Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Gathering: Chapter 13 - There is nothing more dangerous than an armed woman in a nightdress



So there I was, bent over and using a flashlight to illuminate a sheet of paper covered in strange diagrams and symbols, when a gun was stuck in my back and a woman's voice told me not to make any sudden movements. Now, if I was a character in one of the spicy pulps then you know what I would have done. I would have spun around suddenly and knocked the gun from the dame's hand. Then I would have grabbed her and kissed her hard on the lips. Surprised at herself, she would have liked that, and then… well you can guess the rest. But I wasn't a character in a spicy pulp and I was only too aware that she had the drop on me. Any attempt at pulling a fast one on her and I was a dead man.

"I'm not making any sudden movements," I said in a slow and careful voice.

"Now bring your hands above your head. But slowly!"

She spoke with a voice used to giving orders. And when you have a gun in someone's back they find it easy to obey, so I raised my hands above my head, the torch in one hand and the paper in the other.

"Very good. Now, I am going to turn the light on. The gun will no longer be in your back. But I will still have you covered. If you want to live, do not move."

I stood there, wondering how I was going to get out of this one. The gun came away from my back. I heard the sound of soft steps and then the light came on.

"Excellent," she said. "Now let's have a look at you. Please turn around, but very slowly."

I did what the lady wanted. She got a chance to have a look at me, and me at her. It was Alanis, Ogilvy's sister. She must have been sleeping here in the apartment and heard me come in. She didn't have time to get dressed properly either, as the black nightdress she was wearing was rather revealing of her charms. This did not seem to bother her. Maybe I was in a spicy pulp after all.

"Miss Ogilvy…" I said, but she cut me down.

"Quiet!" she snapped. "Don't speak until I tell you to. You don't want to startle me - I might accidentally pull the trigger of this gun I have pointing at you."

I looked at the gun and I looked at the woman holding it. I said nothing.

"Now I want you to very slowly bend over and place that flashlight on the ground. And don't think you can get away with any funny stuff just because I'm a woman. I know how to use a gun and I would have no hesitation in filling you with lead."

She sounded like she meant it. I was not going to take a chance on this, so I bent down and put the flashlight on the ground, before slowly standing up again with my hands over my head.

"I know who you are," she said. " You and your friend Mr Lomax have been asking a lot of questions about Harrison. And I saw you at my poor brother's funeral. You were talking to that nightclub tramp."

"That's no way to talk about the woman who loved your brother."

"The woman who loved my brother? I'd like to think that I am the woman who loved my brother, not that cheap tramp. Not that cheap tramp who loved my brother so much she turned him into a dope fiend."

"What?" I exclaimed.

"Oh?" said Alanis. "Your snooping did not reveal that my brother was a dope fiend?"

"No, it's just that Lara loved your brother… I can't believe she would have…"

Alanis laughed. "In some ways I have to hand it to that two bit whore. She has what it takes to bend men to her will, and she's obviously done it to you. You idiot, you've let yourself be taken in by her: hook, line and sinker. What do you say to that, snooper?"

Now, I don't like being called a fool, especially not by a woman. But when that woman is pointing a gun at me I have little option but to take it, even if that woman is wearing a semi-transparent nightdress.

"That's quite an accusation to make against another woman," was the best I could manage.

"Isn't it? But my brother was fine before he met that tramp. Alright, he was a bit of an exasperation to father, as he never really showed much aptitude for business. My father is a very traditional man, and he wanted a son to inherit the family concern, even if he was not… the most suitable candidate. But he changed when he fell into the clutches of that money grabbing leech. Her sexual wiles brought him on the first steps to enslavement and she turned him on to dope to make it easier to get him to pay for her own consumption. Poor Harrison, he started neglecting his work, avoiding his friends, filching money from the family whenever he could. And when he realised what he had done, he brought his life to an end. Yes, snooper, I'm no fool. I know that my brother did not just fall into the river. He threw himself in to end his sad and sorry life."

"I'm not so sure of that," I said, as levelly as possible.

"Oh are you not? So my brother just happened to be walking by the river and he tripped and fell in."

"I don't think…" I began, but she cut me off.

"Oh be quiet! I'm wise to your game, snoop. You and your friend are nosing around, trying to find incriminating details about my poor brother, hoping you can extort some money out of my family in this difficult time. I bet you broke in here trying to find something juicy that we would not want revealed. You people are slime. Blackmailers! The lowest form of criminal life. So what am I going to do with you? Shall I ring the cops and have them take you off my hands? Or maybe I shall ring them to say that you tried to jump me and I had no option but to shoot you?"

She said the last sentence in a very slow voice, dripping in threat. I looked at her face and into her eyes, which were staring at mine, and I knew that she would go through with it if she felt it was to her advantage. My situation was not a good one and I had to transform it before things went too far.

"Miss Ogilvy," I blurted out. "I think your brother was murdered and I am trying to find his killer."

Now she was startled.

"What? Murdered?"

"Yes, murdered. Your brother had got mixed up in some funny stuff and some people killed him to stop him talking."

I was aware now that I was stating my suppositions as fact, but I needed to get this woman on my side fast, or next thing I would be either in a police cell or lying in a morgue. And my line seemed to be working. For the first time uncertainty flashed across her face.

"Murdered… murdered? I don't think so… I think you're spinning me a line to get out of the scrape you're in. No one would want to murder my brother."

The mask was slipping from Alanis. I could see the beginnings of tears in her eyes. Part of me thought, this might give me a chance to jump her. But I was still scared of that damned gun. And I was beginning to think I could turn Alanis into an ally. My only worry was that she would become so upset by what I had to say that she would lash out - lash out at me, with that gun. So I had to play it as cool as possible.

"Miss Ogilvy, I didn't know your brother, but I've never heard anyone say anything bad about him. Yet I think he was murdered."

"It must have been that night-club slut," said Alanis, tears now beginning to issue from her eyes. She was angry as well as upset. "Or she got him in too deep with some dope dealer and they had him killed when he couldn't pay off his debts. I wish he had never met that bitch!"

"No, Miss Ogilvy, I don't think it was Lara, or a dope peddler, or any ordinary kind of criminal. This is going to sound a bit crazy, but your brother was killed by a black magic cult."

and there the narrative ends, for now

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