The police reintroduce themselves and escort Mr. Carmell out of townMature

He gave a backhanded wave and spoke over his shoulder as he walked away, “See ya 'round, ladies.”

Watch your step, Mr. Carmell,” Elsie advised, “this is a town where feathers get ruffled easily. It might pay not raise any dander, if you get my meaning.”

He turned to look at the three of them for a moment, a wry smile hidden behind his collar, but his eyes contorted with a sort of ice-cold zeal, “Murders don't get solved by the timid, Elsie. I'm in this town exactly for that reason: I'm going to start kicking things and see what shakes free.”

That's fine, Mr. Carmell, but just remember one thing: Kevlar is a hell of a lot less expensive than a coffin.”

Carmell said nothing and walked away. He spent the better part of an hour walking around, getting a feel for the town layout, paying attention to the interactions of the citizens, when at last he reached his rental car parked in front of the empty town library. It had two bodyguards, apparently. Carmell nodded at one of them, the nearest to the curb, “Sergeant Jones.”

A return nod from Jones, “Mr. Carmell.”

The other man, a burly one who easily had three inches on Carmell, skulked at the rear of the vehicle with arms crossed and eyed Carmell beneath heavy brows. Carmell greeted this man with a cheery wave, “Hello, Eustace.”

The name's Bernard, asshole.”

Carmell smiled in earnest and nodded his agreement, “Bernard Asshole. That name suits you. Say there, Bernard? Could you please not grope the rental? You see, I have to pay for dings, dents, and douchebags.”

The man's mammoth hands crumpled into blocks of fists at his sides and he took a step forward, but Jones cut him off, “Easy, Mr. Venctin. We're not here for blood. Are we, Mr. Carmell?”

Carmell quite enjoyed needling the bulky man with the quick temper; it was a guilty pleasure which might someday get his as kicked into oblivion. Nevertheless, he told Jones, “I hear he prefers to be called 'Mr. Asshole,' Sergeant.”

You mother –“ Bernard took three aggressive steps straight at Carmell, who never moved.


Carmell and Venctin both looked at Sergeant Jones, whose complexion had deepened into a ruddy crimson of anger. His already expansive chest heaved rhythmically while his heart rate pulsed heavily in his neck. He jabbed a stubby finger at Venctin and admonished, “Try to act like a Goddamned adult for once, will you, Bernard?”

Venctin relaxed a bit, temporarily mollified, while Jones turned his stern finger toward Carmell and growled, “And you...”

Yes, Sergeant?”

Your application was denied. Go back home, Detective.”

The End

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