The body hanging from the ceiling, with its feet just brushing the back of the tipped-over chair, looked like a pendulum ready to start keeping time. As the two cops gathered it up in their arms, prior to cutting it down to determine cause of death (neck stretched beyond capabilities of bones to withstand maybe?) watching from the doorway I realized that I wasn't even that surprised.
There are some cases you take on that you know will either end in a room like this one, with its chipped paint, iron bed and cheap mattress, sink in the corner that spews out rusty water, and that tipped-over chair, or a back alley. They have the stink of futility rising from them in much the same way the beach smells these days at low tide.
There aren't many private dicks that search for missing muses anymore. It was always pretty much a specialty niche anyway, and for someone to show up at my door they're going to have be pretty desperate. The guy dancing the corpse Congo with the cops right now hadn't been any sort of exception. The look in his beady little eyes, as they swivelled behind his glasses checking out the room, spoke of too many hours staring at blank pages.
It had been one of those days in July where the world has stopped breathing, and no matter how high you have the fan going the air remained stagnant. Smoke from cigarettes smoked hours ago gathered at the ceiling and hung over my desk like a storm cloud. Even if I could have opened the window in the office (some bright spark had painted it shut), the smell of exhaust fumes would have just compounded the issue further.
The rap on the door had been as close to inaudible as possible while still staying on this side of existence. In reply to my "Enter" the door was eased open a crack and he slid into the room. From across the office he was an unremarkable-looking; he nothing really distinguished him from the next guy. His clothes were okay, but they had that rumpled look that only sleeping in them for three days and not changing anything could cause.
It wasn't until he had sat down in the chair opposite me that I noticed his eyes. Aside from them being in constant motion as mentioned before, they had the haunted look of someone who had suffered a great loss. I took a cigarette out of my case and began tapping its end prior to lighting up and increasing the chances of a nicotine shower descending from overhead.