The parcel contained a hand.
The ragged edges at the wrist suggested it had been ripped from the arm. A grubby beer stained note, read ‘STOP SERCHING – OR YORE NEXT’.
My partner had been working a case. I needed to find him - or at least the rest of him - before parts of me started needing to be signed for.
I trapped a folded card in the frame to close the door. A poor substitute for our broken door lock, but it did mean I never worried about forgetting my key.
Knowing I faced an illiterate enemy didn’t actually narrow the field much. Sam and me didn’t deal with high end clients. In our twilight business, we were more likely to visit a doss-house than a penthouse.
But spelling or not, the box did give me a lead so I headed off to run it down.
The morning bar smelled of watered drinks, counterfeit cigarettes and broken promises. The clink of bottles told me where I needed to head. I stood to one side of the stockroom door and called “Delivery!”
I slipped the scarf over the emerging figure’s throat and braced myself. My arms almost jerked out of their sockets as the monstrous figure heaved and grabbed for the knotted cloth. I held on like a rodeo finalist and twisted the ends together until he fell unconscious to the ground.
Tied to the biggest chair in the place, he didn’t look any less dangerous, just less conscious. Even that changed soon.
He groaned and tried to move. I watched him strain the large plastic cable ties that held him like Gulliver, ready to run if the manufacturer’s claims proved false. But they held and he eventually peered at me from under a brow that made me wonder if Neanderthal man had crossbred.
“Untie me you bastard or I’ll...”
“...Kill me? No. Tear me limb from limb? On that subject, where’s Sam’s body, I mean, less the hand you ripped off and sent me?”
Confronted by a question, his eyes rolled in their sockets like fruit machine reels - before coming up double stupid.
“Hand? Ripped off?”
“Lennie, you’re the only type in this town strong enough to do that.”
“Ain’t seen him.”
“OK. Fine. Bye.”
At the door I slipped the blind, letting morning sunlight elbow its way through the nicotine stains. It spotlighted the floor a yard from his feet. His eyes rolled again – double frightened now.
“Wait! If I tell you will you...?”
“...Shut the blind? Sure. Where’s Sam’s body?”
“In the stockroom. In a sack.”
I crossed the bar to check. Sure enough, there it was.
“But no harm done eh?” he called.
“No harm done? Lennie, we like our bodies intact.... stitching frightens clients.”
I opened the sack.
As we left the bar Sam groaned and stretched, shaking his flapping sleeve.
“Cheer up Sam, it’s the upside of being dead. Broken zombies can be fixed... whereas sunlit Trolls... Goodbye Lennie!”
First published at Jezri's Nightmares (http://www.lisamccourthollar.