I also added this to The Boots Are Red on Amazon:
Every town has multiple faces. The one the town wants to present is almost never the one a guy like me needs to see. The same can be said for people; we all have some sort of mask, a protective shell, that we broadcast. Especially on the first meeting. The great thing about cities, compared to people, is the total lack of shame. While the citizens might not want you to know about the underbelly of the place, it has no shame, no emotion. All you have to do is know where to look. Most people who are up to something are the same way, too, with a fatal flaw: they project too hard to compensate. It's only the truly talented, and truly dangerous, that can avoid this pitfall.
Now most people might think I was talking about looking for the seedier side of town, but that's not true, at least not always. It just depends on the job; everyone has something they want to hide, and every client is paying me to find that, regardless of what side of town it was on. This time it happened to be that I was after someone who stayed on the seedy side of the map. It was an old story: rich businessman has a daughter who is interested in a punk with too much grease in his hair. This time the dad knows better than to just outright forbid her to see him; that's like turning him into the most precious jewel in town.
Instead, he wants me to see if the guy is up to something, and he's willing to pay my expenses and give me a nice room in his hotel.
After meeting with the gentleman, a Mister George Gregs, and checking out my room, I went on the hunt. Gregs told me the mark worked part-time for a local butcher. I didn't particularly care to follow around a guy whose job involved using knives on a regular basis, but that's where the money went. His name was Thomas Kent, but according to Gregs his daughter always called him Tommy. Average in most ways; height, weight, typical dress. The main problem seemed to be his tendency toward a bad temper and the group of friends he associated with.
The feeling I got, though, was that he just didn't choose the richest parents to be born to.
Something else I learned, though, is that people with something to hide carry themselves a lot differently than those who don't, when they think no one is looking. It boils down to the ones who are hiding something always act like someone is watching them. They walk differently, their legs move a little quicker. There's almost a guilty look about them -- but only when they think no one is looking. The fact they assume people are makes this behavior all the more contradictory. Kent didn't walk like he was particularly concerned with being followed.
He stride was filled with confidence. Which meant either he had nothing to shy away from, or he was a sociopath. Fortunately for me, I only agreed to follow the man, and not determine any guilt or innocence. George Gregs would get my report and any evidence against Kent; beyond that, it was up to him. I didn't want any more trouble than I already had.
The trouble from Kent wouldn't compare to the trouble from Brousard and Boatman, but it would still be trouble.
When Kent went inside a business with no windows, I felt obliged to follow. I was met on the inside by a second door, locked closed from the inside. A knock later the small viewing slit
opened and a pair of seedy eyes stared out at me.
"What's the password?" An equally seedy voice asked.
Password? What is this, the 1920s?