It was the kind of night people steered clear of, fog hung in the air like it belonged there. It was so dense you could only see one city street lamp and the one I was looking at was right outside my office. It was under that street lamp when I saw a woman who didn’t belong on this side of town. She was classy, at least if her clothes revealed any truth to her she was.
Her high heels clicked on the way up to my second story office. I knew she was coming to see me; I was the only place still in business. Not many people recovered from the depression. Recovered? Survived is more like it. And the only reason I had is because I’m not dumb enough to put my money into banks. Crooked bastards.
Her silhouette outlined the name on the door. Vincent King on top and just under that: Private Detective. I watched her outline through the tempered glass. Her hand came up and I wondered if she would knock, she did.
“It’s open,” I called out. She opened the door and walked inside. This was my first real look at her. At first I didn’t think she was anything special. Average size, average looks. But it was her voice that caught my attention.
“Are you Mr. King?” she asked. It was a sweet sound and smooth as polished marble. This dame must be a singer or at least in some form of showbiz.
“Who wants to know?” I said, playing it cool. She introduced herself as Miss Monroe, putting the emphases on the “miss.”
I told her I was Mr. King and asked what I could do for her. She said she worked nights at the Kitty Kat Club down town, singing to all the rich clients for big tips. I knew she had to be a canary. That was one mystery solved. The other was what she was doing in my office. I hate mysteries; they are never as good as you hope they will be. This one looked like any other.
She said she had been hearing strange noises backstage when she was getting ready to leave and lately some of her “regulars” have stopped coming by the joint.
“Some men are married, no matter what they tell you, and their wives don’t like them hanging out at places like yours,” I told her.
“It’s not like that, Mr. King. The Kitty Kat is a respectable place; people come in to hear me sing. And the ones who are regulars bring their wives in with them.”
Normally I believe everyone is lying, and they usually are, but in her case I believed her. I’m not sure why. I asked how come she didn’t plead her case to the coppers. Have them to a formal inquiry instead of dragging her heels to my side of town.
“I went to the cops first,” she said. “They took a report and I never heard back from them. That was two weeks ago.”
This still didn’t add up. Why would a dame like her care about some of the stiffs that came into the bar? This gal wasn’t telling me everything but I didn’t care. I was on the nut and needed some green to pay the bills. She handed me a C-note and I took the case. She said there would be another one when I got to the bottom of this.
This was going to be the easiest two-hundred bucks I had ever made. Or at least I thought it would be. Funny thing about life; you never know when you’re getting in over your head.