Dart Alien Detective Short Fiction By Jack Adler

“Dart: Alien Detective”: Short Fiction By Jack Adler

In “Dart: Alien Detective” by Jack Adler, Dart helps a client overcome his dilemma as an accused arsonist. 

Let me be clear: I am an alien. But no one believes me. Some people actually make fun of my admission and tease me. My first name is Dart but everyone calls me Al, taken from alien. I can’t prove my identity because I’m just like everyone else. Same physiology, same blood, nothing to indicate I’m from another planet.

What makes my situation even more ironical is that I’m a detective, and I can’t produce the slightest hint of why any ostensible home planet would have exiled or sent me to Earth. I have no idea of why I’m here, how I got here, or when I arrived and in what condition. All a mystery. Just like my wondering if there are more “humans” like me and we’re all sort of an inter-planetary movement or conspiracy. Unfortunately, I don’t have any special powers, which might have shed a clue or two.

Let me be clear: I am an alien. But no one believes me.

Some detective!

But I don’t dwell on these issues. I’m here and I’ll make the best of it, a very Earth-like value.

I’m only 32 in Earth years but who knows how old I might be somewhere else. I’m single and I like girls, another welcome Earth instinct. Being an alien isn’t an affectation. Women think it’s a pick-up lie. It isn’t. I also don’t need it. I’m six foot tall, with thick black hair, and a good build.

I also welcome new business which turned up with Alex Watson, a young marketing executive suspected of setting fire to the building where he worked. A janitor, who wasn’t supposed to be there, perished in the flames. So arson and murder were involved.

I had a small office in an industrial park not far from my similarly modest apartment. I had a license and I had a gun which I had never used and hoped never to. I usually handled domestic issues, marriages and divorces, and not criminal cases.

Alex was around my age, He was a little taller than me and I stood six feet tall. He had tan hair which was cut short while I let my black hair rage over my scalp. Fleshy cheeks sat before blue eyes that looked bloodshot. It didn’t take a sleuth to see he was troubled.

I had a small office in an industrial park not far from my similarly modest apartment.

“If you read the newspaper you know about the fire and the dead man,” he said.

I nodded.

“I’ve become the main suspect. The police are all over me. They got a warrant to check my apartment. They hauled away my computer. I can’t leave town, not that I had any plans to.”

“But you are free?”

“So far.” He paused for a moment. “That’s because I’m innocent, which doesn’t seem to stop them. I think they’re desperate to pin it on me.”

“Have you engaged a lawyer?”

“No. I was going too, But I haven’t been charged with anything. So why should I spend a lot of money on a lawyer. I just hope I don’t get to that point.”

“But why have you come to me?”

Alex’s face creased into a squashed balloon. His cheeks seemed to deflate. “Because I don’t trust the police. I thought… I thought you could help.”

“I will, if I can. So let me get all the pertinent facts. Why are the police so intent about you?”

“I was manager of the marketing department. I had a feud with the executive vice president, a piece of vertical slime, which led to my being fired. I’m supposed to have burned the building down in revenge. And I was so caught up in my maniacal frenzy that I lost sight that a janitor might be in the building.”

“But that’s a suspicion. They have no proof. Do they?”

“Of course not, because there couldn’t be any.”

He stared at me as if failed to grasp a simple logical point.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have an alibi for the time period involved. Ordinarily, I’d probably be with my girlfriend. but she was out of town visiting her parents.”

“Did you make or receive any phone calls?”

“No, I just watched TV and went to bed.”

“Is the company blaming you?”

“Top management, maybe. The general staff, I don’t think so.”

“Were you popular?”

“I wasn’t unpopular. But popularity isn’t the point. I didn’t do it. Chances are someone else at the company did it, expecting I’d be blamed.”

“You think it’s a conspiracy”

“I don’t know the definition of a conspiracy. How many people have to be involved in a conspiracy?”

“Two will do. Who do you suspect?”

“Ralph Woodman, the executive vice president. He has it in for me because I stood up to him. And I challenged him. His marketing ideas which were mind-numblingly stupid.”

“And you told him that?”

Alex smiled. “Not in those words.”

“Do you have any proof against him, for the fire?”

“No. That’s where you come in.”

I was baffled and showed it. “You want me to to find out if the man who had you fired is guilty of the crime you’re accused of?”

“It sounds peculiar the way you say it, but yes.”

“Do you realize what you’re saying?”

“I think so. The police have their suspicions. I have mine.”

“But they have the authority, you don’t.”

Alex shrugged. “I just want you to look around. A couple of days’ work. I can’t afford any more. And I know your rates.”

I was silent.

“Will you help me out?”

Not without misgivings, I nodded.

Chapter 2

            I still mulled over the circumstances of this case. Alex had to really hate this Ralph to hire a detective to find him guilty and him innocent-or vice versa. Didn’t that make him seem guilty even if he wasn’t? Was I smart to get involved on this basis? And then, what exactly could I do? I didn’t know what evidence the police or the arson boys had, and they weren’t likely to share with me. Ralph and other people at Alex’s company-Merson Enterprises-also wouldn’t welcome an extra set of inquiring eyes.

But I could use the money, things being a bit slow. So I planned my tactics. I didn’t anticipate any great success. I also didn’t figure on labeling a fellow person of interest by the police.

Chapter 3

            The building was still up and a skeleton crew was busy in digging out papers from the less destroyed offices.

I struck up a conversation with a cap-wearing man coming out of the business.”How are things going in there? Are you able to recover a lot of stuff?”

He gave me a quick look as if to ascertain who I might be and why I was inquiring. But he stopped and answered. “A little.”

Before he could move on I quickly followed up. “Do you think they’ll be hiring again?”

Now, hopefully, he’d see me as a job-seeker. My simple clothes-dark slacks, a light blue shirt, and a black windbreaker- backed me up.

“Maybe, but not for a while. They’re still assessing what it would cost to repair versus moving somewhere else.”

“Big decision.”

“Yep.”

“Anything new on the cause?”

Now the man gave me another sharp look. “Gotta go. Good luck.”

Just like that he was off. As I turned to follow him I saw another man watching me. Was I under scrutiny while going through my own investigation?

Chapter 4

            Before I got very far away from the stricken half-burned building this stranger caught up to me. He was a tall, well-built man, probably still in his late thirties.

“What’s your interest in that building?” he asked, not gruffly but like he wanted an answer and wasn’t going to back off until he got one.

“What’s your interest in my interest?”

The man shook his head in derision but opened his jacket to reveal his police badge. “I know who you are now. The would-be alien. Tell me, are you a wise guy on your home planet, too?”

“I’m not a wise guy, detective.  That description fits you better.”

“Fuck you!”

“Sure. And what’s your name?”

“Tom Haley, numbnuts. What the fuck are you doing?”

” I’m here for a client.”

“And who may that be?”

“Alan Watson!

“The fucking murderer!”

“Not proven, detective. And not likely to be.”

“You have to be from another planet to take such a case.”

“Watson hasn’t been arrested. Hasn’t been charged. Just harassed.”

“In due time, Al. In due time.”
He turned and walked away. It was always nice to be recognized. Well, not always.

Chapter 5

            Alex pegged his boss, Ralph Woodman, who had him fired to be somehow behind the blaze. He didn’t think Woodman wanted a fatality if he was responsible for the fire. It just happened. But he didn’t have much of a motive for Woodman. It was a puzzle. I figured Id start with a simple surveillance of Woodman and see where that might lead do.

The company had set up temporary headquarters nearby at rented space at an office building. I waited for him to drive away close to six p.m. and he drove home. But he wasn’t there very long. He came out in a more sporty outfit, a Navy blue blazer and tan pants. Probably took a shower and now had a hot date. Woodman was in his early forties, and single now after a messy divorce, according to Alex. From what I could see at a distance he was tall, taller than Alex or me, and with a solid build. He walked with assurance. befitting his executive status.

Woodman drove to the Happy Stork Restaurant, a trendy place that was too expensive for me. Even the large, goofy-eyed stork that sat high above the entrance looked too upscale for my taste.

A doorman parked his late model silver Prius.

I parked my middle-aged Toyota Sonata myself and walked into the restaurant hoping to spot Woodman. I suspected he was meeting someone and most likely a woman. But he wasn’t at the bar which even had napkins with a happy stork emblem. The dining area was in view if you moved closer to the tables. But first I ordered my favorite drink, a Negroni straight up, which would go on my expense tab.

Fortified, I sauntered, glass in hand, to survey tables. At a far corner I spotted Woodman with a dark-haired woman who looked to be in my age round and rather attractive. Afraid of my interest attracting attention I retreated to the bar, nursed my Negroni, while making sure Woodman and date didn’t leave without my noticing. At least I assumed it was a date from the way he was dressed. But it could be a business meeting. I wasn’t exactly an authority on after hours business decorum.

The drink vanished and so did I. I waited outside but only about an hour as the duo left and

went straight to his car. So the lady didn’t come in her own car. That didn’t suggest a business meeting at all. I followed his auto at a discreet distance, expecting him to drive to his apartment. Instead, he drove to another apartment building where he parked in the street. Legally, too. Quite the gentleman, he opened the car door for her. I took several quick photos as their hands touched and then their lips.

Arm in arm they entered the building. I waited a few moments  and then went in as if I lived there. They were gone. There was an elevator they had probably taken. No one was in the lobby, but there were mailboxes. I copied down every woman’s name, and several names that didn’t indicate a gender, something a lot of women did for security purposes.

Hopefully, Alex would recognize a name. But it was more likely that Woodman, a bachelor, was just making whoopee.

Chapter 6

            Alex did more than recognize a name. He recognized the lady.

“That’s Adele Marcus!’ She’s the Purchasing Manager.”

Alex looked like he won the lottery. His eyes were alive with expectation.

“Are they an item?”

“They are now.”

“You mean you didn’t know about them?”

“No, I didn’t, and I’m not sure who did.”

“A well kept secret then?”

Alex didn’t answer right away, like he was calculating what was known. “I don’t know.

You say they went to her apartment?”

“Yes.”

“And it didn’t look like a business meeting?

“Not to me.”

“You’d know.”

I appreciated the compliment, deserved or not. “If their affair was a secret before, why do you think they were so open about it now? Does it have something to do with the fire?”

Alex took his time in replying again. The news really seemed to have a giant affect on him.

“It must.” He waited a beat. “Can you find out?”

I probably made a face. “I can keep an eye on one of them at a time and maybe together. But not their conversation. Just not equipped for that.”

“Well, do what you can. Look at what you’ve already achieved.”

I’m glad one of us was impressed.  I didn’t know what do for an encore. But, what the hell, I was being paid and Alex was satisfied-so far.

Chapter 7

            I couldn’t follow both Ralph and Adele.  I decided to focus on Adele.  I followed her car to another apartment building. A man was waiting outside the building. As soon as she parked in front of the building he entered her car. I didn’t get a good look at him but he seemed to be tall and lean. The only facial feature I saw was a mustache. He was probably around 40, but that was just a guess.

What was also speculation was their relationship? Was Adele being unfaithful to Ralph? If so, Alex would be delighted. Maybe he’d know who the other man was?

When I got back to my place I was rudely disturbed by my least favorite cop, Detective Haley.

“Hey, Al, you’re doing a lot of snooping.”

“The same could be said for you.”

“Are there more fucking wise guys on your planet?”

“I wish I could take you to find out for yourself.”

“I don’t know what you’re up to, but it sure looks like you’re working with Watson and not for him.”

Haley had a valid point to some extent. My deal with Alex was unusual, but then the situation was unusual.

“Just doing my job, detective.”

“Yeah? Well, we’re watching both of you. Looks like you’re trying to muddy the waters by blaming others.”

“I know you have an open mind. It’s very reassuring.”

‘Fucking wise guy!”

But that retort was enough for him and he drove off. But now I was worried that I might have put myself in harm’s way.

Chapter 8

            “That guy is Dave Morris, the treasurer. What’s she doing with him?”

Alex was able to identify Morris from my photos, and he was pretty sure that the building was where Morris lived.

“Do you think the lady has more than one lover?”

“I would never have thought she’d have one. She’s a bitch!”

“She still gets around.”

Alex made a face. “Something’s going on. You see, I was right.”

Right about what, I wondered.

“Okay. But I’m not sure what I can do to help you now. And I don’t want to bankrupt you.”

“Don’t worry, I’m solvent. I’ve gotten some freelance work.” He paused a moment. “There’s someone at the company who knows everything that goes on. The real gossip center.”

‘Who’s that?”
“Ellen Refter, Ralph’s secretary. I bet she knows something.”

“Do you want me to tail her? See who she’s visiting?”

“I’m serious.”

“So am I. What’s your relationship with her? Is it possible for you      sound her out?”

Alex frowned. “I doubt it.”

“Is she very loyal to Ralph?”

“I doubt that, too.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“I’m very attracted to her.”

“Really?”

He nodded.

“So isn’t that an advantage?”

Alex was silent.

“Does she know… of your interest?”

“I think so.”

“Well, have you ever asked her out?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

Poor Alex! He looked so forlorn I felt sorry for him. He was aggressive in retaining me but not so bold in his social relationships.

“She’ single, right?”

He nodded.

“And attractive?

“Very.”

“So go for it. You’re not even working in the same company any more, not that that seems to make much difference, from what I can see. You can say you didn’t ask her out before because you worked together, though it didn’t seem to bother others.”

“It’s not so easy.”

“Well, let me help you out.”

So here I was, volunteer my outstanding experience in relationship counseling in addition to detective work. What would Detective Haley think?”

Chapter 9

            After considerable prodding, Alex finally asked this woman out. And guess what? She accepted. He came gushing back after their date to my office.

“She-Ellen-was very nice.”

“When’s the wedding?”

“Very funny. We had a nice dinner. She’s a lot of fun. Very vivacious. Good listener, too.”

“I hope you were a good listener, too. What did you learn?”

“Well, I didn’t want to be obvious about it.”

“Of course not.”

“I did a little probing. Very carefully.”

I’m sure you were masterful. What did the lady disclose?”

“Ralph and Adele are having an affair. Apparently, I was the last one to know it.”

“Not important. What else?”

Alex hesitated a moment. “Well, I think she was going to say something else about that relationship, but she held back.”

“Give any clues?”

“Not really.”

“What about Morris and Adele? There has to be more there.”

“I think so, too. But she was even more hesitant.”

“Did she seem afraid?”

“I’m not sure. Maybe.”

At that moment we were rudely disturbed by Detective Tom Haley and another man, presumably his partner.

“I thought I’d find you two together,” Haley said.

Before either of us could respond, he added: “Watson, you have to come with us.”

“Why?” he asked.

“You had dinner with Ellen Refter last night?”

“Yes.”

“She’s dead. Murdered. And you were maybe the last one to see her alive. So let’s go!

We’ve got some questions for you.”

Looking in a state of stupor Alex stood, ready for a verbal guillotine.

“We’ve got some questions for you, too, Al. But later.”

Chapter 10

            Alex reported back to me, with an almost triumphant air.

“They don’t have anything on me,” he exulted.

“That’s good.”

“I didn’t need a lawyer. They didn’t charge me. They couldn’t hold me.”

“Actually, they could but not for very long.”

“But they didn’t. Lots of questions. They bully you.”

“But you stood up to them.”

“Not at the start, but when I saw they didn’t have shit, I felt better.”

I nodded. Apparently, he had withstood the insinuating questions, which were more often suppositions with dark accusatory looks. I knew the routine all too well, having been questioned before on a different case. Now, Detective Haley wanted to haul me in for his special treatment.

“They wouldn’t believe me that I had never been in Ellen’s apartment, but it was obvious they didn’t have my fingerprints anywhere in her place.”

“Did they find your fingerprints on her body?”

Alex’s face flushed. “Well,” he stammered. “I held her hand. I helped her out of the car.”

“Anything else?”

He looked at me as if I were the police, too.

“Did you kiss her? Like good night?”

“Yes. Just a light kiss. On her cheek.”

“Okay,. Did the detectives say when the murder took place?”

“No, but it was clear it was in her apartment?”

“Did they suggest a time period?”

“No. Just that I was the last known person to see her alive.”

“Did they say she had been raped or molested.”

“No.”

I thought for a moment.”I guess it’s too soon for the police to check if she had sex.”

Alex looked perplexed. “You mean she could have had dinner with me and then fucked another guy afterwards?”

“Or before. Stranger things have happened, but no, I doubt that happened.”

“She was a very nice person. I can’t believe anything bad about her.”

“And you shouldn’t.” By the way, did they ask any questions about me?”

“They sure did.”

“Like what?”

“How long you’ve been working for me? Are you still working for me? Am I satisfied?”

“What did you say?”

“I didn’t know if these were legitimate questions, but I said yes to all of then?”

“Were they very disappointed?”

Alex smiled. “Couldn’t tell.” He waited for me to speak and when I didn’t he asked,

“So what do we do now?”

We!

            The pronoun was right. I had managed to lock us together.

“Alex, I don’t want any more of your money. I’ve done all I can for you.”

“Are you going to abandon me?”

He truly looked lost, and I felt sorry for him. “I can give you advice, free advice, though I’m not sure how useful it will be.”

“It will help.”

“Well, one, the police are still going to be watching you, so don’t do anything stupid.”

“And two?”

“I’m still thinking about that.”

Chapter 11

            Alex and I got together for cocktails the next day. I was no longer on the clock, so to speak, but given my mental investment in his case-and my animosity to Detective Haley- I felt free to give my erstwhile but still beleaguered client my sage wisdom.

“Alex, let’s review where you are. You’re a suspect in the fire and its fatality and now the murder of a company secretary. Everything points to a company person being involved in one or both of the events. Chances are it’s both.”

Alex nodded.

“There are three persons to consider in this unholy trio. Ralph, who fired you. Adele, who doesn’t like you and is sleeping with Ralph while having some nocturnal link with Morris. And Morris whose connection to Ralph and Adele isn’t clear. Then Ellen intimated she had knowledge she was afraid to disclose, and right after this revelation, she’s murdered.”

“But where does that leave me?”

“You’re still a person of interest as far as the police are concerned. But they don’t have a shred of evidence against you, which doesn’t mean they’ll leave you alone.”

“They’ve made that obvious. They still have my computer.”

“The person in this trio that you know the least about is Morris. Right?”

“Yes, true. I had little contact with him.”

“Well, that has to change.”

“But how?”

“Is there anyone else at the company you could have a beer with and poke around for information?”

“Can’t think of anyone.”

“Collect everything you can find from him on the Internet and public records. You can do this yourself without paying me to do it for you.”

“You’re turning away business.”

“You’re unemployed. I’m sympathetic. Drinks are on me.”

“Are you afraid of the police?”

“No, not at all. I don’t want them on my back, but I’m not afraid. Do you want to retain my services?”

“No, I can’t afford it.”

“That’s what I thought. Look, you can also keep an eye on Morris.”

“Won’t he spot me?”

“If you’re careless, yes. But what you really want to find out is what’s going on between him and

Adele.”

“How? I can’t tape their conversations? So what if they get together.? So what if she’s sleeping with Morris, too? She’s a corporate slut! So what?”

Alex was getting aroused again. This was a weakness I had already warned him about.

“You have to get one of the three to make a mistake. They might be conniving over company control, or it would be sexual jealousy, or both. Set a trap.”

“A trap?”

“How do I do that?”

“Hey, I’m just throwing out ideas. The rest is up to you.”

“Thanks. And for the beer.”

“Let me know how it goes.”

“Sure.”

Chapter 12

            “I’m a marketing man,” Alex reported the very next day.

He had an eager look on his face which worried me. He looked too gung ho. I can recognize the signs.

“I have a product and I’m going to use it.”

“What’s the product?”

“Disinformation?”

“What!”

Alex looked pleased at my incredulity. “I don’t know exactly what happened with my …friends. But I can still make them believe or suspect something that isn’t true. That’s the beauty of disinformation. Russia is great at it, unfortunately.”

“You kind of lost me.”

“Then let me explain,” he said, without sounding a bit superior about it, which I greatly appreciated. “I think each of them must have some suspicions about the other two. My strategy is

to anonymously supply each one with something that sounds reasonably true that can hurt them but probably isn’t. I’ll turn them against each other.”

“Hopefully.”

“Do you have a better idea?”

I didn’t, but I wasn’t working for him any more. He flat out forgot that salient fact.

“Nope,” I admitted.

“Do you want to read what I write/”

“No.” That would obviously make me part of this insidious process and what sounded like a criminal enterprise. I tried to convince myself it wasn’t my responsibility to dissuade him.

Alex looked disappointed, but I think he understood. “Okay. I’ll keep you posted.”

Chapter 13

            Later, after he had disseminated his false pieces of disinformation, Alex couldn’t contain himself any more and told me what he had written.

“They each got a printed note on a piece of white note paper and there’s no way it can be traced to me. I was very careful.”

“Good.”

“I wrote to Woodman that I know what you’re up to with Morris and Marcus. I rote the same note to Adele and Morris, just switching the names. Meet me at McSorley’s Saloon tomorrow at seven p.m.-A friend. There’s no implication of blackmail. No mention of money. Just a friendly chat.”

“I guess there’s no hard proof of blackmail.”

“That’s what I thought. They can’t go to the police and bring attention on themselves. I’m going to be nearby with my camera. I hope all three show up.”

“More likely, none of them will.”

“Worth a try though. I have some other ideas cooking.”

Kind of simple, I thought. I couldn’t see any of this trio falling for this gambit, but then you never know. Alex was taking a big risk, I told him but he already knew.

“I’m not under arrest,” he reasoned, though the police were itching to pin him down for the fire and Ellen’s murder. “I’ m not committing a felony, am I?

“I don’t think so, but I’m not a lawyer.”

“I’ll try it. They won’t connect me. Like I said, the note will be printed on ordinary paper. No handwriting.”

“How did you get it to them?”

“I put it in their mail boxes. I was well disguised. I hadn’t shaved. I wore a cap and sunglasses and is was five a.m. in the morning.”

I shrugged. Amateurish, sure, but least he had been careful. I could see he was desperate to get this situation off his back. How would he ever get another job with this unproven but still scathing weight on his record?

Wouldn’t that be a hoot if one, or all three showed up? This was going to be interesting.

Chapter 14

            Alex came to my office late that night. His face was red and flustered.

“You won’t believe it. No one showed up. I was afraid the saloon’s entrance was being watched by the police. I didn’t stick around. On a hunch, which paid off, I drove to Morris’ building and got there just in time as he left. I followed him to Adele’s place. They might just be having another tryst but it was more likely they wanted to discuss these notes.”

“What happened then?” I was behaving like a vicarious detective. I’d rather be paid but there was surely some psychic value involved here, though I had yet to find it.

“What happened them is that Woodman showed up, and I don’t think it was a menage a trois.”

He was bashful with women but knew juicy sexual terminology. Alex was full of surprises.

“And?”
“And I don’t know what happened upstairs but it must have been something as two police cars pulled up in front of the building.”

“So what actually happened?”

Alex’s smile widened. “I don’t have the details. Apparently, some neighbors complained about

all the shouting and when the police came Adele was dead.  Kitchen knife embedded in her chest. The building’s super spread the news before the cops shut him up.”

“But who did it? You said Ralph and Morris were both there.”

“Yes, and each, as I understand things, claimed the other did it. I didn’t hang around but a neighbor told me this.”

“Fingerprints?”

“They both had fingerprints on the knife as far as I know. The detectives aren’t sharing much information but I got this impression from one of them. Not your buddy. He asked me what I was doing there.”

“What did you say?”

“Just happened to be in the neighborhood.”

“With a camera in your car?”

“He didn’t look, but you’re right. He said he’ll see me soon.”

“Don’t sweat it. Did they find copies of your notes, one or all three?”

“Good question. But I don’t know.”

Alex looked more worried now, and I don’t blame him. While there didn’t seem to be a link to him about the notes, he obviously had the motive to send them. No doubt he’d be asking me soon how to wriggle out of this accusation, sure to come up in his next session with the gendarmes.

“So what was the deal between this charming trio?”

“Also murky, but I’m sure now it will come down to that Morris was blackmailing Ralph for setting the fire which Adele revealed to Morris. She betrayed Ralph. I believe he wanted to take the company over, but when someone died he had to blame someone. Me.”

“Convenient. Since he fired you.”

“Exactly. But then Adele, always ambitious, made a separate deal with Morris. They’d take over the company while he blackmailed Ralph. I think Ellen was hinting at this, and that’s why she was killed.”

“And Ralph found out, thanks to your enterprising notes.”

“I can’t take all the credit.”

“Why not? Your plan, simple but expedient and effective, worked.”

I was being facetious, but hell-marketing and disinformation-what great tools!

“I was expedient and effective! Thank you.”

“Well deserved.”

“Well, I hope the police buy this explanation.”

“They will. How else can they explain the murder, regardless which one of them did it. They’ll blame each other, and one will rat the other out about Adele and Ellen Refter. But I think they’re both murderers. Woodman killed Refter and Morris killed Adele.”

“You’ve really wrapped it up neatly, haven’t you?”

“Well, what’s your theory?”

“I don’t have one.”

“I’ll probably be called as a witness.”

I nodded. “I hope I’m not. I trust you won’t throw my name out if you do testify.”

“Why would I?”

We exchanged what I suppose is a meaningful glance. “So what now?”I changed the subject. His solution to the case sounded good to me. “You keep looking for gainful employment while this mess is being sorted out?”

Alex gave m a quizzical look. I could see he had another surprise in store for me. “You did indicate I showed some latent skill as a detective.”

“Yes, but-”

“Enough to be your partner.”He hastily added, “Junior partner.”

“I wasn’t looking for a partner and I don’t have enough business for myself, let alone the two of us.”

“I’m a good marketer, Dart. You see that. I’ll bring in business.”

I shook my head. You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“I sure am.”

I shrugged. “No salary. No commission. No desk either.”

“Mere challenges. Tell you what, I’m going to start with investigating you.”

“What’re you talking about?”

“I’ve heard you’re an alien.”

“Doesn’t seem to have bothered you.”

“Not at all. Let’s find out.”

He really had my attention now. “How?”

“Do we have a deal?”

Alex extended his hand and we shook hands. What did I have to lose?

“If there are aliens, there might be mother ships around!”

“And if there are?”

Alex gave me a triumphant smile. “Notes work, so we’ll leave a note. A solar note. You never know. We might get an answer.”

I nodded, impressed by his imagination, not his space-oriented prowess. Good with marketing, not so much with women. Maybe I could give him more pointers, not that I was such a ladies man. “Are you ready for what you might find out about me?”

“Are you?”

*****

If you’ve enjoyed Dart: Alien Detective, you can visit our free digital archive of flash fiction here. Additionally, premium short fiction published by Mystery Tribune on a quarterly basis is available digitally here.

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