The Rain Stops for no Man
A Tom Steele Mystery
I looked at the weathered gun in my still trembling hands and felt nothing. Wiping the blood from one eye – I quickly killed the lights, pulling back the blinds to check for activity on the dimly lit sidewalk.
Walking over to the rain soaked second story office window on Main Street, I couldn’t help but reflect on the dour forbidding surroundings. I had always hated dreary Montesano with its colossal, overbearing Court House and rain soaked trees. It was a place that encouraged debauchery and my tendency to drink. Hard.
Then I saw something in the distance, or rather someone.
It was the figure of my secretary, Monica Strange. Monica was a modest, slight woman fighting back the years well. A skill most women had come to master with effort in Montesano, but Monica, with her small dainty feet and squat hands, struggling as she jumped the swelling rivers of rain as they poured down the street in the half light, seemed to master with it with a graceful ease.
I gulped. Glanced at my own reflection and shuddered. What stared back at me in that rain beaten window was a frantic, sympathetic, drinker with too many bad memories for one man to carry. My friends saw me as a lumbering, gentle sap for a skirt with a sad story. They were right. Like most, I had had dreams. Once. Dreams that had long ago been ripped out and stomped into the mud of this town. “At least they weren’t alone down there.” I thought to myself.
Once, I had even saved a motionless toddler that was stuck in a drain pipe. It set me up in business in the one horse town. And kept me in booze ever since. That and following cheating spouses. Both of which were never in short supply in Montesano.
But not even a well intentioned P.I. who had once saved a motionless toddler that was stuck in a drain, was prepared for what Monica had in store this night. “Of all nights, not tonight Monica.” I muttered, quickly covering the window.
The rain hammered down like jumping toads, making me more nervous than usual.
As I stepped outside the office, quickly slamming the door behind me, Monica came closer. Dripping wet, Her long black hair resting in tangled clumps, her wet feet squishing a trail on the lime green stained carpet.
I could see the smiling glint in her eye as the washed out light from the street bathed her moon shaped face. She ran toward me, her arms outstretched.
“I am here because I need you Tom,” Monica bellowed, in a spiteful tone that reeked of desperation. She slammed her clenched fist against my rock hard chest, with the force of a bear. “I frigging love you, Tom Steele.”
Holding her close to me with one arm, I looked back into the office and the body lying on the floor behind the desk. I wanted to kiss her, needed it as much as she. Her full wet lips drawn to me like a magnet. It was all I could do to push her away. I was even more torn and still fingering the weathered gun in my pocket as I decided she had to get out of there. For her own good.
”Monica, I need you too,” whispering into her over-pierced ear. “But….I need you to go.”
We looked at each other with that look that required no words to convey our feelings, like two lovers talking at a very wild dinner party, which had loud piano music playing in the background and two loving uncles bopping to the beat.
I studied Monica’s tiny hands. Taking them into my own. Eventually, taking a deep breath. I lied. “I’m sorry, but I can’t give you what you need, I’m no good for you….for anyone” I extorted, in a pitying tone.
She could tell I was lying and Monica looked back at me longing, her body raw and trembling, like a blue-tinged, barbecued salmon on a grill.
I could actually hear Monica’s body shatter into 8747 pieces as she sobbingly turned away, slowly walking down the hall into the distance.
Watching her bound away into the rain, I knew I had done the right thing. She couldn’t be involved in what had to be done this night.
I walked slowly into the office and reached down taking hold of a wad of blood soaked matted hair. Reg’s fragile lips twisted and his fingers claw-like, strained to grab onto my hand. He looked frightened, his body limp like an uncooked steak. Blood squirting from the wound in his chest.
Then he let out an agonizing groan and collapsed. Moments later Reg Masters was dead.
I went to my desk drawer, removing a bottle of bourbon. It wasn’t the first time someone had died in my office, but this time, somehow, it felt different.
Not even a drink would calm my nerves tonight. There was a war brewing in Montesano, and no one would be able to play Switzerland. Not anymore.
“You’re going to have to deal with that”, the seated councilman said, leaning forward into the half-light from the dark corner of the room. “This isn’t over.”
Draining the last of the bourbon, I turned toward him. “It never is around here….is it.” “Now tell me where you got this gun.”