Who Killed Sweet Roxy Ann

Harry Rush, the not-so-famous, practically unknown private detective with a reputation for a lack of success in solving cases, sits behind his blotter-topped desk, shooting flies off the venetian blinds with elastic bands. His feet are propped up on the open drawer of the metal filing-cabinet, which only contains a dirty shot-glass and a half-bottle of scotch.

Esmerelda the cat lies on the credenza, looking expectantly at Harry and the box of cat treats on the desktop.  Harry doesn’t like cats but Esmerelda is a good mouser’in his “Private Detective” office in this run-down building. He believes potential clients prefer to hire people with a ‘heart’, especially perceived fellow cat lovers, with whom to share the sordid details of their failed relationships and transgressions.

Harry, hoping for a client to come seeking his services, feels as though he is drifting into sleep in his chair as he looks into the black eyes of the cat, who glares back at him with a deep, mesmerizing, hypnotic stare.

           Harry’s thumb idly turns a fishing-reel, the closet door swings open and a skeleton lurches and bumps into the room on the line of a fishing-pole, strung through a pulley. The skeleton slumps into a wooden chair in front of his desk.

          "Hello, Roxy Ann.,” says Harry. “It's been a tough case. When you came to my office the other day you wanted me to help you find a missing person.”

          "Yes, me," says the skeleton.

          "I was confused at first, until you explained you discovered you were missing two days ago."

          "Yes, while I was taking a bath." Roxy Ann picks with scarlet-red fingernails at tufts of hair dangling from soft patches of acid-burned scalp clinging to her skull as she examines her reflection in the whisky-bottle.

        "Your jealous, burly, six-foot-two husband hired me three weeks ago to investigate as he suspected you of having an affair. You were." Harry tugs on the fishing-pole and the skeleton seductively saunters around the corner of his desk with a sway of hips, bones cracking.

          "Yes, I was, with you, Harry. Do you think we could… perhaps... try again?" she whispers in his ear, as her teeth nibble on his earlobe.

          She seizes Harry in her skeletal arms and passionately presses her jaw bone to his lips. His hand follows the familiar curve of her hip bone.

          "No, no, no, it's too late, Roxy Ann. We've both changed."

          He breaks away and throws the skeleton back down into the chair. "No matter how much we loved each other in the past, we are different people now."

          He reaches for the half-bottle of scotch.

          "When you turned up in a suitcase outside my office door two days ago, I knew someone was sending a message. I felt I needed to check into your missing person case for old time's sake… and for my sake. Whoever murdered you may come after me next." He holds her bony fingers in his hands. "Roxy Ann, I've cracked it. I know who murdered you. It was..."

          At that moment, the doorknob turns as an ominous, tall, burly, shadowy figure stealthily appears, silhouetted in the opaque, glass-paneled, slowly opening office door.

          Harry’s hand grips the loaded revolver resting against his thigh under the desktop, muzzle pointed towards the door, as he reclines back in his chair.

          “Come in. I’ve been expecting you.”


Esmerelda jumps into Harry’s lap as the shortest path to the desktop in pursuit of the treats, stirring Harry from his slumber.

‘I can’t even be a successful private detective in my dreams. I awoke too soon and I have no idea who I was expecting,’’ he grumbles, tears of disappointment in his eyes. ‘I don’t know who killed sweet Roxy Ann!”


Who Killed Sweet Roxy Ann



Lawrence E. Collins travels, hikes, fishes and writes from his hometown, St. John’s, NL. His stories have been published in magazines, including Canadian Stories Magazine, ‘The Dress’, Vol 17 No. 96, April/May, 2014, ‘Ebenezer's Party’, feature story, Vol 17 No. 99, Oct/Nov, 2014, at www.canadianstories.net [Archives 2014], and ‘Sidney’, Vol 18 No. 102, April/May, 2015.
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