A is for Alibi Page 38

"Are you Sharon Napier?" I asked.

She looked up. Her eyes were rimmed with dark lashes, the green taking on an almost turquoise hue in the fluorescent light overhead.

"I don't think we've met," she said.

"I'm Kinsey Millhone," I said. "May I sit down?”

She shrugged by way of consent. She took a compact out of her pocket and checked her eye makeup', removing a slight smudge of shadow from her upper lid. Her lashes were clearly false, but the effect was flashy, giving her eyes an exotic slant. She applied fresh lip gloss, using her little finger, which she dipped into a tiny pot of pink. "What can I do for you?" she asked, glancing up briefly from her compact mirror.

"I'm looking into the death of Laurence Fife.”

That stopped her. She paused, her whole body going still. If I'd been taking a picture, it would have been the perfect pose. A second passed and she was in motion again. She snapped the compact shut and tucked it away, taking up her cigarette. She took a long drag, watching me all the while. She flicked an ash. "He was a real shitheel," she said brusquely, smoke wafting out with each word.

"So I've heard," I said. "Did you work for him long?”

She smiled. "Well, you've done your homework at any rate. I bet you even know the answer to that.”

"More or less," I said. "But there's lots I don't know. Want to fill me in?”

"On what?”

I shrugged. "What it was like to work for him? How you felt about his death ...”

"He was a prick to work for. I felt terrific about his death," she said. "I hated secretarial work in case you haven't guessed.”

"This must suit you better," I said.

"Look, I got nothing to discuss with you," she said flatly. "Who sent you up here anyway?”

I took a flyer on that one. "Nikki.”

She seemed startled. "She's still in prison. Isn't she?”

I shook my head. "She's out.”

She took a moment to calculate and then her manner became somewhat more gracious. "She's got bucks, right?”

"She's not hurting, if that's what you mean.”

She stubbed out her cigarette, bending the live ember under and mashing it flat. "I'm off at seven. Why don't you come out to my place and we can chat.”

"Anything you'd care to mention now?”

"Not here," she said.

She rattled out her address and I dutifully jotted it down in my notebook. She glanced off to the left and I thought at first she was lifting a hand to greet a friend. Her smile flashed and then faltered and she glanced back at me with uncertainty, turning slightly so that my line of sight was blocked. I peered back over her shoulder automatically but she distracted my attention, touching the back of my hand with a fingernail. I looked at her. She towered over me, her expression remote.

"That was the pit boss. End of my break.”

She told lies the way I do, with a certain breezy insolence that dares the listener to refute or contradict.

"I'll see you at seven then, " I said.

"Make it seven forty-five," she said easily. "I need time to unwind from work.”

I wrote out my name and the name of my motel, tearing a sheet from my notebook. She made a sharp crease and tucked the slip into her cigarette pack under the cellophane wrapper. She walked away without a backward glance, hips swaying gracefully.

The mashed butt of her cigarette was still sending up a drift of smoke and my stomach emitted a little message of protest. I was tempted to hang around, just to keep an eye on her, but my hands were feeling clammy and I longed to lie down. I didn't feel good at all and I was beginning to think that my flu symptoms might be more real than reactionary. The headache was creeping up again from the back of my neck. I walked out through the lobby. Fresh air helped me some but only momentarily.

I drove back to the Bagdad and bought a 7Up from the vending machine. I needed to eat but I wasn't sure anything would stay down. It was early afternoon and I didn't have to be anywhere until well after suppertime. I put the Do Not Disturb sign on my door and crawled back into my unmade bed, pulling the covers around me tightly. My bones had begun to ache. It was a long time before I got warm.


The telephone rang with startling shrillness and I awoke with a jolt. The room was dark. I had no idea what time it was, no idea what bed I was in. I groped for the phone, feeling flushed and hot, shoving the covers away from me as I propped myself up on one elbow. I flicked on the light, shading my eyes from the sudden harsh glare.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies