Black Scarf by Michael R. Colangelo
I’m a shitty cop, I admit.
I’m also dirty. It’s just a pay check to me.
So sue me.
She has been dead for a few days, already.
When I get there, Hiro is sitting at her vanity mirror inspecting her things.
She had quite a collection of jewelry.
She’s either rich, or the men that give her these things are rich.
One of them is a sicko too.
I say hello to Hiro. Then I make a joke about his sexuality. I gesture at the vanity table so he gets my joke.
The Chinaman’s got no sense of humor though. He returns my greeting with that old familiar stone gaze of his.
Hiro’s some sort of super detective back where he’s from. They paired me up with him because the Chief is fed up with me.
So I speak English for him and help him read road signs. I run him his coffee and donuts.
I drift around the bed and have a look.
There are a lot of outfits hanging on the closet door slats as well as the change divider. There are lots of frilly dresses and lots of see-through ones too. Same goes for her underwear.
A black silk scarf has been knotted tightly around her throat. Beneath her body, the white mattress is soaked rust colored with her blood.
The sheets are thrown about in a tangle. Her naked body is still twisted and frozen in its death throes.
I can’t imagine being systematically strangled, violated, and cut to pieces is a pleasant way to die.
Hiro thinks there’s more than one guy doing this.
He suggests there are maybe three or four at the same time as he taps about the underside of the vanity.
I poke around in her closet and find a dress made entirely of chain that has been woven together like fishnet.
I admit. I’m having trouble not envisioning it on the dead body behind me.
Moments later, Hiro is standing at the door putting on his hat. He has a film canister tucked beneath his arm.
It was in a secret compartment in the vanity.
It’s a film reel titled Fanny and the Horseman.
Hiro wants me to drive him back to the station and set up the projector to watch the movie.
I oblige him.
Before we get there, he mentions in that annoying, whispery voice of his that he wants donuts first.
We go to Dad’s Donuts across from the old Crowne Theatre.
Over coffee, I try to get his story out of him again.
He gives me the same vague shit about a crime family that has moved over to California.
Apparently, he busted up their operations so badly over there that they fled the country to get away from him.
Back at the station, we set up the projector and watch the movie.
Here’s my paperwork on it:
He was up at Fanny’s private cabin when the Blackwell Gang caught up with him. In fact he’d just finished paying her with the money that he’d stolen from them when they turned up. It was a complicated project, robbing the Blackwells, and it involved months of planning and beguiling and gaining their trust enough to the point where they trusted him like one of their own. Then he took the money. He did it all for Fanny, who was basically a whore. But she wasn’t any standard template sort of whore. They whispered about her around the campfires late at night. Men killed one another to catch her attention. She was a legendary whore… an epic whore. But the Blackwells, being British as they were, had to go and ruin it for him. He heard their galloping hooves just as he’d finished handing over the gold and he and Fanny were both buck naked and just about ready to do the deed. He panicked, of course. They would kill him. Fanny just giggled at him. She knew that she was safe, as was their gold with her. He paced the room, looking in vain for his clothes or his gun belt or anything that might help him flee. He looked to her with pleading in his eyes. She threw him her frilly panties with a flourish. It was the only thing within reach, and she wasn’t about to get out of bed to help him look for his stuff. He held her panties in one hand and looked at them with hesitation. There was a heavy knock on the door. He heard the Blackwells outside demanding that Fanny open up. He was out of time. He slid into her underwear. They felt remarkably smooth and silky against his loins, quite unlike the old reliable woolies he was used to wearing. The rest of his clothes, his guns, he couldn’t find anything inside the cramped cabin except bustle dresses and more panties. But those wouldn’t help him now. He went out through the window wearing nothing but her expensive French underwear. The horse wasn’t far.
Fanny is the dead woman in the bed.
The movie confuses Hiro.
I have to admit that I’m confused too.
It’s definitely a spank movie, but for whom, I don’t exactly know.
Anyway, I’ve got a suspect.
The guy in the panties will do.
I tell Hiro.
I figure he’ll give me a hard time about it.
He should lecture me about being a lazy policeman with no honor.
Instead, Hiro just shrugs with indifference and I fill out the warrant papers.
We catch him in a week.
I don’t think he did it.
But hey, I’m not a good cop.
Later that day I’m walking down the street with Hiro and we pass one of the porno theatres on Broadview.
I make a joke.
Do you want to watch a real American porno, Hiro?
He shrugs with indifference.
The same way he shrugged when he let me get away with busting the panty cowboy.
I think back to the movie, the way that different people get off on different things.
The way I felt when I saw the dress in her closet, and the way that it confused me when Hiro never went super cop on this case.
I walk a little bit farther from him for the rest of his tenure in the city.
I pray he goes home.
I don’t think I’m such a bad cop, after all.