"Fuck you." Spitting out blood, I glared at my assailants, or at least the two I could see.
The scrawny one backhanded me again and there wasn't a damned thing I could do about it. My arms were twisted behind my back by the biggest bruiser this side of the WWF. I'm no small fry at six-two and two-twenty but he made me look… well small.
"Mr Caiazzo is very interested in locating the property. Word has it you know where it is," my third assailant said, a grim smile on his lips.
"Yeah? Well since you haven't told me what this 'property' is, I'm afraid I can't help you." That earned me a punch to the gut.
They'd caught me when I stepped into an alley to take a piss. Dumb of me? Yeah. But a guy's gotta so what a guy's gotta do. I'd been staking out a business, trying to discover which of the owner's employees had been doing a little midnight pilfering of small electronics. Nature called. I answered. The goons caught me with my pants down. Okay, not literally but…
"The item was given to you by Bailey for safe keeping," number three barked out.
"Name doesn't ring any bells." That was the truth. I'd never to the best of my recollection met a Mr Bailey. To say the least of him—or anyone else—giving me something to safeguard.
Things were on their way to getting a lot worse, starting with the bruiser pulling my arms up so hard I thought they'd pop out of their sockets. Then the alley lit up as a patrol car pulled into it, spotlight glaring on the four of us.
The bruiser dropped me, the scrawny one landed a kick to my ribs, and the one who'd been asking the questions said, laughing maliciously, "We'll be in touch." Then they took off as if the hounds of hell, or to be more accurate, the cops were after them.
In point of fact, the cops stayed where they were. One officer got out, coming to kneel by me.
"Not again, Walt," he muttered.
"Hey, Officer Parker," I managed to reply, trying not to move too fast as I sat up. "What do you mean, again? It's been eight months since someone decided to use me as a punching bag."
"Seven," he said with a small grin. "But who's counting? Do you want a ride to the hospital or are you going to tough it out?" Parker and I had been friends of a sort for a long time, despite what some would call our conflicting occupations. He's a cop, obviously. I'm a private investigator. He's helped me out a time or three and vice versa.
"Help me up and I'll let you know," I replied.
He did and I discovered a lot of aches and pains I hadn't had fifteen minutes ago. But I figured I'd live. The ribs hurt but I knew from past experience they were only bruised. My gut? I wouldn't be doing sit-ups any time soon but I'd survive.