I always drank cold milk. I don't know why. I like it, that's all, no further reasons. My sister never understood that, she can't stand milk by itself. That day, which started like most of those I had at the time, I was drinking it directly from the brick. I had some bills to check, I had to get back in black, but my debts crippled me with the burden of poverty. I wasn't in the mood to get up just to take a glass and be civilized. The more I was balancing the books, the more I felt like cooking them. I had the necessary background, I could have stalled most of my unpaid claims long enough to get a fake passport and get out of the country.
Too bad, I chose the wrong side of the law. I was teaming with the blue hats, those who never got a shot at wealth. And I wasn't even paid as much as them. Private Investigator, a Detective if you will. Never had a case that would have caused any teenager to dream. I wasn't Sherlock Holmes, neither did I ever cross any Femme Fatale. My sister told me more than once that I should have gone to Law School and try to become a working part of the judiciary system. Well, blue doesn't look that good on me, and I never had a good feeling about being someone's subordinate.
Strong will, my friends always said. Stubborn brat, my family replied. I was not a hero, nor was I the holder of a promising story. I was not aiming for glory, just for adventure. Be careful what you wish for, a wise man said. I should have been.
The rapid knock at my door startled me as I was reflecting upon the fact that my last case cost me more than what I charged. I left the financial debacle that I gained from a husband's jealousy and walked to the entrance of my apartment. God, was I tired. The sound of the knuckles against the wood transformed a starting headache into a full blown cranial pain before I reached the knob. I shoved the door out of the way and found my next door neighbor harboring a bloody nose and a severe case of dripping mascara. "He… He…" She stuttered, sobbing. "He tried to kill me."
I looked at her, perplexity far more present in my mind than compassion. I never talked to the girl and she was there, all banged up and crying. Who did she think I was? The police? People really don't know there priorities. I was considering to let her in when I saw a silhouette in the back. A man, all in muscle and sweat, looked at us for a second and covered his face as he fled. I shut the door behind me as I walked into the corridor, reached for my keys in my pocket and used them. "Go to your place, lock yourself in and call for help.
- But… But… If he comes back ?
- That's why you have to lock the door, love." She was about to reply but I couldn't care less about her emotional distress. Feelings weren't my thing, my exes were all able to testify about that. I was able to be nice, but not when I was focusing on something important. Catching an homicidal maniac was something important. I went downstairs in a hurry and looked around. The beauty of living in a small city: murderers don't vanish in the crowd so easily. The body-builder was running in a straight line on the main street. How stupid can one be?
By the time I got in my car, I hadn't broke eye contact. I started the engine with patience, the adrenaline shutting down as I understood it wouldn't be much of a challenge to catch the guy. A few seconds later, I crossed the street in front of a disgruntled old lady and literally saw him hit the car, his upper body rotating in such a way that his head bumped onto the hood.
I got out of the vehicle and stood behind him. All was silent. All was still. "Don't move." I said.
And he started swinging.
Well, I wasn't as well cut as him, but his training was push-ups and bench press while mine was savate and hapkido. You can swing all you want, you won't do much damage if you don't hit anything. Work out all you want, some places will never get harder. By the time we caught the attention of some onlookers, my right foot had struck his left knee three times and my left elbow had met his right temple in a very impolite way. He tottered, I pushed him with a front kick on the hood of my car and put him in an armlock.
Even if my neighbor hadn't called the cops, I was sure someone from the audience would… Or maybe just the granny I had crossed on the road. He was stunned, I would probably have a hold on him until they came.
For the second time that day, I was startled, as he begged me in a panicked manner: "Don't kill me.
- Why would I do that? I asked, perplex.
- She tried and ran to you when she missed."
And then, my headache came back…