Not for the first time, the informant was a no-show.
It happens more often than you think.
In the movies, the detective gets a phone call from someone who won’t give a name, ‘but I got great information for yous’, and the scene cuts to the dark, dangerous meeting place. The informant does, or does not, cough up information in return for a handful of notes or a punch in the stomach — depending on the director and his taste for violence.
In my world, I meet people where I can keep an eye on them, but occasionally I will turn up to a deserted location like the old wharf at South Bank.
It wasn’t the warmest night on record, and I waited a reasonable length of time, but he wasn’t coming. There could be a hundred reasons why he didn’t show, but I was too tired to list them all, and besides, Pop’s doesn’t have paper napkins (it’s not that sort of place) so where would I write them?
Pop’s serves a weird assortment of goods including peanuts and ice cream, which is mostly for the day trade. At this hour of the night, a man was likely to get mugged for ordering ice cream. Beer was the order most heard. There was also whiskey, but I wouldn’t recommend it. None of it had ever seen the shores of Scotland.
The building is small, but there is a small verandah at the back that looks out onto the water. During the day, people tramp up the sandy steps sit and lick ice cream. At this hour of the evening (Pop’s never closes), cigarettes and beer help to accompany the view. You can hear the waves even when the wind is still.
Detective work is a lot like being in the army — moments of terror and excitement punctuated by long stretches of mind-numbing boredom. This was one of the latter.
Something will come along, it always does. The rent has been paid, there’s food in the fridge, and the tank on my Coupe is full. I could use a haircut, but that can wait. I haven’t been shot at for a while, which is good.
“Sorry to disturb you sir, but there is a lady just came in, and she wants to talk to you,” said the barman, leaning out of the door leading to the verandah.
“Why didn’t she come out here?” I said.
“I don’t know mate. Maybe she’s delicate and the evening air would adversely affect her completion. How the fuck would I know.”
The barman disappeared, I stubbed out my cigarette, sculled my beer and put on my hat.