"86, 400 seconds Hart, 86, 400 seconds in any given day. That's 86, 400 chances to do the right thing, to be the hero for once, to make a fresh start. Or you can do the opposite and do the wrong thing, be the villain, go to jail for the rest of your pathetic little life."
Detective Adams leans back in his chair and kicks his boots up on the desk. His shoulder holster seems tight against his massive frame and his .38 rides a little high on his ribs.
"Unfortunately we don't have 86,400 seconds to dance. You have till that clock hits 11 to tell me what I need to know, which leaves you with only about 2,820, 2,819, 18, 17...rumor is that you’re getting into some deep shit with the wrong sort of people. Then you go and punch an officer, what are you thinking Hart?”
“He’s a crook Adams, you know that, he’s one of yours.”
“You've been singing that song since we were on the force together ten years ago. Who’s the dame from the bar. You know, black dress, red hair, great tits. Gorgeous. We've been keeping close tabs on you old friend."
"She's just some woman," I tell him.
She's not just some woman. She's more than that. She’s the woman. More beautiful than Gene Tierney, more shape than Veronica Lake and eyes a deeper blue than I've ever seen. Hair the color of the sun, heavy and thick with curls that coil around her like flames, kissing and licking her face. She wore her dress like it was part of her, like it wasn't there at all, she was of two shades, black on milky white.
“What’s her name?”
“You went there to meet her?”
He stares me down like a disapproving father and pulls out a cigarette from his shirt pocket and taps it against the heel of his boot, lights it and takes a long drag.
"Here’s how I see. You take a seat at the bar and have a few. You're an older guy, not bad looking. You see this Helen sitting a few stoles down, she's young and she starts giving you "the eye." You lie to her, tell her you’re in advertising and her ears perk up. She leans a little closer, casually touching you on the elbow, accidentally brushing her knee against yours. Something starts to move downstairs, in a way your wife doesn't move you. The booze begins to flow, eventually making its way to your head and suddenly you can see all this happening. The room key, her bare shoulders as her dress comes off, her on top of you.”
“I’m in love with her.”
Adams smiles and slow streams of smoke slip out from between his crooked, coffee stained teeth. He reaches in the top drawer and pulls out a flask and pours a little into his coffee and then takes a pull for good measure.
“A beautiful distraction, maybe, but not love. That’s one of Louie Genovese outfits. I want to know the truth Hart, what were you doing in a mob bar?”
“I told you, meeting Lilith.
“Times running out Hart, 2,420 seconds, if I had to guess.”
“We were discussing our future.”
“You’re lying,” slamming his fist down, “I know what you are, you're an ex-cop who's lost his way and his badge because he couldn't keep the bottle down. You have a grudge against me and the department. I know you've been meeting with the Genovese family and I know you’re up to something. I've been doing this for a long time. I always get my man, you know that!”
"May I have one of those?” He passes me a cigarette and offers me a light. I remove my Zippo from my coat pocket and light it myself. The smoke fills my lungs and I expel the awfulness.
“You don’t remember her do you?”
“Remember who?” Adams launches back from the desk, his boots hit the floor with a thud.
“Lilith, she was much younger then. Only a teenager when you gunned her father down because he wouldn't go along with your schemes. She remembers you! Could even tell you what you were wearing. She saw it all Adams.”
He takes another swig and adjust himself in his chair and starts to laugh. “Hart, you've really gone off the deep end. Your little girl is all you have in your corner against this heavy weight. Half an hour I’ll have her picked up and silence you both forever.”
"1,440 seconds detective." He stares at me with a blank expression, void of comprehension.
"That's the amount of time you've spent telling me how you have it all figured out. How you think I've come to be in this chair. Your arrogance has betrayed you detective. You've been working against yourself." I take another drag from the cigarette. “See, the thing about a woman is, there’s always something deeper than beauty, there’s fire too. Beauty is the distraction, get’s them in the door. Like a scorpion's claws teasing you, all the while the venomous tail is posed above, ready to strike.”
The door slams open and a young officer in his freshly pressed blues rushes in out of breath and screaming,“Detective, the redhead just walked into the precinct.”
“The woman, Lilith Black! She has a bomb strapped around her waist.”
The detective looks at the young officer and then at me. I exhale and snuff the cigarette out on the floor. I see the blood flush from his face.
“You’re a bad cop Adams and bad cops have to be dealt with, even if it means spilling a little innocent blood. You gotta destroy the nest if you wanna rid yourself of the wasp.”
Adams legs begin to give way like a bested prizefighter about to hit the canvas.
“10 seconds detective...if I had to guess.”