Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Excerpt from Legacy of Death - An Alexander Steele Philly Murder Mystery

Excerpt from Legacy of Death

Slick was known to have more enemies than friends. Considering the people he had burned, deceived or flat out lied to Steele was always careful to describe him as nothing more than an associate. In his line of work Slick was a source for information, a valuable but costly asset.
The club was crowded as usual but Slick was easy to find. He always sat at the far end of the bar. It was the best vantage point for keeping an eye on the front door in case he needed to make a hasty exit out the back.
Slick remembered the night Julia’s ex came into the bar. Slick was a fast talker. His eyes darted around the room every so often but always returned to the front entrance.
“Listen Steele, there’s only a handful of Hispanic dudes that come in here and most of them are looking for something, you know what I’m saying? This guys a regular, comes in here three, four times a week. Nice guy,” Slick touches his temple with his index finger, “but not very bright if you get my drift.”
Slick paused, took a sip of whiskey, and stared off into the distance. If Steele wanted to know the rest of the story it was time to show some appreciation. Steele laid two twenties and a ten on the bar and Slick instantly picked up the money and the story without missing a beat.
“He came in here the other night and got wasted, started running off at the mouth about being rich. Half hour later he left with some white dude.” Slick thought for a moment and shook his head. “I don’t know him. I heard somebody say he comes down this way from Darby a couple times a month to check in on his sickly grandma or something. About an hour later he came back in by himself and started up again. Then he created the cardinal sin. He pulled out a hand full of gold coins and laid them on the table over there. Well, that got a lotta folk’s attention including mine. He might as well have been wearing a sign I want to get mugged.
Some old sickly looking guy came over to his table. They talked for a while and the drunk guy with the gold left. As soon as he left the old guy followed him out.”

Steele felt like he was feeding the parking meter in center city. But this meter was getting more expensive by the minute. He laid another bill on the bar and slid it over. Slick smiled when he saw the crisp fifty dollar bill.
“See here’s the deal Steele; this guy was always tight with a buck. I mean he was tighter than a three hundred pound hooker trying to squeeze into a size small pair of canary yellow spandex pants. You get my drift Steele? So, like I said, he got my curiosity up so I followed them.
Turns out he lives in the apartment right across the street on Germantown Avenue. Second floor.” Slick pointed in the direction of the building, “apartment12 if I’m not mistaken.” Steele asked a few more questions before heading to the apartment building.

The dimly lit hallways in the rundown apartment building were painted blood red. It was clear from the stains, cracks, and writing along the walls that the apartment building was way overdue for a fresh coat of paint. Even though the rain had cooled things off outside the hallway was hot and muggy.
Odors of cheap wine and urine permeated throughout the dilapidated three story walk up.
Steele ignored the police sirens wailing in the distance. He walked by an old black pay phone with a dozen or so phone numbers scribbled on the wall before climbing the rickety stairs.
Apartment 12 was at the end of the hall on the right. Not knowing what to expect he cautiously approached the apartment. As he drew his weapon Steele noticed the door was slightly opened.
An open door especially in this neighborhood was always a bad sign.
As if that wasn’t enough the foul smell coming from the hallway was suddenly replaced by the stench of a rotting corpse. As the sound of the sirens grew louder Steele considered the possibility that they may be headed his way. He had to move fast. The floor boards creaked as he crept into the small apartment. An old porcelain lamp with painted pink roses topped with a battered cream colored lamp shade gave Steele enough light to navigate around the room. A small picture frame had been tossed into the small black waste basket next to an old raggedy lounge chair. The toxic smell of death grew stronger as he moved towards the kitchen. Out of the corner of his eye Steele caught a glimpse of flashing red lights from the window facing Germantown Avenue.
Moments later Steele’s suspicions were confirmed. After making a quick sweep of the ransacked efficiency apartment he holstered his Glock and stood over the lifeless body sprawled out on the kitchen floor. The victim had apparently been shot from behind.
Philadelphia’s finest were just outside the door. The corpse laid face down on the cold, dirty, gray tiled kitchen floor. Just as Steele was about to turn him over he heard a voice yell.
“Stop where you are and put both your hands up now!”

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