Normally I would post flash fiction on a Friday, but this week I will be deep in the throes of research for a future article to be pressed on Exploding Potatoes. So enjoy this little slice of life. Men, take note – a bad decision will almost always result in…well, just read and find out.
Blind Beggar Billy
By D.J. Lutz – © November 2011
Jack Sorensen squinted as he looked out the second story window, peering from behind the pulled-down shade. “Bloody hell. He’s still there, just sitting. Sitting in his car like a vulture waiting for his dinner to die.” Turning towards the woman, he continued, saying “I’ll just have to dash through the back door again. But don’t worry, I’ll be back tonight, sometime after six.”
“After six? Must be having dinner with your wife, then? How is it she doesn’t suspect anything?” the woman asked.
“She’s always been a bit naïve, I’d say. Probably from all that money she inherited. Never had to work, never experienced the real world. That’s why I love you so much. You have that worldly beauty, you’re exotic, enticing, you have no qualms about drinking a pint or two. No, I believe she hasn’t a clue. And why would she? If you think about it, for me as a salesman it’s quite natural to take a few day trips away from home each week, so what’s to suspect?”
The woman straightened her bathrobe. “Well, it looks like she hired a cop to tail you so she must suspect something. Have you even mentioned divorce yet? You told me you were going to tell her last week.”
“No, time hasn’t been right. But that isn’t just any cop. That’s Wallace Stoggins, best private detective in Lincolnshire. Someone has paid quite a few pounds if that’s Stoggins.”
“Are you sure it’s him? It’s dark still; hard to tell who’s driving, except from the glow of his cigarette. How do you know? Maybe it’s a neighbor who can’t smoke in his flat and has to sit outside.”
Sorensen took another look. “It’s him alright. Stoggins drives a classic Bentley. A ’53 Bentley to be precise. One that looks just like the Bentley parked across the street.“
“Is he good, this Stoggins? At being a private detective?” she asked.
“The best, they say. My mates at the pub told me he stopped by, asking questions. Looking for me.” Now pacing around the room, Jack continued. “And now, his car shows up, just down the street. Damn. Damn it all.”
Trying to console her lover, she gave him a hug, saying “Well, this building has an excellent security system. I don’t think he will be able to get inside without us knowing it.”
“I hope so. If he gets just one photograph of us together, just one, her solicitor could bleed me dry in a divorce trial. All I want is an uncontested split from that woman, so I can start my life over, with you.”
“And so you haven’t yet had any trouble leaving out the back? He doesn’t have a man standing watch out there or something?”
Sorensen smiled. “I do have a little insurance policy. I have been bribing the beggar man that sits at the end of the alley. He may be blind, but he hears everything, and if someone has been loitering, he will let me know.” Looking at his watch, Jack realized he was becoming more late for work than usual.
The couple walked out the back door, to the fire escape’s landing where they embraced one last time, their kiss lingering longer than normal. Then, passion took reign over all sense of reason; Jack would be very, very late for work today.
After their romp, Jack scrambled to reassemble his wardrobe. “Damn. Never enough time, eh, love? Well, I really must dash. Leave the back door unlatched tonight, will you?”
The woman, still buttoning up her shirt, winked, saying “Anything for you, love. Anything for you. Say hello to the beggar man on your way out. I bet he heard us, you know.”
Jack blew his mistress a kiss, then deftly stepped down the fire escape to the alley, causing only the occasional creak of the metal grates serving as steps. As he passed the blind beggar, he flipped a coin into the man’s metal coffee cup, saying “See you later, Billy. I’ll bring you some fresh coffee tonight.” The beggar took the coin from the cup, dropping it into his knapsack.
Not waiting for a reply, Jack turned the corner and walked out onto the street. He stopped to light a cigarette, giving a unobtrusive glance to see if the Bentley was still in front of the flat. Seeing the car still out in the open for all to see, he felt somewhat amused. “Some detective. All hype, I guess. Can’t even hide in plain sight.” His confidence had returned. No private eye would beat him; Jack Sorensen was far more intelligent.
Later that evening, Jack returned to his love nest, only to find a surprise waiting for him.
“Dear, this gentleman has been waiting for you. He is a solicitor and he has some papers for you.” The young woman did not look nearly as happy as when Jack had last seen her.
“You are Robert Sorensen?”
“I go by Jack, if that makes any difference to you,” he said.
The solicitor continued. “You sir, are directed to appear in court on the fifteenth. These papers will explain further. And may I suggest you engage a solicitor for yourself.”
“Yes, well, thanks for the advice. I’ll just pop down to the pub and find one,” Jack said, rather sarcastically.
His business completed, the solicitor left. Jack opened the large envelope, finding his wife had filed for divorce on grounds of adultery. There were several photos of Jack and his tart. Compromising photos.
“Divorce papers? I don’t understand. How could she have found out? And these photos? These were taken this morning! How? Stoggins was out front the entire time,” Jack exclaimed.
While the two love birds argued over who was at fault, the solicitor walked past the Bentley, never looking at it. He turned the corner and paused at the entrance to the alley. Blind Beggar Billy stood up to shake the man’s hand.
“Well Bruce, your client must have really enjoyed the photographs I sent her this morning if she had you out here just a few hours later.”
“Why, yes. Yes, she did,” the solicitor said. “As a matter of fact, she called me as soon as she saw them. And with those photos, I am afraid this will cost Mr. Sorensen quite a bit of money to settle without a trial. Money he probably doesn’t have. The puzzling thing, to me at least, is why do it? Why cheat on Lady Brisbane? She’s a beautiful woman, certainly privileged. Sorensen had it all. I just don’t understand.”
“Good sir, it is all about what she does not have. The young lady you just spoke with? Her brother plays football for Lincolnshire United. Our boy threw away the love of a good woman for cheap sex and season tickets. Sad, if you think about it.”
“Sad, indeed. Sad, indeed. Well, I don’t know how you did it, Mister Stoggins, but you always seem to get your man. Or at least a good photo or two.”
“Just the old bait and switch, really. I knew Sorensen would focus on the Bentley. That allowed me to blend in as the beggar man. I knew eventually they would retreat to the safety of the fire escape. It was only a matter of time.” Wallace said, opening his knapsack to show his camera.
Shaking the solicitor’s hand once more, Wallace proclaimed “Well, pubs open, I am off. Oh, and I need to let my brother know he can drive the Bentley back to the garage now. Cheers.”
Wallace Stoggins stopped. He turned around and reached down, picking something up. “Mustn’t waste a perfectly good cup of free coffee.”