I unlocked the door to 12th story apartment overlooking downtown Cleveland. I threw down my keys and coat then turned on the light.
The local gangster, Gregg Poppovich, was pointing a gun at me. “What do you want with Art McGarth, Jack?” he asked as he lifted a stogie to his mouth.
“I’m investigating his death, Gregg,” I said. “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”
“Of course not,” he replied, “I just didn’t want you pointing the finger at me.”
“Now why would I want to do something like that?” I asked while I studied him over.
Gregg laughed and put the pistol away in his holster. “I didn’t suppose you did,” he said, “you’re too smart for that.”
“But you must know something. Or else you wouldn’t have broken into my apartment.”
He laughed some more. “Of course,” he said, “that’s why I’m paying you a visit. It’s neither organized crime nor police corruption. There’s a madman loose out there, Jack. I don’t know much more than you, but watch your back.”
“Thanks for your concern, Gregg. But I have the Lord’s protection. Besides, why kill McGarth? He must have had some connections.”
“Not McGarth,” Gregg said, “but the two prostitutes. They’re disappearing all over the city. I’m telling you, Jack, it’s a Jack the Ripper kind of situation.”
“A serial killer?” I laughed, “in a city like Cleveland? Never heard of such a thing.”
“I’m not crazy, Jack. I don’t believe in that silly God of yours, but I do believe in the Devil. And he’s here in this city. So you better watch yourself.”
“I’ll pray on it,” I said, “and I’ll pray for you and your Salvation. May the Lord guide you towards the Light.”
Gregg left and I took a shit. All that scotch and nicotine was running through me. I absolutely destroyed that toilet.
When I walked out of the bathroom, Sally was lying on the bed. “Jesus Christ, Jack!” she said while puffing on a cigarette, “someone light a match!”
I closed the door and loosened my tie. “You shouldn’t use the Lord’s name in vain,” I said. “What are you doing here? I should really change the locks to this place.”
“Just paying you a visit,” she replied while hiking up her skirt to expose her gorgeous legs. “Have you found out anything about Art McGarth? Seeing as we’re both investigating his death.”
“His murder appears to have been collateral damage,” I said. “Other than that, I know nothing.”
“Are you sure?” Sally asked as she unbuttoned her blouse.
“Sally, I don’t know what you’re expecting to happen here. You know I don’t know what to do with a woman. I’ve never had sex!”
“I could show you,” she said as she lowered her shirt to expose her shoulders.
“No thanks,” I replied, “I don’t believe in sex before marriage. Now please leave.”
After she left, I straightened out the bed, loaded one round into the revolver of my .38, spun it, pointed it at my head, and pulled the trigger.
“Thank you, Lord, for always watching out for me,” I prayed. Then I went to bed.
I always sleep better after a game of Russian Roulette.