Sunday

Sample Sunday: "Cold Reading" by David Wisehart — Chapter Eight

Cold Reading
A Nick Shaw Mystery

by David Wisehart

Private detective Nick Shaw is hired by a Hollywood theater producer to find a missing actress.

[Chapter One] [Chapter Two] [Chapter Three] [Chapter Four] [Chapter Five] [Chapter Six] [Chapter Seven]

Chapter Eight

I woke in my own bed, lying on my back with a thin arm across my chest and soft breathing in my right ear. My mouth was dry. The air was cold from the rumbling AC. The pale blue sheets smelled of alcohol. I turned my head to the right and saw a tangle of dark hair.

Meow, I thought.

Cat Lady’s hip was touching mine, skin on skin. My right arm was trapped under hers and pinned against her naked body. With my left hand I explored between my legs. I felt tender and spent, as if my gun had just been fired.

So it was like that. Another memorable night I couldn’t remember.

I raised my head a little from the pillow and saw Cat Lady’s sensuous curves beneath the sheets. My gun stirred in my hand. It may have just been fired, but I was pretty sure I had one left in the chamber.

The doorbell rang.

I wasn’t expecting anyone. Not at the door, and not in my bed. It was an unexpected morning.

Archer whimpered and got up from the floor where he had been laying at the foot of the bed. He padded over to my side. He wagged his tail and looked at me.

“Yeah,” I said, to clear my throat and my conscience, and removed Cat Lady’s arm from my chest.

She was out cold, whoever she was. I brushed aside the long, dark hair and recognized the face.

Caroline Myers.

The doorbell rang again.

I stared at her. Caroline Myers. Cat Lady. Silver Mustang. Stella Burke. It all went together somehow, but my head was too foggy to sort through the implications.

The doorbell rang again, followed by a knock. I sat up, tossed back the covers, and swung my legs over the edge of the bed. The room swung a little, too. A fresh pot of coffee, I thought, might settle the place down.

My cell phone rang.

“Jesus,” I muttered, and grabbed the phone off the nightstand.

I answered, “Yeah?”

“Nick Shaw?” I didn’t recognize the voice.

“Yeah.”

“We know you’re home.”

“Thanks for telling me. I wasn’t sure.”

“This is the police. Open the door.”

Not my kind of morning.

“Give me a minute,” I said, and hung up fast.

It took me three minutes to get from the bed to the front door. My legs weren’t cooperating, and neither were the cops. I let two more calls go through to voice mail and ignored the rude knocking as I struggled with my pants and shirt and hair. The mirror didn’t like me, and gave me a dirty look. I splashed some water on my face, downed a cold cup of yesterday’s coffee, grabbed my lawyer’s business card from the office desk, and opened the front door.

Two policemen waited out in the hall. One was a woman. Policepeople, you might say. I didn’t recognize the policepeople, but I recognized their mood. It was that same mood I saw in my exes—right before they became my exes.

The policeman was short, young, and Hispanic. The policewoman was a foot taller, and pale as a Nazi. She stood two steps back from the door and let the young man do the talking.

“Are you Nick Shaw?” he asked.

The general rule for talking to the cops is: don’t. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. With or without Miranda. But people like to talk, especially about themselves, and cops like to listen. It’s their job. Some of them are good at it. Others, not so much. Both kinds can put you in prison. And friendly chit-chat is how poor innocent bastards retire to death row.

I’m a talkative guy myself. It’s part of my charm. But cops don’t much go for charm, and for good reason. Charm is how bad guys get their way with the girls, and away with their crimes. I hadn’t committed any crimes worth talking about, but that didn’t mean I was completely innocent. I’ve bent more than a few rules in my day. Some days I bend them just to keep in shape. There’s always something those policepeople can pin on you, if you give them the motive and opportunity

To stall, I rubbed my eyes.

The policeman repeated his pick-up line, “Are you Nick Shaw?”

No charm at all. They must have loved him at the Academy.

I said without smiling, “I’d like to talk to my lawyer, please.”

“We’d like to talk to Nick Shaw.”

“He’d like to talk to his lawyer, too.”

The Nordic policewoman said, “Have you been drinking, sir?”

“I couldn’t pass the bar,” I said, “but my lawyer did.”

The man turned to the woman. “We’re in luck—a comedian.”

“You should see my lawyer. He’s a barrel of laughs.”

I handed him the business card.

He read it. “Marty Shaw?”

“My brother,” I said.

“Pro bono?”

“Pro fessional.”

The policeman tucked the card in a pocket of his uniform. “If your brother is Marty Shaw, then you must be Nick Shaw, right?”

“Call the number and ask him.”

“You’re a licensed private detective, is that correct, Mr. Shaw?”

I just smiled at him. Cops don’t like that.

“Do you know Antonio Moretti?”

I kept on smiling.

“He worked at Dante’s Den.”

Smiling.

“We know you talked with him yesterday.”

Smiling.

“But we don’t know why.”

Smiling.

“We assume you’re working on a case.”

Smiling.

“Your case just became our case.”

Smiling.

“Antonio Moretti is dead.”

I let the smile go before I hurt myself.

PREVIOUS: Chapter Seven

NEXT: Chapter Nine

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