SERIALIZED DETECTIVE FICTION SNIPPET #2
To reread serial #1 go here!
Felix is the kind of girl who chain-smokes in bed. She’s only pretty because of her habits, this she knows but men tell her how gorgeous she is nearly all the time. Her habits are things like chain-smoking and drinking bourbon and wearing crop tops and short, close cut hair, even though big hair is the style these days. From a rat’s nest of old underwear, magazines, and cigarette butts, Felix propels herself toward the only mirror in her apartment. It’s cracked and cloudy but she can still see how pretty she is, cigarette dangling from the corner of her mouth, gaunt everywhere but tits and ass.
She should be the one trapped in a computer, she thinks. Karen was always the nice one, the one who’d never get mixed up in drugs or gangs but somehow did. And Felix had nothing to do with it. But she should have, she would have, had Karen not swooned for the first big thug that held a door. Karen was simple that way and Felix was not. She’d punch a man for holding the door; well maybe she would. Hunger knotted itself up in her stomach and she didn’t feel strong enough to land a real blow. Still, she lifted a fist and pointed it at her reflection. Someone ought to punch her, she thought. For being a coward. For not understanding the signs.
` Joe Dean was always a big man and his fist could bruise a rhino. Instead, he’d been bruising her sister, big purple welts across her back and thighs, fingerprint markings on her upper arms. And Karen had hidden it all, flouncy sweaters with tweety bird emblazoned across the chest, high collared Victorian style shirtwaists, whatever—she’d always had her own style. Felix had been too addicted to dope the last two years to notice. She’s clean now, sniffs at the memory, but her computer beeps from the desk and for the second time that morning, she’s glad to be clean.
Roland’s still got a cut on his face and he’s not hungover because it’s the second day of his weekend off from drinking. Three days on, two days off. That’s how he knows he’s not an alcoholic. His mother taught him that a healthy liver only needs a bit of respite, not the whole damn week, just a bit, here and there, so it knows you’re good looking out. His mother was a drinker too, gin though, not whiskey. But she’s dead so what’s the point in thinking about her, is what Roland thinks before getting back on his bike and heading for the commons. On his weekends, he likes drinking in the fresh air instead, and a few cigarettes for good measure.
The commons are a bustle with nuns of all things. Nuns and a big group of amish people from some Midwestern shit pile. The gardens are swollen with tourists and artists and stupid people on swan boats, which he wishes would go the hell out of style. Karen Dahlgren would have had to walk these paths every day during her trial, that is, assuming she took the green line to government center. Of course, she could have avoided the commons entirely and stuck to the street but Roland believes Karen to be a whimsical type. One look at her closet had confirmed a suspicion building since his run in with the brunette, with Felix—a name that still struck him as odd. She was uncouth and cold and rangy where her sister was small and stout as a tea kettle, beautiful for sure, big hair, big smile, that kind of thing. Where there’s one side of the coin, there’s the other. That’s what Roland thought.
What Roland couldn’t figure, was how’d the nice one wind up dead?