Story excerpt from “Canaries Don’t Sing”

short story, writing

 

They never believe you when you say you’re innocent. In many cases, they would be right, but in this case, they’re wrong. I’ve done quite a few questionable things in my life, but that’s only due to my line of work you see. In this instant though, I didn’t do it. I didn’t murder anybody. I’d been framed. Unfortunately for me the judge lays down the verdict and pounds his gavel. I bet he gets a rise out of doing that.

I sit reflectively as spectators mill out the courtroom doors and into the mid-day heat. The bailiff that waddles over resembles a sausage stuffed into a casing. He roughly pulls me up and slaps the cuffs on. I’m sure they expect women to make a scene or a fuss, lord knows many do, but I’m not one of them. I’ve been trained to be calm cool and level-headed. My partner tips his hat as I pass, a remorseful look crossing his face.

“I’ll get you out of the pen as soon as I can.”

Good old Murray. I nod and let the bailiff lead me away through the door adjacent to the judge’s chair. I have time to mull over the events of just three days prior as I’m searched, stripped, and fingerprinted.

The date was April 29th, 1942. My partner, Murray, and I were assigned to obtain vital information about trafficking of rare gems in and out of the country. The target, Mr. William Tucker, was suspected as a trafficker. It was my mission to seduce him during one of his parties and trick him into confessing. All was going well, I had Tucker wound around my finger. He had a thing for blondes, which worked in my favor. Anyway, I had him in a room upstairs spilling his guts. Murray was downstairs in the party keeping watch. When I’m done with Tucker, I turn to go but he has other ideas. He grabbed me and started kissing me, I resisted and when he became more violent, I snatched a vase from a nearby table and broke it over his head. I checked to make sure he was still breathing, which he was. This wasn’t part of the plan, but nothing I haven’t dealt with before. I went back downstairs and melted into the crowd. Joining Murray, we quickly excited the estate.

The following morning the newspapers declared William Tucker had been murdered. Witnesses saw me go upstairs with him and I came down alone. Immediately I had the fuzz at my door. I cursed myself for not being more discreet. I stuck with the story that I had gone up and he had become physical, which is why I had shattered the vase over him. They asked me to explain how there was a gun with my fingerprints on it at the scene. I said there was no gun. They had said there was and they matched the prints from the vase to the gun. I was promptly arrested. Fortunately I had given the information to Murray so he could relay it to our superiors.

I just have to sit down and shut up and soon Murray will have me sprung. After all, agencies don’t generally want their spies locked up in prison. It’s bad for business.

The bailiff guides me to a cell, pulls the door open and shoves me inside. “You’ll settle in nicely Pearl,” he laughs as he slams the door.

-Collins

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