Captain Holt hires Thanet Blake to find out who is helping stop crime in the city while wearing a disguise. Holt wants to arrest The Hooded Person. Blake thinks otherwise.
“Don’t turn on the light. Come in slowly, Thanet Blake.”
It was the midnight hour and my office was coal black dark. A sudden sweat covered my body as I jerked my thirty-eight revolver free from its left shoulder holster with my right hand. I stifled a yell from the healing bullet wound in my left arm as I inched my office door all the way open while trying not to make noise.
Who was waiting in the dark for me? Was there a gun pointing in my direction? My gut churned a sour taste into my mouth. I had a new bullet hole in me from six weeks ago and two healed scars from past wounds. I didn’t need more.
“I heard you and the police were looking for me,” commanded a gargled with gravel voice. “I decided to save you the trouble of searching for me by coming here.”
Courage or stupidity had me say, “That’s nice of you. Your last sentence tells me you’re the Hooded Person. However, I’m supposed to find you. You’re not supposed to find me. Why don’t you walk out the door and I’ll keep looking for you?”
My desk light came on. “I can’t do that. Here I am.”
Relief whirled around in my gut when I saw there was no gun pointing at me, for the time being. It was a big caliber hunk of death resting on my desk within reach of the individual parked in my desk chair. Something caused me to feel safe enough to holster my thirty-eight. I was face-to-hooded-face with the Hooded Person. Or was I? Two other individuals could also be that mysterious character. Hell, I don’t know. I did know I was caught in the middle of a game that had to be played out.
I tried to smile as I said, “The police want to arrest you. They hired me to find you and bring you in.”
“Will you try to apprehend me?”
“I’m obligated to do so. I told Captain Holt I would. I took his money, and money is a contract with me. But there’s a lot of doubt screwing with my thoughts telling me you’re helping this city fight crime. You’re also looking for info about a dead cop named O’Toole who was accused of being on the take.”
“He might be innocent of that.”
“Might be is like a blind gunshot in the dark. You might hit what you aimed at. You might not. For what it’s worth, Captain Holt thinks O’Toole was framed.”
The Hooded Person nodded. “I’ve spent years attempting to prove his innocence and his guilt.”
“You want to prove both? That doesn’t make sense. Care to tell me why?”
“I have personal reasons.”
“I assumed you’d say that. Personal could mean you’re a relative, or even a closer relationship, and something in my head keeps telling me I know who you are.”
“You’re clever, perhaps too clever.”
“No, I’m not. I’m fishing, hoping I can get some info from you. To start with, why are you wearing a completely black outfit, hooded and all, to where only your eyes are visible?”
“It is necessary for me to wear a disguise. The person I am seeking is dangerous, a killer who has killed many times. Without this identity, he would recognize me.”
I hate murder cases. It was time for me to ask the big question. “I suppose you’re about to inform me the killer is hiding, or perhaps walking the streets of this city.”
“Yes, he is. I need your help, Thanet.”
“I don’t do murder cases. Well actually I have done some. But I was forced to do them. Besides, why should I help you, when you might have been the drive by shooter who put the slug in me?”
“In your heart you know I didn’t shoot you. I also know you will help me.”
“I don’t know that at all. Maybe you shot me and maybe you didn’t. Right now, I’m mad as hell. I’ve a hole in my left arm that will keep me from using that arm for more than a month. I spent a week in the local bone factory. Everyday Dr. Gannon smiled and said he was glad to see me and that I was becoming a regular customer. Don’t count on my helping you. I’m expensive. I’ll charge you double and you have to take off your hood.”
I shouldn’t have said what I said. In one swift movement gone was the hood and I was staring at the Hooded Person’s face. Or was I?