In Warm Blood is currently available as a part of The Official Private Eye Handbook, first book in the CITY OF MAGICK series. Please, feel free to take a look here, though, and at subsequent chapters. Let me know how you feel about it. For those of you finding your way here relatively late, no problem. The start of the story is just a click away.
IN WARM BLOOD
Back at my apartment, Detective Overknight helped me dig through my closets, looking for an intact private eye hat (standard issue). Her partner was busy on the phone, talking to Cross about our fun morning.
“I found one,” Overknight said, stumbling out of the bedroom. “Here,” she said, tossing it to me.
“Perfect fit,” I said, pushing it into its proper place. “Buy you a drink?”
“Nothing too strong,” she said. “We are on our way to see my boss. Cross is fair, but he‘s a tight-ass.”
“We just shot a bunch of guys. We deserve drinking. Now, I think I’ve got some honey mead,” I told her. “You should still be able to shoot straight on a cup of that.”
“Alright, but you have to tell me how you managed to dig up damning evidence on Ferrari when no one else has been able to get him for years,” Overknight said, following me to the dining table. “The guy’s been practically untouchable.”
“It’s a long story,” I said, grabbing a bottle and a couple of glasses. “Have a seat.”
“What’ve you got?” she asked, reaching for the bottle.
“I told you, it’s mead,” I said. “I did a special job for a client. He was grateful and gave me the bottle. What‘re you, a connoisseur?”
“Well, I know a little something,” she smiled. “My folks used to run a liquor store. I grew up around that.”
“So you do know a little something.”
“Yeah, there’s about three dozen different kinds of mead,” Overknight said, opening the bottle as she examined the label. “And this exquisite looking bottle contains a chocolate bochet, which is fairly rare in the realm if I recall correctly.”
“Well, it smells good,” I said. “Let’s have a taste.”
She poured. We drank. “Not bad,” I said.
“Yes,” she agreed. “Probably even better warm. How’s your head bump?”
“Feeling better already.”
“Great,” she said. “So…what’d you get on Ferrari?”
“Some papers he signed,” I said. “Some pictures that’d piss off anyone with any decency, but nothing a good undercover cop couldn‘t have gotten. Since I‘m not a cop, though, there‘s some rules I don‘t have to let get in my way.”
“But he’s still not in jail.”
“Because he’s Pietro Ferrari and the bail was only a few million,” I explained.
“You must be new in town. He could skip on a few million and not miss it,“ I explained further. “Some people who might‘ve testified against him have either left town or been killed in custody. Now bringing seriously damaging testimony comes down to me. He thinks it‘d be better to get me out of the picture than him, I‘m sure. Knowing him, I‘m sure to end up with a bomb in my car before long.”
“Speaking of which, we’d better get you to the D.A.,” she said, getting up from the table. “Whatever else,” she said, reaching for her jacket, “you must’ve done some good work to have him gunning for you the way he is.”
“Hey,” Homer said, “the boss says we need to haul ass.”
“Here,” I said, tossing him my car keys. “Get Fred to--”
“Yeah, yeah,” Homer said, taking off. “You two meet me out front.”
“Changed your mind about the bomb?” Overknight asked.
“No, I just don’t have to be concerned about it blowing up in my face until I have to start getting my own car.”
“That’s not nice at all, Brick.”
“Hey, he knew the job was dangerous when he took it,” I told her as we headed for the door, “just like the rest of us.”
“But what if…?”
“Then, we’ll take a cab.”
In front of the building, we were greeted by Homer behind the wheel of my dark blue, ‘69 Charger. “Glad you could make it,” I said. “Good work, Fred,” I told him. Fred snarled. “He’s a million laughs, really.”
“Oh, yeah,” Homer said. “He’s a charmer.”
“Drive, kid,” I said, reclining in the seat and pushing my private eye hat (standard issue) over my eyes.
“I meant to tell you, Stone,” Homer said, “you’ve got a well-kept vehicle. It’s surprisingly clean. I respect that.”
“Clean gun, clean car,” I said. “They’re among my best tools in fighting crime, so I take care of ‘em.”
It didn’t seem like we’d gotten very far before I realized that Homer’s driving needed some work. “Are you drunk or does your driving just stink?”
“I think we’re being followed,” Homer said.
“Oh, well, proceed then,” I told him as I sat up and uncovered my eyes. Driving like an idiot was actually a great method for drawing out people tailing you.
“Alright, I see them,” Overknight said. “Bogies coming up on our right flank!”
“Wow, the likeness is uncanny,” I said, pulling my gun out. “What do you think: shape shifters or out-of-work actors? My money’s on shifters.”
“Rubber masks would be cheaper,” Homer said, squealing the tires as he took a hard right turn. “Doesn’t anybody do things the easy way around here?”
“I do,” I said, getting ready to start shooting. “Let ‘em get a little closer and I‘ll demonstrate.”
“We don’t need to be in another shootout this soon, Brick,” Overknight said, pulling her own pistol out. “We’re supposed to be keeping you safe. Faster, Homer!”
“No, just alive while I get my job done,” I corrected her.
“Do you really need that hand cannon?” Homer asked.
“It gets my job done.”
“So would a grenade!” Homer argued.
“You have grenades?” I asked optimistically.
“No, of course not,” he said.
“Don’t be a tease. I was about to start liking you,” I told him just as the rear window shattered. “Alright, it’s on now!”
“Hold on,” Homer warned. “They’re going to ram us!”
“No, they’ve done enough damage,” I said as I turned in my seat and fired two thunderous shots from my magnum. “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid!“ One round went into the engine, the other through the windshield and then the driver. Their car swerved off the street, taking out a mailbox and a street light. “Bingo! No collecting on this head today, losers.”
Homer slowed down as he let out a loud sigh and said, “Stone, this is no time for clowning around. You sure your head‘s alright?”
“Who’s clowning? I was defending not only my car, but stemming the tide of fiends-for-hire flooding the streets of an overcast metropolis. And the head‘s feeling great. Thanks for asking, Homer. Didn‘t know you cared.”
“Well, now we have to stop,” Homer said, “and call this mess in.”
“I’m not calling in another one of these,” Overknight insisted. “We need to get him to the station. Off the street, at least he’ll be safe for a few minutes.”
“That’s the spirit, kid,” I said. “Onward, Jeeves! Onward through the fog!”