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Giving Up The Ghost
About the Author: Shea E. Butler, an award-winning filmmaker for her short films, screenplays & web series, is an alumnus of the Ryan Murphy Half Foundation Directing Fellowship and the Warner Bros. Television Director’s Workshop. She has a BA in Literature and an MA in Radio & Television.

“Well, shit. This sucks,” Belle said. “Big time.” She looked down at the dead body of her client at her feet. The octogenarian, Conrad Charles, was sprawled out on the marble foyer on his back. Heart attack? Not likely with the pool of blood under his head staining the expensive stone floor.

Belle hiked up her already short skirt and, balanced effortlessly on her six-inch ankle boots, squatted down next to the body. With a plastic Chinese hair pin she pulled out of the messy updo of her long black hair, Belle carefully turned her client’s head to the side and examined the bloody mess that was now Conrad’s skull. Yup, someone sure bashed in your head, she thought. She patted Conrad’s cheek softly. “Too bad, old man. I liked you. But guess not everyone did.” Belle stood and looked around the foyer. No obvious murder weapon in sight and nothing seemed to be missing.

She sighed. Guess it was time to call the cops. Belle pulled out her cell phone from under her bra which pushed up her ample endowments for the world to see. Belle dialed a number from heart.

“Hey, detective asshole, it’s your favorite private eye. I got a dead body for you.” Belle rolled her eyes as she listened to the voice on the phone. “Yes, another one. Where? You figure it out, you’re the detective.” She disconnected, then looked down at the body.

“Ciao, old man.” She walked out the open front door to the huge, circular drive in front of the lavish, Beverly Hills mansion. Belle leaned against the Grecian column flanking the front steps and waited.

Twenty minutes later a black, nondescript sedan screeched to a stop next to Belle’s beat up moped. Frank Quinn, mid-thirties and handsome in a rough-hewn way, jumped out, steamed. “What the hell, Belle? Two bodies in two weeks? That has got to be some kind of record. I should just put the cuffs on you right now and drag you down to the station.” Frank perused the woman standing defiantly in front of him. Belle Lopez, ex-hooker, mid-twenties and a looker with her black hair, sexy body and intelligent, world-weary dark eyes.

“Ooooh, Detective Frank. You one of those who likes it rough?” Belle sauntered up to him and ran one long, black painted fingernail down the buttons of his shirt. “That turn you on?”

Frank grabbed her wrist and shoved her away. “This is serious, Belle.”

Belle dropped the sexy act. “You don’t think I know that? First Leo, now this. And about Leo—”

Frank interrupted her. “Not my case.”

“I know, but—”

He cut her off again. “But nothing. Talk to Sanderson.” He walked toward the front door, but Belle pulled him to a stop.

“You gotta know something, Frank. Look, I have to know. Leo’s dead and I need to do something.” Tears welled up in her eyes.

“The only thing you ‘need to do’ is tell me about the dead body you called in.” Frank got in her face. “Now, Belle.”

Defeated, Belle stepped back. “Fine. Mr. Conrad Charles. Octogenarian. Pillar of his community. My client.”

“Your client. Exactly what kind of client was Mr. Charles? Huh?”

“F you, Frank. You know I don’t do that no more. I’m a legitimate P.I. Leo saw to that. And Conrad was a legitimate client.”

“If you say so.”

“I say so.”

“Fine. Talk,” Frank demanded as he walked past her and inside the foyer. Belle followed. “Start from the beginning.” He walked up to the body, then around it, calculating, analyzing and deducting.

“On a cold and dreary night twenty-five years ago, Magdalena Lopez gave birth to a premature baby girl at Saint Christopher Hospital in Queens, New—”

Frank interrupted her. “Cut the crap, Belle.”

She sat on the marble steps leading to the second floor. “Three days ago, Conrad, Mr. Charles, came into the office. He wanted an update on his case. Only thing … I didn’t know about any case.”

“So, Leo was keeping secrets from you.”

Belle ignored Frank, kept talking. “He didn’t know Leo was dead, Frank. He got scared when I told him Leo had been murdered.” She indicated the body. “I think this could be related to Leo’s—”

“Not my case.” Frank continued to circle the body.

“It would be if the two cases were related. You could—”

This story appears in our NOV 2019 Issue
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