Debt of Honor: Part 4 of 4
A Charles Splints Case
The address was for an apartment building which wasn’t too far off from where the poker game was held the night before. The thieves must’ve seen people walking in and out with big paydays and waited for the right time to strike. They happened to hit my pal Robin Hood and luckily for me if I recovered the cash my new friend was willing to give to the poor.
The lock on the front of the building was busted because this is Brooksend and everything is busted. The elevator didn’t work either, just as well since I wasn’t sure where I was headed. I started with the first floor and introduced myself as the new landlord to everyone who’d answer. Robin gave me a couple descriptions and I was on the lookout for mustaches and clothes splotched with paint.
Second floor wasn’t lucky either. The card dealer from the night before probably lived somewhere in the building, although I never found him.
The fourth door on the third floor had white paint on the golden knob. I knocked and the room on the other side door turned into a hurricane. My shoulder throbbed as I stumbled into the room to catch two guys making an escape out the window, one with a red backpack over his shoulder. They must’ve heard me making my way down the hall. Maybe they’re close with the real landlord and know he’s smart enough to stay away.
By the time I’d wriggled out the window they were halfway down the fire escape. I looked over the side and noticed a dumpster with the lid open. I couldn’t risk them getting away.
I crawled out of the dumpster with spaghetti on my sleeve and managed to grab the leg of one of them as they were climbing back up the ladder. I yanked him down and called for his friend to come quietly, since it was late and I’m a thoughtful person.
“You don’t understand,” said the man with the pack. “We need this money.”
“You need it, Robin needs it, I need it, the bartender needs it, the gambling debt collectors need it. The trouble is, it only truly belongs to one of those people. Give it here and you and your pal can go off and make some bank the honest way.”
His pal muffled something under my foot, not too sure what he said.
“We’re behind on rent,” said the pack man from atop the metal platform.
“You a painter?” I asked. “Give me the pack and I’ll help you out. My living room could use a paint job. The guy down the hall from me has been complaining about his too.”
“You’ll let us go? You won’t tell the cops?”
“This is between us,” I replied. I let my foot off his friend. He tossed the bag down to me. “You can pick up the bag when you come over to paint. I appreciate it.”
Robin Hood stopped over and we split the winnings. I was too tired to smile. Once he let I headed back to the gambling den and paid my debt. From there I went to the bar and ordered a drink. I slid what I had left across the counter. The bartender counted it and wasn’t pleased.
“Where’s the rest?” he asked.
“On the way. That game you sent me to turned out to be a bust. I had to rush a job to make even this much. Tell your boss I’m good for it. I’ll hunt down a gig in the morning. I owe you and a couple of painters.”