Episode 3 - Deep Trouble
by Camille LaGuire
When I went over to him, he told me his name was Dick, but he didn't want to talk. He wanted to leave. I didn't blame him but I wanted to persuade him to stay and play piano for the concert.
Before I could start in on that, though, the fellow with the mustache came back from comforting the ladies.
"There will be no concert," he said sadly, in his bouncy French accent. "It is too disastrous."
"Don't you worry, mister--"
"Monsieur Henri de Villefort. I am the impressario," he said. "You are the deputy?"
"Nope," I said. "Name's Mick McKee. The little lady who chased the fella out the window is my wife, Casey."
"Your wife!" he exclaimed, and for a minute he didn't seem to know what to say. But he recovered fast. "Ladies are so magnificent, are they not?"
"That one is," I agreed. "And don't you worry about that gunman. I know him. He's dumb as a bag of hammers, and snivelly to boot. My magnificent wife has probably caught him by now."
"Why would he do such a thing?"
"I don't know," I said, looking up at the balcony where he had been. "He's too stupid to be crazy. He had to think there was money in it. Can you think of anybody who would pay him to give you folks trouble?"
"No! Of course not. There is no trouble with us."
I saw the piano player's eyes slide over toward the curtain, where the ladies were hiding out. I was thinking the same thing.
"Any jealousy over the ladies maybe?" I asked.
"Well, they are very beautiful," Henri admitted. "Yes, perhaps, but I..." He shrugged and his words drifted off.
"Well, if I know Rufus he'll tell us everything as soon as Casey gets her hands on him."
Henri was lost in his thoughts. He frowned back at the dressing rooms again.
"I should speak to Olenka," he said. "She will be upset that I reassured only Clarice."
He disappeared behind the curtain again and I called after him: "You tell them it's all right! It'll be safe to sing tonight. We'll see to it!"
I didn't hear any answer, just the sound of polite knock and a door.
Dick the piano guy reached over and hit a key on the piano. It made a funny scraping thunk sound. Must have been the wires that got hit by the bullet.
"We'll get you another piano," I said. "A good one."
"There won't be a concert," said Dick.
"I tell you, we'll catch him," I said. "It'll be safe."
"Tell that to Clarice. She is almost dead!" he said, mimicking her French accent.
"I"ll do that," I said. I went back behind the curtain and I found Miss Clarice just coming out of the door of her room.
"Ma'am," I said, tipping my hat. "I just wanted you to know that you don't have to worry about a thing. We're gonna catch him--"
"Are you the sheriff?" she said. Her voice had a pretty little lift to it, and so did her chin as she looked at me hopefully.
"No ma'am. My name's Mick McKee. I'm a gunslinger."
"You will protect me?"
"Well sure," I said. "That's what I'm here for. To protect all of you."
"I am very frightened," she said, and she shrank back a little. I naturally stepped forward and put a hand out to reassure her. She grabbed my hand with both of hers. "I cannot sing with people shooting at me. I would die."
"You won't die, ma'am. We'll catch him."
"That would not stop her."
"Her!" she said, and she pointed toward the next room, thrusting her chest out in a way that I couldn't help but appreciate. "She does not want me to sing. Her voice, it is old and turning like a frog."
Madame Olenka's voice had not sounded all that bad to me. What little I'd heard sounded better than Clarice, actually. But I didn't say so.
"She knows that Henri favors me," she added, and that made some sense. Clarice was younger, and though she was a bit skinny, she was awful pretty. Awful pretty.
She came up closer and put a hand on my chest, looking up at me with those big eyes. My heart started thumping, but it didn't seem like any of that blood was going to my head. I blinked at her.
"You are very strong, Monsieur McKee," she said.
"Uh," I said.
"They call you Mick? Don't they?"
"Uh...uh, yes, ma'am. They do." She smelled like flowers. She put her other hand on my ribs, and began to slide it, ever so softly, around and down....
Then she kissed me. They say that French people really know how to kiss, and she sure seemed to know. She was a comfortable armful, but I was trying not to put my arms around her, just like I was trying to remember what it was I had meant to say. I didn't succeed at all at the first, but I eventually managed the second as she slipped back and away from me.
"I'm, uh," I said. Married. The word was married. It didn't make it out of my mouth.
She smiled and swayed back away from me, waving with her fingers, not at me, but at somebody behind me. She slipped back into her room, and I turned around.
Casey was standing there, arms crossed.
"You've got rouge on your mouth," she said.
I did. I could taste it. But I reached up and wiped it off anyway, and looked at my hand. Yep. Red.
"She kissed me," I said.
"Yeah, I saw what a big fight you were putting up."
"Oh, hell," I said.
Stay Tuned For Episode 4 - "My Name Is Dirt"
Available after 8am EST, on Thur
If you're enjoying this Mick and Casey Mystery, check out their other stories, such as the first novel in the series: Have Gun, Will Play.
Available in paper or as ebook at: Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobel, as well as these ebook dealers: Kobo, Deisel, Apple iBookstore, Sony eReader, or get it in all formats without DRM at Smashwords.