tagRomanceThe Tattooed Man

The Tattooed Man

byCromagnonman©

This is the fourth in the Gerry Pretty detective series.

The story so far: Gerry Pretty, the working half of the now defunct Pretty Goode Detective Agency (Discretion guaranteed) is hired by Laura Lee Jones to find her missing husband, Andy. ( see 'Better off Dead') It was alleged that Andy owed several bookies a large amount of money and that one of them could have eliminated him. The prime suspect was Benny the Bookie. Gerry has some help from Laura Lee's beautiful daughter Lucy. A floater is pulled from the river and identified as the missing Andy Jones. However Gerry believes that Andy is still alive and working with Lucy on a scheme to take the bookies for a large amount of money. He tracks Lucy and Andy down and advises them that the best course of action would be for them to disappear.

In the second story ('A Message from Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson') Gerry takes up the case of a bank employee jailed for embezzling a lot of money from his employer. He finds that the employer had taken the money himself to finance a nightclub venture that involved prostitution and gambling and, that when his partner refuses to repay the loan, leaving a hole in his balance sheets, he frames his employee for the theft.

The third story ('The Lazarus Syndrome') sees the apparent return of Andy Jones. Benny the Bookie is out of jail and angry because he believes Gerry fitted him up for the murder of Andy Jones, who he claims is still alive. Gerry investigates because he also believes that Andy is indeed still alive. All is not as it seems. Lucy did not go overseas with Andy, who it transpires really is dead, killed by Laura lee and kept on ice until the right moment for him to be found.

There is a gunfight between Laura Lee, her former boss and Benny the Bookie. Laura Lee and her partner escape but are arrested trying to reach Canada. Gerry and Lucy are reunited and Gerry learns that he is the father of a son, Mike.


*

I have long dreamed of a normal life, this was as normal as I could get. I still worked in the bar and still worked at being a detective whenever something came up. There are legal problems about ownership of the bar that we've (Lucy and me) been trying to sort our way though. Laura Lee, along with her former partner, is still the owner of the bar. Both of them are due to swing for the murder of Andy Jones, Benny the Bookie and a couple of other guys. When they are no longer a part of this living, breathing world, we don't have a legal claim to the bar because Laura Lee and her partner both had wills leaving it to each other. We are trying to convince Laura Lee to make out a new will leaving it to us. So far this hasn't been successful because she's blaming us for her predicament.

Life in the bar has taken on a different vibe now that Mike is on his feet. He is universally loved by all and has been adopted by the regulars, and they spoil him rotten, especially Paula our regular bartender. He has a miniature jail (play pen) set up in the store room, right next to my office, and she is often to be found there playing with him when we're not busy. But he spends more time running around getting into mischief, like grabbing someone's leg and looking pleadingly up at him until he gets a pretzel or something to eat from the bar.

Lucy, what can I say about Lucy, she is the most beautiful woman that I've ever met, and funny, and smart, and of course very sexy. Her beauty has taken on a new dimension with the imminent arrival of the newest member of the family. Her breasts that have always been a favorite of mine are now bigger, full of milk that she squirted me in the eye with last night . . . I was fondling her when she squeezed her nipple and a drop of milk appeared on its tip. I licked it off, it tasted sweet so I sucked her breast and more came out. "I can understand why babies love this stuff so much."

"Maybe you should suck some more so the supply builds up and he can get a full feed right away." She has assured me that the new arrival will also be a boy. She squeezed it again and it spirted in my eye. She only has a few weeks to go and her breasts are permanently engorged. I spend quite a bit of my time when we're in bed, when I'm not kissing her, admiring them and caressing them. This led, as usual, to us making love. Our love making these days, in deference to her condition, didn't have the frenetic athleticism of past encounters, it was gentler, but in some ways more sensual than before, and always ended up in a satisfactory climax,

The quiet life changed in dramatic fashion tonight. It had been a typical Friday night, the regular band was playing the final set for the night and the bar was still packed with die-hard and well oiled fans. I had just gone to the store room to fetch another couple of bottles of bourbon when I heard the sound of two men having an argument. "Tell me where the fuck it is or I'll blow your useless brains out!"

"Do that and you'll never find out."

"Don't get smart with me wise guy, I know that you know where it is and you're gunna tell me."

"Or you'll what? Crawl back to your boss and have to tell him that you failed to get me to tell you something I don't know."

The sound of the gunshot told me that this thing had gotten way out of control. I dived for the back door, but by the time I'd got out into the back alley the shooter had gone. I ran to his victim, he was alive but only just. He was muttering something so I bent my ear to his face. "Read my back. . . . ." He was gone.

I went back inside to the office and called Lou Callaway, my friend in Homicide and now husband of Dolores the former Mrs. Gerry Pretty. "Lou, are you busy right now?"

"No, why? Don't tell me that you've shot someone who complained about you short-changing him on your measures?"

"Nothing like that, there's been a shooting out back in the alley. We have a body and no shooter."

"I'll be right over." Lou was one of the good guy cops in this town and, along with ex-cop Eddie Halloran, the hack that helped me out from time to time and provided cheap transport when I needed it, were my two buddies that I could call on at just about any time.

The police had been called and a couple of uniforms arrived about a minute ahead of Lou. "How did you get here so quick, we haven't even called it in?" The more senior of the two asked Lou.

"That is why I'm a Homicide detective and you're still pounding the beat. What have we here?"

"Deceased white male, single gunshot wound to the head, looks like close range and I'd say a mob hit." The less senior of the two said.

"Very good. Is there any I.D. on him?"

"There's a billfold with not much in it. There's no Drivers License, but there is a receipt for rent on an apartment with a name on it."

"I think you'll find that he's recently been released from jail." I told them.

"How do you work that out?" Lou asked.

"On his hands and arms there are tattoos and they look like jail tattoos, not professional ones, and they look relatively recent."

"How do you know that they're jail tattoos?"

"Because of the method, they've been done with a pin dipped in black ink not a tattoo needle, if you look closely you'll see the outline isn't as crisp as professional jobs. He was having an argument with his killer just before he was shot. The killer wanted to know where something was and this guy told him that he didn't know."

Lou turned to the other policemen. "Have you called for the meat wagon?"

"It's on its way."

"Good, I want to examine this body closely as soon as I can."

"Lou, can I see you inside when you've finished out here?"

"Sure thing." He obviously thought that I was offering him a drink and didn't want the others to know about it.

Lucy had just come down from checking on Mike. "What's happened out there?"

"Some guy got shot."

"Why do I get the feeling that you're going to get involved in this?"

"We'll see, but I'm not getting involved if there's any risk involved. I'm thinking about you and Mike and Junior here," I patted her belly, "Now that things are under control on the family front I won't do anything to screw it up." I kissed her, and was still kissing her when Lou came in from out back.

"I'll leave if you two want to continue with what you're doing." He looked suggestively at the bulge in my pants.

We stopped doing what we were doing and I went behind the bar to pour us all a drink, bourbon for Lou and me and a juice for Lucy. "There was something that I didn't mention outside and that was the victim said a few words just before he died."

"Which were, come on Buddy, don't keep me in suspense."

"He told me that I was to read his back. I would like to be there when he's examined."

"Okay, say your good-byes and I'll see you in the alley when you're through, but don't be too long, I need my beauty sleep."

I wasn't too long. "See you in a little while." I kissed Lucy and she held me for some time before letting me go. I got the feeling that she sensed trouble.

The morgue is a cold place, not just because they have to keep the stiffs on ice, but it had this feeling that you get when fear is present and dead bodies have that effect on me.

The dead man was on the slab, his clothes had been taken off and the examination was about to begin. "Before you start, do you mind if we have a look at his back?"

Lou asked.

"Sure thing." He was rolled over and we stared in amazement at the artwork that covered it. He must have been inside for some time to have all of this done.

"Boy where do we start? If we knew what we were looking for we might be able to find it, talk about a needle in a haystack." Lou chuckled when he realized that he'd made and accidental pun.

"Do you think that we could get a photograph of this so that we can take our time over it and so that the autopsy can be completed and the corpse removed and buried." There was a pattern in amongst the usual tattoo images that intrigued me, but I couldn't make out what it signified. I needed time to try to decipher it.

Lou arranged for the police photographer to take shots of the victim's back and told me that he would deliver a print to me when it had been processed.

I called Eddie from Lou's desk and was soon back at the bar. Lucy was waiting for me. "Well, do you have a case to work on?"

"What I have is a puzzle. You know that the man told me something before he died, that I was to read his back, well you should have seen it, it was covered with tattoos, but there was one tattoo that intrigues me, it looks to be a code of some sort. Lou is going to let me have a photograph of the back to see if I can work it out. Any way nothing can be done tonight so I think that you and I should adjourn to bed, I want to listen to your belly."

"And when you've finished listening to his heartbeat I suppose that you'll want to make love to me?"

"Only if you want me to."

"I want you to." She put her arm around me as we walked up the stairs, and by the time I'd taken off my clothes she was ready for me.

Making love to Lucy was an ever evolving process, when we first met and made love it was as if I couldn't believe my luck, here I was, something over thirty years old and the gloss of loving had been lost with the departure of Dolores with Tony Goode, my ex-partner. I was devastated, depressed and disillusioned with the whole love and marriage thing. Then into my life came Lucy, young, gorgeous and sexually adventurous, and it shook me out of the 'D' words with a vengeance. There were several things that I wasn't aware of and only discovered later, like she had been put up to it by Laura Lee, and when I tracked her down after she'd left, the man that she was living with, and who I'd been led to believe was her father Andy, wasn't her father at all but someone hired to pose as him for my benefit.

Now that we were parents and with a second one on the way, we were in discovery mode, looking for new ways to make love given the restrictions of Lucy's condition. I cuddled her from behind and my cock found its way between her legs to the entrance of her pussy. By moving her hips she was able to push her pussy down on him so that I could work him in and out of her until her passion took over and she upped the pace, bringing us both to a climax.

"You'll have to make the most of this because when he arrives you'll be on short rations until my pussy recovers."

"But it will recover, won't it."

"You'd better believe it, I'll do everything within my power to speed up the process but you've got to remember that it can't recover from spitting out something the size of a watermelon overnight."

"Don't worry," my fingers were in her pussy and now covered with come, "I've had years of short rations to fall back on, I'll survive."

She took my hand and placed my fingers in her mouth. "Mmm, we taste good. Of course I could always suck you off, in fact I'd like that."

"You are incorrigible, do you know that?"

"I don't need encouraging, I love it and want to do it." To prove her point she slid around and sucked him into her mouth and demonstrated to me just how proficient she was. I'll definitely have no complaints. I caressed her clit with my tongue just to let her know that she wouldn't be missing out entirely.

There was a knock on the back door just as I got to my office. Lou came in with a large envelope of photos. I stared at them for some time, even took the magnifying glass from my Dick Tracy junior detectives kit to get a closer look. There was a series of boxes with dots in them that attracted my attention. "What do you make of those?" I asked Lou.

"I don't make anything of them, I thought that you may be able to shed some light on them."

"They look like some sort of code, but it's nothing like I've ever seen before. I think I'll get Lucy to have a look and see what she makes of it, she's the brains in the family."

"I'll leave you to it, the ballistic results should be in by now, not that I'm holding out any great hopes for them, it was a dumdum slug and it's spread out a lot."

"Good luck with that, see ya." He headed for the door but I called him back. "Lou, you could check on his prison record and look at his cell mate, he's the most likely to be the artist and it's either a message that he wanted to get out or our victim gave him the design and he copied it. If we can find out which it is it'll give us another starting point."

Lucy had just finished feeding and changing Mike when I went back, I couldn't help wondering how long before he could take himself to the toilet and clean himself up, saving Lucy and Me from potty duty. We sat down for breakfast and I slid the photo across to her. "What do you make of that?"

"Which part am I supposed to be looking at?"

"Those boxes with the dots. I think that they're some kind of code but I could be wrong."

"I would have to agree with you, but it's weird, nothing like I've seen either. Let me think about it for a while."

It was getting close to opening time and Paula had just come in and started setting up the bar, this involved making sure that the glasses were in their trays under the counter and making sure that all of the bottles in the spirit pourers were full. Lucy was setting up the kitchen for meals while I was putting the finishing touches on the cleaning and setting of tables. It was also getting close to time for my cooking lessons, we'd dispensed with the cook when Lucy came back and now that she was going to have time off I'd have to take over. I began by cleaning the grill ready for the steaks and cutting up what needed to be cut up for the burgers. I fired up the stove and grill ready for a trial run and while it was getting hot I got the ground beef and onions and began making the burger patties.

The coffee maker was fired up and we sat around and had a cup in the few minutes that remained before we opened the doors. We had a steady flow of regular lunch time customers so we were busy for a couple of hours before it dropped off to a trickle of diehards that formed our regular afternoon bar trade.

The lunch rush was over and we were busy with the dishes and glasses when two men came in. I had never seen them before and something told me that they weren't here for the booze. "Mr. Pretty, I understand that you had a little excitement here last night." He was well dressed and looked like a business type. His companion looked more like a driver or a bodyguard.

"I guess you could say that."

"I'm interested in finding out more about this than has appeared in the papers."

"I'm afraid that I can't be of much help to you, the police kept everyone right away from the scene."

"But I understand that you found the body. I want to know if he said anything before he died."

"He mumbled something that I couldn't make out."

"I will pay you a great deal of money if you are able to remember what he said." He took a roll of notes from his pocket just so that I knew that he had a lot of money. "If your memory should happen to return I want you to call me on this number." He snapped his finger and a card magically appeared in his lackey's hand and he gave it to me. He left with the lackey trailing a respectful distance behind.

What was I to make of this? Here was what was obviously a very rich and presumably important man interested in what the recently deceased had to say. The tattoos have taken on a whole new importance.

"What did he want?" Lucy asked. "I saw him waving a lot of money around."

"It seems as if he has some interest in the dead guy. I think that Lou should know about this." I picked up the phone and dialed his number and invited him to call in when he was free.

He arrived an hour later with Dolores. Lucy and she went upstairs taking Mike with them. I'd never seen Dolores as interested in children as she had been of late. When we were married she told me that there was no way that she would consider bringing one of those detestable little monsters into the world. Now it looked as if she was rethinking that decision.

"I had a visit a while ago from one Frederick Mortimer, formerly Freddie the Fink before he came into a large sum of money courtesy of a very dubious method, now he swans around as if his shit don't stink. Anyway, he wants to donate a sizable amount of that money to the Gerry Pretty Retirement Fund if I have a sudden reversal of my memory loss regarding the tattooed man. What, I said to myself, is his interest in him?"

"It could be connected with the man himself. He was doing time for burglary, it seems as if he entered with intent the mansion of one Patrick Van Gilder the Third while Patrick and family were holidaying in the Caribbean. He not only cleaned out the safe of all of the Van Gilder's considerable jewelry collection but stole some important papers. Patrick wasn't so concerned about the jewels, the insurance company offered a considerable reward but they haven't been seen so we have to assume that they have been broken up and sold separately, but the papers were irreplaceable and he has offered an even greater reward for their return, a hundred thousand dollars in fact."

"If he's offered that much they really must be worth a huge amount. Where does our man fit in?"

"It seems as if the robbery was an inside job and our man was the one on the inside. He was convicted and did five years of a five to ten stretch and was released a week ago. He has been followed around ever since and it appears as if he came here looking to involve you in some way."

"Let me guess, he has always maintained his innocence and was looking to me to prove it?"

"A good guess as it turns out. He mentioned as much to his lady friend just before he left home and came down here. It seems that he became friendly with your ex-partner Tony Goode and Tony told him how you were successful in getting David Monroe off the embezzlement charge."

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