In the third installment of Detective Ray Delaney’s latest case, we learn a little more about the switchblade! Vote at the end of the chapter to decide what Delaney will face next time, and check back each Wednesday for the continuation of the adventure of Ray Delaney & the [adjective] Blade.
Chapter III: Sharp Focus
Delaney placed his thumb against the black, corrugated handle and pressed. A silver-white blade, six inches long, flicked into existence. Fast enough that the air it cut through gave a gentle hiss.
He examined the letters engraved below the shining blade: CLS. The serif on the last letter curled from the hilt of the knife down toward its plastic handle. Candy L. Sussman. Charles LaSalle.
“I don’t believe in coincidence, Ms. Sharp.” Delaney could hear the gurgle of coffee brewing in the next room. They had repaired to his apartment on the fourth floor. “Tell me again: you arrived at the lobby and—”
“And I found you bleeding on to a perfectly competent beige carpet.”
“No sign of the guy—or girl—who took a winch to the back of my skull?”
She shook her head. Delaney lowered his, pressed on the blade’s dull edge and snapped it back into the handle.
“You say you’re a detective—”
“I prefer ‘private investigator’—”
“I prefer not having my brains bashed in.”
Ms. Sharp looked affronted. It was, Delaney decided, just a front. “Candy Sussman gave me this knife,” she said.
Silence. He needed more, knew she had it.
“She hired me to protect her. She’s being threatened by her fiancé, a Mr. Charles LaSalle. Apparently he’s found his way to Boston and is intent on tracking her down. And that—” she indicated the switchblade in Delaney’s hands. “That, Ray, is LaSalle’s weapon of choice. Candy found it in her hotel room here in Boston just a couple of days ago.”
“So why give it to me? I could just hand it back to Charlie.”
“I need your help.” She took a step toward the door. “You have access to LaSalle. I can get you Sussman. And clearly one of our clients is lying.”
“Be an optimist, Ms. Sharp. Why can’t they both be lying?”
* * *
Delaney left a voicemail with LaSalle as he made his way out. He and Ms. Sharp had planned to meet their respective clients in public locations, each attending their counterpart’s meeting as an outside observer.
He turned and saw Ms. Sharp exit the lobby and head to her car. For all I know, Delaney thought, the blade belongs to her—CLS equals C.L. Sharp?
He pulled open the driver’s door of his rusting Buick and dropped his jacket onto the passenger seat. Twisting the rear view mirror until it reflected Ms. Sharp’s silver saloon, he watched her climb in and pull away.
He sat for a moment, the cogs in his chest turning slowly, the ache beneath his skull growing like a fresh inkblot on a piece of paper. Finally, he pulled the wheel around until the Buick had made a full one-eighty, and caught sight of Sharp’s rear window taking a right at the end of his street. His foot hit the gas pedal, and the whine of the car’s engine sounded like the transmissions of a tin can telephone.
He would never know where she had come from, but he would damn well find out where she was going.