by Trevor Hopkins

Chapter 1: Deadly Encounter
Chapter 2: Unexpected Call
      Part 5
      Part 6
      Part 7
      Part 8

I stared at the phone for a long moment. It's not unusual for people to call; some of them are even paying clients. On the other hand, some are from people demanding payment for outstanding bills. My landlord is generally very understanding and he has always got his money eventually, but I was quite a bit behind with the rent at the moment. I wasn't sure I was strong enough to receive a stern telling-off right now.

The ringing stopped. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then it started again. The landlord wasn't usually that persistent. I swept the receiver from its cradle and pressed it to my ear.

"Findo Gask," I said in my best talking-to-strangers voice, the one I use when there's a chance they will be giving me money.

"Gask!" came a familiar female voice, "You're a hard Goblin to reach sometimes. Somebody been shooting at you again?"

Sometimes Luncardy manages to put her finger right on my state of mind, so to speak. I wondered how she did it.

"Don't worry, they missed," I growled in response, "And they won't be playing with guns again anytime soon, either."

"Yeah, yeah," she said, sounding amused, "Look, I need to talk to you, urgently. This is business. Get your tush down to the precinct station quick as you like. I'll buy you a coffee."

So, she wanted something. That was fine. Captain Harriett Luncardy and I go way back. I owe her a couple of favours and she probably owes me a few, too. Besides, if this was really business, then perhaps there would be a little cash flowing in my direction, too.

"Okay, sure," I agreed, "Just let me get freshened up a little."

"You don't need to look pretty, Gask," Luncardy said firmly, "Just get down here as soon as you can, right?"

Before I could grunt a response, there was a click and the receiver went dead. I put it back carefully where it belonged. I sat quietly for a minute or two, musing on Luncardy's unexpected summons, wondering what it might mean. I wasn't obvious; I'd just have to go and find out.

I went to the restroom and splashed some water on my face, washed the dirt from my hands. Back in the office, I shook out my overcoat, checked the pockets and pulled it on, reloaded the automatic and stuck in back in its holster, and tugged my hat on my head at a jaunty angle. I glanced in the mirror. The eyes looking back at me were weary and slightly suspicious - just my normal everyday appearance. It would have to do.

Part 4 Part 6