “What can I do for you, Miss . . .?”

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“Hathaway,” she said, “Mrs. Greta Hathaway.” She unsnapped the handbag in her lap and pulled out a pack of Camels. As she placed the smoke between her luscious lips I grabbed the lighter sitting on my desk, a dummy hand grenade. I’d picked it up at a local pawn shop—a token of the two years I recently spent island-hopping the Pacific with the First Marine Division. She cocked her pretty head, eyeballed the lighter and then me. The corners of her mouth turned upward. “Are you planning on lighting me up, or blowing me up, Dinger?” she said, the cigarette bobbing as she spoke.

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I thumbed the wheel and held the flame steady as she leaned forward to accept the light. “My intentions are purely honorable, Mrs. Hathaway, I assure you. Besides, blowing you up would be an unforgivable disservice to mankind.” Hathaway. The name rang a bell but I couldn’t place it with the distracting package sitting in front of me. I pushed the clean ashtray across the table to her. “Now, how can I be of service?”

Mrs. Hathaway leaned back in the chair and crossed her legs. She exhaled a plume of smoke. The mid morning sun bleeding through the smudged window to my left ignited specks of gold in her eyes, like pixie dust. As the top leg began to slowly swing like a mesmerizing pendulum she said, “I have reason to believe my husband plans to have me killed. I need you to find out if it’s true. Preferably before it happens.”

I flicked the grenade and lit a smoke of my own. This was some story. I studied her face and tried to see what was ticking behind those beautiful browns. Greta Hathaway would make a hell of a poker player. I took another drag and said, “You care to share the reason, or reasons, why your husband would want to knock you off? Pardon my forwardness, Mrs. Hathaway, but only a damn fool or a lunatic would want to waste a doll like you.”

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She tapped a half inch of ash off her cigarette. The tip turned a fiery gold as she took another puff. “One word, Dinger,” she said as smoke escaped her nostrils and lips. “Money. I have plenty. Martin has none. None of his own, I should say.”

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The light bulb came on. Martin Hathaway, bank president. One of the Mormon-owned banks fencing money for the mob intent on filling the desert with neon lights, titillating entertainment, and get-rich-quick dreams for all the suckers pouring into Vegas. I opened the bottom-right drawer and produced a fifth of rye I kept for such occasions. I held the bottle up. She declined. “Which bank?” I said pouring a couple fingers into the cleanest glass available.

Mrs. Hathaway scooted her chair closer to the desk. She took a final drag and crushed out the cigarette and rested both elbows on the desktop. A smile crept across those fruity lips. “My my, Dinger, you are as advertised. My sources said you were sharp. The Bank of Clark County. My father is . . . was, Thomas Perry. I inherited his entire estate when he was killed in that terrible automobile accident last month. I use ‘accident’ loosely, very loosely.

“Daddy was very fond of Marty. I never knew why, really. I suppose he thought of him as the son he never had. Daddy was the reason behind dear Marty’s meteoric climb up the bank’s business ladder. And when Daddy had his unfortunate accident, Marty was standing in line to assume his office. Unfortunately for Martin, Daddy kept putting off rewriting his will. After all, he was only fifty-one and in excellent health. Alas, who could have foreseen his car running off the road into that canyon?” Mrs. Hathaway’s voice dripped with sarcasm.

I kicked back a swig of rye. I’d had better breakfasts but it would do. “You think your husband was involved in your father’s death.”

“I do. My father had hinted on several occasions that he intended to have his will changed to include my husband. Marty had a great business sense and had proven his worth by making a number of very profitable investments for the bank. Daddy admired that. He wanted the same sound investments when it came to my personal welfare. He figured by cutting Marty in I would be set for life not only financially, but family-wise. Daddy envisioned Marty and I as the perfect couple, living happily ever after. The perfect family with kids that Daddy could enjoy bouncing on his knees as he counted the money Marty made.

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“But then Daddy found out that precious Marty was screwing around with a couple of showgirls working at the Desert Inn. Poor Daddy, all his dreams gone up in a cloud of feathers and lace. That’s when he told me dear Martin was about to be demoted.”

I downed another slug of whiskey. “I’m guessing here, Mrs. Hathaway. I’m guessing that your husband got wind of your father’s plan to can him. Right or wrong?”

She got up and walked to my side of the desk and deftly hopped aboard. Her skirt hiked above her knees, showing enough soft, forbidden flesh to tempt Saint Peter. “I believe I’ll have that drink after all, Dinger, PI.” I wiped another glass presentably clean with my fresh handkerchief and poured her a shot and myself another. “Cheers,” she said. We clinked glasses and drank. She leaned over and brushed her lips against mine. “And to answer your question, you’re right. Martin got stinking drunk one night and let it slip that Daddy was about to, shall we say, shake up management. That was about a week before the accident.”

She leaned in for another kiss. I placed my hands on those inviting shoulders and held her at arm’s-length. “Your husband is a fool. A very greedy fool. Will or no will, if you’re the sole surviving heir he stands to inherit your money.”

I lit two cigarettes and placed one between her lips. “As for how he plans to do it, my guess would be to make it look like an accident, like your father’s unfortunate demise. Looks to me like he’s had some previous experience with accidents. You said as much yourself.”

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She took a drag and exhaled, then picked at a bit of tobacco sticking to her lower lip. “Of course I believe Marty had my father killed. But the big question is who—who did he hire to do his dirty work?”

I stared into those gorgeous eyes again. They were impenetrable. “How much do you know about your father’s business?”

{To Be Continued}

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7 thoughts on “Pixie Dust: a Noir Short

  1. I’m already quite intrigued, Michael! Greta Hathaway is such a great quintessential femme fatale, and the whole story is very Vegas. I like Dinger, too (but you knew that). I have the feeling this is going to be quite the story…

    Liked by 1 person

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