5th and Locust

Walking down the narrow hallway to my office, smoke closing in the walls. It suffocates me every time. I should quit but, today isn't a good day for quitting. The rain outside hasn't stopped for days and my trench coat and hat are drenched down to every fiber. It seeps in to the cloth and into my pores. Another 10 feet and on the left is my door.

Sam McIntyre
Private Eye

Hey, it's a job. Don't judge me quite yet, darling.

I step into my office and hit the switch. The office looks as if a storm had tore through it with discarded papers scattered about the floor, cigarette butts crowding every makeshift ashtray I could find, and empty beer bottles strewn about. Orphans of the night before. Landlord tells me I'm not supposed to have alcohol on the premises. The landlord tells me a lot of things. I rarely listen. It's just too damned early.

Plopping down with fatigue into the chair at my desk, I begin packing a new pack of smokes. I unwrap the filterless cigarette pack and take out a smoke, throw it on the floor behind me. I don't ever smoke the first one I pick. I put the second one in my mouth, light it and take a big drag. Exhaling slowly I take another glance around my office. There's a half empty (or is that half full?) beer bottle at the edge of my desk. Leaning forward I grasp at it but my hand/eye coordination is still on vacation as the bottle topples to the floor meeting its demise with a loud crash. I should pick that up but it's too damned early.

I kick my feet up on my desk and lean back. The chair is moments from giving out and collapsing into itself. Paying it no mind I put my hands behind my head and take deep drags off the cigarette hanging from my mouth. The smoke finds a way to reach my eyes making them sting. I go to rub them and that's when the chair finally gives out. It all happens in slow motion but I find myself tumbling towards the floor as the chair kicks itself out from under me like some half mad stallion that has decided it doesn't want to meet the challenge of being broke. I used to be so dexterous in my earlier days. I don't know what happened. Maybe it's the booze. Maybe it's the late nights. Maybe my body has given up the fight. I crack into the hardwood floor and try to roll backwards, my cigarette still in my mouth. I could of swore I told my secretary to move that damn filing cabinet. I had forgotten it was even there. Now is as good a time as ever for it to reintroduce itself to me. My head hits the cabinet and pain explodes through my head. Dizzy with pain I shoot up to my feet as if nothing happened. Just in case someone had seen me fall. Of course no one had. Most of the tenants of this sad, dilapidated building have all left. Where had my secretary gone anyway? Oh, that's right. She quit after one too many of my failed attempts to seduce her. Story of my life. It's just too damned early.

There's a piece of paper on the ground in front of my office door. It doesn't belong there. I know my mess when I see it and this isn't a part of my mess.

Head still dizzy and reeling I walk slowly towards the door. "SAM" was written in big letters on the backside of the paper. I bend over gently to pick it up lest my back give out as well. I stood back up straight too fast and had to brace myself. Damn. I really did a number on my noggin. I reach back with my hand to the sore spot on my head and it came back bloody. Wonderful. Well, there's no point standing up and risking another fall. Sitting down on the dirty floor in front of my office door I unfold the letter. The penmanship was atrocious. I know good penmanship:

deer sam,
yer secratery has found hrself in a bit of a bind.
if u wish to see her ever agin yu will do what i say.
10,000 dollers in large bills to 5th and locust or
yer frind gits it.

mickie the six

Huh. I crumple the letter up and toss it behind me where I think the waste basket is located. I miss. Still on the ground sitting Indian style, I slowly sink onto the floor on my back. I pat my trenchcoat's pockets looking for my pack of smokes. Must have left them on the work desk. The letter came as kind of a shock. I haven't seen any kind of action for awhile. I definitely don't have 10 large sitting around anywhere. The bottle that had fallen off the desk was an arms reach away. Huh. It didn't break and there's still a drink or two left. Reaching back to grab the bottle my finger tips brush against the bottle lightly. Just enough to push it back further under the desk. Shit. Maybe I should help my old secretary out. Be the bigger man. Hell, had I hit on me I'd get offended as well. I don't necessarily blame her for quitting. She could get murdered. Then again, it's too damned early. The only thing that's been murdered around here is what passes as English and grammar in that ransom letter.

Yup. Too damned early by far.

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