Sunday, January 16, 2011

the little man

I saw that someone had been tailing me for three blocks. It was a lone figure trailing behind me. I drove a few more blocks just to make sure it was me he was after. It was.

I picked up a little speed to gain some distance, but not enough to make him think that I had caught on to him. I didn't see any other cars dogging me so I decided I was going to take a chance and let this guy catch up. I found a spot, a park not too far from an alley.  I quickly pulled in and exited the car. I walked across the street and went into the alley as if it had been original intended destination.

Once in the alley, I ran a good piece, and found cover. It was a good place to watch and wait. 

My shadow caught up with me within a few minutes. I first saw his small silhouette appear at the entrance of the alley. He had put out his cigarette on the sidewalk, lowered a hand into a pocket. It was obvious what he was reaching for.

I watched him walk the entire way toward me. All the debris in the alley, to my advantage, made it impossible for my stalker to see me. At one point he felt confident enough away from the bustling sidewalk behind him to pull out his gun.  He held it in front of him - ready to fire at a moment's notice.  He seemed a little on the jumpy side. I couldn't blame him.

I had my gun out too, but I wasn't feeling jumpy. Finally he reached the area where I was hiding, he gazed around, and moved passed me. Ten steps forward, if he looked around again, he could have a good gander at me. It was my turn to introduce myself.

I used both hands and aimed the gun dead center of his back. I couldn't miss.

"Drop it!" 

He didn't have time to respond. He knew if he moved to shoot, he'd be dropped like a sack of potatoes.

"Drop your gun now!"

The man was rather small in stature - not very threatening. I saw his revolver hit the brick surface. He slowly raised his hands to shoulder level.

"You're following me." 

"Why yes - yes I have - how very observant of you."

For a man that had had the drop on him, he didn't seem to alarmed or fearful.

"I didn't come to harm you Mr. Hale." 

"Doesn't seem like that's going to happen anyway." 

To my surprise he knew my name and I was flummoxed as to how he knew. He turned and faced me slowly. 

"Stay where you are mister - you know me but I don't know you!"

"Oh, please excuse me for not introducing myself. My name is Valentine, Clarence Valentine. I am a private detective. I was employed to find you - and give you a message."

"You found me."

"Yes - I'm quite good at my job."

Valentine started to reach into his pocket.

"That's not a good idea."

"I was only going to give you my calling card."

"I'll get it myself - move over there and stand facing the wall."

I frisked him and made sure he wasn't packing anything else. I also checked his wallet. He was who he said he was. 

"I don't have a lot of patience, and you're in a very bad situation. Who hired you?"

"I'm sorry, the little man smiled a creepy little smile, "I can't divulge that information to you."

"I can make you."

"That would be most unfortunate, and besides, you know very well who hired me."

"I have a vague idea."

"Like I said, I was sent to find you, to give you a message by the man you know as The Russian. It's my understanding that you've been in his neighborhood going door to door selling matches."

"What's the message?" I pushed firmly.

"There's no reason to be so rough Johnny.  I am of no threat to you whatsoever."

"I doubt that."

He slowly reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper.

"This is for you - an address."

I looked at the paper and recognized the address scribbled on it. It was one listed in Clayton's book.

"This is a trap."

Valentine looked up at me - I didn't like his calm demeanor.

"But of course it's a trap."

"What am I supposed to do with this - I'm no idiot!"

"No Johnny, I am a good judge of people and can clearly tell that you are indeed not an idiot...but you will go."

"Why's that?"

"Does the name Camille mean anything to you?"

Within a split second I knew that he saw in my face that the name definitely meant something to me. He saw in my face fear and desperation.  He probably witnessed the color of my flesh turn pale."They have Camille, and if you aren't at this address by six o'clock tonight, she will die."

Valentine's calm demeanor quickly faded as I shoved my gun into his mouth and to the back of his choking throat.

Now it's my turn to see his flesh turn pale.