Short Story Contest Entry by Faith Song
“Elves Don’t Carry Guns”
by Faith Song
The telephone rang.
I lifted it to my ear, holding the microphone near my mouth.
“Are you the private investigator from the newspaper?” The voice asked.
“I would like to meet with you to discuss a murder.”
“Ah.” I said. “What place?”
There was a moment of silence. “What location do you suggest?”
My eyebrows inched upward. “Joey’s bar, just a few minutes south of the police station.”
“Agreed. I will attend.”
There was a quiet click. I set the telephone down, shaking my head slightly.
“I’ve always found murders fascinating.” I said, sarcastically.
* * *
It took fifteen minutes to walk to the bar. As I opened the door, I was greeted by the smell of people, alcohol, and cigarette smoke—an altogether unpleasant combination, but it was the closest public place to the police station. Besides a playground, that is.
I walked over to the counter, scanning the room for any sign of my mysterious customer.
He found me first, and crept up behind me soundlessly. Or at least it seemed that way in the chaotic noise around me.
I turned around when he touched my shoulder, and was rather surprised by what I saw.
He was a tall, majestic sort of fellow, with long, silvery-white hair. His fedora did nothing to hide his very definitely pointy ears.
I drew back without realizing it.
Amusement lit his eyes, and he tilted his hat toward me with a leather gloved hand. “Fear not, buster. I shan’t harm you.”
I raised my eyebrows at his phrasing.
“You said you wanted to talk to me about a murder. Take a seat, and have a drink, on me.”
I faint smile crossed his face. “I do not drink alcohol, or I would accept your offer to pay. But I thank you despite my distaste for mortal’s drinks.”
I raised my eyebrows again.
“Ah, yes. The murder.” He said.
“Harold Spears.” I responded.
It was his turn to raise his eyebrows. “You know of whom I speak?”
“Saw it in the paper.” I said. “Some thought it was about time that crook left this world.”
“I think differently.”
“You know him?”
“Alas! I knew him not.”
“Then why do you want me to find the killer?”
“Actually, while I would very much like to find the one who caused him to kick the bucket, I am hiring you to find the poor mortal’s body.”
I crossed my arms. “If you don’t know where his body is, how do you know he’s dead?”
“There was much blood around the spot he died. Far too much for him to have survived. And his wife briefly saw the body.” The man said. “He has been pronounced dead.”
“Hm.” I said. “So you want me to find the body, eh? I’d have to find the killer first, to find where he stashed it.”
A few seconds passed in silence. “Why do you want the body, anyway?”
I wasn’t sure if it was my imagination or not, but I could have sworn his eyes darkened a shade.
“You might say it is for personal reasons.”
I didn’t believe him, but I knew better than to press the matter. “I see.” I said, then paused. “There is the matter of how much you will pay me.”
There was slight annoyance in the man’s tone, but his words nearly made me choke. “Three hundred American dollars.”
I breathed in slowly. It seemed this business could pay, after all.
“Who are you, anyway?”
He gave a brief bow, spreading his arms wide in a flourish. “Alohir Celobrith, fourth son of Enlaes, the great Elven lord of the east country.”
I looked at him skeptically. “Elven?”
Alohir nodded slightly. “Yes, Elven, though you may not believe it.”
“You got that right.” I said.
The elf raised his hands in a helpless gesture. “That is your decision, mortal. Shall we be off?”
I shook my head, watching him walk away. This man was definitely slightly pixilated. But he paid well.
I stood up and followed him.
* * *
“So you don’t have any suspects?”
The sergeant shook his head. “Nope. The guy’s an ex-convict. He could have hundreds of enemies.”
“What about his wife?”
The sergeant shrugged. “Apparently she was in the other room with her daughter, who was having nightmares. Two guests were in the room with her, and they testified to this.”
“Hm. And the guy was dead when she got back?”
“So she claims. One of the guests went with her, a Mrs. Brooke Adams. They found the body, and Mrs. Spears went to call the police. Mrs. Adams saw the two little girls up, and went to put them back to bed so they would not see the body.”
“Wait, two little girls?”
He nodded. “One was a Spears girl, the other Adam’s girl. Apparently they were having a sleepover.”
“Mm. And then the body went missing?”
“Aye. When we got there, Spear’s wife was still on the phone, hadn’t gotten off it. Mrs. Adams was huddled in the room with the children. There was a nine millimeter bullet drilled into Spears’ mattress, and one of the windows was pried open.”
“Uh-huh.” I said. “Can you give me the address of his wife, and Mrs. Adams?”
He scribbled the addresses on a piece of paper, and handed it to me. “Don’t get yourself into trouble, Jim.” He said, glancing at Alohir. “I’m not sure Spears is worth it, no matter how dead he is.”
I paused for a second. “He didn’t go straight after he got out of jail?”
“Huh! He went straight alright. ‘Least to our records. Disappeared a few times, but what were we to do about it? He was always back before forty-eight hours had past.”
“I see. Thanks, Sergeant. We’ll get back to you if we need any more information.”
I walked out, and Alohir followed me. Once the door had closed, I turned around. “Must you follow me around?”
He raised his eyebrows. “I can walk before you if it gives you the creeps for me to be at your back.”
I shook my head. “Skip it.”
* * *
I drove to Mrs. Spear’s house, but learned nothing new. Her story was the same as the Sergeant’s.
And though she was sad, it was really her child that tugged at my heartstrings. Something about big brown eyes staring up at me expectantly.
As I pulled into the Adams’ driveway, I was determined to find that body and return it to his wife—and the three hundred bucks was a nice plus, too.
Alohir watched the taxi until it disappeared around the bend, and then lead the way toward the house.
I rang the doorbell, waiting for several moments in silence. “Do you think she’s home?” I said, at length.
Alohir scanned the building. “She is at home.”
A moment later, a woman peered through an upstairs window, then dropped the curtain, disappearing into the house.
I looked at Alohir. “How do you do that?”
He smiled slightly. “I am an Elven lord, Clementine. I have many abilities.”
“Ha.” I said, “Elves don’t wear trench coats and fedoras.” His next words were cut off by the door opening.
A small, pale, nervous-looking woman stood there, holding the door partially closed.
I fished my wallet out of my pocket and showed her my card. “Jimmy Clementine, private investigator. I’m investigating the murder of Harold Spears.”
She nodded slightly, but seemed confused. “The police have been here already.”
“I know, but I’d like to get it straight from you. Mrs. Spears is devastated, and I’ve been hired to recover the body, and, hopefully, catch the one who knocked him off.”
She opened the door fully, gesturing inside, though she still seemed slightly shaky. “In that case, come in.” She said. “Would you like some coffee? Lemonade?”
I shook my head.
“Not now, my lady, but I thank you for your generous offer.” Alohir said, tipping his hat in her direction.
She gave him an odd look, but led us into the living room. “I’ve been a bit nervous lately, since…” She shook her head. “My husband is on a business trip, so I can’t be too careful.”
I nodded. “I understand.”
She gestured to the couch. “Have a seat.”
I waited until Alohir sat, then followed his example. “Can you tell us what happened that night?”
She sat down. “Oh, I’m not sure I can even think straight any more, I’ve told it so many times.” She said. “There was someone from the FBI here a few minutes ago, and I had to tell it again.”
“Can you tell it just once more? We really are trying to get this case solved.”
She took a deep breath. “Okay. I was in the room with the girls—we were having a sleepover. Now, Lois—that’s Brooke’s little girl—started crying. I guess she was having nightmares or something. I tried to comfort her, but she wouldn’t have it.
“Then I heard someone coming down the hall, and Brooke came in to comfort the poor child. Once she had just about settled down—Lois, not Brooke—we heard a gunshot… We ran back to her room. She was ahead of me, and she ran over to Harold, and screamed! I ran after her, and… I’ve had some First Aid training, and he was dead already.” She shuddered. “She went to call the police, and I heard the children. The gunshot, or maybe the scream, had wakened them, and they were in the doorway.
“I didn’t want them to see…” Her voice trailed off. “I took them back to their beds and stayed with them until the police arrived.”
“And that’s it?” I asked.
“Are you sure? Are you sure you haven’t missed any details?”
She shook her head, sighing softly. “I’m not really sure of anything now.”
I paused for a moment. “What was your relationship with Spears and his wife? I mean, most people wouldn’t want to be associated with an ex-con.”
She gave a glare big enough for a woman twice her size. “Harold Spears was a very nice man, and less of a crook than most folks. Very law-abiding, no matter what the newspapers say. And Brooke was even nicer than he, a gentle girl.”
I nodded. “I see. Thank you for your time. Alohir, do you have anything you want to ask her?”
He shook his head. “No, I believe you have asked her quite enough.”
I nodded. “Yeah.”
We walked out to the front, and I was about to call a taxi when a voice stopped me.
“Hey, you there.” I turned around toward the teenaged boy emerging from the evening shadows.
“You tryin’ t’find the guy who done in ol’ Spears?”
I nodded, glancing at Alohir. “Yes. Why?”
“’Cause I know who done it.”
I raised my eyebrows. “And how much is this going to cost me?”
“’Nuthin’. I liked the guy.”
“…Well, then. Why don’t we talk?”
“Not here.” He said. “We gotta go somewhere where there ain’t so many people.”
I glanced around. “Why, are you running from the law?”
He gave me an odd glance. “You’re not a cop. What d’you care?”
“How do you know I won’t turn you in?”
He smirked. “’Cause you won’t get your information if you do.”
“That is a point.”
He barely gave me another look as he slipped into the alleyway.
I followed, but for the first time, Alohir hung back.
“Coming, elf?” I asked, looking back at him.
His eyes were narrowed, but he nodded. “I am coming.”
I slipped into the alleyway, glancing around.
“You carry a gun, buster?”
I quickly located the teenager as he stepped out of the deeper shadows. “Why?”
“’Cause you might just need it ‘round here.”
“Got it.” I said. “So who killed Spears?”
“I dunno his name.” He said. “Some guy. Got a grey suit on, real fancy-like. He got outta the house a few minutes after the missus screamed, and carrying sumthin’ big.”
“Oh, kinda tall. Grey suit—”
“You said that already.”
“I know, but it’s important. He was wearing it both times.”
I straightened. “Both times?”
“Sure. He came to the Adams’ just a few minutes b’fore you showed up. Says he’s FBI.”
I nodded. “Well, that makes sense. Know where to find this guy?”
He shook his head, glancing at Alohir. “Nah. I tried to follow him, but I lost ‘im.”
“Just lost him?” Alohir asked, an odd tone behind his words.
“Yeah.” The boy said, giving Alohir an equally odd look.
Alohir walked forward until he was very near to the boy. “I do not know where you come from, boy, but you do not belong in this world.” He said, his voice low.
The teenager flinched, then looked at me. “Are you gonna nab him or not?”
“I would if I knew where—and who—he was.” I said, glancing rapidly between the two of them.
“You do know where he is.” A voice said.
I pivoted, reaching for the pistol hidden in my jacket.
“Don’t touch that.” The man said, stepping out of the shadows. A handgun was pointed directly at my chest.
“What are you doing here, Merlasul?” Alohir said. “You have what you want.”
“I have the key, yes. But I have a bit of a score to settle, as well. You know how much I adore you.”
“I have noticed that, yes.” Alohir said. “So you came to kill me, though you have the key?”
“I don’t have it with me, obviously. But yes, I have it. And yes, that is why I came. I can’t afford you following me.” The man, Merlasul, said.
“I suppose that means we have to die, too? As witnesses?” I said, raising my eyebrows. One man. He can’t kill all of us. I thought.
“No, of course not. You can go. Go ahead and tell your police that an elf shot your fellow elf. Give them my description. They’ll never find me. Not unless they can travel the worlds.”
I clenched my teeth. “What happens if I shoot you?”
“You’re not that fast, mortal.”
“Want to bet?”
Merlasul ignored me, watching Alohir. “Are you going to admit you were wrong? You only have one more chance, and I’ll kill you either way.”
Alohir shook his head. “Never.”
I pulled out my gun, and heard two quick gunshots before it was out. There was a flicker of light, and the teenaged boy was standing in front of me, holding his hands up as if holding up some unseen barrier.
Alohir dropped the gun he was holding and ran over to Merlasul’s prone form.
I blinked, and the boy stepped aside. “What…?”
Alohir’s mouth was pressed into a thin line when he looked up. “You made me shoot him, Clementine. He meant it when he said that you would not be quick enough.”
I blinked again. “How did you do that so fast?”
Alohir pressed his fingertips against Merlasul’s forehead, and the tips of them started to glow even through the leather gloves he wore. “I am an elf.”
“Elves don’t carry guns.” I said.
“I am wearing gloves. I did not touch the metal. Thank the boy; he is the one who really saved your life. Even I was not fast enough.”
“Thank you.” I said, looking to where the boy had been. But he was nowhere to be seen. I shook my head.
“I must depart. I will retrieve the body for you so you may return it to his wife. But I must go quickly; we do not have much time before Merlasul passes.”
Alohir grabbed the gun out of Merlasul’s hand and threw it across the alleyway.
“Farewell.” He said.
Then they both vanished.
I blinked twice, my head reeling. If it weren’t for the guns on the ground, I would not have believed that any of them had really been there.
I knelt, picking up both pistols, and opened the cartridges of both, one at a time.
They both shot nine millimeter bullets.
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