The International Writers Magazine: Detective at work

Jodie Corney

Kimberley Morgan is laughing too loudly at a joke.  She has been hanging off of a man for the last twenty minutes.  I imagine he is the reason I am being paid to watch her.  I make a mental note of everything observed, like the fact the man has mud splashes on the sides of his boots, and that Kimberley has white cat hair on her skirt.  Being a Detective is about observing everything, every detail no matter how innocuous it seems.

 I trailed her here to this cramped club via Tesco’s and her flat.  I now know she likes tinned tomatoes, sardines, gossip magazines and brown bread. I know she has a cat as she also brought a tin of Whiskas.  Kimberley had walked around the store wafting her perfume wherever she went.  She paid with cash and didn’t have a clubcard, although the spotty cashier called Martin had tried to advertise the advantages of having one. After shopping she had gone back to her flat, her silhouette moving from room to room trying on various clothes.

Outside in my car I had drummed my fingers on the steering wheel, bored by her display.  I applied lipstick and pouted at my reflection in the rear-view mirror.  Finally Kimberley had chosen an outfit, and left her flat.  I followed her by foot, shadowing her click-clack of red patent heels on tarmac.  The guy with mud on his boots had been waiting for her outside of the luridly lit club.  It seemed a strange place to meet, a club where anything goes, frequented by the young and the not so young, gay, straight and everything in between.  Most of all it was a place where everyone minded their own business – the perfect place to undertake shady dealings. They are an odd couple – he looks slick in an expensive suit yet he wears soiled boots - she is trying to look sophisticated even though her clothes are cheap.  I saw the skirt she is wearing on a stall at Charlotte Street Market last week.  Kimberley manages to just about pull off an air of sophistication because of her prettiness and expensive perfume.  Very daintily she takes small sips from a blue coloured alcopop, while the man swirls his short around in a glass.  Already puffing away on a cigarette, he offers her a smoke and lights it for her.  As she exhales trails of blue smoke I stand at the bar, elbow leaning against the counter, sipping my gin and tonic through a straw, in case I ruin my lipstick.  They are smoking Marlboro Lights; her lipstick is cheap and transfers to the end of the filter, a red stain matching that on the lip of her glass.   

My mother always said a woman was naked if she didn't wear lipstick, and hers was always perfect – like a mannequin’s.   When she drank her lipstick never transferred to the cup.  She thought women should be elegant, always saying “women don't perspire, they glow” but somehow whenever my mother said it all I thought about were naked girls in the changing rooms at school, and how I felt a voyeur for finding their bodies attractive.  She had been a very prim woman, and never approved of my chosen career or anything else about my life for that matter.  

From my position, here at the bar, I can survey everyone on the dance floor and most of the room. Hundreds of sweaty bodies pulsate, jerking in time to the music, and even more are huddled around the sides of the room smoking, drinking, kissing and groping. 

The crowd bobs up and down to a mutual rhythm and amongst them a lady with black stained lips catches my eye.  Wine has been spilt down the front of her white blouse, leaving trails of purple almost as dark as blood.  I watch her get steadily drunker, drink in one hand while she pinches the arses of young girls as they walk past.  One day I can imagine being her - being the drunk middle-aged lesbian with my own sagging breasts, touching the flesh of young girls partly in a wish to fuck them, partly to somehow, through osmosis, become young again.   

The drunken woman is attracting a lot of attention as she sways around the club – most people smile, others shake their head.  She clumsily tries to kiss a woman, and knocks the woman’s drink flying in the process.  People are pointing and whispering.  A bouncer ambles up to her, and I am mesmerized as she grabs at his arse, and he bares his teeth in reply.  I grin and prepare to watch the fireworks brewing on the horizon.  So much of detective work is about observation, and being in the right place at the right time.  I know this yet because I am distracted I almost miss seeing Kimberley head towards the washroom.  I quickly follow, only briefly glancing back to see the bouncer with a bloodied nose, and the woman triumphant – a new black stain glistening on her blouse. 

I loiter by the basins, reapplying my lipstick.  A teenage girl washes her hands next to me.  In the mirror is a reflection of a pair of red patent shoes, I recognize them as Kimberley’s and know she is in the cubicle directly behind me.  Briefly the thump-thump-thump of the music becomes louder as the main doors swing open, and the teenage girl leaves, the door slamming shut, muffling the noise, leaving Kimberley and I alone.  I dab at my lips, and reapply my lipstick until my mouth is a perfect red bow.  

The cubicle opens, and I can smell Kimberley’s very distinct perfume as she walks up to the basins.  We briefly exchange smiles – it is then I feel a cold object in the small of my back – instinct tells me it is a gun.  Her breath is hot on my nape, a deadly caress, and lips so close to my ears yet she is silent.  All I can perceive is quickened breathing and the twitch of her arm.  If she pulls the trigger now I will die agonisingly slowly, thrashing on cracked white tiles, a red splash against the floor. I breathe.  I wait.

Jodie is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth
Jodie Louise -
contemplating suicide

 More Fiction


© Hackwriters 1999-2006 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy - no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.