the u-town murder case (part twelve)

This story started here.

As we turned the corner onto Whitson, I saw several gang members around the front stoop of an abandoned-looking brownstone. My employer strode right up to them and they closed ranks a bit between us and the door.

"I'm looking for Jasper," she said.

Two of the men exchanged a glance, and one of them said, "You can't–"

"Miss Sleet!" came a voice from over our heads.

She took a step back and looked up.

"What is your interest here?" the man demanded, leaning out of a third-story window.

"I have a mystery to solve," she called. "Jasper's sister was murdered last night."

There was a long pause, and we waited patiently.

"Please come up," he said. "I have a mystery to solve as well."

We climbed the two flights to the long, dark hallway, where the only light was from an open door at the far end. Two more gang members were standing beside the door, and one motioned us in. Her expression indicated that she didn't approve of us being admitted.

Inside, the man who had called from the window was standing in the middle of a slaughterhouse. Well, it was a normal one-room tenement apartment, with shabby furniture and dirt everywhere, but the furniture was all turned over, and there was a lot of blood.

One body was stretched out on the floor right inside the door. With the general carnage and disorder, it took a moment to see the second body, on the other side of the room. Both were male, as far as I could tell, and both were clearly dead.

"This is Jasper," the man said, indicating the other body, the one lying near the sofa.

"Who is this?" Jan Sleet asked, indicating the body in front of us.

The man shrugged. "Some creature." I wondered if the Creatures were another gang, or if this was just a generic description of anybody who wasn't a Dragon.

My employer turned slowly, looking at the whole room. The body of Jasper was lying in front of the sofa, near the window. The other man was lying full length in the middle of the room, his head toward the door, blood soaking the back of his leather jacket.

"The weapons?" Jan Sleet asked.

The man gestured. "Jasper died holding his weapon. The other knife was by the window, under the radiator."

My employer leaned over to examine the knife still in Jasper's hand, then she went to examine the other one, which was lying on the edge of the rug by the window, half hidden by the rusty radiator. She had to get down on her knees to reach it, and I went over to help her back to her feet.

She held the knife with her handkerchief, holding it by the very tip, and I was pretty sure she was trying to angle it so that I couldn't see it very well.

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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