“What? Eva’s back in town? Listen, I don’t want my nephew being taken in by that hussy again” Mrs Fredrickson said as she leaned forward, shaking her bony index finger at me. “I want you to go to whatever club or dive that good-for-nothing is holed up in and then I want you to drag him out and bring him here. Got that?”
I didn’t need to talk about my fees or expenses; Mrs Fredrickson and I had an understanding. She understood that I would hand her my bill and I understood she’d pay it. That’s just how it was; money was no object for her as far as her nephew was concerned.
Which was good because I was getting a lot of letters marked ‘final notice’ and the men who’d been visiting my office looked like they’d had their faces and their fists stuffed full of walnuts.
Booze is like brain bleach; it washes away all the anxieties and considerations of the day and then, while you’re asleep, all memories of your immediate past as well. It’s a placebo, a twenty-four hour pseudo-panacea at best, but it doesn’t stop a whole lot of people from thinking ‘hell with it’ and knocking back a glass.
There were a whole lot of people out drinking that night and there were more than a few places in town, legal and illegal, where a person could exchange their dignity for an empty wallet and some bruised ribs before being thrown into the gutter. Places you didn’t return to if you knew what was good for you.
I had no choice, I needed to find Peter and collect the dough.
Found him eventually, hunched up over a shot glass down at Salomon’s, a seedy little place down by the docks on South-side. I took off my hat and placed it on the bar as I sat down on a stool next to his. “Hey Peter. Feel like visiting your aunt?”
His eyes went wide as he sat up straight and looked at me. “Aunt Glenda? Wait, I know you don’t I? You’re that private detective…say, did she send you down here to find me?”
I smiled. “She certainly did, told me to take you straight to her. So, what d’ya say Peter? My car’s right around the corner.”
“Aw wait now, why don’t we relax huh? We can have a drink, on me, and I’m sure she’ll ignore the delay.”
My gut churned. I wanted the liquor as bad as he did, the smell of it was taking hold of me and I could taste it just by breathing…
“Nope, your aunt said to get you to her place as soon as possible; her words.” I stood up and placed my hat back on my head. “Come on Peter, let’s go”.
“Aw, come on, just one more drink…”
Fucking whiny bastard. I felt anger welling up inside of me, felt my blood boil and surge to my face. I took a deep breath, and with extreme concentration I forced the brimstone back down again. “Listen Peter, I had to visit a whole lot of dives before I found you here; I’ve had a rough night. I’m in no mood. Now let’s go.”