Raymond Bones, PI (all) (image and short story, 673 words)



I’ve stood here for nearly forty minutes now, and the cold winter wind is whistling down this road like it’s got more than a song in its heart. I hate these gigs – I always knew there would be times like this, but I miss when I could just hunker down in the jalopy and wait. “Follow my wife” he says and lays down more green than I’ve ever seen – and probably more than on the college football field. I don’t ask too many questions; in this line if you know too much it can distort your view of the world and mine’s already so warped that I don’t want to see the optician just in case. Stupid thing is, I know what his wife’s doing; I won’t tell you any more than that so you’ve got plausible deniability – but what I will say is this ain’t no happy ever after story and frankly my camera’s got enough on both of them to make their shylock lawyers able to retire to their own retreats in the Bahamas.

I miss that car; whitewall tyres and a shine on the fender that no street kid will ever polish into some office guys patent leather shoes. But it was pay Doris, or keep the car – and much as I love the car when I hear Doris click-clicking into the office with those shoes and the stripe down the back of her pins… well, if I wasn’t so noble then I’d probably looking for a new secretary too.  But she’s good at what she does – at least, I think she is because recently I’ve seen less of my office than I have of my ex-wife; and that ain’t much.

So what am I here for? Well, it’s all down to that “follow the wife deal”.  I’ve been in the business long enough to know when something’s a little hooky – he knows somethings up, I know somethings up, I just don’t know what’s up and I’m hoping I’m not standing under it when it comes crashing down.  I’ve got the camera with me, with the long lens fitted so I can get the closeup shots – yeah, the clients love the pictures.  You can see it when their happy, grubby, grasping fingers almost snatch the prints from my hands before I’ve even had chance to make sure that they aren’t for some other client; you can see their minds wrestling with the proof confirming what they had thought with the embarrassment of being seen as a stalker.

Hey – there’s movement.  Here she comes, sitting at the outside cafe table. She’s pulled the cigarette out of the box and with those fingers that seem to be as long as her legs, she holds whilst the buck-a-day waiter lights it. She blows the smoke which curl through the tumbling red hair.  I draw the camera and get a couple of quick pictures – if nothing happens I can at least prove I was here. Surely she knows better than to sit in full view.  Another guy comes up to her. Can’t see his face, the Fedora is too low. She looks up (click, click goes my camera) and her mouth falls open.  There’s a subtle movement in his trench coat. She goes “oh!” and then he walks off. She’s just sat there, not moving.  I’m so far away I can’t hear anything – it was only because of the lens I could see her say anything – but that happy waiter-johnny’s back. But he’s not happy. His hands go up in the air and I can see all the other people now looking. I know what’s happened.  I know that the Boys in Blue will be here shortly and they’ll call the Black Moriah and the wife’s taking the long nap in the city morgue.

I’m outta here.  I’ve got the pictures to deliver and get the final wedge.  Then I’m going to take a long shower until I drain all the water from the apartment – and I know I still won’t feel clean.  As I say, I hate these gigs.


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