The world’s next beloved gritty crime novel — finale

Read part 1.

Read part 2.

We stride into Little Death. I grab a shot of tequila, down it and hurl the glass across the room, to make sure every member of staff knows I’m an exceedingly brave man. From the looks of awe and veneration on their faces, it seems they already knew.

I shake my head. “Little Death. The infamous strip club. The local cesspool. The thorn in the police force’s side. The pip in this godforsaken town’s orange.”

“Wow, this is nice,” says McBrilliant. “Looks like it’s been refurbished recently. Is that a champagne fountain next to the classical pianist screaming in anguish?”

“Oh, yeah. Hmm, the classical pianist is probably distraught about the girl’s murder. Maybe the bastard knows something. We should make sure to interview him later.”

“WHO JUST THREW A GLASS IN MY FACE?!” the classical pianist is shrieking.

I’m too distracted by my pursuit of justice to care about the fickle vagaries of classical pianists. “Look, Madame Sequin!” I snarl. “I’m DS Houndclaw McBullet, this is my colleague Little Miss something-or-other. We’re here because one of your girls was found dead in a field. And apparently, she was last seen alive talking to you. Want to tell us a bit more about that?”

“You can’t prove nothin’!” she hisses, snorting a line of cocaine off the floor. “I’m on the straight and narrow, I done never broke the law, did I?” She elegantly proceeds to stab an innocent cocktail waiter in the thigh. “And you don’t got any evidence to the contrary, like!” Madame Sequin cackles and accidentally drops an envelope into my palm which reads ‘Madame Sequin’s totally illegal money laundering scheme’. “Oh, er, give that back please.”

“Oh no,” I sigh, handing the envelope to her. “She’s untouchable.”

“We never said you’re a suspect, Madame Sequin,” says McBrilliant gently. “We just wanted some more information on what you and Angel McInnocent might have been talking about before she went off alone.”

A look of remorse flickers across Madame Sequin’s face. “She were a good kid, like. She done never tried to steal my kidney like all those other girls.” Tears begin streaking down her ugly face. I look upon her flagrant display of tenderness and retch in disgust. “I wish I’d never listened to the boss…”

“The boss?” McBrilliant cuts in urgently. “I thought you ran this place?”

“Yeah no like, don’t own it though do I?”

“Who owns it?!” I yelp into the unforgiving night. “Is it that fascist Molly from Molly’s Milkshakes?! TELL US NOW!”

“Never seen their face. We just call ’em The Boss, like. Run all the crime in this town, don’t they?” Madame Sequin looks around, then surreptitiously places a small key into my hand. “This is the key to the cellar. Go downstairs. You’ll find the answers you’re lookin’ for down there, won’t ya? About Angel McInnocent, and maybe even about yourself, like.”

I nod, and eat the key for safekeeping.

“And Houndclaw…” Madame Sequin says. “Go alone.”

McBrilliant hesitates. “I don’t think that’s such a–”

“Great idea!” I enthuse, and knock the puny McBrilliant out with my burly fist. She falls to the ground with a dull thud, twitches, then lays perfectly still. “Finally, the chance I’ve always craved to avenge the death of my daughter, who was taken from me many years ago.”

“Thought you were avenging the death of Angel, like?” Madame Sequin drawls.

“I can avenge two things!”

I walk down the creaky staircase to the cellar and approach the door. This is my moment. “Ready or not, scum,” I growl, “Here I come!” I kick the door in with the desperation and grit of a stylish tormented hero. “Show yourself!”

“Ah, McBullet…” a familiar voice greets me in the dark. “I knew you’d come…”

A single light bulb flickers on. And all of a sudden, I’m looking at The Boss.

My boss.

“Chief Superintendant Cigar McRighteous!” I gasp. “It was you all along?!”

Suddenly it all makes sense.

“I understand everything now… You were the one who told me about Angel’s death, before anyone else. Because you knew about it before anyone else! After your recent plaudits and promotions you grew hungry for more praise, didn’t you? You arranged with Madame Sequin to send Angel out somewhere alone, somewhere isolated, where you could ambush her and beat her to death. Then you waited for her body to be reported, so you could be first on the scene, and bask in media attention as you and your tireless squad, especially the noble sexy Houndclaw McBullet, worked to find the killer! I bet you were planning to pin the whole thing on poor, gullible Madame Sequin, weren’t you? Well I’ve got you now, Chief — and let me tell you something, you’d better give that promotion a rethink. You’d better give it a rethink… forever.”

McRighteous’ glassy eyes glare at me. “…Look closer, McBullet.”

I stoop down and study McRighteous’ bloodstained, restrained figure. As my keen eyes adjust to the dim light I realise he is naked and tied to a chair, and a masked person is pointing a gun at him.

“Yeah, well, I meant that speech for you,” I say to the person in the mask, and shoot them in the face eighty times.

Epilogue

McRighteous and I are strolling down the shore. He’s still limping as a result of his sustained torture. I’m wearing a cool beach hat.

“McBullet,” he grunts. “After painstaking attempts to reconstruct their face, we’ve identified the person in the mask. The one who owns Little Death, the one who convinced Madame Sequin to lure Angel away to her death, the one who’s responsible for all the deaths of innocent women in this town…”

“This godforsaken town,” I murmur, expertly correcting him.

“…including your mysterious and tragic daughter.”

I sink to my knees and howl at the skies. “Peace at last!” I roar.

“Yes, McBullet. Because the perpetrator was none other than–”

“Molly from Molly’s Milkshakes,” I nod with mighty grandeur. “I knew it, I knew it. Telling me she’s all out of Marshmallow Madness, the cold-blooded fascist bi–”

McRighteous shakes his head. “No, McBullet. It was our old friend, Hobo Bill. The same unhinged psychopath who has committed every single crime in this town so far.”

I blink. “I thought we put him in jail already? Several times?”

“Yeah, well,” McRighteous shrugs. “Turns out we’re not a very good police force.”

“So…” I ruminate with great poise. “It was my initial suspect all along, huh? Guess I didn’t need McBrilliant’s help after all.”

“Hey, now,” McRighteous says. “She was still a great asset to the case. I like the way she works. Of course, right now she’s still in that coma.”

“She sure is, McRighteous,” I chuckle and gaze happily out into the sunset. “She sure is.”

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