the thrilling detective drama continues: room 212

To read Chapter Four, Part 1, click here.

To read Chapters One through Three, click here.

Chapter Four, Part 2

Sims returned inside ten minutes. “You’re in luck. Or not, maybe—she ain’t in. Don’t know what a dame’d be thinking to do this, but here’s your low down: checked in this morning, lit out, came back late this evening. Then one of the night custodians sees her run out right around midnight. Alone the whole time. Hasn’t been back.” He lit a cigarette, blew a puff of smoke to obscure his head as he tilted it, cocked an eyebrow at me. “This bird of yours keeps odd hours, Kong.”

I knew what he was thinking: the big ape gets tangled up with another hot blonde number. But he didn’t razz me, so I let it pass. “Take a look in her room?”

“Sure. ‘Round to your right, third window. I’ll meet you on the other side.”

I squeezed around the building. Sims entered 212, opened the window. “Seems kind of . . . flustered in here,” he said as he stepped aside.

‘Flustered’ was the word, all right: a suitcase had erupted on the bed, spewing rivulets of stockings, scarves and slips. Stylish dresses drooped over the edges of the bed like murdered debutantes. The room stank of too much makeup and perfume too hastily applied—that, and a dozen cigarettes sucked down in a frenzy of panic breaths. Looked as though Mallory Baines—or Bahnhof—had lit in here, worried her lungs, and threw on some glad rags after a savage attack on her wardrobe.

Sims opened the dresser drawers, shook his head. “Nothing here. Your dame packs light.”

“Any signs of male habitation I can’t see?”

“Not a one. You expected otherwise?”

“No reason to. Just curious.”

I plucked up the wastebasket and emptied it on the floor. Sims separated the few items with his foot: an empty cigarette pack, a number of makeup-smeared kerchiefs, and yesterday’s paper. Sims picked up the paper and grunted. “Your dame make her mint in the shipping industry?” He turned the paper to show me the day’s arrivals and departures—one of them circled. “Lorelei. German freighter. Hailed out of Singapore. Mean anything to you?”

More than anything—two things. One, it fairly well sealed the deal on the Teutonic timbre I’d caught but couldn’t place behind her false New York accent. Two, it reminded me that Carl Denham wasn’t the only man alive who’d seen Skull Island. There was another such mug out there—we’d fought over a hot blonde number, he and I. Something to check into.

“Nothing I can make anything out of.”

“This hasn’t turned out to be the kind of clam-bake I expect from you, Kong,” Sims said as he ambled to the closet door. “Can’t remember the last time you came calling when there wasn’t a body invol—”

He jumped back with a yelp, his cigarette falling to the floor. That leap didn’t leave him clear; he had his arms full of sagging body. He shook himself, looked my way, and sighed. “You coulda warned me.”

He let the body drop, rolled it over with a foot. A bald head lolled to its side, facing me. I didn’t need Mrs. Baines-or-Bahnhof’s photo to recognize it as her husband’s.

Check back next week for the continuing saga of King Kong: World’s Biggest Dick!

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