Gumshoe Felix Driscoll
returns to P&D in...

Murder's Accomplice

A 6-Chapter Shamus Shocker!

by Darryl Crawford
About the author


Episode 4: Angle on Robin

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SLIPPING OUT THE FRONT DOOR, I got to my car and drove straight to Glendale.  When I turned onto Robin’s street I saw the flivver parked in her driveway.  Went to the front door and knocked, my guts in knots.  A minute passed.  I knocked again and again no answer.

A locksmith pal had taught me the way key locks work.  I keep a square of stiff plastic in my billfold; it opened her door handily enough.  The gray cat met me in the front room, meowed at me.  When I ignored it, it crouched down and began to clean its paws.

No sign of the orange tab.  I called Robin’s name and got silence in return.  Growing worried I lunged blindly into the house.  I heard the shower water running in the bathroom.  Through the steam I saw a shape moving behind the pebbled glass of the shower door.  There was no way I would scare the hell out of Robin after I’d let myself into her home unbeknownst to her.

Before retreating to the living room I did a little snooping and found her medication on top of a chest of drawers.  She had been taking it ever since I’d known her.  I hated it, it made her crazy.  On the top shelf of her closet I found what I was afraid I’d find.  I took it into the living room, laid it on the coffee table.  I sat down on the couch.  The cat continued to clean its paws while I waited.

When the water in the bathroom shut off I detected the faint rhythmic clunk of a washing machine in the background.  Sounds of movement came from the bedroom.

I coughed discreetly.  “Hi, Robin, it’s me. Me as in Felix.  You have company.”

She sounded puzzled: “Who’s there?”

“It’s me, Felix Driscoll.  I’m in your living room.”

From the bedroom I heard her exclaim: “What!”

Robin bolted into the living room wrapped in a terrycloth robe, her red hair a tangle, face devoid of make up, but she looked so good I knew how Ulysses felt when the sirens sang.  My heart felt like a giant fist squeezed it when I first saw her face to face. 

She got testy, but under the circumstances who could blame her?  “Felix, what?”

“Hi, Robin,” I grinned, foolishly.  “Where’s your orange cat?”

“It got run over.”  The subject of cats held no interest for her.  Instead she asked, “What are you doing here?”

“We need to talk.”  Also needed to phone in a murder.

“Get out!”

“We talk first.”

“I’ll call some law.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Oh, you don’t?  You’re in my home.  Get the hell out.”

“Go ahead, call the cops.  You’ll be arrested for murder.”

She babbled in a frightened stammer: “Exactly what are you talking about?”

“You putting a slug in Walter Hobbs an hour ago.”

Robin went white under her California suntan.  She opened her mouth to speak but no words poured forth.

“I’m going to have to tell the police,” I said.  “And I don’t want to do that, Robin.  I can lose my license if I don’t.”

She told me where I could put my license.

“Believe me, it’s nothing personal,” I said.

“Yeah, sure,” she sneered.  “You hate me because I left you.”

“That’s got nothing to do with nothing.  It’s bigger than that; you killed a man.”

“How do you know?”

“I watched you go into Hobbs’ house.”

She stared at me in a fury about to be unleashed.  The robe had parted to reveal some spectacular fleshy curves.  Her beauty almost took my breath away. 

“What can you possibly know?” Robin spat.

“I know enough.”

“You may have been watching the house but you weren’t inside.”

“The cat gave you away.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Alena and Bobby Glide both visited Hobbs today after you did.”

She thought about that.  “What makes you so sure I killed him and not one of them?”

“Walter Hobbs was dead before either one of them got there.  I saw you leaving with the cat.  The cat had walked in the dead man’s blood and tracked it in the kitchen.  See, the cat’s still cleaning its paws.  And that explains why you were showering in the afternoon.  Washing your bloody hands clean, Robin?”

Even cursing me I desired her.  Her eyes gleamed; I wondered how many pills she’d taken.

“Did you get blood on your clothes?  Or bloody paw prints?  Is that why you’re doing a load of laundry?”

I reached across the couch to an end table and a phone.  Robin watched in horror as I dialed.

Who are you calling?  Wait, baby, wait!”  The robe fell open all the way as she removed the phone from my hand and disconnected the call.

I waited.  “Oh, I’m baby now, am I?”

“Felix, please.  I’ll do anything.”  To prove it she shrugged out of the robe.  She was still magnificent.  “You don’t have to do this.”

The burden of Ulysses got heavier.  “Yes,” I said, “I do.”

“The cops’ll never believe you.  It’s what’s called circumstantial evidence.”  After she spoke she saw the gun I’d laid on the coffee table for the first time.

I said, “A murder weapon is not circumstantial in a court of law.”

Suddenly she seemed to be entertaining thoughts of grabbing the pistol, formerly hidden in her closet.  When she made her play I smacked her.  She fell hard on her magnificent bottom, breasts heaving.  Her lip puffed up immediately but I hadn’t beaned her hard enough to draw blood.  I guessed I was still in love with her or I’d’ve belted her into the middle of next week.

The brightness in her eyes had been replaced with disbelief.  “You hit me!” she spat.

“Not hard enough to split your lip, babe.  That fat lip’ll be gone tomorrow.”  I scooped the pistol off the table and put it in my jacket pocket in case she got any more hostile notions.

I said, “You should have ditched the heater.  Why didn’t you?”

She said something concerning my mother and me.

“Such talk, Robin.  C’mon!  Spill it!”

“I borrowed it from a friend.”

“Meaning you had to return it?  Once the deed was done and the owner had the gun back in his possession it could never be traced to you.  The friend might tie in to an official investigation, but the murder weapon probably never would.  Was that the idea?”

“Felix, remember old times.  Just don’t call the cops on me.  Please.”  She came into my arms, squirmed against me.  “We can be together again.  I promise to make it good for you, baby.”

Even counterfeit affection from Robin was hard to ignore.  Only with great difficulty did I disentangle myself from her embrace.  I wanted to believe that she still wanted me, wanted me back, but I knew better.  My mind fought the knowledge.  I probably always will be in love with her.

I found the willpower to say, “Robin, put your robe back on.”

“And then what?”

“We talk about Bobby and Alena.”

The cat had finished grooming.  It made a lazy approach toward me, rubbed up against my pantsleg.

Robin picked her robe off the floor, belted it tightly.

She asked for a cigarette.  I gave her one.

Then she began to talk...

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Back to Episode 3 : Cue the Corpse
On to Episode 5 : Close on Bobby

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Murder's Accomplice is copyright by Darryl Crawford. It may not be copied without permission of the author except for purposes of reviews. (Though you can print it out to read it, natch.)