Deep Trouble At Lillian Lake
She didn’t even say goodbye
Photo credit: Darrin Atkins
I never liked mud. I mean, it gets everywhere.
I waded in the lake, looking for clues. That was my job, after all, looking for bits and pieces of evidence. I’m a detective for hire.
“You got ten minutes, buddy," said the police sergeant. “Hurry up."
“No problem," I said as I stepped around in the swampy water. I reached down at something in the water and pulled it close to me. It dropped back in the water so I grabbed it again.
I turned around to the bank and headed out of the water.
“Thanks for letting me in the gate," I said as I slipped fifty bucks inside my handshake. You have to do payoffs there days, or incentives if you will.
I started to walk off.
“What was it?” asked the lady sergeant.
I turned hesitantly, just enough.
“This receipt. It’s recent and the missing woman was out here a lot."
Sergeant Millbrae feigned a lack of interest.
“Get along now," she grumbled. “You were never here."
I was in my old Ford Falcon car a few minutes later when I pulled the wet leaf out of my pocket, the leaf I got from the lake. The receipt had been in my pocket the whole time, but I had to drop it in the water to make it seem like I had found it there.
The sergeant had given me what I needed to find, and that was that word had gotten around that the case was important. My guess is that the police chief had some interest or involvement.
I found a pay phone and called my office.
“Any messages?" I said to Miss West when she answered.
“Let me see, detective sir."
“Yes, Detective Greene, sir. A letter was dropped off."
“It’s an old newspaper clipping from last year.”
“What’s it about?"
“It is an advertisement for a door-to-door service to help elderly people.”
“Miss West, does it look like it was cut out of the paper with scissors?"
“No, Detective Greene, sir. It looks like someone ripped it. Is that a clue?”
“It could be. Anything else?"
“Yes. Miss Frida called. She said she’s wearing something nice for you and will waiting for you at the Ninth Street corner back. She just called a few minutes ago.”
“Thanks. You can go home now. Make sure to lock up."
“Yes sir. Have a good evening. Goodbye."
I hung up. My new assistant was great. My last one just left one day of the blue last month. She did not say goodbye to me, but then our last case together was a very hard one to get through. I don’t blame her for leaving like she did. After all, I can’t offer what others do.
I parked my Ford near Ninth Street and got out. It was early evening.
I heard some footsteps out of nowhere and felt a quick punch to the side of my jaw. I whipped around and landed a hard right in the man’s chest. He hit back but I hit harder.
“What the hell?" I asked.
He pulled out a pistol.
“Stay off the Lillian Lake case," he said.
I was about to give some retort when I heard a revolver being cocked.
“Drop it,” said a woman’s voice to the man. "Unless you like walking around without your head.”
He let the pistol fall into the grass and then he disappeared into the dark.
“Miss Frida," I said as I picked up the pistol. “You have a new dress."
She kissed me hard under the light of the lamppost.
We both knew that the case was going to be a long, complicated one. And that was okay with us.