"Sara! Sara O'Byron?" A voice asked from downstairs in the bar.
I stomped down the stairs none too happily.
It was St. Patrick's for shit's sake, I was trying to sleep. Did the man not read the sign? Bar was down stairs, sleeping, night shift bartender upstairs.
"What's it t' you? I asked, stopping a few steps down.
The baby faced, dark haired, WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant), flipped through a little leather bound notebook.
"I heard you're kind of the one to come to for information in this neighborhood." He said clearing his throat.
The man was obviously uncomfortable.
Made sense since his accent was vaguely Southern. He's dressed well enough for a crowded city. No overt signs of a wallet, cheap watch, old cell phone. You learn not to flaunt when surrounded by thieves. Big city boy then. His accent is soft enough to rule out Atlanta, New Orleans and Nashville.
"Raleigh or Charlotte?" I asked, making it all the way down the stairs.
I have a kind of talent, you could say, for things like that. The little observations, the notation of quirks and habits. It's why Butcher was here in the first place. Word had apparently spread that I was some kind of Bostonian Sherlock Holmes.
"Charlotte." He answered uneasily.
"Hmm, interesting. Look, sorry, but I can't help you. If you want something stiffer than sweet tea you've got the right place, but not if you want information."
The guy shook his head.
"I- I think you misunderstand, I'm Detective James Butcher, I'm looking into the death of William Murphy. I'm wondering if you've heard anything?"
"I've heard plenty, but what the hell does the Boston P.D want with a bartender?"
He ignored my rather pointed question.
"Jack Moran ever stop by?"
"Yeah, Jackie always pays his tab, keeps his head down, goes home when his wife calls."
"Did you know William Murphy?"
"Since I was seven." I muttered.
"Do you know of anyone who had any problems with William?"
"No problems per say, he just didn't have a lot of common sense." I said with a dry laugh. "But he wasn't- He was a good kid."
Butcher nodded sympathetically, but I caught the slight roll of the eye and the exasperated sigh.
It made my blood boil. This was just another rat in the gutter to him.
"Is your uncle home?" Butcher asked.
"No, and he'd appreciate if y'd get out of his place now." I said with a dry smile.
"Ms. O'Byron, I'm just trying to get to the bottom of this, that's all."
"Jimmy, you're a rookie detective, working your first of many gangland murders that you will have to slog through during your tenure in this accursed city, and you're putting on a good show, but we both know that you have a saint's chance in hell of finding who did this." I paused and took a steadying inhale. "You talk to his mother?" I asked.
Butcher shook his head.
"When you do, call him Liam. He was always Liam to her."
Butcher awkwardly handed me his card with muttered condolences before hurrying out the worn oak.
This one hit far too close to home.
I exhaled with a sigh and went down another flight of stairs into the pub, grabbing a beer from behind the old and worn bar. I yanked the top off with my teeth and spat it into some corner.
Dignified, I know.
But I had gotten used to this kind of low level life, really it was where I belonged, with my father being who he was and my mother who she is. I suppose it was inescapable.
I examined the label with a grunt.
Of course, I had to choose the expensive stuff that would come right out of my wages. Well, not directly, as my uncle refused to charge me for my frequent raids on his inventory, but I still paid it back.
McGinnty's wasn't a sinking ship, but it was exactly a lucrative venture either.
I leaned my elbows against the bar and kneaded my forehead.
I hadn't the foggiest why I lied to Butcher. Well, not lied, omitted the truth.
Liam was in with the wrong people, or had been, I corrected myself with a sigh.
The wealthy and rather violent kind of wrong people.
If Butcher was asking after Jack Moran, then he was catching on to that fact. Maybe he would solve this, I shrugged. Mob business gone wrong was easy enough to write off. Just another example of how the city was slowly falling back into its old, bad habits.
I took a swing out of the bottle.
Liam had been found in an alley two blocks from here. That placed him well within Trinity territory by my mental map. So it wasn't trespassing, it was a message.
And when I said mental map, I meant it in the literal sense.
One of the blessings of a nearly photographic memory.
If it was a message, it would be answered swiftly.
Rory Buchanan, the man in charge of this quarter, immigrated from Ireland fifteen years ago and rose up through the ranks to become first in the line of succession once Michael O'Flannery finally decided to up and die. He did it all in the course of seven years. Buchanan was a determined man, a capable man, and he didn't take it lightly when one of his own was killed. It had nearly torn the city in two the last time this happened.
I took another swig.
Now the question was, who sent the message?
I sat on a bar stool, musing for a good hour or so, before cursing the whole endeavor.
Every solution I had figured was possible, and that was the problem.
I needed more information.
What the hell was I doing?
Butcher was an incompetent, arrogant, police officer.
When the hell did I ever help the boys in blue?
I rolled my eyes and chugged the last quarter of my beer. I watched as the early evening light filtered through the tiny, high-set windows, making the dust motes transform into some kind of metaphor. It floated here and there, listing from left to right.
Liam didn't deserve to be dead.
Butcher certainly wasn't going to find out who did this on his own.
I reached for the phone grudgingly and dialed the number on the embossed card.
"Hello?" A voice asked.
"Hi Jimmy, you said to call if I had anything-"