All Chickens Must Die: A Benjamin Wade Mystery

All Chickens Must Die: A Benjamin Wade Mystery by Scott Dennis Parker

Book: All Chickens Must Die: A Benjamin Wade Mystery by Scott Dennis Parker Read Free Book Online
Authors: Scott Dennis Parker
knocking ash into his ashtray. “Join what?”
    “I can’t say. I won’t say. I’m already in enough trouble. Suffice
it to say, I’m a member of a group. Or, rather, an informal member. It’s a
group that looks out for their own, no matter what.”
    I put two and two together. “And this Marlowe guy is part of the
group?”
    He nodded.
    I frowned. “What kind of group is it?”
    He looked up at me, his hands still covering his mouth. “I can’t
say. It’s not allowed. If you’re in, you know. If you’re out, you don’t.”
    “So, you’re telling me Marlowe got you to order the slaughter
because you’re both part of some secret group?”
    “I can’t say one way or another.”
    I sat there, cigarette burning down, thinking about things, what
this case had brought to me. I thought about all the people involved, what they
had said, what they had done. I ran through the time line in my head until
something jarred loose.
    “The night Marlowe came here, after hours,” I said, stubbing out
the cigarette, “Clara worked late. She said Marlowe looked at her funny.” I
gave Teague as intense a stare as I could muster. “Is Danielle a member of this
group?”
    His silence told me the answer.
    I dashed back into the lobby. A few folks were waiting in line. Clara
was helping them, but Danielle was gone.
    “Where is she?” I said.
    Clara stopped talking with an old woman at her desk. “She said
she had to go to the ladies’ room.”
    I sat at Danielle’s desk to wait. I gazed at her accouterments:
desk pad, typewriter, pencil cup, desk calendar. I looked at all the notes on
the calendar, with tasks to do and checkmarks beside most entries. There was
one for today: “1:10 p.m. - Meeting.” I glanced at my watch. A quarter to ten.
    “How often do y’all have meetings?”
    “Whenever we need one.”
    “You having one today?”
    “No.”
    I stared at the entry, mulling the time over in my mind. I
checked my watch. “How long she been in there?”
    Clara frowned. “She should have been back by now.”
    I got up and strode toward the rear of the office building where
the restrooms for the employees were situated. I put my ear to the ladies’ room
door and heard nothing. I knocked softly. No response. Still a little
apprehensive, I opened the door. “Hello?”
    More silence.
    I bent down and looked under the two stalls and saw no legs.
Turning, I trotted back to the front lobby. “Where does she live?”
    Clara turned to me. “Why? What’s wrong?”
    “She’s gone and I’ve got to find her. Where does she live?”
    “In an apartment over on Vine. Number three ten.”
    I picked up the phone, then put it down again. I fumbled in my
pockets for my notebook. Rapidly, I flipped pages until I found the one I
needed. Smiling a little, I picked up the phone again and placed a call.
    “Hello?” said the voice on the other end.
    “This is Wade, the private detective. I’ve got a job to do, if
you’re willing. And you need to bring your gun.”

Chapter Eighteen
     
    The drive wasn’t terrible. I arrived at
Danielle’s apartment ten minutes later. I stood and waited for about five
minutes before someone came out of the complex. I doffed my hat to the young
lady and held the gate for her as she left the premises. So trusting. So
foolish.
    I ascended the stairs, then approached Danielle’s room with
caution. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Walking down the hallway, I hoped my
shoes didn’t squeak or a floorboard didn’t give away my presence.
    Putting my ear to her door, I listened. For a few moments, I
heard nothing. Then, a shuffling of paper. Next, footsteps doing their best not
to sound too loud. I reached into my jacket and verified my gun was secure in
its shoulder holster. No need to go in like a cowboy. Perhaps we could just
talk.
    I reached out and grasped the handle. I gave it a gentle twist.
Aha! Movement. Was she expecting someone? Probably, but not me.
    Turning the knob all the way, I

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