“Hell, gal, the city is getting to you!” I told myself, as I turned onto Harrison only minutes from the apartment and yet I noticed a chill, despite the muggy evening air. Was this the start of the after-effect the sarge had talked about? I shouldn’t feel this way or perhaps I should after all I killed a human being and a fellow policeman, maybe this is my punishment even though nobody blamed me, I had to get passed this point, or give in, “Aw! C’mon gal, you ain’t going to crack up yet, you got more fight than any two of them men in the room and just as much brains,” I chided myself, walking onto Sixth Avenue. There had to be a reason for this but I sure as hell was damned if I knew what the reason was. Walking up to the door of the block, steps still covered in the same dirt from weeks ago, garbage trucks didn’t come here. Hell nobody did!
“I have got to get away from here, but I ain’t going to do it on my pay. I need to get a higher rank,” I told myself walking past last weeks sodden and mouldy fries and rolls, so bad even the rats left them. The smell of last night’s beers filled the cold, dark passageway as I climbed the stairs to my apartment. “The landlord should have replaced the light on my landing by now,” I muttered to myself, half thinking sarcastically “and Middleton will win the league this year.” I told him weeks ago to change the bulb or somebody would have an accident, all I got for a reply, “You want to do change the bulb, feel free. For what you pay here, you don’t get extras.”
“Which was true in reality, bed and a few sheets; what else would you expect for a few lousy bucks in a joint like this.”
My room overlooked the backyard of the butchers across the street. With all the gone off meat bits; which became a breeding ground for flies in the summer and in winter the rats had free meals; even if the meat had been frozen to the tin sheets covering the holes in the yard. This was the hell to which I had been confined for the next three days, apart from the occasional sortie for food and drinks.
I walked along the passageway, with the breeze blowing the curtains; I was about to open my door, when for no reason, I checked the doorknob.
“Why did you do check the knob? Did you expect trouble or just edgy?” I asked myself as I eased my fingers around the edges. The reason I never did work out, all I know is I found gun oil on the knob; slowly stepping back from the door I checked under the doorway and noticed a faint light showing.
“They’re using the reading lamp,” I whispered to control my actions. “Right, I know where they are, they’re expecting me to come in from a dark hall so they have the edge with the light behind them.”
I recalled the room next door had been vacated; not surprising since the last tenant had been found strung up les than a month ago. I looked around and found a broom shank, I propped the broom on the door. I left the broom resting on the handle as I went to the room next door; I tried the handle and eased the door open and with a slight creak it swung free. I walked across the wooden floor taking care that each step was firm yet silent, not wanting to slip and give my opponent the chance to hear me approaching; I walked quietly across the room, listening for the slightest noises. My heart pounding as though it was a drum; I got to the door which joined my room, what to do?
Try to sneak in and take them by surprise or stay with my first idea?
I had little or no choice, standing back I kicked the door open in a flash the intruder turned to face me, as he fired the first shots blindly, staying low the rounds failed to find a target. I fired twice at the muzzle flashes. My visitor turned and made for the door, only to find as planned my door kick had slipped the broom into the handle; and the door jammed. Without thinking my visitor started firing blindly; the game now changed and the edge became mine. He was startled and worried and firing at ghosts. I took my time and fired three times at the flashes, before hearing the groan; which told me the fight had ended.
The gunshots roused the landlord, who came rushing to the room, “What you got yourself into now, gal?” He called to me, as I turned the light on to see who wanted to pay me the visit and ended the night dead.
“That is what I intend to find out.”
“I’m calling the cops,” he said as he ran down the hall to his room.
“Go ahead; they’re probably on their way,” I said, “your call will save me a job. You got any idea who he is?” I said looking at the body of a middle-aged man lying at my feet, the blood slowly pooling on the hard wooden floor.
“No, never seen him before. Why didn’t come in your door?”
“I have no idea. I stopped at the door to check the handle for some reason. I noticed the oil on the knob and realised somebody was inside waiting for me.”
“Good job you did or I would have been explaining to the cops how you got shot. And all I can remember is he broke in and then the shooting.”
In the background, above the noises of the street I could hear the sounds of a siren in the distance, “Here they come,” I said to the landlord, as the few other poor souls which live here, slowly came out of their doors, “It’s OK, the shooting is over now.” I called to them, “
Does anybody know who this guy is?” the landlord asked.
The residents walked up the passage, almost as if they expected him to come back to life and start a gun battle. Everybody shook their heads, except for one old man who crossed himself, before walking back to his room. I made a mental note of the number as the guys from the squad room arrived.