ood choice,” says Otto. A sudden gust stirs up whorls of paper, momentarily blocking your vision.
When the papers settle, you gasp. The library is gone. You’re on a deserted city block that reeks of rotten fruit and wet pennies and broken dreams. The clouds are the color of lead and it’s hot enough that you think they just might melt. You gasp again: in front of you, alive and well, is Pierce Mangrove. Despite the heat, he burrows down in a rumpled trenchcoat like it will ward off bad thoughts of good women.
“Let’s go, doll.”
You climb up the rusted stairwell of a building that looks like it was built for five bucks and sold for two. Pierce leads you to Apartment G and raps a beat on the door. A man opens it. He’s tall enough, but built for books.
Pierce flashes an I.D. “I’m Detective Mangrove. This is my gal Friday.”
“Er–hi. Can I help you?” he asks.
“That all depends. I’m looking for the truth–and the lady here wants a dark drink in a chilled glass. We’ll take ‘em in whatever order you wanna give them.”
“Uh, I’ll see what I have. Please come in, Detective. Miss.”
While the man clamors about in the kitchen, Pierce picks up his pictures, leaving smudges on them like stains on the soul. You see the stems of a calendar peeping out of a desk drawer, but you can’t make out the words. Pierce calls out, his voice easy, “So, where were you last Friday?”
“Me?” the man asks, appearing with drinks. “Why–I was at the club. You know, dancing and such.”
“You got any witnesses?”
“Uh. I was dancing with strangers. All night. But I do have this.” He flashes a wrist with the dark whisper of a stamp on it. Everything looks legit, but you notice the man shifting in his seat.
“What do you think?” Pierce asks you in an undertone.
Something about the wrist stamp looked fishy to you. But if you could get to that calendar, that would solve everything.