A Watertight Alibi | Ian Harrison

What’s a dame got to do to get a couple of fellas to take the hint.


A Watertight Alibi

Ian Harrison

For the To The Nines Award Part 1


into the office. Made-up like an actress off the Hollywood pictures. Legs right up to there. Capital-“T” trouble, this dame.

“You got an appointment?” Jimmy’s gruff.

“Word on the street is you reckon Garry the Mac done it.”

At that, I wave our receptionist outta the office, and show the lady our guest chair. She takes the seat, smiles slow, and reaches into her purse, pulling out something slim and silver…

My off-sider’s quickest to react, snapping open his trusty chrome zippo.

Exhales a lazy menthol stream of smoke across the table at us, keeping her gaze steady. “Thanks, handsome.”

Jimmy’s blushing. I gots to take over. Gentle questions.

“And you say otherwise. Can you prove it?”

“Alls I can say is that I kept Garry busy all night.”

“The night of the fifth?” Jimmy asks the lady.

“That a Friday?” She sits there, sullen. Lacy arms folded across her chest, defensive. Smoking.

“Yeah. Fridee night. You with Garry Friday the fifth?”

“I’ll take the fifth if you’s two can’t take the hint.” Capital-“T”, all right.

“Nice. Garry’s wife’s going to love hearing it when we tell her. Can anyone else verify that story of yours?” My off-sider, Jimmy Sluff was gnawing on that same bone again, going bad cop, as already discussed and decided.

See, we weren’t no cops, not any more. More work and better benefits going into private practice, and the work’s more interesting, at that. Less drunks to cart away. More bruises, both given and received, but that comes with the turf. ‘Specially when you get caught up with the likes of Garry the Mac. And a horse race where the worst nag ever to strap on a saddle goes and wins it by nine lengths.

And neither horse-owner nor horse seen, since.

“Anyone verify what?”

“You said all night,” Jimmy was pretending to read his notes. “More than once.”

“Hey, what sorta woman you think I am? I ain’t no exhibitionist! I oughta…”

“I understand, Miss…” I started, calm.

“Borland. Jane Borland.”

“Thank you, Miss Borland. We’re not trying to accuse you of anything. We just want Garry found, safe and sound. And we have questions for him, just like you must. You understand?”

“I understand,” she said, dragging the dregs outta her cigarette through the long black holder, tapping it to make her point. “He was with me… the whole night. And I’m discreet.”

“But you approached us.”

“Only Garry and me know anything ‘bout anything. So I think. But then the cops start askin’ questions about the horses on my uncle’s farm. One in particular. I don’t know nothing, but Garry does. We got to talking once, and one thing led to another… his wife don’t understand him, you see? She don’t understand. Not like I do.” She considers lighting another cigarette, decides against it, but points the cigarette holder at us.

“I hear anyone yapping about my private business, I’ll know it’s you two. Or Garry hisself. Either way, you’ll wish you’ll have found Garry before me.”

“We’ll be in touch, Miss Borland,” I say, walking her out to the corridor and seeing her into the elevator.

Jimmy don’t even look up from his notes when I come back into the office. “Back to the old drawing board, huh, boss?”

“Yup. That’s the third so-called “witness” to Garry’s whereabouts on the night of the fifth.” I groaned, nodding. “Shame they didn’t discuss their stories amongst themselves first.”