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He stood on the corner, cold rain dripping from his hat down the back of his neck, teasing. The breeze brought hints of garbage and rot from the alley, but the smell was almost comforting. It smelled like home. He pulled that idea out, turned it around. Played with it. Put it on the shelf. Let it ride. To be examined later. Yeah, boy, home smells like a garbage dump. For some reason, that made him smile.
He pulled a flat, glass bottle, wrapped in brown paper from his sport coat pocket and drank from it. It tasted like fire, but it wiped the smell away for a second. Pulled him further from home – to a place where he could think.
He’d been looking for the gash for two weeks now. Long after the cops gave up. Her husband was damn near frantic – had paid him ten grand in crisp hundreds, and he wondered about it. How deep would this run? How tight was the cliché? What were the sticking points? And who was he?
A wannabe detective?
Naw, just a man who could do things in the neighborhood that other men couldn’t.
He knew she was alive. That was one of many differences between him and the cops. He also knew they’d never find her.
His apartment was small, but the walls were soundproofed.
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