‘That was a most foul experience.” said Petharic, wrinkling his nose in distaste at the putrid puddle pooling about his feet, lamenting the toll the Clockhaven sewers had taken on his shoes and finely tailored trousers. “But I appreciate your guidance nevertheless. How fortuitous Emerson Lighthouse never saw fit to shore up this means of access to his establishment. Now it will be possible to take him completely unawares.”
“My friend Gil sleeps down here sometimes.” said Johnny Dawkins indicating the space beneath the bakery ovens. “A real nice one Gilhooly is; If you want t’ find your way under the streets ‘round about this end of town, he’s the urchin t’ ask.”
‘That’s nice,” Petharic said, though he didn’t appear to be listening as he was distracted by the crates piled precariously atop each other backing against the damp stone wall. If he was not mistaken there was a faint glow coming from one on the very bottom labeled ‘NOT CAVORITE.’ He pursed his lips tightly and shook his head wearing an almost pained look. “It is really quite amazing that Lighthouse has lived this long.” he said, drawing one of the Colts from its holster. “You want to know something Johnny?” Petharic asked before answering his own question without waiting for a response from the lad. ‘There was a time when my greatest foe, Emerson Lighthouse, and I used to be friends.’
“Really?” The urchin sounded incredulous.
“Well, not friends exactly, but we had common acquaintances… and now it has all come down to this.”
Petharic was just about to make his way to the stairs leading up to the bar when they heard the unmistakable sound of laughter drifting down.
“Do you hear that son? It sounds as if people are talking upstairs. Sneak up and see who it is. If it is just Lighthouse and that skinny bartender of his I’ll shoot them both. But I’m not one to hurt innocent bystanders so make sure it’s just those two. I’ll hide behind these crates until you return.”
Petharic made his way behind the crates, squeezing passed what appeared to be a large painting wrapped in a curtain. After several minutes the boy returned. “Mr. Petharic, sir.” The boy called out into the gloom, then looked relieved when he saw Petharic step from the shadows.
‘There’s four of ‘em up there sir Mister sir.” informed Johnny. “Mr. Lighthouse, Mr. Malus, the missus – Miss Ginsburg, and her friend Miss Kaylee.”
“That would be ‘Miss’ Ginsburg, or ‘Miss’ Juniper” clarified Petharic. “She’s nobody’s missus.” Petharic paused looking somewhat agitated. “What are they doing up there?” he asked the boy.
Mr. Malus and Miss Kaylee, they is just talking about grown up stuff. Mr. Lighthouse and the missus are dancing.’
Petharic looked up sharply. “Dancing you say? What kind of dancing?”
“What do you mean, sir mister sir?”
“I mean is it a jitterbug type of dance, or more like a rhumba? Surely not something as risque as the lombada?”
“I’m not sure about all that…” replied Johnny, somewhat confused. “It’s more of a kissy-face, smiley kinda dance I would say.”
“Dammit!” cursed Petharic turning and kicking the nearest crate. They barely had time to register their surprise at the sound of breaking glass before the floor suddenly imploded in a cloud of dust and debris beneath their feet. Both Petharic and Johnny, along with the crates dropped from sight. Miraculously, the curtain-wrapped portrait remained in the corner undisturbed.