Emollient, Veritable Polymath, and Scrimshandered

(Challenge accepted)


An early sleet rattled against the windows. I hoped it would dislodge some of the grime.

When I say it was early, I don’t mean it was early for December. Around here, the weather goes from “hot enough for ya” to “brass monkey’s balls” without stopping over at sun-dappled anything. I mean it was early for me… too early. Seven o'clock a.m. is an hour for cops, drunks and other respectable people. It was an hour I hadn’t seen in at least a year, and hadn’t seen willingly in at least ten.

The corpse on the table didn’t care what time it was.

He didn’t care if I smoked his cigarettes, didn’t care if I took the cash in his wallet. The poor bastard who had only recently stopped dripping on my carpet had died an ugly death. A scrimshandered letter opener was jammed up one nostril, right to the hilt. The head was bent back over the table, and that was where he must have gotten the veritable nose job. His thick mass of dark hair was matted with a heavy emollient no barber ever used. Red and sticky, it sure as hell didn’t smell like Bay Rum. The stuff in his wallet said he was either Raymond Tollifer (this from a Carpenter’s Union card), Richard Tollman (Teamster’s Union card) or Reynolds Tollerude (student ID from Princeton Goddamned University). Mr. Dead was a polymath puzzle, a cooling slab of Renaissance Man. Whoever he was, he’d obviously been left in my office as a message for me.

A note would have been simpler. It was too early for games, but then, I hate games at any hour.


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