Fitz looked down from his sparse top floor office at the lunchtime SUV and yummy mummy traffic, rolled a cigarette between tar stained fingers and thought, anywhere but here. A gale blew down Main Street, and the sky promised another deluge soon. His life tied up in that room, desk, two chairs, a cluttered filing cabinet and a phone which rang less and less. He looked at the clock and tried to reason why he shouldn’t open that drawer when a shadow paused outside the door. He pulled back his shaking hand and told the dame to come in.
Willowy, five eight with a trench coat over a cut suit, a veiled hat hiding her face, she sat away from the desk, legs leaning to one side, gloved hands resting on her lap. One look told him a lot, the wedding band, the classy shoes and poise, he waited.
I’m looking for a man, Mr Fitzgerald.
The wise cracks piled up quickly and screamed to be let out, but her voice was sad so he let it go.
Call me Fitz
I’m looking for my husband Mr. Fitzgerald, she wasn’t there yet, he’s missing six weeks now and the police don’t want to know anymore.
He’d heard this one a hundred times before, but this broad didn’t fit the bill
Tell me about him, about you and him
He’s tall, six three, broad shouldered, slim, strong and handsome. Thirty-eight last birthday and we were happy, very happy together.
He heard her voice trail off and only then noticed she’d been crying.
Joe Courage, you may have heard about him, he was in the news.
Fitz took out his cigarettes; she declined, he lit up and caught himself gazing down at the drawer again. The name had thrown him; he exhaled slowly and watched the smoke curl round a rare afternoon sun-beam. His mind flashed back to the head-lines, Stand up guy, role model, and this in a town sucked down to the depths by a gang of scum-bag killers. Joe Courage missing. His disappearance became another piece of trivia to a national media who craved trivia. Their kid had been beaten up and didn’t understand the other kid’s connections, so he hit back. Joe tried to do the right thing, tried to talk and hadn’t been seen since.
Did I need this, Jesus Christ I need a drink. Fitz looked into her eyes and saw despair, the man had turned his back on her and she was alone and helpless. He knew she couldn’t pay much but also that she was proud and wouldn’t ask for charity.
Can you find my husband Mr Fitzgerald?
His diary wasn’t exactly full. She looked tired and she looked like trouble. He heard himself give her his knock down rate, a hundred a day plus expenses, one week in advance. He asked where he’d last been seen and told her he’d call her that evening. He opened the drawer.