Pixie Dust: Part 3

{Author’s note: the first two installments of Pixie Dust can be found on this site. It is recommended that you read them to familiarize yourself with the entire story.}

car

From a nearby side street I heard a car door slam and then the squealing of tires. The shooter wasn’t hanging around to count score. “Are you hurt?” I said. There was no sign of blood.

“Only my pride,” she said, “and maybe a skinned knee. Would you get off me, please?”

Slowly I lifted the rest of my weight off Greta’s prone body. Her skirt was hiked up to the top of her beautiful thighs which were spread a little from the plunge we took. The garters holding up the silk stockings were visible. It was as close to an intimate moment as I’d had since before the war. Not that I hadn’t had my share of women since. There’d been plenty. But this dish was different somehow. Could a man fall for a skirt in less than a day?

I told her to keep low and crawl her way back inside the office while I crouched and covered her. I was pretty sure the shooter had beat it, but no sense taking chances. I locked the door behind us and reached for the phone on my desk.

10232560-old-black-rotary-phone

Greta hurried over and grabbed my arm as I lifted the receiver off the cradle. “What are you doing, Dinger?”

“Calling the cops. What, you want me to order lunch first?”

Her big blue eyes widened. “No, no cops. I . . . don’t want them involved in this.”

I dropped the phone and took a seat on the corner of the desk. “No cops? Somebody just took a potshot at us. That pretty face of yours could’ve been splattered all over that brick wall.” I shook a cigarette out of my pack and reached for the grenade lighter. “I already been shot at too many times to count, and I don’t like it one damn bit.” I lit my cigarette, and then hers as she leaned toward me with the Camel dangling from those sweet lips. Her breasts pressed against my shoulder. She didn’t move, so I moved her.

“I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing, doll, but I—”

“Oh, you’re hurt, Dinger,” Greta said, reaching out and touching my left cheek. There was blood on her fingers. I remembered the sting and felt for myself. A small cut or puncture wound in the cheek just above the jawline. No big deal, but the blood had trickled down my neck and stained my collar. My supply of decent shirts had just decreased by a third.

She headed for the bathroom while I used my handkerchief to mop up and stop the bleeding. The scene outside replayed in my mind like a bad flick trailer. A high powered round had plowed into the bricks about a foot from my head. From the sound I guessed a rifle, probably .30 caliber like the M1 Garand widely used in the war. A very accurate weapon. The shooter must’ve needed a guide dog, judging from the short distance across the street where the shot came from. Or else he missed on purpose. That thought bothered me almost as much as being shot at. Toss in Greta not wanting the cops involved. I was never a math whiz, but something didn’t add up. And when things don’t add up, I don’t much like it.

gigi-hadid

As soon as Greta stepped through the bathroom doorway into the office I reached for the phone. She rushed over and dropped the washcloth, Band-Aids, and rubbing alcohol on the desk. “Dinger, darling, let’s leave the police out of this, shall we?” she said, running a hand down my forearm and gently pushing the receiver back onto the cradle. Perfectly manicured fingers stroked my skin on the way back up my arm. She gripped my shoulder and pressed her breasts against me again. A man could get used to that feeling. Her other hand snaked around the back of my neck. She turned my face to hers and kissed me—hard. Those lips were every bit as soft and tasty as I’d imagined. Her silky, lying tongue worked its way into my mouth, exploring and then dancing with my own. A hand took mine and guided it to her breasts. Her nipples were taut, and she moaned into my mouth as I squeezed one and then the other. Mrs. Hathaway was one beautiful package, beautiful and—

My mind reeled at the flashback. Private Joe Haskins, one of the rare replacements who survived his first few days of combat, had joined the platoon somewhere along the Shuri Line on Okinawa. Later, when we had finally taken that maggot-filled cesspool of Hell, he came across a beautiful Jap officer’s ceremonial sword resting on a folded Jap flag. Before I could get the words out, Haskins picked it up and disappeared in a cloud of black smoke and red gore. Beautiful and—deadly.

woman holding pistor

I pushed her away, breaking contact. As I grabbed the phone and started to dial I heard a familiar metallic click behind me. “Hang up the phone, Dinger, PI.” The voice had lost all trace of its seductive sweetness. I did as I was told and turned around to face the barrel of a small revolver leering between my eyes. Smith & Wesson, .32 caliber. A fine little weapon, but to make a kill you’d better be confident in your bullet placement.

She ordered me to put my revolver on the table and then have a seat on the floor in the corner behind my desk. I eyeballed the way she held the .32 in her slim hand and decided against making a move. This dame was no virgin when it came to handling a pistol. I eased the snub nose out of my pocket with a thumb and two fingers. I laid it on the table and made myself comfortable against the corner wall. When I was settled in and all cozy, Mrs. Hathaway made a quick phone call of her own. No names, a couple “yeses,” “um hums,” and a “hurry dear” was all I managed to pick up.

I was in deep shit, so I figured my best bet was to play a little mind game with the inscrutable Mrs. Greta Hathaway. That would at least keep the broad occupied for awhile and maybe delay her plugging me, if that was her intention. “Back to that game I mentioned earlier, now that we both know there is a game; who’s the ‘dear’ that’s supposed to ‘hurry’ over here?

blonde smoking

She crushed out the stub of her cigarette, picked up the pack of Camels from the table and lit another. Smoke trailed from her mouth and nostrils as she said, “Haven’t you figured it out by now, Dinger, PI? I suppose you aren’t as smart as I gave you credit for after all.” Pushing my chair away from the desk a couple feet, she hopped onto the desktop, facing me. She made sure a generous view of soft, silken thighs was available for my enjoyment, or torment, depending on how you looked at it. Which I did. Exhaling another drag, she said, “ ‘Dear’ is my dear husband, Martin Hathaway, president and soon to be chief shareholder—along with yours truly, of course—of the First Bank of Clark County.”

“I thought you inherited your father’s entire estate after his car took a plunge into that ravine?”

Mrs. Hathaway tossed back her pretty head and laughed. “Oh, you men—you’re all so damn gullible.” She placed the cigarette between her lips and opened her leather handbag. Reaching in, she pulled out an envelope, opened it, and drew out a few sheets of paper folded in thirds. She unfolded them and waved them in my face. “It seems that dear departed Daddy’s will somehow failed to include me as an heir, never mind the sole heir which I rightfully deserved to be.” Her voice had grown callous and bitter. The words rolled off her tongue like spewed venom. “He left it all to that fucking bastard half brother of mine in New Jersey! That wop son of a bitch had nothing to do with my father—nothing! He never lifted a finger for my daddy! Not a goddamn thing, and yet Daddy leaves everything to him!”

I forced a smirk across my face. “Maybe your daddy liked your bastard brother more than you.”

Mrs. Hathaway leapt off the desk, rushed over and slammed the butt of the pistol into my right cheek. Immediately I tasted blood. I ran my tongue around to check for loose teeth. They all seemed to be in place. I spit out a stream of spit mixed with blood. “Daddy got that wop bitch pregnant while he was serving in Italy during the war. That little bastard doesn’t deserve a damn penny of my father’s money!”

Knocked woozy by Greta’s blow, I searched for an answer to keep her entertained and my mind in the game. “Maybe your father figured Marty would take such good care of you, he could afford to leave all his estate to your half brother,” I said. “What’s his name, anyway? Just for the record.”

“His name?” Mrs. Hathaway looked confused. “Angelo,” she said after a few seconds. “Yeah, Angelo. Angelo Agresta.” She laughed again. “Do you know what the name means, Dinger, PI? Agresta? No? Well get this—it means ‘sour grapes.’ Is that hilarious, or what?”

To humor her, I laughed. “That’s a good one, alright. Your father sure pulled the wool over your eyes . . . and Marty’s, too. How do you feel about that?”

Mrs. Hathaway’s face lost all traces of feigned humor. Her big blue eyes narrowed, her brow furrowed, and her full lips sucked into a thin red line. “It doesn’t matter what I feel. Marty and I have it all figured out. All figured out, I tell you. And nothing you can do will stop us.” Her lips relaxed and the edges rose upward in a smile as they plumped out. “That’s right, Dinger, PI. We’ve got it all figured out, down to a T—Marty and me.

“You know what else, Dinger, PI? You want to know just how bad we used you? That lawyer friend of yours, Mr. Ernest P. Shaver—we bought him, Dinger! Yeah, how does that grab you? He’s ours!”

The news stunned me like a blow from a Jap rifle butt, there was no denying it. I’d always believed Ernie and I had nothing to hide between us. He was the one person in Vegas I’d poured out my feelings to since I’d arrived in Sin City the spring of ’47. The thought of Ernie Shaver not being on the up and up sickened me. I sucked in a deep breath and let it out. “You’re a lying bitch, Mrs. Greta Hathaway.”

legs on desk

She draped the other leg over her knee, giving me an extended look up her beautiful gams, and let out a long, exaggerated sigh. “Oh, yeah?” She shuffled the papers in her hands for moment and then leaned forward, holding them within reading range of my tired eyes. “Take a good look at the signature, Dinger, PI,” she snarled, “take a real good look!”

I did. There was no mistaking Ernie Shaver’s signature on the legal document. He’d been the lawyer who had drawn up Thomas Perry’s last will and testament. Signed, sealed, but not yet delivered. A quick run-through of my legal knowledge convinced me the will would hold up in most any court of law in the country. Just what exactly the hell were they up to? Then it hit me–the will, the will Ernie was supposed to draw up today at two for Greta Hathaway. I’d fallen for that dame’s story hard, like the bumbling chump I was. Before I could mentally kick myself in the ass again, somebody rapped on the office door.

Mrs. Hathaway backed up to the door, keeping the .32 aimed in my general direction for effect. She whispered something at the doorjamb. Hearing an answer I couldn’t make out, she turned the lock and opened the door. In walked Mr. Martin Hathaway, dressed as spiffy as a bank president. Slouching into the office behind him was Attorney at Law, Ernie Shaver, my former friend and lawyer. So much for Semper Fi.

“Hello, Ernie,” I said. “How’s it feel keeping company with a bunch of slop-swilling pigs?”

Martin Hathaway strode across the room like a pompous king and backhanded my right cheek. At least he had the decency to hit my good side. “Shut your trap, Mr. Dinger,” he said. “If you want to get out of this alive and in one piece, you’ll keep quiet and cooperate.”

I swallowed a clot of blood and grinned up at him. “Yeah? Your loving wife offered me a much better deal.”

This time he landed a blow on my already sore side. Ouch. “Keep your fucking mouth shut and your ears open, Dinger. With your cooperation we’ll all be out of here in a few hours with our pockets full and our records clean. If you refuse to go along with the program, the coyotes and wild pigs will be picking your carcass clean in a matter of hours. Comprender?”

I hawked up a wad and spit it at his shoes. “Wow, such an intellectual, Hathaway. Yeah, I get your meaning. But hey, how many Spanish words can you come up with for whore, like your loving wife there?”

MMO pistol - 2

Hathaway turned red in the face as he stomped toward me. I rolled, grabbed the foot he swung at me, and twisted the knee until I heard it pop. Now on my feet, I shoved him into his loving wife and lunged for my pistol still lying on the desktop. I beat Greta Hathaway by a split second, managing to squeeze off a shot before she did. She dropped to the deck, clutching her left shoulder. I rolled to my left and caught Marty with a round to his upper thigh before he could fire a shot with the semi-automatic he’d drawn from his coat pocket.

Using the desk for cover, I lifted the snub nose where I’d last caught sight of Ernie Shaver. He was cowering in the corner next to the door, hands held high.

“Don’t shoot, Dinger!” he said in a falsetto I’d never heard before. “Give me a chance to explain. Okay?”

“Then do it, Ernie, and it better be damned good!”

*  *  *

A half hour later I had a fairly clear picture of this whole fiasco. Ernie Shaver, attorney at law, had been Thomas Perry’s lawyer before the war broke out. After hostilities ended, Ernie had drawn up Mr. Perry’s will to protect the son he had sired with a beautiful Italian widow during the liberation of Rome. It wasn’t the whole shebang he left to the kid, but it added up to a pretty penny. Let’s just say the kid would never have to work a day in his life if he had a lick of sense and played his cards right.

Perry figured it was the least he could do, since his new son-in-law was such a go-getter genius and moneymaker for the bank. With the profits accumulating the way they were, Thomas Perry believed he had done the right thing for his “wartime” son, as well as providing a solid future for his legitimate daughter, Greta. With proceeds rolling in from Martin Hathaway’s ingenious dealings, the future was bright for his daughter, son-in-law, and the future grandkids Perry envisioned bouncing off his knee as he counted the fortune rolling in.

1950s-car-wreck-accident-aamc0k

Somewhere along the line somebody got greedy. Martin Hathaway, Greta, who knew? The certain fact was that someone discovered Thomas Perry’s current will and had taken objection to it. An objection so strong that they had stolen the will from the old man’s safe and planned his murder. Thus the tragic plunge of Mr. Perry’s automobile into the canyon of death.

But what about the astute attorney, Ernest P. Shaver? Turns out ol’ Ernie had been involved in some very shady dealings with banker Thomas Perry, and Perry had kept a paper trail to wit in the same safe he’d stashed his will leaving his illegitimate son a hefty portion of his accumulated fortune. For shame. Will the rich and greedy never learn?

But why the “sniper” shot as Mrs. Hathaway and I were leaving for a shopping spree? Simple. It forced us (meaning, me) back inside the office to await the perps’ plan to play out. And here I thought I was being gallant, saving the damsel in distress from the big bad wolf or fire-breathing dragon.

Such are the thoughts of fools.

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7 thoughts on “Pixie Dust: Part 3

  1. I liked the beginning a lot and the dark thought at the end. It wrapped up a tight package. Greta keeps you guessing and the contrast between her silky noir looks and her nasty disposition is great for the action. The flashback that warns Dinger “beautiful but deadly” works great. You have a lot of freedom with Dinger and I like that. .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, MJ! Splitting it into three parts hurts the flow, but the whole story is there (here?) for anyone who might be interested. I’m glad you like Dinger. He’s kind of growing on me, too. I do believe he wants his own chance at a novel. But I might write a few more “Dingers” and then have my agent shop them around as a collection. We shall see!
    BTW, I just saw a wonderful review for OB&B#1 at Amazon . . . hmm, I wonder who. . . ? 🙂

    Like

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