(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Jack was written by Adam Mitchell).
Jack was beat, but running on adrenaline from getting away with the money. Clean, he walked the three blocks back to his office, making sure he double backed down a few alleys just to be sure. After half an hour he was back in his dingy office and the welcoming sounds of Mrs.B’s type writer “Hello darling you miss me?” She looked jack like a principle would a bad student, then smiled when she saw the bundle of cash Jack through on her desk. “Your wages plus a little bonus, hun, for not walking.” Mrs. B just nodded not wanting to destroy her iron maiden routine. Jack turned and headed to his office shutting the door. He needed a sleep. But he didn’t get much before the door knocked, “Jack, client, sort yourself out she’s a ringer.” Jack woke quick using some stale beer from a bottle to wet down his hair. “Okay doll send her in…”
Kelly stepped into the dingy office and glimpsed around. It certainly looked like it had a lot of stories to tell, but Kelly was interested in the story of the man before her, and she fixed her eyes on him. “Jack Malone, I’m Kelly Blanchard. I’m not here as an actual client but rather to interview you. I was told I could find you here.” She smiled at him. “And I’m going to start with one really blunt, odd question: what is a mob boss doing hiring a P.I. to take out someone when you’d expect him to hire a hitman? That has puzzled me since I heard of the whole situation. Are you also a hitman?” She tilted her head to a side. Sure, she likely wasn’t starting off on the right foot, but it was the first question that came to mind.
“Jezz doll face, come on in whys don’t you. And you’re right. P.I don’t go in for that work but times are hard. How about you sit the pretty little gams down and start over.” Jack pulled out a bottle and poured two drinks. He stuck his feet on the desk and took the dame in.
Kelly took the offered seat, but when he offered her a drink, she shook her head. “No thank you. I don’t drink, but you are quite welcome to it.” She smiled at him, but then she furrowed her brows. “So why you? Why would a mob boss choose you to work for him? I’m not asking why you would work for him, but why would he hire you? Do you know him from the past? Worked with him before? Or what exactly?”
Jack looked at Kelly and took in her gams. She had legs right up to the kazoo. Downing both drinks, he looked to her “Kelly, I wasn’t always like this, this town respected me once. But the fight with the bottle cost me that and the wife and kid. I ended up taking a few duff cases and destroyed what ever dregs of self respect I had. Clients don’t come to a washout. Vic knew me from before all that. But knew I needed the lettuce” Jack loosened his tie and “you think I want to be a gorilla with a gun. That’s all going to change now though you’ll see hun”
Kelly tilted her head. “Change how?”
Jack looked over at the bag he’d brought back from Victor. “A new life costs green, and lots off it. This job has sorted things. This joint and me will get a face lift, and then who knows I may go looking for Peggy my kid.”
Kelly nodded when she heard this. “So take me back. Why did you begin drinking?” She sat back in her chair to listen.
“Now that’s a story, doll.” Standing up Jack walked to a picture on his wall. The picture was of a girl of ten “Her name was Sally May. I was a homicide cop staking out a gin joint after a killer but got spotted by him and his goons and had to contend with a lot of lead. I shot back. I’d got them all but it wasn’t till the cops turned up I saw her. Sally had taken a bullet to the chest, bled out. A witness told a cop she was just playing hopscotch with a pal when she heard the bang, she ran right past my car and got plugged. Poor kid after that I picked up the bottle and haven’t put it down since. Life just didn’t matter anymore.” Jack discreetly wiped a tear from his face “A cop is meant to serve and protect not rob a family of a daughter.” Jack just walked back to his desk and poured another drink.
“So your answer to that was to resort to the bottle and rob your wife of her husband and your child of their father?” Kelly raised her brows. She leaned forward to engage with him. “You know it’s not your fault.” Then she paused, watching him take another drink. “Do you really think all that money is going to improve your life if you continue drinking?”
“Honestly doll, I don’t know” Jack looked back at the bag. “It may not improve it. But it will help me get my name back. And from there who knows.”
“You know what the issue is with drinking? The root of the problem is lack of self-control, and I know what I’m talking about because I watched my brother go down the same hole you are, and he died because of it.” She didn’t break eye contact with him. She had just stated the reason why she refused the drink earlier. “If you really want your life to turn around, you need to get control of yourself again, and to do that, you need to go back to the moment when you lost control, acknowledge what happened, recognize the facts, and realize it was not in your control, and you are not to blame. You lost control of yourself because of one moment where you had no control of life, but it doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.”
However, realizing he probably thought she was lecturing him, she drew back and smiled. “Of course, I’m not here to change your ways. I’m just here to ask questions…and to make you think. So what was life like back there—before that incident?”
Jack looked at the half empty bottle then put it back in the drawer “yYou make a lot of sense for a dame. Let’s as you say get back to the questions, say what dirtsheet you from anyway?’
“Let’s just say I’m not from around here.” Kelly nodded to him but returned to the question. “What was life like before all of this? How did you meet your wife—Peggy, did you say her name was?”
“Life was good, I had the American dream. I met Peggy back when I was still in homicide, she was one of the first female beat cops, she’d come over from vice.” Jack smiled at the thought of his wife Jessica “A call girl had been given the dahlia treatment and been gutted, I was called in and we hit it off from there, I made her my partner after that, and well all them stakeouts turned into more if you get my drift”
Kelly nodded. “What is she like? I mean, her personality. I get the feeling she has a fiery personality and can be stubborn.” She smiled when she said this.
“She was a fire cracker, a real mans woman if you follow. It wasn’t until we went steady and hag
“Had lil Peggy that she I saw her in her true colours. She became a lioness kept me an peg on the straight and narrow.”
“Ah, so Peggy’s your daughter.” Kelly was a little confused but went on, “So how old was your daughter when you began drinking?”
Jack beamed when he started to talk about Peg, “Peg was two years old when I started a relationship with the bottle. But that was ten years back, Jess and Peg live somewhere near Coast City last time I checked.”
“So how long did it take Jess to kick you out once you started drinking?” Kelly was trying to get a timeline figured out in her mind
“No offencse doll, but can we skip that one? It’s just it hurts to go back.” Jack stood and turned his back to Kelly. He took his gun and stuck it in the office safe “Let’s just say, doll, my Pegs twelve next week.”
“And you haven’t been a part of her life all this time. I know it hurts, but sometimes you need to face that hurt in order to make things right. Otherwise, it’s always going to hurt, and you’re going to keep shying away from it, and the longer you do that, the more guilty you feel, so you’ll want to stay away even more because you’ll convince yourself that you only ever hurt people. Do you see where I’m coming from?” Kelly raised her brows. She hadn’t meant for this to become a counseling session, but that wasn’t uncommon with her interviews, and she was curious as to how Jack would respond.
“Kelly, I’ve asked a fellow gumshoe to keep tabs on them and from time to time I get filled in. I always plan to see them and I always make it to the train platform. Then I remember Sally and the drink and turn back. I wired them money once and quietly pulled a few strings to help set Jess up in a new job. Its not much but for a second I felt like a farther and husband again.” There came a knock at the door, It was Mrs. Baxter with a pot of tea, Jack wouldn’t normally touch the stuff but now seemed the right time for tea. “Like I said now I got the president and his friends behind me, maybe I will go there this time”
“Wait—the president? Are we talking about THE president? Or some other kind of president?” Kelly furrowed her brows as she sat back in her seat. She was thoroughly confused now.
“Presidents as in cash, if you get me.”
“Ok,” Kelly laughed. “You threw me for a loop there. In my line of work, you never know the connections people have!” Then she got back on track. “All right, so now that you have all that cash, your plan is to maybe go back to Jess and Peggy and make things right?”
Jack poured himself a tea and offered Kelly one. “Not straight away, I want to sort me out first not rush down there still being hunted by the drinking if you can understand” It was around 4pm and Jack turned on the radio, letting the music of duke Ellington fill the room.
Kelly leaned on one arm of her chair and lifted her brows as she gave Jack a hard look. “And do you really plan on beating the drinking habit? Be honest. Do you sincerely want to break that habit and try to get your life back on track? No matter how hard it is and how much it’s going to hurt?”
“Hun, I wouldn’t have taken the LOST ANGEL case if I didn’t. Yes I plan to beat the drink. Either that or become a monk.” Jack laughed “no now I have the means nothing is going to stop me”
“Except for yourself.” Kelly pointed out, and then she leaned forward. “Listen, breaking habits like these aren’t easy. I’ve seen it. You’ve been hurt, so you turned to the drink to drown that hurt, but really all that drink is doing is drowning you in your hurt. You won’t be able to do this alone. You need someone to hold you accountable and to knock sense into you when you start slipping because you will be tempted greatly to drink again…even at the slightly irritation you come across in life, and you can’t allow yourself that relief because you’ll slip right back into it. Do you have anyone you trust who can hold you accountable?”
Jack buzzed in the formidable receptionist Mrs Baxter. “Mrs Baxter, today your prayers have been answered get the bottle from my desk and the four from the file cabinets and get rid, if I go for the drink again I give you permission to slap me. It’s a new start darling.” Jack turned to Kelly and smiling like a school boy laughed. “No time like the present. And trust me I cant get round Mrs. B now, Hitler himself couldn’t make her buckle.”
Kelly chuckled. “I hope you the best. It’s not going to be easy—not by a long shot. There’ll be times when Mrs. B isn’t around, and you’ll think that a little drink won’t hurt, but if you do that, you’ll slip right back into it. And when you’re tempted like that, I want you to think of me crossing my arms and telling you, ‘I told you so!’ And you wouldn’t want to prove me right, would you? You’d rather prove me wrong, so prove me wrong, get sober, and stay sober.” With that, Kelly rose to her feet. “Our time’s about up, but I do appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. You have a hard road ahead of you, Jack. I hope you the best.”
“No worries, kid, call around sometime. Be great to catch up.” With that jack watched her get up and walk out. And he couldn’t help but think, DAM WHAT A DAME
Adam Mitchell’s novel, ‘The Lost Angel’, is available on Kindle. Be sure to follow him on social media too!