The prompts at 3WW this week are: Occur, Ragged and Tidy. Here is my continuation of last weeks 3WW.
It wasn’t hard to find Paul Smith after all. He was sitting alone at the end of the bar hammering back drinks as fast as he could.
His hair was ragged and greasy strands fell forward to cover his eyes. I got closer and realized exactly why he was alone. Paulie was in desperate need of a bath. Body odor and booze leaked out of his pores, creating an almost tangible haze around him, leaving very little breathable air.
I slid a tidy sum of money down the bar to him. “Talk.”
He never glanced up at me, but his dirty hand covered the bills. “I knew Marie. She volunteered on Thursdays at the mission downtown.”
Homeless. I figured as much if his hygiene was anything to go by. “I didn’t just give you money for you to tell me something I already knew.”
I caught the bartenders eye and waited while he strolled over. He was polishing a glass with a dirty bar towel and had a lit cigarette hanging out of his mouth.
“Beer for me. Whatever’s on tap, and I’ll buy his next round.” Maybe if I lubed him up some, Paulie would stop wasting my time. The bartender ambled away and I wondered if we’d get our drinks in the next hour.
I leaned over the counted to yell at his back, “And none of that light shit!”
“She talked to me. Marie did. She talked to me about growing up in her perfect family, with her perfect parents and her perfect brothers and sisters. She asked about how I grew up and I told her some make-believe story about having a great home life, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t believe me, ya’ know?”
A beer slid in front of me and I looked up to see the bartender’s grin around his cigarette. “Five bucks.”
I pulled a ten out of my pocket and told him to keep the change. Paulie waited until the other man left before he started talking again. “I used to follow her out of the neighborhood after she got done with her shift at the mission. To watch out for her, ya’ know? She was sweet.”
The thought occurred to me that he’d had a crush on little Marie. “So, you followed her the night she died?”
“Yeah. I saw the freak who did it.”
The nerves in my body sang out and my muscles tensed. “So, Paul Smith, who killed Marie?”
Come back next week to find out who killed Marie Francis O'Malley. And check out 3WW for more writing.