A Lady at the Window
by Kenneth Leon Roberts
It is an interesting fact. I live in the windy city, but we have not had so much as a breeze in over two weeks. The nights are dry, humid, and hot, and the days are even warmer. I try my best to avoid the heat by ducking into every cold joint I can find on my way around the Waterfront.
Chicago is not always pretty, but it is my hometown. For nearly thirty-two years, I have been making my way in the alleys and bars of this beloved city. For thirty-two years, it has been my oasis in a storm. I am not much of a gambler, but I bet my life on these streets trying to make a living every day.
I dropped out of school early, and I cut my chances of a life of luxury to bits. Even though I spend most of the time down on my luck, I am doing well right now.
I am working as a freelance reporter at the Chicago Bugle.
The Chicago Bugle is a local paper with circulation the size of a small resort. Not many people know about it, but it makes its living with the local community news. Mostly homemakers and local business people read it. Its real value is in the local gossip.
I, Nick Fontaine, am the lead reporter on the local police beat. Like my hopes of a decent life, my last name left me years ago. I am Nick, the reporter in the paper and on the police beat. I cover the remarkable stories of the day. That usually consists of a murder on the Waterfront two or three times a week, the busting of a gambling racket where they run the wire, and a mugging. If I show up for the facts, come up with an interesting angle, and I make sure the copy is in the office on time, the job is a piece of cake. It provides me the means I need.
I have been selling a murder series; the angle I have been pushing is that it is a women’s killing ring instead of a man’s.
It has been selling like cat snacks in a kitty litter. Circulation is up, and the papers are leaving the racks.
The Boss, who doubles as the editor is in heaven, and the promises of promotion secured—something for the hours I have spent in smelly jails, morgues, and back alleys.
I spend most of my time working but, in the evenings, I find I unwind with a few drinks. I keep to myself. I am not a family man because I haven’t found a dame that could live with the meager pickings of a freelance reporter. Something about stability and responsibility always finds its way in the picture of my relationships.
The dames I find always wants more than old Nick can supply. The drinking somehow numbs the pain, and the silence of a back bar always gives me a place to hide.
I am not looking for a change, but it is looking for me. It hasn’t been long since my life has taken a turn that has blindsided me.
Here is a story that hits me, a story that can change my life.