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Subject: Part three, mhm mhm
Author: La Reina   (Authenticated as La Reina)
Date: May 31, 2012 at 7:59:29 AM
Reply to: Build-a-Soundtracked-Story Part 3 by klundtacular
When the phone call came, neither of us expected it.

I fumbled in my pockets, cursing mildly while Irene lit a cigarette and delicately puffed a small cloud of smoke. I muttered a few words of apology to her and wandered off towards Baltimore's kitchen to accept the call. Before I even reached the kitchen sink, the news had me stopping dead in my tracks. Without waiting, as soon as I got the information I needed, I spun round and grabbed Irene by the wrist.

"They found Baltimore," I said.

Irene gasped, and a hand flew to her bosom. "Found him?" she shrieked. But before she could say another thing, I cut in:

"More or less, give or take some parts of his head." Ignoring her outcry, I went on: "Which you should know, given that you left him that way."

Irene's eyes went dangerously wide, and her hand flew to cover her mouth. "How dare you? How dare you?"

"I don't trust clues," I growled, and Irene stared at my apparent non sequitur. "The other coppers used to say that was my undoing, but I think that was actually my best point. You can't just look at a dog-end and immediately say that the smoker was a man with a cleft lip who usually prefers Garretts and stays at a specific hotel, not when there's a possibility the dog-end was purposely left there."

"What are you driving at?" Irene's blue eyes locked gazes with mine, and there was for a moment a barely-discernible hint of steel behind the silk.

"There never was another woman," I spoke through gritted teeth. "There was never a midnight abduction. You took Baltimore out yourself, and shot him with his own gun yourself. The rest was just for show. The perfume was yours - or never even existed at all, it doesn't matter. The snowflake pendant was bought off some cheap bric-a-brac stall - it wasn't even precious metal, only tin, and Baltimore was too proud to buy anything less than diamonds for his women." Irene made a scoff. "You lured him out, very easily I might add, and shot him before dumping him into the river. The only question that remains is, why me? Why put someone on your trail?"

A few moments' silence passed as Irene took another swig from her cigarette. She exhaled a puff through her nostrils, its fog swirling around her doll-like face. At last Irene replied:

"Because the Magister told me to," she said. "You see, Hal, I work for the Magister."

For the Magister. Immediately thoughts circled my head like vultures above a dying animal. The Magister...

Of course. The Magister hired assassins. That was a secret, as much as you can keep a secret in a place like New Camden. No-one was sure who exactly the assassin was - or, more likely, who the assassins were. The other reports were just as conflicting: some say they report directly to the Magister himself, others, that he never met them at all; some say that it was a squad of hitmen, others, that no assassin knew who the others were. But everyone knew that they existed. They knew it, like a fish knows that the ocean's caverns had eels, in the peculiar way that only the obscurest of secrets could become common knowledge.

Irene took one look at my face and sighed. "He warned me that this would eventually happen. I might as well tell you everything. We'll save time that way," she blew another puff of smoke. "Andrew Baltimore and Roger Knighton are working together. It's a classic honey trap - they sent Roger to approach the Magister, and when the time is right, Andrew took the shots. Blackmail was their intent."

"If you know as much, why not arrest them?"

"We're don't know who hired them. Yet. But with Andrew dead, we'll just have to stall time until Roger breaks down."

"The Magister knows about all this?" Even in the current situation, it felt like a stupid thing to ask. Of course he knows. He probably even knows that his secrets are common knowledge - he probably even bloody chose which secrets are allowed to be spread as rumours and which should never be.

Irene's head bobbed up and down, sending her fair hair flowing around in waves. "He knows now. Why do you think those photographs were so innocent for lovers?"

"Perhaps he's shy," I muttered. Irene shot me a glare, and I shrugged.

"The Magister told me," she said, changing topics, "that you will eventually figure this out. But I didn't expect you to get it this fast."

"All the better that you didn't. I don't like fulfilling expectations."

A smile danced on Irene's lips. She leant forward conspiratorially. "What if I told you that I expect you to drive me home on this dark, lonely night?"

My pulse thundered, but I maintained an external impassivity. "You can take care of yourself," I replied.

"Ah, but common courtesy?"

"Chivalry? That belongs in books."

"Then I guess my expectations must be dashed as well?"


"Then I'll just be off now - "

"I'll drive you home," I interrupted her. Irene shot me a quizzical glance. "You've changed your expectations. Now I can drive you home."

It's surprisingly hilarious (for me, as I write it) to poke fun at the very tropes/things I enjoy. And, this is probably the most cliched of cliched noir fiction to ever exist, but it's a nice way to relieve my mind of all the insanity brimming within.

An omnivorous reader with a strangely retentive memory for trifles.

This message was edited by the author on May 31, 2012 at 8:42:33 AM

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