Grand Guginol

In all honesty, I shouldna been wastin’ me time. Me rent came due on the third a’ those four days ‘fore the inquest an’ I had to dip inta me ever shrinkin’ savings to keep me landlord happy. Me flat’s a ground level flop that ants infest every summer, had barely hot water from the plumbin’, and painted walls that peeled like snakeskin. But it was the cheapest flat in the city, so I stayed. It weren’t the same as cheap, though, and there weren’t enough a’ me savings to pay fer the next month. I needed to find another client who could pay, preferably in advance.

But Phillips’ suicide bugged me. What kind a’ man kills himself the day he promises to pay you? Maybe it went back to those music sheets. I had been tryin’ to track down the story on some music for ‘im a week ago. The notes on the music sheets Phillips had given me then were an almost perfect match for the ones Bart had found in his shack. The older sheets from Bart had something the other sheets didna: words. It’d been rendered phonetically inta Common, but what they were sayin’, I couldna guess.

After lookin’ ‘em over for an hour, I put ‘em away. It’d have to wait ‘til I had next month’s rent.

#

Hierophant Rhames looked over the daguerreotypes calmly, one by one. I didna see how he stayed as calm as he did, like watchin’ his wife get cozy wit’ another man was something he did every day. He swallowed hard and gave me a pouch a’ gold.

“There is a little more in the pouch than what we agreed upon, Mr. Grimstone,” he said, his voice choked in his throat.

“I’ll not say no,” I said, takin’ the pouch. It meant that I could buy some food AND pay for next month’s rent.





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