Fries and Gravy: A Distilled Fiction

She came into my office like a storm. Legs long enough to strangle a boa constrictor, hair golden enough to make a leprechaun jealous, lips red enough to make apples look beige. She swung her hips as she walked across my floor to my desk; I hoped the rats wouldn’t crawl up her legs. Her fur shawl dropped a bit and exposed her shoulders and the red straps to her dress. She almost puckered when she talked.

“Can I smoke in here, Detective McCarthy?” she asked holding her pack of Marlboros. A little bit of smoke probably would have done this dump some good. The one light that swung above my head barely lit my desk, let alone the whole room. Thank God. If this classy dame would have seen the rest of this glorified rat sanctuary under decent lighting, she would have turned tail and ran right back out the door she came in through.

“I haven’t been a detective for a long time, Miss…” I began, not sure who the damsel cloaked in fur and silk was standing in front of me.

“Miss Fraudatio,” she finished my sentence holding out her hand. I tucked my hands under my desk and wiped the grease and gravy from my fingers on my jeans before I reached out and took her hand.

“Well, Miss Fraudatio,” I continued. “What brings you to my side of town today?”

She put her hands on her hips and jutted to one side, like she was insulted that I wanted to get to business so quickly. “I have a scoop for you that you wouldn’t believe. My husband – well – my ex-husband, he’s running a drug ring out of a toy-factory just off Broadway. He’ll know if I go to the cops, he owns half of them. I thought maybe you could snap some shots, put them in your cute little newspaper, and expose the prick for the worthless scum he is.”

I don’t know why she came to me. I was a low level crime reporter who covered more schoolyard fights than organized crime and was lucky to ever make word count. I was living cheque to cheque and was lucky to afford a box of fries and gravy. “Look, lady, that’s not really my beat,” I explained. “Check out three doors down, a guy named Danson, he covers all the organized rackets in this town, why don’t you talk to him.”

“Because,” she snapped, thrusting both hands down on my desk. She was staring into my eyes; I was staring at the slit down the front of her dress. “Because I want you.”

I leaned back in my chair. My left wall had a dirty mop leaned up against it. The floor had a gravy stain I had been trying to clean for weeks but would never come out. I looked down on my desk and saw where most people put pictures of their families and kids. My desk just had paper and pens all over it with the consistency and order of a tornado disaster zone. My right wall was blank except for the girlie calendar with all my deadlines. Behind me was a window that captured the skyline under the night’s light. I stood from my chair and stared out the window at the city I used to serve that threw me to the side like and empty container with only a couple of burnt fries, the wax paper, and a couple clumps of gravy.

I dropped a piece of paper and a pen in front of her. “Give me the asshole’s name and address and I’ll see what I can do.”

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