…from the case files of Detective Pagasmo…
(continues from The Mark of Destiny)
Bullets perforated my apartment. I dropped and rolled into the living room. I didn’t stop until my back collided with the wall. I’d put a sofa between me and the foyer. Feeling around under my couch, I snagged a strap and pulled out a rifle. It wasn’t loaded. But the stock shattered the glass and showered me in a hail of tiny knives. I ran the stock across the windowsill to push out any remaining fragments and climbed out onto the ledge.
When I reached for the rail, I noticed something white gripped in my hand. It was the damned letter. The gunman had shot the seal leaving a hole behind. So this thing had value. If a marksman objected to the thing, then I needed to pay attention to it–after I escaped. So with a shrug, I stashed the letter in my duster’s pocket. Yes, I had a calf-length, leather duster in dove gray like an old fashioned detective. It flared in the wind tearing through the city as I clung to the fire escape zigzagging its way down the brick edifice.
A bullet pinged off the step above my head and I triple-timed it to the ground. As soon as my boots struck pavement, I ducked behind a shrub and pried up my favorite grate. It groaned like a lover caressed in all the right places and yielded its dark cavern to me. Dropping down into its welcoming hole, I resettled the grate and shimmied it so it was off kilter. That was my signal, and my girl responded. Like a pleased lover, she burped sewer gas and squeezed earthen legs until they closed, taking her entrance and her secrets with her. Let the gunman try to pry it loose. He wouldn’t get far.
Bye bye went the grate, sunken under piles of dirt. It was the work of my girl, Gaia, or what was left of her after pollution had sickened her. Safe in her bosom, I leaned against a wall and a photograph fluttered to my feet. Embossed on its back was this image:
On its front was a picture of my building. The ground shook, and I heard the tinkle of glass breaking. Those bastards had blown up my home. Now it was just a memory and a pile of broken bricks. Since I’d spent most of my time away from it chasing bad buys, I couldn’t even picture the interior. All I could call to mind were still frames from an Ikea catalog. The loss of it blew a hole through my heart, and not even Gaia’s wordless support could comfort me.
I was homeless again and after the disaster of my last case, I was jobless too. I crumpled the image and then smoothed it out when ‘2/10’ caught my eye. I needed to get to the bottom of this mystery.
More Detective Pagasmo stories: The Boxes Are Doors, Descending into Trouble, Epistemology, Novitiate, Lulled by Rhymes, News, Clues and Howitzers, Mixed Media, No Truth in Quotes, Haiku Hunt, Random Risks, Freeze Frame, The Mark of Destiny, Detective Pagasmo in Playing Dead, Detective Pagasmo.