Get Tough

“How did Mr. Mickelson die, Miss Davis?” asks the first idiot in a suit.

“Gunshots. Lots of them. And he preferred Nice Guy.”

“Excuse me?” asks the second idiot in the suit. At least one’s a cop. I think the other might be an assistant DA or something. Not sure.

“Nice Guy. That was the name he went by. Not Mr. Mickelson.”

“Very well, Miss Davis. Why did “Nice Guy” get shot?”

“He was a retired mobster. Witness protection. They found him.”

“And they killed him?” I wouldn’t be sitting in your dingy little interrogation room if they hadn’t, jackass.

“Yes. And they killed him.”

“How did they find him, Miss Davis?”

“They received an anonymous tip.”

“Did you tip them off, Miss Davis?” Sure, yeah, that sounds like something I’d do; call up some mobsters, invite ‘em to town, see if they feel like whacking the only man I’ve ever loved.


“Do you know who did?”


“Who was it?”


“Callet… Desdemona?” asks the first suit, as apparently there’s a fucking abundance of Callets in that skinny little casefile he keeps fiddling with.

“Yes. Callet Desdemona.”

“And why did Callet Desdemona tip off the mobsters?”

“Well, gee, if I had to guess I’d say she wanted Nice Guy killed.”

“Why would she want Nice Guy killed?”

“You’d have to ask her.” Not that she’d tell you the truth.

“We will. Why do you think she wanted him dead?”

“He was getting in her way, I’d assume.”

“How do you mean?”

“Callet was messing with Jasmine. Nice Guy was making that harder to do by helping Jasmine, though I doubt Jasmine saw things that way.” Jasmine thought she was helping him.

“Helping how?” I can’t keep the exasperated sigh in any longer, so I let it rip and decide that I’m done listening to these damn fool questions.

“Look, this is a long complicated story, how about you just let me write it down for you, then ask me any questions you have afterwards?”

“Well, that’s rather unorthodox, Miss Davis…”

“Yeah, well… every part of this is pretty far from ‘orthodox’, unless you count the fact that Callet’s Greek on her mother’s side…” And even then, Callet’s an atheist. Or maybe she’s an autotheist, though I don’t think there’s a box on the census form for that one. 

“Very well. Go ahead.”

“I’m gonna need a pen and paper. Come back in an hour.”


Mina Davis’ Official Statement

Dear Suits & Cops-

Jasmine, who was at the center of a lot of what happened, asked me to write her story for her. She probably meant in the form of a novel, but as far I’m concerned, this counts. I think she thought that with that request she’d make a writer out of me yet, but then she always wanted to believe the best in people, and after watching you idiots tumble over yourselves trying to figure out what happened here, I’ve chosen another path.

But, I owe Jasmine, so here’s her story, as best I can tell it. Anything else you want out of me after that, you’ll need to go through my attorney. I cannot afford an attorney, so you’ll be providing one for me. After you provide me an attorney, I’m pretty much just going to drag things out as long as possible until you get bored and decide to actually go do something productive with yourselves, though I know that’s a bit outside of your usual wheelhouse. Anyways, let’s get this farce underway, so we can get on with the exciting business of wasting each other’s time.

This is a story about Jasmine, and the world that revolved around her. Many people believe that the world revolves around them. They are invariably wrong. Jasmine, bless her, had absolutely no idea, and wouldn’t have believed it even if someone had explained it to her. But almost everyone of importance in the story to come (but not quite) was placed there by the irresistible lure that pulls people close to women like Jasmine.

“Women like Jasmine”. As if there were more than one. If there were, and they ever ended up in the same zipcode, men (and more than few women) would go permanently cross-eyed. They didn’t break the mold when they made her; they went mad just from looking at it. Words aren’t going to do her justice, but words are what’s here.

Every inch of her was Spanish, and every inch of her was beautiful. You could start at the top, with the hair a color that made raven look like seagull. Or you could start at the bottom, with feet that seemed more interested in flirting with the ground than walking on it. The bits in between weren’t anything to scoff at, with legs that went on maybe just a quarter inch past forever, and a figure that Calculus couldn’t express on its best day. There was a mouth too, of course, that didn’t speak a language so much as kiss it. Lucky language. It wouldn’t be too far off to describe the eyes as emerald, if only emeralds were a couple orders of magnitude greener and more lustrous.

There was more to her than her body, or else this would be an entirely different sort of story. There was the voice (peppered honey), and the brain (smarter than girls who look like her are supposed to be, to put it lightly)… but what really mattered was her heart. And her style. This was a woman with flair; she did the right thing, stuck by her gals (or guys, when the situation called for it), and she did it with such panache… it’s not so hard to do the right thing. But it’s damned close to impossible to make it look easy. Or fun.

She would be impressive enough at that, but Jasmine is a woman beyond “enough”. In addition to her beauty, and brains, and style, she had success and creativity too. A renaissance woman, Jasmine was a successful novelist, playwright, musician, poet, and dancer… who dabbled with some aptitude in acting, philosophy, and finance. These, along with her many other virtues, are the root of this story… the treasure that motivated men and women, for all sorts of reasons, to do the things they did, to bend and break rules and laws and lives… Jasmine, for all intents and purposes, was the Maltese Falcon. Rare, beautiful, valuable beyond belief. Worth killing over, worth dying over. The stuff that dreams are made of.

Or, in Callet’s case, nightmares. Callet loathed Jasmine, though none of us knew it… and how could we? After all, they were best friends, just like Lucy and I. And the four of us were quite the quartet. I suppose for this story to make sense, I should sketch out Lucy, Callet, and myself – as I was then- for you. Maybe it’ll help. Maybe it’ll bore you into just throwing this document in the trash and moving on to unpaid parking tickets or something nice and easy like that. I don’t know, but here it is.

Callet was in almost every way Jasmine’s not-quite-equal. She was a brilliant poet, but Jasmine was better (unless you asked Jasmine, who was Callet’s biggest fan and patron). She was blonde, bright, and beautiful, but not so much that Homer imagined her face when he wrote the Iliad- and trust me, Helen’s face was based off Jasmine’s, time, space, and causality be damned. Callet could dance better than anyone I’ve ever seen- and until a few days ago, I considered myself a dancer- except for Jasmine. You get it. Always second best. Well, almost always.

I can’t say definitively that Callet was smarter- intelligence is a pretty noisy metric- but she was definitely a savvier schemer. We’ll get to that in a bit. And, honestly, Callet was the better actress, though in another life Jasmine likely would have taken Hollywood by storm and racked up enough Oscars to use ‘em as doorstoppers. But Callet had us all fooled, so she gets the lifetime achievement award for Best Actress in a Backstabbing Role. She’d known Jasmine seven years, and she’d known Lucy and I for three; we met the second week of freshman year, and we’d all been besties ever since. I loved Callet like a sister. So did Lucy and Jasmine. As far as we knew, she loved us back. For all I know, maybe she did. Regardless, she had a poker face that could build a casino, or break one.

As for Lucy, she was my best friend since we were kids. I don’t want to talk much about her here, except to say that if you look up her full name you’ll see she killed herself about seven weeks ago. If it helps you at all, I can confirm that it technically was a suicide- she absolutely killed herself- but it’s Callet’s fault she did, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sore about it, but there’s not much I can do for Lucy now except protect her privacy; it doesn’t matter what Lucy thought she was killing herself over, all that matters is that Callet made her think it. I’m leaving it there, and there aren’t enough subpoenas and depositions in the world to make me pick it back up.

Last, and least, was one Mina Davis- me. It’s funny, a week ago I was probably still the girl I’m about to describe… but now she seems to me a totally different person, and one deserving of a good hard punch in the jaw. Scrawny little thing, except for her legs (she danced), Korean on her father’s side, but if she spoke the language she could pass for native. She was meek, and quiet, and desperately insecure. If pushed to say something nice about her, I’d give her credit for a sharp tongue that was usually too afraid to come out from behind her teeth, and genuine, if naïve, love of her friends. Decent sense of humor, too, but she was so self-conscious about how dark it was she was usually too afraid to laugh when she wanted to.

Lucy, Jasmine, and Callet looked out for her, and she was popular enough by osmosis, but deep down inside this was a girl who didn’t believe she was worth much of anything at all, and mostly just wanted to be a backup dancer and maybe publish a few poems in small journals. Jasmine liked to tell her she could headline a ballet, and that her poetry could change lives. Bless her heart, she didn’t even know she was lying.

Anyways, that’s the four of us. All wanting to dance, and write, in some fashion, and the rest of them had ambitions beyond that. We took all the same classes, and we made a collective decision to enable that by all double-majoring in English and Dance- though given the circumstances, I’m probably the only one who might still graduate, and I changed my major two days ago. Criminology and Psychology. If you’re real good, maybe I’ll come back here in a few months and teach you flatfoots how to do your jobs.

For now, though, you’re still clueless, so I better keep writing. Outside of our little circle, there were four more major players in this story, but as far as the murder goes only one of ‘em was much important so I’ll speed through the other three. All were men, and all were in love with Jasmine- but if you’d met her, even you’d have been able to guess that part.

First was Bret, another aspiring writer, and probably the least reprehensible of the bunch. He was convinced Jasmine was his muse, and maybe he was right- though he wasn’t much of a writer. Jasmine didn’t know that, though, because she kept getting these amazing love-letters from him… only they were written by a thirty-something restauranteur, name of Rick, who sat in the back of his bar with a bottle of whiskey pining away for a lost love, and writing love letters for his little protégé. He’s a fantastic writer, but a pretty crap human being. He'd had all the life sucked out of him a long time ago. Once he met Jasmine he was in love with her too, though he was too broken to do anything about it besides keep writing for Bret. The letters got better, though, and Jasmine was none the wiser.

Last of the less important was Taj, a waiter at a place called Trinidad Alley. Gorgeous hunk of man, carved outta whatever kind of stone is the same color as a dimwitted waiter from Trinidad. Beautiful features, too, and he’ll end up a model sooner or later. Or at least, he better, because he’s probably too dumb to do anything else, except maybe become a cop. Jasmine thought he was cute, and they had one date that he totally flubbed. Jasmine had already mentally moved on- though she was still a little curious how somebody that good looking would be in bed- but Taj was hooked. He woulda become pretty pathetic pretty quick, if it weren’t for Nice Guy.

So, finally, that brings us to the guy you’re really curious about. Nice Guy was thirty-two years old, born in California, but he wasn’t Nice Guy there. He became Nice Guy when he moved to Philly, where he fell in with the mob. Started as a bright-eyed nineteen year-old courier, but by the time he’d left he’d buried some bodies. The nickname came about because the other guys in his “crew” or whatever noticed his weird sense of chivalry, and because it had a little bit of a ring to it.  

In fact, that’s how he got connected in the first place. He was hitting on a mobster’s girlfriend at some bar he’d snuck into, assuming she was single- and she hadn’t bothered to correct him- when the mobster appeared, justifiably a little less than pleased. Now, ninety-nine percent of the time a situation like that turns ugly, ‘specially with booze involved, but Nice Guy felt legitimately bad and apologized. His new mobster friend found that hilarious, and drunkenly coined the nickname. Nice Guy bought them all drinks, and they became friends, and a few weeks later Nice Guy was carrying suitcases full of cash or cocaine all over Philly. Nine years after that he was hiding out in Seattle. Three years after that, he met Jasmine.

Jasmine was walking home from a party, alone, as Callet was upstairs getting plowed by some frat boy, Lucy was drooling on a stranger’s couch, and I was huddled up at home with my nose in some Kenneth Fearing. Seattle’s a pretty safe city, but it’s still a city, and Jasmine ran across three drunks who’d just been kicked out of a bar for being the kind of jackasses who grab women and yank them into a bathroom. They grabbed Jasmine and yanked her into an alleyway. Unfortunately for them, Nice Guy was in that alleyway, having stepped outside of wherever he’d been drinking for a smoke break. In their hurry to rip the clothes off the most astonishingly beautiful woman they’d ever molested, they didn’t immediately notice him.

According to Jasmine, Nice Guy broke thirty-eight of their bones in total, and threw their phones and wallets down a sewer grate for emphasis. Then he walked Jasmine the rest of the way home, said goodnight, and left. All told, they probably spent about twenty minutes together that night, so he was already in love with her, but he was smart enough to know better, and left without giving her his name.

But Jasmine wasn’t the type to forget a rescue, and besides, Nice Guy was an extraordinarily interesting human being; a blue-collar philosopher with a dark past and a sense of chivalric honor that worked on him about the way Gamma Rays worked on the Incredible Hulk. So Jasmine kept hanging out in that same alleyway, listening to music and writing, until one day about two weeks later, Nice Guy walked out for a smoke. He had enough in him to walk away from her once, but twice was asking too much.

He became sort of a mentor for her, telling her about a world far removed from college and dancing and poetry and rich parents. He taught her how to read people, although not well enough, and he was the first one to have doubts about Callet. Unfortunately, the universe runs off irony, so it was Jasmine that convinced Nice Guy that Callet was on the level, defending her honor with the blind tenacity of a religious zealot, insisting on Callet’s innocence.  She swore on her own life, and believing her cost Nice Guy his. He never doubted Callet again after that conversation, never believed she was behind it all, even when he was dying in the street, even when I sat beside him and told him so and watched him die, he went to his grave believing Callet was innocent- believing that he must have slipped up somehow, or that the monsters from his past just found him by dumb luck. Jasmine had sworn to him that Callet was one of the good ones, so to him it must have been true.

But that’s the ending, and we’re not quite there yet. After her bad date with Taj, Jasmine lamented that he was perfect, physically, she just wished he was more interesting, more charming, more- well, she didn’t say it this way or probably even think it, but more like Nice Guy. So, Nice Guy, having basically nothing else to live for except whiskey and fear, went out and found Taj, and made it his personal mission to re-construct that gorgeous chunk of idiot into the man of Jasmine’s dreams.

So, on the one side, you had Rick ghostwriting for Brett, on the other you had Nice Guy coaching Taj, with Jasmine in the middle. It was dueling Cyranos. It would have been a tragedy for somebody no matter which way it went, but Callet saw to it that there was enough tragedy to go around. She started working on Lucy first, then on Nice Guy and Brett and Taj, and even on me, steering us all just the right way.

She wanted to break Jasmine. I don’t know why, really. Could have been jealousy, could have been sport, could have been some imagined slight… all I know is that Callet enjoyed every moment of it. She told me so, right near the end of it all, figuring I was too much of a coward to do much about it. At the time, she was right, and what little I tried didn’t work. But I’m leaping ahead again.

With Taj in the picture, Nice Guy started hanging around the group more, and for whatever reason he and I usually ended up in our own little conversations, what with the other men competing for Jasmine’s attention, and Callet working her serpentry on poor Lucy. We’d made friends right off when he caught me snickering under my breath at one of his meaner jokes, the kind Jasmine used to smile politely at while everyone else avoided eye contact, so being in our own little conversational corner was fine by me; Nice Guy actually made me want to talk, and most of the time it seemed like he wanted to listen, especially if and when I was being sarcastic, or snarky, or a little bitter. On the other hand, he didn’t think I stood up for myself enough, and obviously he was right.

He didn’t know a damn thing about poetry or dancing, and he didn’t compliment me about them, but he saw something in me he thought was worth encouraging, and he told me I was tougher than I knew. Or at least, that I could be. That I was smart enough to survive outside our little group, outside our waspy little world. I’m not sure what it was that made him think that- my snarky little jokes, my shitty mom, my long dance practices that couldn’t make me half as good a dancer as Jasmine no matter how many parties or meals I skipped- but he saw something there that had him convinced I’d be somebody someday, and there was no talking him out of it. He kept pushing me to fight for my dreams, instead of just floating along in the wake of Jasmine’s brilliance. I loved him for that.

He didn’t love me back. He got drunk and depressed sometimes, and then, for a few hours, he could talk himself into me. Don’t get me wrong- he cared about me, more than he cared about anybody except Jasmine, I think- but that’s overselling it; he didn’t even like anybody except Jasmine, so coming in second in that race was also coming in second to last.

You suits and badges might understand some of that or not. I don’t care. All you really need to know is that, at least when he was drinking, he loved me enough to let me in on things about his past, and I stupidly trusted Callet enough to share them with her one night after she got me drunk. Suppose me drunkenly spilling his drunken secrets might have been irony, but even if it was, it wasn't very funny. She quizzed me, under the pretense of being worried about Jasmine, allegedly afraid that he might hurt her. In my hurry to prove his innocence and noble character, I shared stories I shouldn’t have shared, and that gave Callet the last weapon she needed.

Over the next few months, Lucy died, and Taj was very publicly exposed and humiliated for his ignorance. Callet had maneuvered him into volunteering to speak at a conference Jasmine was attending on the altered relevance of Shakespeare in a post-Durrell literary world. Taj had gotten enough counterfeit personality from Nice Guy to hold Jasmine’s attention, but Nice Guy didn’t know a thing about literature or poetry, so up to that point Taj had been forced to stay silent whenever Jasmine’s favorite subject came up. He was getting pretty insecure about it; it wasn’t hard to convince him that revealing that he was secretly a (fake) genius, or at least a competent researcher, would both wow and woo the woman he loved.

Naturally, poor stupid Taj thought it was his own idea, since the suggestion didn’t come directly from Callet, but from an overheard and carefully engineered conversation Callet lured me into, at a time and place where she knew Taj would “accidentally” hear it.

She also tricked Bret into offering to write his speech for him, both to prove they weren’t enemies to Taj (who Bret saw as a threat), and because Jasmine would recognize Bret’s writing style (which was actually Rick’s, who, just as Callet planned, ended up penning the speech), and be impressed by his magnanimity. 

The speech actually went perfectly… but what Callet didn’t tell anyone, but certainly knew, was that there was a Q&A portion afterwards. Dozens of grad students, professors, and lit scholars firing off questions which Taj couldn’t understand, let alone answer. He got absolutely excoriated up there, and it was a lot like watching a public stoning, I imagine. He started crying after about the fourth one.

As things continued to crumble around her, Jasmine clung tighter and tighter to Callet, Bret, Nice Guy, and I. Three parts of that equation were exactly to Callet’s design, but Nice Guy- beginning to let himself hope against hope that maybe he had a shot after all, what with his protégé so fully decimated and Bret rapidly (under Callet’s influence) digging his own grave… I should rephrase that, given what happens to a lot of the other people in this story. Bret’s not dead. Never was going to be, either. He just wishes he was.

Anyways, Jasmine was blaming herself for Lucy’s death and Taj’s soul-fracturing humiliation, and Callet was loving it. Bret was making it worse, slowly revealing his weaseliness by trying to console Jasmine, telling her he wrote Taj’s speech for him, tactlessly trying to gain ground in a war that was already over (though Callet made sure he thought the shells were still incoming) by trodding over his perceived enemy’s corpse; right around that time Callet lent Jasmine one of Rick’s books, and sure enough, she recognized his writing and confronted both him and Bret. Bret denied it, thereby tying his own noose- again, not actually dead- while Rick just stared at her with the dead-eyed look of a broken romantic until she stormed out of his bar.

She was even more alone now, and I had no idea how to help, and was in no condition to be any good to anyone anyhow. I was useless, consumed by my grief over Lucy and my masochistic and irresistible love for a man who could never love me back. So Jasmine’s support structure was down to two, but to really ruin her, Callet needed to take another piece off the board.

So, she used the information she’d gotten from me in a way that even I have to admit was pretty ingenious. She offered to help Jasmine with a poem, about a man a lot like Nice Guy (all while letting Jasmine think it was her own idea), letting Jasmine put disguised versions of the secrets Nice Guy told her into this masterpiece. Callet worked her devilry by suggesting during edits all these little touches that made things just a little more specific- edits that came from information I had, but Jasmine didn’t. Nice Guy hid the darkest parts of his past from her, but since he didn’t much care what I thought of him, he shared them with me as part of his various attempts to scare me off before he “ruined me”. Jasmine couldn’t recognize the new information as risky, believing it to be only the product of Callet’s strong narrative instincts. But those edits, nonetheless, that turned the poem into a coded, but decipherable, roadmap to Nice Guy.

The poem was published almost immediately. Jasmine already had a following from her novels. A big one, especially for an undergrad, and her name was in high demand. On top of that, the poem was beautiful.

Obviously, the poem did no harm at all, and was never intended to; few mobsters read online poetry magazines. The poem only existed so that when the mobsters, who Callet had found and contacted, showed up and killed Nice Guy, just like they ultimately did, Jasmine would blame the poem- and therefore herself- for it and fall that one step closer to wherever Callet was trying to drive her.

After that, Callet told me later while gloating, she was going to convince Jasmine that the mobsters would come for her, too, and anyone else around her (like me and, in an extra twist of the knife, Callet) since the poem included coded references to their crimes and personas- and foster that fear until Jasmine would finally, in true martyr fashion, go on the run to protect her few surviving friends. Always known for giving sage advice, Callet would warn her that she could never write or dance again- she wasn’t quite a celebrity, but thanks to her books and dancing she was at least internet famous enough to be recognizable. She’d live the rest of her life totally alone, unable to chase her dreams, and crippled by fear and guilt. And that’s exactly what would have happened, and almost did.

Callet told me all this the night Nice Guy died. She told me because she figured that I couldn’t prove anything- and she was right- and that Jasmine would never believe me anyways, in part because the least believable part of the story was that Callet would just come right out and tell me everything so that I could go tell Jasmine. Anyone that devious would be smart enough to hide their tracks, not foolishly blab to one of their target’s closest friends. If I went to Jasmine, Callet told me, she’d just think I’d been mentally broken by my grief over Lucy and lost my mind, and that would drive Jasmine even further into her guilt pit for not being able to see it sooner, not being able to help poor little crazy Mina when she needed her. Callet was right; that’s exactly how Jasmine would have reacted. And if I didn’t tell Jasmine anything? Callet told me that then I’d be so consumed with guilt myself that I’d be useless to Jasmine when she needed me most. She was right about that too. She told me that either way, she’d win and Jasmine would lose. Callet was right about all of it. The plan absolutely would have worked, if not for one little wrinkle.

Callet didn’t know about Nice Guy and I. She knew we were close, but she’d probably figured that Nice Guy was too in love with Jasmine to be involved with anyone, and that I was too meek to fall for a killer like him, if she even thought about it all. Our… whatever it was… had been a closely guarded secret. Nice Guy couldn’t stand the idea of Jasmine knowing that he’d slept with one of her friends, fearing that she’d see him as a monster preying on a poor, easily influenced girl like me. She wouldn’t have, but Nice Guy’s self-loathing and paranoia and faint hope that maybe Jasmine would come to him someday, having finally figured out he’d been the part of Taj she really loved all along… well, all of that was enough for him to make absolutely certain nobody knew about us except us.

Since Callet didn’t know about our little one-way romance, she didn’t know that I knew where Nice Guy was going to be that night. She didn’t know that after she left my room, rather than just crumpling up and crying all night like she probably expected, instead I ran to Nice Guy. I got there in time, too, but he wouldn’t leave- he knew the killers were coming- some old friend with a soft spot for him had warned him- but he didn’t know why. I tried to tell him what I’d learned, but he didn’t want to risk me being around when they showed up and knocked me out cold before I could even get ten words out. I came to only a few seconds later, but he’d already left to meet his fate; in his mind, he had it coming, and he couldn’t risk them finding about Jasmine; he was sure if they did, they’d kill her to get to him. So he took up his guns one last time and left them a message to meet him in that same alleyway where he first met Jasmine.

That’s where I found him, bleeding to death. He’d taken two of them with him, but you knew that already. There were at least two more, but you knew that too I’m guessing, as you’ve surely taken the bullets out of him by now. His last words to me, as I watched him die and sobbed like a baby, weren’t anything about love or missing me, or how it was going to be ok.

The last thing the man I loved ever said to me was, “Get tough. Save Jasmine.”

So I don’t actually know who killed Nice Guy. Faceless mobsters from Philly. But Callet Desdemona is the reason they killed him, and she’ll tell you as much. I heard she turned herself in, afraid the mobsters would want to come after her, too. Worried they’d figured out who tipped them off and had found themselves in a mood to tidy up any loose end, spare themselves another trip. She might even have been right; I can’t much speak to the thought process of mobsters, except for the one, and he doesn’t think much of anything anymore.

As for Jasmine, I went to her that night and I didn’t tell her anything like the truth. I told her that Nice Guy had called the mobsters himself, trying to make peace so he could move on with his life, that they came and killed him anyways. That her endless optimism had inspired him to dream about the future for the first time since he was nineteen, inspired him to leave the darkness behind. And I told her that he died fast, and peacefully. That he told me to tell her not to mourn him if things went South, because knowing someone like her showed him that the world was worth living in. I kept talking to her until she smiled. I convinced her that Lucy died for reasons that were beyond anybody’s control, I got her to laugh at Taj and Bret instead of feeling sorry for them- if even shy little Mina thinks they’re losers, they’re losers, and it’s nobody’s fault but theirs. I told her everything she needed to hear and not one word of the truth, then I told her to leave.

I told her she was too big for this tiny little world. I told her Europe and Asia were fighting over who’d get her next. I told her nobody in this city could keep up with her, so she may as well run until she finds somebody who can. Then I handed her a briefcase full of money that Nice Guy kept under his bed, too afraid to spend, and made her promise me that I wouldn’t ever see her in this shitty little town again.

That’s my statement. All of it’s true, and you have everyone you need. You won’t find Nice Guy’s actual killers unless you go to Philly, and we both know you don’t care enough about a hood like him- even a reformed one- to do anything about his murder anyways. Nice Guy isn’t really why you dragged me in here; Jasmine is. Because Callet’s version of the story probably tried to bring Jasmine down with her- though I’m sure in her words it was Jasmine bringing her down, Jasmine behind everything, etc. etc.- and because Jasmine was suspiciously absent after all those dead bodies turned up. Because you were worried Jasmine was one of them, rotting undiscovered in a dumpster somewhere, and the pretty Spanish girl with all the potential in the world, the beautiful novelist who’s internet famous, well, she’d be a murder worth solving. Case like that could put some names in the papers, including yours, and maybe that raise comes through next time and you can finally afford enough gin to like yourself even on weekdays. Well, sorry to ruin that beautiful dream for you, but Jasmine’s not dead, and she didn’t have anything to do with all the killing that did happen, unless you blame the cheese for all the dead rats in the trap.

You’ve got Callet Desdemona on conspiracy to commit murder, at the least, and a dozen other little nickel and dime charges. You try and dig too much or too long, you’ll lose her- once she figures the mob’s gone she’ll recant, or demand witness protection- so I suggest you leave Jasmine alone, quit pretending you care who killed Nice Guy, and just take the collar. It might not get you that fat, gin-buying raise you were hoping for, but it’ll at least put you on the department’s “not useless” list, and based on the ten minutes I’ve spent with you fuckers, that’ll probably be your first and last appearance. Enjoy it.


Signed, under penalty of perjury or whatever,

Mina Davis.



 I watch them read it, twice, and they may as well be wearing dunce caps. They don’t like the names I called them, and that’s fine, they aren’t very nice names. But I called them those things under penalty of perjury, so I think as far as the United States of America are concerned, these two chuckleheads are every name I called them until proven useful.

After an hour or two of spitefully trying to get me to answer questions that don’t matter, they let me go, because as much as they hate me, they know I’m right. They’ve got the collar, and it’s the best they’re going to do. They could try and get me for unlawfully distributing the money in Nice Guy’s case, but my statement is the only evidence and I could always just say he told me to do it. He didn’t have a will, so that might even hold up. At any rate, under the circumstances, no court, jury, or judge’d bother convicting me on something like that anyhow.

Outside the station, I light up one of Nice Guy’s smokes- one of the last ones in the pack I found in his pocket after he died. I also found his cellphone in there, and I called the last number in it. The guy sounded pretty surprised to be getting a call from that particular number, having just shot the man it was registered to… but once I explained to him that Callet Desdemona knew everything Nice Guy knew, and had been the one who tipped them off, he was pretty eager to listen. I told him that Callet wanted Nice Guy dead so she could go for his money, and that the joke of it all was that Nice Guy’d hidden the money, knowing they were coming for him, and died the only one who knew where it was. I told him the only way to find the money’d be to wake Nice Guy up, and that I’d already tried that. Guy was sleeping the big sleep, dreaming of ivory towers or dirty sumps or whatever it is dead mobsters dream of.

Then the man on the phone asked me who I was, and I told him I was just a Nice Girl, trying to make sure the bitch who cost him a few of his buddies didn’t get away with it. Warned him that she’d tried blackmailing Nice Guy, and that she’d probably try it on them next.

He asked me why they shouldn’t come after me, too, and I told him there were two reasons, besides the obvious one of their not knowing who the fuck I am. The first was that while I knew most of what Callet knew, I didn’t know their names or who specifically they were, so I wouldn’t really be much good as a blackmailer, and didn’t want their money besides; after all, I’m a Nice Girl, I can make my own money. He told me that reason might be enough if he believed it. I told him I didn’t care if he believed it. I told him the second reason was because I could get pretty tough when I had to. I don’t know what he thought of that, because after I said it I hung up and tossed the phone in the sewer.

I went to Callet’s dorm. She was surprised to see me. I told her most of what had happened, leaving out details when I felt like it. Then I went a little further and told her that I’d told the mobsters exactly where she lived. I told her that they were under the impression that she had their money, and that she’d tipped Nice Guy off. She didn’t like that very much, and she slapped me. Since we’d known each other, she’d always been bigger than me and stronger than me. She was a better dancer, too, but we danced different styles. Callet specialized in tango. I preferred ballet. Little bit more flexibility, though it takes a little more leg strength.

I took two steps back from her to get a little space, soaking in that hateful glare she was throwing me, then I used that leg strength and that flexibility and I kicked that hateful bitch right in her hateful bitch face. She fell backwards, crashing into a pile of books, cursing at me. I said goodnight, and I walked away. A day or two later, the cops dragged me down here.

I told them I changed my major, but that’s not really true. I’m going to learn about criminology and psychology, sure, but I’m not going to do it as a student.  Mina Davis: Student was useless. Mina Davis: Student couldn’t help anybody until it was too late. Mina Davis: Student wasn’t tough enough. But Mina Davis: Private Eye? She sounds pretty tough to me. Think I’ll go find her.