Solitaire, Part 5

Eddie has captured the burglar Red Ace.  The local police captain, Edison O’Mally, wants some answers from our hero.  Come back tomorrow for part 6! 

* * *

Captain Edison O’Mally of the Arcadia Police Department stood near the door while a uniform took my statement outside the Funeral Parlor.  Two more uniformed officers were rolling Red Ace into a custody wagon, the bubble from the popgun having not dissolved yet.

“So you just happened to be having a quiet drink when a known criminal entered the bar in a completely unrelated coincidence?” the office repeated back to me, incredulously.  I’d had to embellish my story a little bit to protect the not-so-innocent (me).

“That’s correct, Officer Higgins,” I replied, my face attempting to beam honesty and settling for not completely giving everything away.

“So, how come five other patrons report that the suspect was seen at your table, having a rather heated conversation with you?” Higgins was good.  He could actually ask a question and could compare facts to each other and see when they contradicted each other.  Most of the uniformed officers I’d seen over the years were the type to accidentally ended up asking the wrong person the wrong question, like, “Was it you what done the deed, then? Oh God, why are you pulling my spleen out through my mouth?”  Higgins was one of the good ones, which was making him a pain in my ass at that moment.

“I’d asked him to pass me a coaster.  He didn’t want to.  Wasn’t a very neighborly burglar, I can tell you,” I said innocently.

“Hazzard,” O’Mally called as he came over to us.  The captain, the walrus tusks of his gen-mod gleaming, nodded at the officer taking my statement.  Higgins nodded back and stepped away.  “Care to tell me just what the hell is going on?”  His jowls quivered slightly, as a walrus’s jowls are wont to do.  O’Mally thought his gen-mod made him look intimidating, but mostly it just game him fish breath.

“Captain, as I was explaining to your man Higgins here, this whole thing is completely innocent, just a big misunderstanding.”  I attempted to put an arm around O’Mally’s shoulders, but the look he gave me made me think better of it.

“Drop the act, Eddie,” O’Mally said.  “Be straight with me.”

I sighed.  “Fine.  I’m working a case, all right?  Red Ace is my one lead on it, and I managed to trick the guy into meeting with me, but he wouldn’t give up anything.”

O’Mally nodded, sending his jowls quivering again.  “We can give you some time in the interrogation chamber with Red Ace, Eddie, but I don’t know what else we can do.  Most of the evidence linking this character to those burglaries is circumstantial at best.”

“Right,” I said, turning up my coat collar.  “I’ll be down at the precinct in an hour.”

Solitaire, Part 4

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.”