|Final Gun by Lucri|
1927 - Chicago – West Side – Late Evening [continued...]
That kind of bread could help a man out of debt, this man in particular, but I needed some more information before I went and got myself into something I wasn't prepared for. Gladys seemed overly convinced that her husband had been murdered, yet according to her, the cops saw it as an open and shut suicide case. There had to be more to it than this dame was letting on.
"Before I give you an answer, Mrs. Gladys, I'd like to ask you a few more questions if you don't mind.” I made sure my eyes were focused on her and not on the wad of cabbage rotting in front of me. Her finely tuned chassis eased my torment.
She nodded while casually exhaling a plume of smoke into the air. "I'll do what I can to help you, Dan," she replied. Although her words sounded promising, her demeanor seemed reluctant.
"Why are the cops dead set on this being a suicide case?"
"They found a note," she said, then took another draw from her gasper. "A suicide note, in his coat pocket."
"I…I don't have it, Dan. I guess the police would have it," she replied puzzled.
"Of course. Did you see this note? Was it in his handwriting?" I asked while partaking of my Scottish nectar.
She shook her head no. "It was typed."
"So you saw the note then," I reasserted.
"Yes, they wanted me to verify his signature," she replied.
"And did it match?"
She shrugged her shoulders. "To best that I could tell. He didn't involve me much in his business affairs, so I didn't see his signature all that often."
"What else?" I pressed. "Surely they didn't draw their conclusions based on a single note, a typed one at that. What else did they have Gladys?"
"Well…his gun was there…in his hand," she said somewhat reserved before lowering her head as if to shield her emotions.
I nodded. "I see. A single gunshot wound to the head?" I asked.
She nodded. Sniffling, she placed my hanky to her nose again, and took a sizable bite from her whiskey glass.
"Where did they find his body?"
She blotted her eyes a few times before answering. "At our house, on the patio."
"Who found him? Did you find him Gladys?" I asked with some reservation.
She shook her head. "No, our maid, Rose. She found him that morning while she was cleaning."
"Were there any witnesses? Did anyone hear the gun shot?" I questioned.
"No," she said.
She seemed to be avoiding eye contact but, at this point, I couldn't tell if it was because she was trying to keep her emotions in check or for more sinister reasons.
"You said you rarely left the house. No one heard anything?"
She took another drink and then another draw from her cigarette before answering. "No one was home," she said while looking at me. "I had taken the children and spent a few days with my mother. I gave Rose the weekend off, so no was home other than my husband. At least that I am aware of."
"Were there any signs of forced entry, Gladys?" I inquired.
She casually tapped the ashes from her gasper into the ashtray. "Mr. Swagger, I'm sure the answers to all of your questions are in the police report. It's getting late and I really need to get back to my children," she said before finishing off the rest of her drink. "All I want to do is find who killed my husband. Are you going to help me or not?"
"You want to prove your husband was murdered," I corrected her, before dipping my own bill.
I took a long draw from my choke stick, giving myself time to ponder the situation as it was developing. She was right; the whole thing stunk like spoiled milk, but at that point I wasn’t entirely certain that the stench wasn’t coming from her. Strange that she would come to me. Did she know I was on the nut? Then again, what the hell did I care? Worse case she pays me to prove she killed her own husband.
I've seen crazier things.
Michael A. Walker
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