‘It was going to be another one of those nights,’ I thought as my car hovered around the corner. The flashing blue lights on it strobed against the sheets of rain. Despite the darkness, the city below was lit up in a neon haze that shed the gloom like a prostitute shed a stained dress. The call over the radio had been a routine one, something the police on the beat could have handled with ease were there not a body. This made the third tonight. Probably an overdose, or maybe some domestic bullshit. There were plenty of mysteries to be discovered on a night shift, but the most taxing of all was where I was going to find my next cup of java.
The question sat upon the crest of my mind as I set the car to the ground in front of the Twin Gates Hotel. The place was remarkably seedy in a region of the city not known for much else. The usual riffraff frequented the place; from addicts and pushers to hookers and pimps. That wasn’t unusual for this part of town, but the Twin Gates? The Twin Gates possessed a gnarly reputation for its bustling client list.
I pulled my coat tight as I stepped from my car. The rain buffeted me like the beatings my ex wife used to give. I reached into my pocket, pulling a cigarette from the slim packet that resided there. Lighting it, I walked through the front doors and into the main lobby. Smoke curled lazily under the wide brim of my hat before escaping on its journey to the stained ceiling. Hanse, a German-born immigrant, was behind the counter as per the norm. He was unusually quiet tonight, instead of spouting his tales about escaping the collapse of the European Union. The loose-lipped immigrant was far from innocent, but his cooperation kept him friendly with the department.
“Guten Tag,” he said as I strode to his desk. His suit was strikingly out of place when compared to the surroundings, as were his perfectly quaffed blonde locks. Were he not running the place, he most certainly would have passed for a pleasure drone; his perfectly smooth looking skin complementing his youth. He may even have the capacity to make more of a life for himself in that line of work, if he were not picky about male clients.
“So what’s the story Hanse?”
“Oh, just more of the same. Some poor mädchen took a knife for her troubles. Turns out you might actually have a case this time,” he replied.
“Wonderful,” I said sarcastically, “where is it?”
“The other officers are upstairs. Room 913.”
‘Great,’ I thought. Just what I needed. Anybody with a sense of the superstitious knew thirteen was always a bad sign. Unlike most hotels, The Twins even had a thirteenth floor; most places left the number out. Perhaps whoever owned the place wasn’t all that superstitious. Hanse never did use it, at least not for guests. As far as I knew the only thing up there was storage. Anything beyond that, I was better off not knowing.
It didn’t take the elevator long to screech down the metallic shaft to the ground floor. Stepping into the elevator, I took several long draws of the cigarette dangling out the corner of my mouth as it rose. The elevator chimed as the doors opened onto the ninth floor. Flicking the cigarette to the ground to smolder with its countless cousins, I stepped into a packed hallway.
It took me some time to navigate through the various hotel guests who had flocked to see what was going on. There were a few cops holding back the throng. The neon purple strip lights that lined the ceiling’s skirting flickered, lending the illusion of unnatural movement from that of the wavering crowd. It did not take me long to find Jones, a Sergeant that was reputable among the force for being a tough old bastard.
“What do we have?”
It took Jones a moment to recognize me in the press of the crowd. We had worked together before,
“Typical poke and stab. Looks like her client didn’t want to pay her bill, so he gave her some new holes to work with,” he said.
I gave a slight nod as he guided me into the room. The victim was lying sprawled across the bed with blood flowing across the satin sheets like an angel’s wings. Her naked flesh was almost perfect were the knife had not penetrated it. Her long hair had an orange dye job and her whole aesthetic matched the neon-themed glow of it. She must have been quite the earner before somebody had taken a disliking to her.
“It’s a shame, huh?” It was Jones speaking from my rear. Ignoring him, I bent over the body to get a closer look. It was evident that she had been stabbed more times than was necessary.
“Whoever did this Sergeant, wanted her dead. This wasn’t about money, it was a crime of passion. It also looks like the perp knew her.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Because there was no sign of a struggle,” I pointed to the window frame, “The window is sealed,” I then turned to the door, “and the only way in or out is the front door, and the lock isn’t broken.” I straightened up, addressing Jones again, “She knew whoever it was that killed her, and he was finished before she could even get off her back.”
Jones walked forward to stand by my side, “Perhaps one of her regulars that got a bit too attached?”
“Looks like it. Check her accounts, get the details on her payees and start there,” I said, turning for the door. I took one last look back at the body sprawled across the bed. She could have had a better life, but now she was out of time. Dames for hire in this town were a dime a dozen, but this one had been a diamond among the rough.
This wonderful edition of flash fiction was selected as the Science Fiction Category Winner in Lore Fiction’s 2018 Launch Writing Contest!
‘A Diamond Among The Rough’ was written by B.K. Bass.
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