The Fatal Escape A crime noir thriller

New York, 1949. John Maddox is a detective who is working on The Missing Heiress case when he falls in love with Victoria Parsons, who is being stalked by someone who wants her dead.

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1. New York, 1949

​***

​sipped my warm coffee in my dusty office when there was a lot of gunfire outside. New York was a city in which crime was up; New York was full of mobsters like Nathaniel Oliver, (a low-level criminal). Oliver behaved like he was Al Capone in Chicago in the 1920's, and 1930's. He had his own bodyguards with him. He wore a bullet-proof grey vest; he was hard to kill. And that was what was wrong with the post-Prohibition Era. I gathered my newspaper...and read the front page news article about Joan Sanders, the ten million dollar heiress, who was charged with murdering her lover, Ed Graham. They were having a passionate affair that lasted three years behind her husband's back. Alfred Sanders, who was forty, was fifteen years' older than Joan, who was twenty-five. She married for a rich man's money. And she was ​greedy. Ed Graham, who turned 27 in October of 1948, smiled at her. In his hand was a paperback of James M. Cain's novel ​The Postman always rings twice​ from nineteen thirty-four. I had read the book when became a sensation in the early 1930's. The 1946 movie with Lana Turner was a sensation three year's ago. I looked around as I smoked a cigarette. Suddenly I heard a loud knocking on my front door. "Enter!", I yelled. And, as I stared at a woman, she seemed upset by something. "Excuse me, can you help me? I need a detective. Someone's stalking me". And I nodded. "Take a seat". And she nodded, and I finished drinking...and waited for her to speak further. 

***

"Victoria Parsons", she said. 

"Scottish", I said.

"Yes. I arrived in New York in the cold winter of 1947 to make a new life after my husband died in Glasgow. Jamie was shot by rival criminals. He died before we were due to be married". I nodded. I had heard a lot of stories about loss...and death. It was normal for me to deal with violent crime overseas or in New York. "I'm John Maddox". The client smiled. I wrote her name down on a white notebook. I didn't indulge in my idea of love; I didn't believe in femme fatales smoking cigarettes...and using their own powers of seduction to get their way. "Who could be after you?", I asked her. "I don't know. Please help me, John", she insisted. And I smiled uneasily...and took on the case. "Two hundred dollars", I said. She took out three hundred dollars. "Keep the change". And I grabbed the money...and placed it in my old drawer.

***

I didn't think that women fell for me during crime cases. I attempted to be professional in my work. Victoria had short, black hair, brown eyes, and petite. She wore a grey dress, black stockings around her slender legs, and black shoes; she had red lipstick on her mouth. And she was 25 years' old. "Here's a contract for the case Victoria. Please look at it with your lawyer". She nodded. "I will, John". And, in the end, I knew that this case would be fatal for all of us.

***

By three o'clock PM, I made more coffee as dark, threatening, clouds hovered above the city that never sleeps. I waited for Victoria to be comfortable. Then she saw my grey hat and smiled. "My husband had one of those in Glasgow. He paid £10 for two of them". I looked around to see the heavy rain boom in the black sky. "I'm sorry about your loss. Now, can you tell me anything about your stalker?", I asked her. "No. I haven't got any enemies". And I sighed with growing frustration...then I sipped my coffee to calm my fractured nerves.

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