Authors: RA Chandler
On one side of the building were quad bikes, all-terrain buggies, a couple of 4x4s and a small coach. I’d happened upon some kind of resort, but there weren’t any customer cars or staff mulling around.
Only this retreat had a killer’s car outside and it looked like it had just been polished.
The front door was stylish redwood in a shaker style with a lion’s head handle and a matching buzzer. I pressed the buzz. No one came so I pressed it again. Still no one so I leaned on it.
“Alright, alright,” a voice said behind the door. I took out my gun and held it at the side.
“Who is it?” the voice said.
“Hello,” I shouted back.
“Listen, we are not open to the general public, our website will be open in a few weeks, but if you come back in the future you will be escorted off the grounds, if you can get to them, after next week the perimeter will be a mile away.”
“It’s Garvey,” I said finally.
I couple of locks turned and I heard an electronic beep and then the door opened to reveal a man that wasn’t big, didn’t drive a red mustang with the word ‘badass’ on the side and didn’t do independent thinking.
Quinn stood in front of me and he wasn’t dressed as his usual dapper self but in a fleece and hardy work trousers. He looked like the captain of a fishing ship returned from a long voyage without enough to compensate for the rough seas and risk to life. Behind him was a fancy reception desk and a lounge area, everything was wrapped in protective plastic and a few delivery labels were attached. The lounge area had an open fire burning that could have melted all the ice off the mountain.
“Garvey, it’s good to see you, how’d you find us? Come in, come in.”
I stepped across the threshold when everything inside of me was telling me to get back into my truck and hightail it down the mountain trail and back to Brooklyn.
Quinn locked the door behind me.
I tried not to look surprised to see him.
“Sorry, I know it’s a city habit to lock doors but we’re not open yet. Come and sit by the fire.”
“Sure, it’s seriously chilly up here.”
I sat down in the lounge area and warmed myself. It was a large but cozy space with low bamboo dividers to give the feel that you were in a booth. No TVs, a large library of books, stocked drinks cabinet and window that gave you a god view of the town below. I could imagine skiers, hill climbers or celebrities wanting to ride a quad bike into the snow without paparazzi, paying more than they should in a place like this that only those that could afford it told other friends that could afford it about.
“So yeah, how did you find us?”
I looked into the fire as he spoke, trying not to touch my ear as Sebastian spoke into the earpiece hidden under my snow cap.
“Dude I’ve just picked up the heat signature of another male, big dude too, keep your eyes open,” he said.
“Well old man, that wasn’t the easiest investigation I’ve ever had to do. Because of all this crap with losing the job I though fuck why not come out here and see how you’re doing? I remembered you said your brother had a cabin out here somewhere so I thought I’d just drive out, maybe get some breakfast, and climb a mountain and shit you know. Guy in town owns a wooden bar with a few rooms above it calling it a motel didn’t know any cabins belonging to a Quinn or a family of Quinns. Then I happened on the town deputy sheriff, nice guy once I got my P.I license out and made it clear I didn’t want trouble and was just trying to find my friend. Well he was suggesting I look elsewhere when I mentioned your brother used to be a fighter. Then he was insanely excited about directing me up here, said he was on the lookout for paparazzi ahead of an opening.”
He nodded. Which was good, because my story was bullshit. “Yeah he still goes under his fighting name of Tapper Lancaster.”
“So what is this place?”
“Pet project. More a retreat than a hotel, figured I did my time, saved enough money and wanted invest in something of my own.”
“Hobart would lose his shit if knew you were doing something like this.”
“Well, we all have our little secrets.”
“I thought it was your brother’s place though.”
“Yeah we are sort of joint investors, I’m sure you understand when I don’t scream it about the place. You don’t want to give a man like McKinley a heads-up that you're going to be his competition.”
“Well if you want something to eat we’ve got some stuff in the kitchen, you’ll have to bear with me though. Staff are coming up for some kind of training so I need to use the one in the manager’s apartment. When the place is up it’ll have thirty functioning suites and twenty-four hour staff mainly from the local township. I’ll cook and we can make a day of it, take the quads out. I’ll get my brother up.”
“Heat source approaching you,” said Sebastian in my ear.
“Tapper’s already her,” said a gruff voice. “Who’s your friend Jack?”
I turned to see a big man that without a doubt hurt people for a living. I couldn’t resist looking at his hands and I wasn’t surprised that they were the kind that could strangle a woman.
“Dude do not got into any fucking mountains,” Sebastian shouted in my ear.
Tappy was about six-six but clean and tidy if not a pretty man. His hands had been hitting hard things for some time and his face had absorbed a lot of punishment through the years. His face had been left without much muscle movement. Worn like old leather, scaring around his eyes, eyebrows and mouth. His nose had been smashed flat and then next from left to right a few times. Under all of it though he and Quinn had the same eyes.
“Tappy this is Garvey Fields, used to be head of security at the Mayflower,” said Quinn to his brother.
Tappy strode over and my hand disappeared into his killing hands.
“Tell you what,” he said. “Jack go get some sleep and I’ll whip up some scrambled eggs, bacon, we got these big fat sausages, and throw on some hash browns. What you say?”
He turned and went back towards the kitchen; I assumed, stood in the doorway and leaned against the frame.
And just watched us.
So much for breakfast.
“Any luck trying to get a new job Garvey?” said Quinn oblivious to his brother weird behavior.
“Yeah sort of, still doing trying to do like you suggested and look into the stuff that happened the other night at the hotel with Marley One. I’m thinking being a private detective is my thing, maybe I can have a few successes to help me build up a reputation for success.” Then I said so quietly it was almost a secret, “you hear that Marley One got iced?”
“Killed? Where?” he said after attempting to look shocked, but he it gave up quickly, no one here cared that much if he died.
“Some girl lives out in Seagate, used to date him, nice girl, sexy as hell. The kind of girl he’d come running to if she promised to ride him cowgirl. Only she didn’t ask him to come over and she didn’t set up his death to look like a suicide. She’s my new official client; I’ve been paid for six grand’s worth of effort.”
Quinn didn’t speak or move.
Tapper stood as still as Mount Rushmore.
I said, “went to Hummingbird club where Marley One was meant to showcasing at the new concert hall auditorium things they’re opening. The idea was to drum up some business a hotel chain. For my trouble I got punched in the mouth a few times and he got a little winded. Anyway as you might imagine he left at that point but his date didn’t, she’s got a talent with men so I stayed a while. We had a little drink and chat you know, nothing too deep, if I'm honest I was spending most of my time thinking about pinning her ankles behind her head, know what I mean? Then less then twenty-four hours after that she calls me up offering me money and some grab ass if I get him to leave her place ‘cause his drunk ass had passed out on her bed. Only thing is he was dead not drunk. Shit like that messes up you mojo.”
“You’ve had it a bit rough these last few days,” said Quinn.
“The things that convinced me it wasn’t the girl that did it was his clothing, the boy had an obsession with is monogram being on everything, even his underwear. I don’t know if he thought he was going to lose it or something.”
“How can you be sure she didn’t do it?”
“I can’t, but the cops will test for GSR and even though they’ll find her gun in his hand they won’t say she shot it. Besides there wasn’t a smell of it in the room. I’m guessing he was killed elsewhere and dumped in her room.”
“The man was annoying sure, but why would someone kill him?”
“Now here’s the thing. Once I put the pieces together things started to make more sense. So here’s how I have it. He received a note threatening to kill him if he didn’t pay out money, which could have been a red herring, not sure. The room between his and a girl with a gun she had no reason to have was one room away with only a room with unlocked communicating doors between them. Then add to that her friend trying to get Marley One into his room alone. I'm not sure she was in anything or it wouldn’t have been so easy to slip her a roofy. So what should have happened if I didn’t mash up the dance is that the girl should have shot him in his room and checked out before the cops got wise to the whole communicating door trick. How’d I do?”
“The fuck I know,” said Quinn agitated.
“Oh I think you know. To knock Marley one off in a room where a girl shot herself a couple years previously would be a kind of symmetry. The girl registered herself as Ann Collate, but the people that knew her called her Kimberley Lancaster. Her mother, father and brothers knew her by the name on her birth certificate. Kimberley Quinn.”
“Well done,” said Tappy. “We had a sister shot herself at that roach motel you work at. So what?”
I ignored Tappy, he wasn’t important right now.
“So you told me Hobart registered the girls in room 11 he didn’t, you did. You told me Marley One registered himself in the cheap rooms because he didn’t want to spend. Bullshit, he just wanted to be near cooch. And you made sure of that. So while he was ass raping some stupid girl who’d gone past her limit her friend would cap his ass. You even got Carter to invite him over whenever he came to town because the same guy owned the Hummingbird club. He didn’t pay shit for the room.”
“Man you’re getting carried away.”
“Listen I liked you but strangling women, setting other people up to cover your dirty laundry. Come on man that ain’t cool.”
Tappy coughed and I saw he was holding a gun in his hand, it looked like a Glock.
“Nah, used to work for the D.A as an investigator. Saw some heinous shit, tracked down some boys that didn’t want tracking down, looked into gangs and rackets. I was a bit like secret agent, you know not expected to live a long life. But I got picky, needed a reason to find evidence for the prosecution. I took my work real serious and I got paid for my devotion. I liked it most when we had to provide a protective detail. You shouldn’t have killed the girls."
“I ain't that worried,” said Tapper. “This ain't our first rodeo."
Sebastian spoke in my ear, “there are no bullets in his gun, trust me. If you draw he ain't got nothing but air in that gun.
He won’t be able to shoot you. Want me to call the cops.
“No,” I said hoping it sounded like part of my conversation and not and instruction to foreign agent watching us from afar. “If they get forensics they track you down like I did. If you go now I'll give you two weeks before I talk."
"Listen, things don't have to go this way," said Quinn like a man trying to talk down a forest fire. "Marley One was always rotten, real scum. Us and our sister had a little thing going where we'd try and drum up investment for the venture we have now..."
“And if we needed to we'd correct a few issues that might arise during the negotiation phase," added Tappy.
“You mean you extorted money?"
Tappy shrugged, but he knew.
"Anyway," Quinn said. “We loved our sister and it wasn't enough for that Bastard to abuse her, he filmed it too. Told her she was a tramp, fucking slut who deserved to get gang raped. She was just meant to do introductions, get business investments, but she trusted that he was a human and not a sick fuck. That's why she killed herself; she was just an innocent girl."
“Yeah and all the time you were counting how much money she had already brought you in. there was a degree complicity in your actions too," I said.
“Don't you think that's harsh I mean..."
“Dude, my researcher told me you're from around here which is why the deputy sheriff knew your brother. I hear she was going to beauty school, had promising future.
“Silly country girl followed her big brother to the big apple and couldn't take it."
“Enough talk," shouted Tapper.
“Remember he ain’t got bullets,” Sebastian said in my ear. He sounded like he was moving, probably to get the deputy out of his woodwork shop.
“He's got piece under his right arm," Tapper said to Quinn. Take it but don't get in front of him, I want a clean shot if he gets clever."
"Don't give him you're gun man," said Sebastian urgently.
Quinn tapped my fleece where the gun was.
"Give room,” said Tappy.
He poked me in the stomach with his apparently empty gun and slipped my Dueller, which had been altered by Sebastian, out of its holster.
“Take this Jack,” he said throwing my gun at his pathetic brother.
Quinn took he door and backed away from me.
“Times up," said Tapper. “There's only so many ways out of these mountains and the main one is the way you came. I'll keep my distance but what they could pin on Jack is nothing special, just coincidence. We make some money off this place and I'll get surgery and change my face.
“Tapper you don't have to do this,” Quinn bleated.
“Yeah he does, your brother likes killing people," I said to Quinn. “And I don’t see you so different. You do though revengers of a woman wronged, but knock off two women that Tapper was fucking like they were bowling pins. Nah, you two got some the hills have eyes type shit going on."
“Man shut up and die," said Tapper pointing the gun at me and beginning to pull back the trigger.
‘The guns got no bullets in it."