Hard Case Crime: Baby Moll

Hard Case Crime: Baby Moll by John Farris

Book: Hard Case Crime: Baby Moll by John Farris Read Free Book Online
Authors: John Farris
even after years of abuse at The Rendezvous and other such places. She talked with a certain dignity that hinted at the rare fine qualities of this former gutter orphan.
    I gave the pup a hard time with my foot, rolling him over on the floor when he tried to chew my toe off. He growled and attacked, swinging furry stiff paws at the shoe. He had a great time.
    Finally she came back. “Dave said he’ll see you,” she said, and told me how to find him. She remained in the kitchen.
    The man called Dave sat on the edge of a big double bed in the bedroom. He rubbed at crisp black hair that showed spikes of white. There were smudges under his eyes and his skin was pale, as if he had spent a lot of time indoors. He wore shorts and an undershirt that was soaked with perspiration. He wasn’t more than five feet seven, but he must have weighed close to 175 pounds. He had probably been a rough cop. Vice-squad material.
    “Come on in,” he growled, holding his head. A gun and holster hung on a high-backed rocking chair near the bed. There was a bottle of whisky on a solid little table within reaching distance.
    “Rose said I got to help you, if I can,” he said, not happy about the idea. He didn’t look at me for more than two seconds. The eyes were sharp and petulant. He grabbed the bottle and glass and poured himself one.
    “Sit down. Drink?”
    “No, thanks.” I sat on the edge of the rocker. There was a badge pinned to the worn leather of the holster. He had been a sergeant.
    “I thought they took that away from you,” I said, tactfully.
    His head jerked up. He made a harsh sound in his throat. “They couldn’t find it to take away. It was unaccountably lost. Rose tell you I got busted?”
    “Yes. She didn’t say how.”
    “That ain’t none of your business.” He drank. “Who’s this bimbo you want to find?”
    “I don’t know anything about him but this: he’s a chunky little guy, about five eight or so. Likes sharp clothes. Wears a sky blue hat with a light-colored band. He likes shotguns, too. If you know him from that it’ll be a miracle.”
    He stared down into his glass. “I was vice squad for fifteen years,” he said. “I knew every gun in town. Intimately.”
    “How long you been busted?”
    “Five months. Like I said, I knew ’em all. I knew everybody who came to town five minutes after they got off the plane. I knew Pete Mallory, too,” he said, glancing up. “Even the ones who kept clean. I had to know. That was before I got busted. I was a conscientious bastard.”
    “Who’s this one?”
    “I think I know, but I could be wrong.”
    I grinned at him. “Sure. Fifteen years on the same beat. You could be wrong.”
    He grinned back sourly. “His name’s Winkie Gilmer. A Southern boy, from Birmingham. Connected with Holtz in Buffalo once. Then a hired gun out of Cleveland for two years. Drifted in here seven months ago and caught on right away at Zavelli’s luxury resort up the beach a few miles. Neptune Court. He don’t do nothing much but sun himself and make out with the women. He disappears now and then for a week, ten days. Probably still freelances. He’s twenty-four. He may have killed a dozen men.”
    “What’s his talent?”
    He poured himself another. “Don’t mention it.” He looked at me again, briefly. “You used to be up real high with Macy Barr. I thought you were out of that kind of work. I knew about you, but I never had the pleasure. Not that it’s any pleasure.”
    “It gets into your blood, doesn’t it?” I said.
    “The poison you make. Why keep the badge around? Think you might get to wear it again sometime?”
    “Get out,” he said dully.
    “Okay.” I stood up and walked around the bed. Then I stopped and reached for my wallet.
    “I don’t need it,” he said. He looked around the room. “I got plenty.”
    “You gave me information I needed.”
    “I didn’t do you no favor,” he said. He laughed in

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