A reinforced steel case containing test tubes, a machined spinning device and a tiny silver burner arrived on my overloaded desk.
“For murder,” the instructions read. “Just add water.”
I’d agreed to meet a man in an upmarket bistro in the smartest part of town, the sort of place that makes a morgue look like Grand Central Station. When I entered Le Bar Du Marche holding the steel case Quigley was sitting with his head in his hands.
“Is it illegal?” he asked. “To drink in your own home? To smoke in your own back garden? To play with your own son?”
I told him that none of those activities were illegal. I placed my name card on the bar.
“Marlowe,” I said. “I reunite people no matter what.”
Quigley smiled, “You’re the man!”
I ordered him a glass of Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne.
“Vintage blanc de blancs,” said Quigley holding up the slender glass. “My favourite.”
An hour later I was asking plenty of barmen if they’d seen a broad called Mandy Quilligoti. They’d all seen Mandy and when I tracked her down to the Blue Banana she was sitting cross-legged and blowing on her nails.
“Quigley?” she said. “This ain’t good.”
“Who said anything about good?”
I told her about Quigley’s Bugatti Veyron, the Enzo Ferrari, the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé, the encyclopaedic knowledge of foreign taxation, the hot coals, the mock electric chair, the Endangered Species Eating Club, his lunchtime routine in his favourite watering hole.
“So Quigley did alright,” she said lighting up.
“He wants the boy.”
“Guess you know about the boy.”
I opened the reinforced steel case and assembled the spinner and the silver burner on the bar.
“For murder,” I said. “I just add water.”
The barman delivered a full glass. Mandy Quilligoti stubbed out her cigarette and turned up her wrists.
Much later outside Le Bar Du Marche my mind was wrung out like a gravedigger’s rag. The place hadn’t changed since I last dropped by. Quigley was conducting operations centre stage and two goons clutching laptops at the bar laughed like coyotes. I sat down beside them and nudged the reddest one.
“He tells this one every day.”
“And who the hell are you?”
“Every single day,” I said slamming the reinforced steel case on the bar. “Now beat it.”
I opened the case and the two goons stared. The result of my spadework crawled out onto Le Bar Du Marche’s sterile bar, the embryo, the bruised fruit, and Quigley liked what he saw. He liked it very much.
"For Murder, Just Add Water"
Copyright: © 2010 Ian D Smith