Kikkoman Jack: 2
A Short Story by
A. James Hindle

Kikkoman sat alone at The Hole Below, a basement-level hide-a-way bar on Queens, owned by his friend, Lenny Walker.

The place was empty. That wasn’t unusual: it was never busy. It was more of a licenced drop-in for ex-military acquaintances and friends. Once in a while, a stranger might wander in. That was how Lenny liked it. It wasn’t for the money.

The strange thing was, the place seemed abandoned. The door was unlocked, but neither Lenny nor Talia was there. Talia was Lenny’s shop helper, although Kikkoman was sure there was more to their relationship than that. Perhaps they had just stepped out on an joint errand that needed urgent attention. But why leave the door unlocked.

Kikkoman retrieved a half-empty bottle of 5 Fathoms Rum from behind the bar,  poured himself a drink, and sat down to wait their return. He checked his phone for messages and paced the room to kill time. Their absence was beginning tobothering him.

He shot back his rum, refilled it, and went to Lenny’s office to check for a clue to where they could be. He found nothing, other than a notepad on Lenny’s desk with the time, 2:30 p.m., written on it. Next to the time was what looked like a doodle of a flower.  He went back to the bar and began calling around  to see if anyone might have seen or heard from either of them.

He had come up with nothing of value, but it was time to get a bite to eat before he opened another bottle of rum.

Kikkoman took the front door key that Lenny kept in the cash register and headed toward the exit, glancing back over his shoulder toward the bar. As he turned back toward the exit, a shoulder slammed into him, hard. It felt deliberate. He stumbled sideways into the arms of a gorilla – his nose buried in its armpit. At least, it smelled what a gorilla’s armpit might smell like. As he was being helped back to his feet, he felt a pinch to the back of his neck.

What-the He…?” was all the protest he could manage. His legs gave way, and the world faded into darkness.

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *



Kikkoman came to on the floor of his office/apartment, his head pounding like it should have a tire imprint across it. He lay on his back, staring at the spinning ceiling fan, trying to gather thoughts about what had happened. How long had he been unconscious?
Whoever had drugged him had delivered him home . . . alive. But why? What were they after? From his view on the floor, nothing seemed amiss.

A stinging pain brought his gaze down to a red-stained note lying across his chest. As he plucked it from his shirt, he felt a sudden sharp pain.

Christ,” he winced, realizing the note had been stapled to his chest. He focused on the words . . .

Don’t bother looking for the butterfly
or next time it won’t be staples

Rubbing his eyes, he read the note again.

“Butterfly? What the f. . . ?”

Struggling to his feet – his head and leaking chest vying for attention – he made his way to the bathroom and removed the partially blood-stained shirt. Satisfied the staple punctures were superficial, he towelled off his chest, swiped a deodorant stick across the staple holes to stem the blood flow and applied a band-aid. He put on a clean shirt and headed out the door, back to Lenny’s bar. Maybe Lenny or Talia had returned and could supply some answers.

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *



The street in front of The Hole Below was a Christmas tree with flashing EMT and police vehicle lights. Kikkoman parked down the street and approached on foot.

Detective Inspector Richard Clews was talking with a uniformed officer as Kikkoman arrived.  His relationship with the inspector was tenuous at best. Clews held a dim view of private investigators who were always sticking their noses into police business, particularly PIs that weren’t even licenced. But Clews had a degree of respect for Kikkoman’s investigative talents that allowed him a little leeway. Besides,  Clews was one of Lenny’s semi-regulars, so that made him almost family.

“What’s happening, Dick?” Kikkoman asked as he approached the Inspector, knowing Clews didn’t like to be called Dick.

“Oh . . .   hello, Kikkoman,” the Inspector responded, an expression of regret already morphing over his face at seeing Kikkoman.

“We’ve got two bodies inside Lenny’s. Looks like one had his head cracked open on the bar — probably what finished him. The other one, the big one, apparently died of a heart attack. The medical examiner says, from the bruising, the heart attack was possibly caused by a heavy blow to his chest. He’ll know later.”

Commotio cordis — Kikkoman knew about it from his time in the service.

“How about Lenny or Talia? Are they alright?” Kikkoman asked, hoping they had returned and were alright.

“I haven’t seen either or them. The door was open when the responding officer arrived, There was no one here, other than the two on the floor.”

“How did the call come in?” Kikkoman questioned.

“An anonymous 911. The operator said it sounded female, and it came from the bar.

‘Someone had called in an emergency and didn’t wait for the police to arrive? Two people were dead – one of them big – maybe a gorilla?’
Kikkoman was sure they would probably be the two he’d encountered when he was leaving the bar. But if they were, how did they end up back here . . . .  and dead? Who would have delivered him home, stapled a note to his chest, then come back here, and be killed? What were they looking for?

“Mind if I have a look, Inspector?”

Clews reluctantly nodded a go-ahead. Distrust and respect make for tough bedfellows, but he knew if Kikkoman found anything he had missed, he would tell him.
“Just touch nothing,” he grunted.

Kikkoman ducked under the crime scene tape and made his way inside. He never had a look at his attackers, but the big guy lying on the floor next to the door looked about the right size — a gorilla. He thought about smelling his armpit but decided against it. What would the forensics person, dusting the empty bottle of rum for prints, think, seeing someone smelling a dead person’s armpit?
And as for his fingerprints covering the bottle being dusted, ‘I could just tell him the prints were mine,’ Kikkoman thought but . . . .   ‘They’ll get to it.’

It would probably be best to tell the Inspector what had happened, but first, he’d check out Lenny’s office again. Maybe the dead bodies had left a hint of where Lenny and Talia had gone . . . or been taken

Nothing unusual stood out in the office. Kikkoman stuck the pad with the time 2:30 pm written on it in his pocket and was just straitening up after noticing that Lenny’s gun was missing from the clip on the underside of his desk, when Inspector Clews entered the room.

“You shouldn’t be in here, Kikkoman. Let’s go. I shouldn’t have let you into the building at all,” Clews grumbled, motioning toward the door.

“Just wanted a quick look, Richard,” Kikkoman said. “I think Lenny and Talia have been missing for a while, and I’m concerned. It’s all a little unusual, Inspector.”

Clew’s expression changed at the suggestion of Lenny’s and Talia’s unknown whereabouts.

Kikkoman began telling Clews about the events that had occurred earlier, but the Inspector stopped him. Kikkoman had a story to tell, and he didn’t want to hear it without it being officially logged, and, at the moment, he had enough on his plate.

“Could you meet me back at the precinct in, say, about an hour,” Clews asked.
Kikkoman could fill out a statement while he told his tale. He agreed to meet the Inspector in an hour.

As he headed back to his car, fumbling through his pockets for his keys, he realized he had left them in the ignition.
“That’s probably not a habit to develop,” Kikkoman thought,  just as an explosion erupted in front of him, and pieces of his vehicle began littering the street.

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One Response to KIKKOMAN JACK – 2

  1. Linda Hantelmann says:

    I hope the story has an ending. Please advise how to read rest of story. It’s my kind of story I like to read.

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