Overnight the rain had turned, and in the brightness of the morning the snow covered most of the stony Sunday sidewalks.
The Venetian blinds cast a strange yet somehow comforting light into Ray’s office. The familiar surroundings were somehow soothing in light of the previous night’s events: the cracked glass pane of his office door, its letters oddly inverted from the inside; and the tapping of Candy’s typewriter keys, as though a small community of crickets had set up shop in the next room.
What did all of this mean, he wondered. If his wife had still been alive, she would have told him to stop making the face he was now making. But 25 years of cases had clearly furrowed their way onto Ray’s brow, and Angeline was long since gone… But this business with the Blog. Who would have killed her? And why? So okay, she wasn’t exactly the classiest dame in town, but she never did anything to anyone. And who the hell was this ‘Aryan guy’ that Billy had told him about? He would probably never know, since Billy had seemingly disappeared off the face of the Earth. Or at least the face of the local petty crime rings.
“Wh–” he stuttered back into the room. Candy was standing in the doorway, half silhouette against the glass, half brightly clothed, perfectly coiffed 20-year-old woman.
“We got a call from some guy asking for you last night while you were out,” she said, taking the half–chewed piece of gum out of her mouth and carefully dropping it into Ray’s trash can, which stood empty – but for the remnants of Candy’s gum–based diet – next to the door.
“And?” Candy looked bemused for a moment and then her face brightened into a lipstick–red smile once again.
“Oh, right. Yeah. The guy wouldn’t give a name… At least, I don’t think he did” she hesitated, her face wrinkling a little. Finally she made a decision. “No. No name. But he sounded like he was from out of town. Anyway, just thought you should know. He left this address…somewhere downtown I think,” she said, handing him a handwritten note.
* * *
The suspension on Ray’s car rattled as he turned onto the street in question, but not loud enough to drown out the noise of a dog was barking non–stop somewhere to his left. Ray cursed the empty whisky bottle in his office; his head was like a construction site.
Heading toward number 1871, he realised that the barking was coming from inside. The door was cracked top to bottom, the paintwork peeling and the lock almost non–existent. Pushing it inward, Ray almost lost his footing when he came face to face with a huge slavering Alsatian which bound out and past him, howling like a smack addict’s withdrawal. Carefully stepping in, Ray had to kick broken wood, bags of illicit substances and even a handgun out of his way. Then he saw it.
Across the room, not much more than a stomach–sickening red streak leaning against the wall, was Billy. Ray was suddenly glad that he’d thrown up last night after that final whisky.