Upon the Flesh
I had been tailing this man for three days. ‘I couldn’t save you Eddy, I know you wanted out’.
I heard the shots and chased the murderers down through the alleys. Their suits were not made for running and not one of my shots, nor theirs, drew the attention of the police. All I gained was a face and a number plate. That face. The next time I see it, I’ll have it put behind the numbers. ‘A little to the left Joe, now, say cheese.’
I made my way back to the body, taking my time to see if those scum bags had dropped something in their frantic hurry. They hadn’t.
When I got back the body had been altered. It was messy. The smell of the open flesh and draining blood was worse than the smell of the dead alley cats. The second weapon lay next to the body. A large bloodstained crowbar lay on the cold and filthy cement.
Eddy’s life now painted the ally walls. It was a messy job well done. I studied the body, the hands were red with deep cuts where it appeared he had protected himself. Impossible. Classy Tony, real classy. Make it look like he defended himself, make it look like he put up a fight. A lie. The bullet hole to his head has been shattered with the heavy blow of the crowbar. I didn’t notice the rain begin to fall. I just removed my jacket and covered the collapsed face of the honest criminal. The blood stained fingerprints could dry, someone would go to goal for Tony.
I left the body and called the police. They had to know there was murder, they had to know it wasn’t just the usual gunplay in the streets.
I took my time to have a cigarette in the cover of the phone booth, it was one of the only ones left in town. Three boys went by, you know the type, the fearful who wish they were feared. They wear black and whiten their skin. They look like a corpses wrapped in plastic on there way to the morgue. Not a smile among them.
Which one of Tony’s boys finished the job? Who planted the Marijuana in his breast pocket? I made my way back to the body and was surprised to see the number of officers there.
‘Troy Peters, PI, tell Gordon I’m here’
I saw Gordon look over his left shoulder. How he can anyone lie to him with his grey, bushy eyebrows on command?
‘There was a small portion of Marijuana in his breast pocket, the rest of the bag is missing. The wounds do appear to have come from the murder weapon found next to the body. Another one of Tony’s boys off the streets… Peters? Is this one of your boys?’
‘One of Tony’s boys shot him. Shot him right in the head. I chased him down but they got away. When I returned the body was like it is now. I didn’t see who dun it. I put my-’
It was worse than losing the murderer. Losing the suspect. Losing the evidence. The prints ran down the drain with the life of the body.
‘Is this your jacket sir?’
The young officer was lucky he was so. Lucky I was a PI and no longer an officer. But, if he was lucky, the next officer was guided by a greater force.
‘These boys were reported to have been breaking into the stations Coke machine with a crow bar. They were found on the corner of 21st and Main with a large amount of cash and some marijuana in one of their pockets.’
The officers didn’t know what it all meant at the time. Not until the kids were in custody. 
I positioned the light so the heat burnt the tip of the kid’s nose. I found myself squinting as the light reflected off the extremely white skin. It looked as though his head was just sitting there, floating in darkness.
I sat on Gordon’s left and we began to question the boy.
‘where were you around 3:15PM this very morning of the 14th of April?’
‘I was walking from the station through to 21st where my brother lived.’
‘And why were you on the way to your brothers house at three in the morning with two other individuals?’ Gordon’s eyes remained focused on the boy’s face.
‘Were going to have a session’, there was a silence and I saw Gordon’s bushy eyebrows raise, ‘You know, to smoke pot?’ The eyebrows dropped.
‘Are you aware that the consumption of any amount of marijuana for personal use in this state is an illegal act?’
I leaned back into my chair and took another donut, watching the boy’s Adams apple take a dip.
‘I, I only had-’
He was abruptly cut off. Midway through his sentence Gordon pushed in a question.
‘What exactly did you do before you left the station?’
The attempted frown failed and the boy had no immediate answer.
‘A witness says that she saw three boys of medium height hitting a Coke machine with a metal bar. “The three boys all wore black and had band T-shirts on. One wore a disturbing shirt saying ‘Cannibal Corpse’ on its front and ‘I Will Kill You’ on it’s back.” Are you telling me that there were three other boys at that station at that time, one of which wore the same T-shirt you have got on now?’
I moved the light onto the T-shirt. His head, no longer floating, dropped to look at himself. The black material had red writing in a blood design that shouted the words ‘Cannibal Corpse’. I moved the light back to his face.
‘We did try and steel from the Coke machine.’
‘Then perhaps you can explain how your metal bar was found in the alley where the murder took place. How many hits did it take until he was dead? As many as the Coke machine? Did you take the four thousand dollars from his pocket?’
I stood up and walked to the boy, handing him pictures of the crime scene. A picture of the mangled corpse. A picture of the gashed head. A picture of his white flesh among the black plastic bags he lay upon. He held them, shaking. I watched him as he ran his black nails across the surface of the photos, I watched him as he covered his eyes and threw the photos away from himself.
I began my questioning:
‘What’s the matter son? Haven’t you seen a dead body before? But you always hear about them don’t you? You sing about killing people. You have fantasized about it and you finally did it, didn’t you!’
‘No, I didn’t, I didn’t know, I-’
‘Do you recognize this wallet?’
I handed him the purse. It was my last option. It’s easy fooling a kid, harder fooling him into the right thing, though.
‘I, no, I don’t, is this-’
I took it back off him with my white rubber gloves on.
‘It’s the wallet of the man your murdered and now it has your grubby little prints all over it.’
‘It’s wasn’t me! Your lying! You’re the murderer! The men from the station will kill me! They said if I told the police, that, that I would be killed.’
‘Isn’t that what you want?’
Standing behind the boy I put my wallet back into my back pocket. It had worked. I handed him a picture of the bloody murder weapon.
‘We don’t have time for your  red herrings. We want a confession, is this or is this not your crowbar by the victim’s body? Did these men tell you to kill him?’
‘No, I’ll talk. Let me talk. Please.’
Gordon’s face told me that he was glad about the arrangement.  I couldn’t say I didn’t like working with him. I hated the cage we used to be in. I hate cages. Cages should be for the unjust, not for the justice.
‘Who were these men? Can you describe them for us?’
He did good. He gave us the description of Billy and Bob Fagan. Big, bulky and in black tracksuits. One of the men had a scar across his left face. He did real good.
‘And what, exactly, did they want you to do?’
‘They asked us, they took, they took our crowbar in exchange for some weed.’
‘So you were not originally on your way to have a ‘session’, as you call it?’
‘Can you tell us then, what were your plans for the night?’
The sham brings out the truth.
‘Bradl-… we, were going to steal stuff. Maybe… mug someone.’
Gordon had a way with ending silences.
‘Well, aren’t you lucky you got caught up in a murder case then?’
The rest of the time was spent going through repetitious police procedure. I left the room and took a walk outside, wishing to bump into officer Jenny. I knew she had left the force but still, the place reminded me of her. I remember her smile, her smile that made the darkest cases leave my mind in an instant. I remember her beautiful eyes that used to take me to places I never dreamt existed. She was an angel alright. An angel that used to rescue me from the realities of death and the realities of life.
Gordon came out and asked for a light, I suggested a night cap.
‘Peters, one of the boys confessed to the murder.’
‘Duress, I was there Gordon.’
‘But we have this on tape, we can’t ignore it. You haven’t told me anything you’ve heard or even why you have been chasing Tony. This kid could serve time Peters. He is just the type a jury could judge.’
 ‘Ok Gordon. It was like this. The body is that of Eddy Balboa, I’d been following his movements for the past three days. He wanted out Gordon. They told him it was his last assignments and then he would be erased. I guess they meant it literally. You see, the Fagans are emotionless, the brutes of the beasts. Eddy was with them for his last assignment.
‘While Eddy waited from them to get a local weapon the murderers came. He was Shot, pointblank. After that I chased them. They escaped in a car they had parked a few blocks down.’
‘Do you have a plate number for that?’
I couldn’t believe what had happened. Three crying faces, three angry mothers. None of the boys confessed.
‘Well Peters, the only difference between now and when you left the force is that we don’t have to pay you for the information you give us now. Take it easy, chief.’
Annotations on the stylistic features of the narrative:
 Told from the perspective of the sleuth. He is the voice.
 Murderers wearing suits. An irony realized with further reading.
 Inadequacy of the police.
 The murdered body. Mildly graphic.
 The sleuth smokes.
 boy’s out late and wearing death metal T-shirts.
 Sleuth trying to unravel the crime web.
 An officer Peters trusts (like Bernie from ‘The Big Sleep’).
 Sleuth was an ex-policeman.
 Hints that the sleuth has already figured out the significant.
 Setting change. Bring things into the light.
 Donuts in the police station.
 Breaking technique.
 Ironic in how he wore a shirt that says death and the killer wore a suit.
 Playing bad cop. (Even though he is a P.I.)
 False clues/trail.
 Sleuth’s reason for leaving the force. Limited power.
 Shows how there is no room for love and how the sleuth had previously suffered a big loss. Whether that loss was a woman or something this woman catered for isn’t mentioned.
 Reconstruction of the crime and a partial denouement.
 A detective technique used on the professional that got out the information Gordon wanted. Ironic.
A concise summary of how the narrative fits into the crime fiction genre:
This was written as a Hard-boiled text but is very hybrid in how the dialog is different and more true to contemporary texts.
There is a crime and that is the violent murder of a man named Eddy. Being the victim, Eddy had links to the criminal underground as do most of the victims in Hard-boiled texts. The sleuth, Troy Peters, is also very Hard-boiled in how he left the force, smokes and how he values the good in others.
The clues were things like the marijuana missing and the description of the men that took the kids’ metal bar.
The plot has the Hard-boiled conventions of being set on the mean streets, having gunplay present and being told in 1st person from the sleuth‘s perspective. There is no room for love in Crime Fiction and the sleuth reminisces over someone who may have loved him, but wasn’t there. The sleuth suffered a major loss.
There is inadequacy of the police in how they remove the jacket and let the finger prints wash away in the rain and how they wrongfully arrest three kids. The kids, however, did turn out to be good witnesses. Peters and had a partner on the force who he trusted and could share information with.
A contemporary convention is the use of ‘Good cop bad cop’ by the Sleuth in how he tricks the boy in thinking his wallet belonged to the victim.
The text questions identity. Who people are and who they appear to be. This is done through the initial murderer being in a suit while the accused wore a death metal T-shirt.