Miss Typewell and Eddie set a trap for the mysterious burglar. Will they be successful? Will Eddie ever win a game of solitaire? Check back tomorrow for part 5!
* * *
In fact, it took seven more lost games of solitaire before Red Ace replied to Miss Typewell’s message.
“I’ve got a meeting with Red Ace set up for this evening at 7:00 at the Funeral Parlor,” Miss Typewell said, indicating the name of my favorite bar over on Purgation Avenue.
“Great,” I replied, pinching shut loss #2,145 and standing up from my desk. “Guess I’ve got some time to get there myself and make sure all my ducks are all in a row.” I walked over to my filing cabinet and dug out my weapon, the popgun, checking its cartridge and the safety.
“Yup, all in a row,” I said, holstering the weapon.
* * *
I arrived at the Funeral Parlor at half-past six and took up residence in a corner booth. In deference to the fact that I was about to have a meeting with an individual who had already sucker punched me once, I just ordered a seltzer.
Red Ace arrived when I somehow wasn’t looking. One second, I was alone in my booth, no one around me. The next, a slender figure sat across from me, their whole form bathed in shadows that hadn’t really even been there moments before. It’s like Red Ace traveled with their own shadow.
“Red Ace, I presume,” I said after my startled yelp at the burglar’s sudden appearance had removed any dignity I had left.
“Yes, Detective Hazzard,” the burglar replied, their voice blurred by a modulator.
“Really, vocal distortion?” I snarked, arching an eyebrow at my shadowy companion. “Are you really a woman trying to pretend to be a man, or a man trying to make people think you’re a woman trying to pretend to be a man? What’s the damn point?”
“My sex is of no consequence,” Red Ace replied, “only my skills.”
“Oh, well, that’s just a giant pile of—” I began, but Red Ace cut me off.
“Detective, you reached out to me, and here I am. What is it you want?”
I looked Red Ace right in the eye, or where I thought their eyes might be. “I want those damn documents you stole from Vellum’s office last night,” I said, anger and frustration tinting my voice.
“I’m afraid you will not be able to meet the asking price for those documents, Detective,” Red Ace replied coolly and electronically from behind the vocal modulator.
“Try me,” I replied, leaning back and trying to act casual.
“Fifty million,” the burglar responded calmly.
I sat there silently for a minute, regretting my decision to not get a real drink.
“That is a bit rich for my blood,” I replied quietly.
“Indeed,” said Red Ace, standing. “Now, if there is nothing else…”
My hand shot out and grabbed Red Ace by the wrist. “Actually, there is,” I said, a smirk on my face. “You’re under arrest for theft, boy-o.”
Red Ace stood there silently for a beat, then laughed, a strange sound filtered through the vocal modulator.
“Detective Hazzard,” the burglar said, “this has been somewhat amusing, so I guess I’ll let you keep your hand this time.” Red Ace suddenly twisted their wrist, wrenching it from my supposedly-tight grasp as the burglar danced away from the booth, the shadow that had protected their identity following. I reached for the popgun, flicking the safety off as I drew. Red Ace was nearly to the door, but the popgun fires much faster than a person can run. Or dance.
The gun went off with its distinctive pop! and an expanding bubble of semi-permeable matter flew across the room at Red Ace. The burglar turned to see what had caused the noise and caught the bubble face-first. It enveloped them, and the bubble’s forward momentum rolled Red Ace up against the far wall of the Funeral Parlor, knocking the lithe individual off their feet.
I stood slowly and gingerly picked my way across the bar, holstering the popgun as I went. I stopped in front of the bubble holding Red Ace, resting a foot against the gently-rocking and now very solid membrane surrounding the burglar. “Well then,” I said, fishing a cigarette out of my coat pocket and lighting it, “looks like there was something else.”