Thursday By D.I. Jolly
It had been a long summer by the time September rolled around and the rains started coming in. Nothing personal against the season of love, but for a man in my business, there’s nothing like a good thunderstorm for standing under street lights and complaining about wet cigarettes.
I had been hired by one Margarette Pine to follow her cheating boyfriend, Bobby. Problem was, after about 2 days, I realised that Margarette was not the girlfriend. Wasn’t even sure she was the lover.
No, she had fallen for Bobby and was having me do all the stalking for her. I guess her dresses were too nice to have her sitting in trees with telescopic camera lenses taking photos of men in their underwear. Boy, my folks are proud of me.
It wasn’t the first time I’d been hired by the crazy one to do their dirty work, so it wasn’t the first time I’d written up a bunch of phoney invoices to wring out every dime I could before I handed my findings over to the police either.
Margarette threatened revenge, but then again, it was Thursday so a woman professing her undying hatred seemed normal. And then September rolled around, the clouds gathered and burst and I found myself standing in the rain watching the sweat of the city run down into the gutters, along with so much trash… and I wondered.
Maybe I should get washed away with it. Maybe I’m just as much trash as the rest of it. I’d call myself a rat, but in a moment like that, I had a higher opinion of rats.
After 20 years, you’d think I wouldn’t let people like Margarette Pine get to me. She was, after all, just a crazy woman obsessed with some guy she’d met in a bar. He was a decent enough fellow and she’d apparently come from the kind of home that meant simple manners were a luxury.
It was sad when you thought about it, but that didn’t make it any less crazy.
End of the day, all she wanted was someone to love that would treat her right, she just went about it the wrong way. And all I’d done was get paid for the job she hired me to do. Then done my actual job. Still, it didn’t make me feel any better about it.
When my taxi finally arrived to take my drunk ass home, the driver gave me a cocked eyebrow, a towel and charged me extra for dripping on his seats. I wanted to argue that if he’d been quicker about picking me up, we wouldn’t have had a problem, but fuck it. Everyone’s got to get paid somehow. Besides, the towel was clean.
Pinned to my door was a letter from Margarette’s lawyer, apparently demanding I return the money I’d, allegedly, taken from her. Proof that it didn’t matter how much time you spent in school, some people would do anything for a buck.
My eyes didn’t make it to the bottom of the page before the letter was dropped into the bin. More trash piling up. Not worth the ink used to write it. Another waste of potential. That piece of paper could have been an ancient tree one day if it hadn’t been chopped down, chopped up and wasted on some stupid two-bit lawyer trying to prove a guilty person slightly less guilty.
I climbed into the shower to try warm up my bones and get some of the whiskey out of my blood, but the stream and the hot water sent it straight to my head and before I knew it, I was blacking out on the bathroom floor trying to get my hands and feet on any surface I could so that I wouldn’t have another mess to clean up in the morning.
Boy, my folks are proud of me.
At some point in the night, I poured myself into bed, so when I woke up the next afternoon, I was both hungover and confused. The perfect combination to start the weekend. It also meant that it took me a minute to realise that the banging wasn’t just in my head but also at my front door.
Margarette Pine jumped like she’d never seen a man with bloodshot eyes in his underwear before, and it gave me just enough time to decide whether or not I was going to let her in. But she blushed before she frowned and I let curiosity get the better of me.
I then excused myself, and went back to my bedroom to change. I left the front door open so that she could decide if she really wanted to do whatever it was she’d come to do. Two minutes later, and to my surprise, I found her in my kitchen making coffee.
“It stinks in here, you know, you should really think about opening a window from time to time, or you know, taking out the garbage.”
She looked me up and down, cocked an eyebrow and then followed with:
“But then where would that leave you?”
I couldn’t help myself. She had lied to me, hired me under false pretences, was in the process of trying to sue me, but funny was funny so I let out a rye laugh before coughing a little and reaching for my cigarettes.
I offered her one but she declined and handed me a cup of coffee.
“Drink this, you look like you need it.”
“What are you doing in my apartment Ms. Pine?”
“You’re a detective, I need something detected.”
I took a sip of the coffee, which was actually pretty good, and let her words sink in. She was obviously nuts, but she had confidence and a spark that I couldn’t help but admire.
“Considering the last time you hired me was to stalk some guy for you, I’m going to have to decline, now leave.”
“Just let me tell you…”
“Did I stutter? Thanks for the coffee, now make like a tree lady. I don’t like working for liars if I don’t have to.”
She rolled her eyes and I started to worry that I might just find Margarette Pine attractive. She then crossed her arms and I got the distinct impression she wasn’t going anywhere.
“Just hear me out.”
“Do I have a choice?”
Her feet shifted and I saw a rabbit look come into her eyes before she set her jaw.
“You going to get violent?”
If it was a line to get my protective instincts up, it worked, and she deserved the fucking Oscar.
I then sat down and finally lit a cigarette, ready to listen. I wasn’t particularly fond of sharing the moment of the first one of the day with a stranger. Particularly when we all still had our clothes on, but some days were just fuckier than others.
“Look, we both know the last job wasn’t on the level. Things have just been going badly for me lately and I admit, I went a little off the rails. And I’m sorry, ok? But I do need your help. I’ve been working at the boutique store on Main, nice place, nice people but the boss well, her husband is into some shady stuff and I was thinking that maybe…”
“That maybe I could find out what it is for you. So that you can blackmail him?”
Her mouth dropped open and for the second time in a minute I thought that if she was acting she was wasting her talents.
“What? No! I was thinking he might be the reason my friend and co-worker Melissa is missing. Asshole!”
I took another sip of coffee, considered my options and said:
“Still no. Now get out.”
I had every intention of looking for Ms. Pines missing friend. Curiosity was what got me into this game in the first place and women in need, well, that’s what kept me there.
I honestly just wanted to see what she’d do, and let me tell you, few things wake you up like hot coffee. Especially when it’s poured into your lap and followed up by a surprisingly hard slap to the face.
I was too busy trying to pull of my pants to see her stand up, but I could hear her stomp her way down the hall and I think everyone in the building heard her slam the door.
And then, I found myself standing at an open window, shirt on, pants off and a cigarette hangout out of my mouth being stared at by the Hawthorns who lived across the courtyard from me, and I thought:
Boy, my folks are proud of me.