Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wendig Challenge: Cold Reads and Hot Leeds (part 1)

This time it's a story involving a psychic power. Hopefully something will come along that fits part two.

Cold Reads and Hot Leeds (part 1)

“Are you Jimmy Leeds?” The voice caught him off guard, but he looked up and nodded.

The woman in the doorway might have been a hallucination if not for the fact that she had a small automatic pistol in one hand. Apart from the gun, she wore a gray skirt that hung past her knees, a white blouse with a gray jacket, small gray gloves, and a gray hat with a sheer veil that barely covered her eyes.

“Can I help you… miss?” It was as much an honorific as it was a desired outcome should she fire.

“You find people, right? You’re good at that?”

Jimmy nodded again and glanced down at the gun. “I take it there’s someone you don’t want found?”

She looked at the gun, and then let her arm drop to her side and her face flushed. “Oh! Oh my God. I didn’t… I mean-I…”

Jimmy walked over and took the gun from her. “Why don’t you tell me about it.”

“That belonged to my brother. He’s been missing for three days and he never left the house without it. I’ve looked everywhere for him. And asked all his friends. No one’s seen him. Can you find him? I’ve got money. Lots.”

Jimmy looked at her and offered a gentle smile. "Who are you?"

"Mary. Mary Talbot. My brother is Paul. Please, you've got to help him."

“Let me see what I can find. You say he carried this gun a lot? Would you say he cherished it?”

“He loved that gun. He brought it back from Germany after the war. He said he took it from an officer he killed just after they liberated Paris. It’s probably his most prized possession.”

“Good. This should work, then. Just sit there quietly for a minute.”

Jimmy closed his eyes and cradled the gun in his hands. He opened his mind and let his thoughts wash over the gun. He saw flashes from Paris, and some towns in Germany. Then he saw New York, and a taxi, and a long black car with no detail. The images faded but the sound remained. Soon, the image returned to reveal the inside of a small wooden building where four men sat playing cards. Two he knew on sight, Monty and Thomas Greene. A third was unknown but held himself like he was in charge. The fourth man had one hand held fast to a chair with a police issue handcuff.

“He’s alive,” Jimmy said. “He’s being held by a couple of freelance thugs and a guy I think is their boss. Do you know what he was into?”

She pulled a handkerchief from her bag and pressed it to her eyes. “How do you know that?”

“I can see things about people when I touch their stuff. If the link is strong enough I can see not just things about them and their past, but where they are at that moment. Right now, your brother is chained to a chair playing cards with people he’s afraid of. You said you had money. Could he have been kidnapped?”

“Possibly, but I haven’t heard anything about a ransom.”

“Does he have any skills a criminal might force him to use? Or does anyone else in the family have any?”

“The family is just the two of us. Our parents died last fall in a car accident. As far as I know, neither of can do anything really useful.”

“Do either of you work?”

“We don’t need to. Our parents left us…” The words trailed off and she dabbed at her eyes again before stiffening her back and dropping her hands to her lap.
“Can you find him, Mr. Leeds?”

“I saw enough to know about where he is. When I get close, I’ll be able to zero in.”

He escorted her to her car, then crossed the lot to his own. He opened the door of own battered Ford and slid in, but as his foot moved to step on the starter he saw the floor coated in blood. He turned to look in the back seat. On the floor, a small hole through the left temple, was a man about thirty in what use to be a nice suit.

In the distance Jimmy heard sirens approaching. He looked for the woman, and saw her standing in a telephone box. He placed his hands on the gun again and went back to the room where the four men were playing cards.
In his vision, he heard a telephone ring. The man he didn’t know moved to answer it and then said, “It’s all set.” The man chained to the chair reached down and unlocked the cuff, then looked at Monty Greene. Monty held up a sign that said “How’s that witch vision working out for you Jimmy? Marco’s looking forward to seeing you on the inside.”

The woman was gone. Jimmy in the car with the corpse holding a gun that would only have his prints on it. The police were only a couple of minutes away.

He got out of the car and hurried back up to his office for a drink. He wasn’t quite sunk, but it was bad. In the office he crossed to the desk with his throat set on the bottom left drawer. There on the floor, beside the chair the woman had sat, was a thin silver chain with a small stone set in a cheap mount. He performed a quick read on it and saw a flash of her gloves holding a steering wheel and street signs passing by.

Jimmy took a pull from the bottle, placed the gun on his desk, and left a note for Lt. Ames who would be visiting the office ten minutes after the body was found.

“Framed for this. No proof, yet. Give me 24 hours.”

The fire exit door closed as the police reached his office floor.

In the back of a taxi, he squeezed the damp spot on the cloth for a moment, then said, “North. I’ll tell you where to turn.”

To be continued…

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