Preview: Ernie’s Rules

March 26, 2013

Ernie's Rules Cover


Diggs watched the cops leave through the window but he wasn’t stupid. The dark sedan down the street had its engine running and the raindrops on the windshield didn’t match the rest of the car. Someone was waiting to see if he bolted.

“Stupid cops, turn off your wipers if you want to hide.” Diggs muttered as he got dressed in his old school North Carolina jersey and Sean John jeans.

He was quiet as he left the apartment but didn’t make his way to the normal exits, the cops would be watching those.  Instead Diggs walked across the hall to apartment 4D and knocked.

An elderly woman with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth and a lopsided silver wig answered the door.

“What?” She asked sternly.

“I got a tail Mabel; can I use your fire escape?”

“No,” she replied about to shut the door.

Diggs then produced a bottle of cheap wine from behind his back and flashed a debonair smile.

“Oh sure go ahead, and dear, when you come back can you bring me some of my special milk? That 2% shit clogs me up something fierce.”

“Yes ma’am anything else?” He asked as he made his way across the little apartment full of awards for bravery and porcelain knick-knacks of policewomen.

“Get me some real wine, hobos drink this shit.” She said pouring herself a glass of the cheap wine Diggs brought her.

“Yes ma’am,” He replied with a smile as he hopped out the 4th story window onto the fire escape. The cops would be watching an empty apartment all day. Diggs smiled.

The rain in Seattle isn’t what everyone thinks. It does not rain all the time. That being said, it was raining, not torrential downpour, just hard enough to leave you with a chill in your bones.

Downtown Seattle at 8 in the morning is very busy. Traffic is shit, and people in their North Face jackets clog the sidewalks. Still, Diggs took the long way through alleys, doubling back against himself multiple times just to be sure that no one was following him. A direct route to Ernest Bishop Investigations office should have taken 15 minutes but Diggs stretched it out to a full 30.

When he got to the door it was locked and police tape was stretched over the entrance. He entered with his key and was careful not to disturb the scene, not that it would have been noticed. The front office section was trashed. Papers were thrown this way and that and the reception desk was flipped over in the corner. The safe which was hidden behind a photo on the wall was opened and all the contents were emptied. It had to be the cops, because Ernie would never give the combo to anyone, even if it meant death.

In Ernie’s office, the story was the same. Crime novels were thrown from their shelves. The photo taken with the Mayor back in 94’ was shattered on the floor. One of Ernie’s signature fedoras still hung on his coat rack. Yet another reminder of his legacy.

A chalk outline marking where the cops found Ernie’s body was behind his desk. A pool of blood was near the knees and two blood spatters marked the exit wounds from his head.

Under the desk was Ernie’s replica of the fabled Maltese Falcon. A souvenir of a case from years back when Ernie found a woodcarver’s antique chisel set stolen by a tweaker. Diggs knew if Ernie had left a clue for him the falcon held it.

Turning the head of the Falcon slightly and pulling up the head moved a tiny bit. Diggs repeated this action numerous times until the head came off revealing a hidden compartment inside. Within was a roll of film. Ernie always covered his ass; it was one of his rules. Rule 10; Always cover your Ass. Diggs had to find out what was on that film.

In the corner Diggs located a trash can full of shredded papers. This was odd because Ernie never shredded anything. Grabbing the can Diggs couldn’t make heads or tails of anything until he noticed the distinct W-2 forms. Why would Ernie shred employee records? Unless…

“Shit.” Diggs said, as he dug his cell phone from his pocket. Frantically he dialed Maggie’s number as he replaced the head on the Falcon. “Pick up, pick up,” he said to the phone.

“Hello,” came Maggie’s tear filled greeting. Maggie was a very rotund, African-American lady who had worked for Ernie since the beginning of time. She was stubborn and sassy, like every head nurse on every Hospital drama ever made.

“Mags, its Calvin, where are you?”

“I’m at home, the cops called me in this morning, oh my god Calvin do you know what they did to him? I told them this morning you had nothing to do with it but they need to talk to you baby.”

“Yeah, listen to me, you have to go somewhere for a while, somewhere safe.”

“What? Why? Calvin baby you’re scaring me.”

“Listen, I think that Ernie was in trouble and he was trying to keep that trouble away from us. Just lay low for a couple days and I’ll figure this out ok? Ok? Mags?”

“Who is this?” hissed a voice on the other end of the phone. The voice was deep and scratchy. Like a person with a deep and scratchy voice, who was trying to make it sound deeper and scratchier.

“Maggie’s husband, who the fuck are you?” Diggs lied, trying to buy Maggie some time.

“No it isn’t, the phone says your name is Calvin. You work for Bishop as well.”

“I don’t know any Bishop,” Diggs lied again, “just leave the lady alone asshole.” Diggs waited for what seemed like years for a response. “Look, don’t hurt her she doesn’t know anything.”

The breathing on the other end of the line began to slow, as if the man was weighing his options. He replied simply. “I don’t care.” The line went silent.

Diggs dialed up Charleston’s cell phone as he made his way out of the trashed office, destined for Maggie’s house on the other side of the lake.

“This is detective Charleston,” he answered.

“Gary you need to get to Maggie’s house right now, Ernie’s killer is there and he’s going to kill her too if he hasn’t already.”

“Hold on Calvin, where are you?”

“I’m heading over to Maggie’s now it’s in Medina just over the bridge do you know where it is?”

“Of course. Listen just stay where you are, or better yet come in to the station. I’ll get a patrol to check out Maggie’s place.”

“Fuck that noise. I’m heading there now.” Diggs said as he hung up and hailed a cab.

In the cab Diggs cursed himself for calling Charleston. Ernie would never call for back-up so soon. He would get the whole situation under control before he muttered a word. Rule number 1; Keep your mouth shut.


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