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Liberty’s Child (Part Seven)

Liberty’s Child

A Jack Collier Mystery

By Brett N. Lashuay

Look here for last week’s entry!



Day Seven: Beethoven and the Bird


            I parked my car in the parking lot off of Main Street, mostly so I could see the statue of the creepy naked people. I looked it up, just for this writing and that statue of the two naked people flying into the sky is called The Star Dream, but you’d never get that passed me. To me, it’s the naked people statue. I parked the car and started walking to where the famous poet lived. Again, I wish him no ill will so I’m not going to publish his full address. Let us just say he lives in a house in Royal Oak and leave it at that.


            I used to like coming to Royal Oak when I was in high school, it was one of the few places where you could go, hang out and meet people. As we got older though, the demographic wasn’t a group I wanted to be around anymore. Somewhere around the mid-twenties the rockers and Goths get replaced by yuppies and faux bikers. There just came a time when I realized that Royal Oak had very little to offer me anymore and I stopped hanging out there. Still, there was something like a vibrant life around there, and you could see if when you visited. This being the middle of the day though, most people where indoors waiting for the sun to go down and the heat to dissipate a little.


            I walked to the house and knocked on the door and then banged on it a few seconds later. When the door opened a tired and pale looking man, only a few years older than me actually, opened the door. He had large circles under his eyes and his mustache looked like it needed a good combing. He licked his lips and glanced around when he opened the door, finally resting on me.


            “Yes?” he asked, trying to sound calm.


            “Eddie?” I asked, trying to sound like a tough guy. “I want to talk to you about your visitor.”


            “The bird?” he asked.


            He didn’t sound English, but maybe he’d picked up that sort of talk from watching BBC America or even watching old BBC shows on PBS. Who knows where he’d pick up the idea of calling a young woman a bird? I wasn’t thrilled with his terminology, but he was also the kind of person who had hookers delivered to his door.


            “Yeah,” I growled, “the bird.”


            “In here,” he said pointing over his shoulder and I could feel a knot tie up in my stomach. If she was still here, what was going on?


            I followed him into what I can only assume was his bedroom because I saw a bed. It was on the first floor, but that didn’t prove anything. It just meant he wanted things on the first floor. I couldn’t help but notice though that there wasn’t anything in the bed, just the large red quilt and red sheets. I looked around the room and then at his sweating face.


            “Well?” I asked.


            “There!” he said pointing a shaking finger at a marble statue in the corner. “There on the bust of Athena.”


            “That’s Beethoven,” I said looking. “And there is nothing on it.”


            “The bird is still there!” he cried and ran from the room. “Nevermore shall we eat French fries? Nevermore will I watch basic cable? Nevermore what?”


            I followed him out and noticed that his living room had some paraphernalia that I should have recognized on the instant. Opium is an odd habit these days, and the pipe is fairly easy to pick out of a crowd if you know what to look for. I looked at him, noting the signs that should have been obvious to a trained sleuth like me.


            “Where is Columbia?” I asked.


            “The bird is still in there,” he said pointing at the door to his bed chamber.


            It was hot in that place. He had been burning a fire in the fireplace to add to the intense heat. True, now it was just glowing embers working their last glowing ghosts, but it had clearly been a roaring fire earlier if the heat inside was any indication. He looked like he wasn’t feeling the heat, but he look like he might not feel it if I stabbed him in the foot.

            “Forget the bird that isn’t there,” I said. “What about Columbia?”


            “The bird on Athena!” he shouted.


            I walked into the room and grabbed the bust of Beethoven and walked back. He shrieked when he saw me holding it and jumped behind a chair. I looked down at him and for a moment couldn’t believe I was actually doing this. However, if I wanted him to be helpful at all I’d have to do this.


            “Look!” I shouted. “Beethoven!”


            “The bird! It’s on the bust!”


            “Oh fucking hell,” I muttered and grabbed the fire poker.


            I then started to perform what can only be called an assault on a long dead composer with intent to powder. I brought the poker down as hard as I could on the top of the bust’s head and smashed it. I then smashed it again and again until the tip of the poker broke off, hit the floor and slid until it hit the wall. I then grabbed the remaining pieces of the plaster bust and threw it into the fireplace. I hurled the broken end of the poker in after it and turned back to the stoned lunatic on the floor behind the chair.


            “Bird still around?” I asked.


            “Can you hear it?” he asked.


            “No,” I panted in the heat. “Can you?”




            “Wonderful, maybe now you can get up off the floor and we can talk.”


            “Am I on the floor?”


            “Unless you’ve drilled a hole and are floating above empty space. Are you floating over empty space?”




            “Must be the floor then.”


            “Possibly,” he stood up and looked at me, still sweating and nervous looking. “I could use a drink.”


            He walked to the kitchen, with me behind him to make sure he didn’t suddenly make a break for it. He went to a cupboard and pulled out two glasses and then grabbed a bottle of whiskey and poured two glasses, handing me one. I took it without comment because I didn’t want him to get derailed in what seemed to be a momentary lull in his madness. I took a sip of the drink and set the glass down, as I expected he gulped his down in three quick shots.


            “Not thirsty?” he asked as he poured himself another.


            “I’ve got to go slow, got some driving still to do today.”


            “Right,” he nodded as if he understood. “You were asking about someone a second ago, I didn’t get the name though.”


            “Columbia?” I asked.


            “Yeah, don’t know her.”


            “Did you have a girl over this weekend?”


            “There was a girl from the flower patch on Friday,” he said. “Hecita or something, some flower name I think, can’t remember. She was fun though, she comes around on occasion.”


            “Okay,” I nodded. “That’s the girl I’m looking for, what happened Friday?”


            “Well, what do you think?” he asked as he gulped down another glassful and poured himself some more. “I fucked her and she had her boyfriend come get her.”


            “That regular?” I asked.


            “Sometimes they stay all night, but she said she had another appointment so when I was done with her she called this pig faced guy to come get her. He did, they left.”


            “Pig faced guy?” I asked.


            “Yeah,” he nodded looking at the glass, anticipating taking another drink. His eye fell on my glass and I sipped a little to be sociable, then he gulped his glass again.


            “You catch his name or anything?”


            “Actually, yeah, she called him Piggy.”


            “A pig faced guy with the nickname Piggy?” I asked.


            “You didn’t see him, the guy practically had a snout, I was looking for tusks on this guy. He was kind of fat too, not sure how much he liked being called Piggy, but he let her get away with it.”


            “Was he a bodyguard or something?”


            “If he is, he’s been sampling at the trough.”


            “Meaning?” I asked.


            “I think they were about to go do what she and I had just done, by the way she acted anyway.”


            “So, a boyfriend?” I asked.


            “I’d say so.”


            “And then they left?”


            “Yeah,” he nodded and then checked his watch. “And then I went back to what I was doing, which I probably should get back to.”


            “Okay,” I said nodding. “Thanks for the drink.”


            “No problem,” he said with a half smile.


            I got up and walked from his kitchen and heard his feet behind me. We looked at the broken pieces of the bust and he tossed them into the fireplace. He wiped some of the dust off and then brushed his hands.


            “Sorry about that,” I said.


            “Not a problem,” he said and walked to a closet where I could see three shelves lined with Beethoven busts. He took one off the shelf and then walked back to his bedroom, placing the bust on the spot where I’d taken the last one. I heard him mutter to himself as he went to the room, “I’ll probably never get married.”


            I didn’t want to be around for the next appearance of his bird, which would no doubt come soon, so I let myself out.



This is part seven of twenty-three, come back next week for part eight and every Thursday until we’re done to see what happens next. If you get lost, one of the tags here should help you. The Wonderland tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.

May 13, 2009 - Posted by | Fiction, Jack |

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