Rose—A “Dinger, PI” Short: Part 4

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I tightened my grip on Gloria Wainwright’s upper arm as I guided her out of the casino bar to the nearest exit leading to the Last Frontier’s parking lot. Outside, the glaring neon Aurora Borealis hovering above the skies of Vegas lit up the foul world of Sin City. I hustled the dame across the parking lot to my car.

“Where are you taking me?” she wailed, protesting every step and trying to jerk from my grasp. The sugar-spoon heiress doused me with cuss words that would do any Marine proud.

I managed to unlock the driver-side door of my Ford Coupe and shoved Miss Wainwright inside. She fought like a cornered wildcat when I lost my grip climbing in beside her. I fended off her clawing blows and finally landed a quick slap of my own across her dainty little face. That shut her up. She retreated against the door, covering her cheek with one hand and whimpering like a scolded child. Her other hand grabbed for the door handle, but came up empty. She shifted her fine backside away from the door, searching for the handle.

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“No dice, doll,” I said, reaching under the seat and showing her the door handle I’d removed a few months back just for occasions like this. “Now, can the temper and sit tight. We got some talking to do.” I switched on the ignition and pressed the starter. The engine fired right up. If only dames were that dependable. I drove up and down between a couple rows of cars and then out of the lot before switching on the lights. I turned off Fremont onto Sixth and then circled left and right around a few blocks before parking in front of a deserted warehouse not far from my office/domicile. I killed the lights and engine. It was dark here. I had a good view in four directions. If anybody was tailing us, I’d know it before they got too close.

“What are we doing here, you bastard?” Gloria spat, half snarl, half shudder. “I’m supposed to meet Manny at the casino later. He won’t like this, he won’t like it at all.”

I reached over and took her chin in my hand. She tried to shake loose but I held tight until we made eye-to-eye contact. I felt her relax a little. “You got problems with memory loss, sugar, or are you just flat out stupid?”

She placed a hand on mine, gave a light tug, and whispered, “Please.” I let go. She took a few seconds to compose herself.“I know what you said back at the casino, and for a moment you had me convinced that Manny . . . that he might actually intend to do me harm,” she said. “But then I realized that I don’t know you, or anything whatsoever about you.” Her voice grew hard and haughty, the voice of the holier-than-thou privileged. “You could be making this whole thing up for all anyone knows. How dare you grab my arm and drag me out of the bar against my will like a common whore, and then force me into your car and drive me here! What am I supposed to think?

“And another thing, mister, I’ve never told Manny about my inheritance, not a word. Our love is real, not some cheap, dirty thing you’re trying to make it out to be.”

I’d had my fill of this broad. “Shut up and listen up,” I said, grabbing her shoulders and giving them a good shake. “Divino knows all about your money. Dell Nicholas is a first-rate hustler, as if you didn’t already know that. Who the hell do you think that skirt hanging tight with Divino is?”

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Miss Wainwright’s eyes grew wide and her lips curled into a half grin. She said, “Her name is Roseanne Weldon, not Nicholas.” She described Rose to a T. “She’s Manny’s personal secretary. She’s married to one of the Last Frontier’s major investors.” A smirk spread across her kisser. “What, do you think I don’t check things out? I’m not some ignorant hick from the hills, Mr. Dinger. I’m a very well-educated woman, a graduate of some of the finest schools back east.”

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She opened her purse and pulled out the pack of cigarettes. I snatched the Lucky out of her lips before she could follow up with her lighter. “Uh-uh, the smoking lamp is out,” I said. “No signal flares to let Divino or his flunkies know we’re sitting here.

“Now listen up, doll, and listen good. Flush all the crap out of those pretty ears of yours that Manny Divino’s been feeding you. Roseanne Weldon is Rose Nicholas, wife of that shyster, Dell Nicholas. How the hell he landed that beautiful broad is beyond me. Maybe because he rescued her from slopping pigs on that hardscrabble farm she grew up on. But the facts are, they’re married, and they’re both first-rate scammers. Only now, Rose has hooked up with your true love, Manny Divino. And they plan to waste you, Nicholas, and me. We’re all that’s standing in the way of your daddy’s fortune, Miss Gloria Wainwright. By the way, when is the big day?”

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She looked stunned, and even in the poor light I saw her face had paled. She turned away and didn’t speak for a minute or so, which seemed like hours. “We were married last week,” she finally offered in a soft, quaking voice. “We’re supposed to sail to Hawaii in a couple of days for our honeymoon.”

That news flash upped the ante, big time. Now there was nothing stopping Manny Divino’s greedy hands from heisting his new bride’s fortune—except her life. And if he could lay the blame for her tragic death on a jealous, wronged husband–Dell Nicholas–or a hot-blooded private eye named yours truly, it was Sweet Candy Lane, all the way to the bank.

{To be continued}

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7 thoughts on “Rose—A “Dinger, PI” Short: Part 4

  1. I was thinking that too, Margot. The atmosphere is really shaping up. Dinger is walking onto the stage with with a custom character and Michael you are doing much with the action between him and Miss Rich girl.in this. The little slap is a nice touch as is the very funny line about how the car starts right up and he wishes dames were as trustworthy or dependable. These are jewels with the combination of beautifully written descriptions, edgy action, and a basically good hearted man with a temper and lots of underlying passion seething under the surface.

    Liked by 1 person

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