The first time I met Jason McAllister, he broke my nose with a single punch. After the ensuing scuffle and trip to the emergency room we became, of course, fast friends — nigh inseparable. The last time I saw Jason was in the rear view mirror of his car as he drove away from Los Angeles, never to return. Oh in between that we had a few good times, of course — the countless nights at dive bars, the crazy party after his graduation from the academy… ten years of good times followed by another ten years of silence.
So you can imagine how surprised I was to wake up in the middle of the night to an urgent phone call from none other than Jason McAllister himself, drunk beyond all reason, pleading… begging me to come meet him in Vegas.
The car ride there was long, lonely, dark and cold. The heater in my car had long ago ceased to function and the radio only got one station, which was fine with me up until I lost reception halfway to Vegas. When the radio finally came back on, I was so desperate for some sound besides the quiet drumming of the rain on that I didn’t even mind the fact that it was the weather channel. I immediately clicked the dial up a notch.
… cold front continues to move north. With some areas experiencing up to a near-record 2.5 inches of rain, and no end in sight, this is looking to be the wettest winter on record….
After a few more hours of traveling, I pulled my car into the darkened parking lot of a beat-up office building far off the strip. The lights in the parking lot were broken, casting a pall over the whole place. Fortunately, the flashing neon “Nudes Nudes Nudes” sign across the street did manage to provide me enough light to make it to the door, and I rushed from my car, trench coat wrapped around me in futile defense against the nighttime chill. The wind was more powerful than I had given it credit, and I had to keep one hand tightly clamped on my hat, lest it blow away into the night.
After a short struggle, I made it to the door and, finding it unlocked, heaved myself inside. It was moderately warmer in the hallway, without the wind, but it didn’t amount to much.
I passed by numerous empty offices until I came to the one I was looking for. It stood at the end of the hallway, door closed. The door itself was made of unfinished oak, and I could smell cigarette smoke coming from inside as I made my way closer. A single light flickered through the door’s window as sole testament to the fact that the office was inhabited, obscured only by the flaking white letters emblazoned on the frosted glass.
“Jason McAllister” it said. “Private investigator.”
I was about to call out and knock on the door when I heard a single sharp clicking sound from inside. It was a sound I knew well — the sound of the hammer striking down on a revolver.
I half expected the ringing report of a gunshot, but only silence followed the single click.
Notes: Please view the comments of this post for a few words from me about how the choices in this one will work