“There’s just one thing I don’t understand,” said the detective and coughed into his hands asthmaticallly. The mucus rattled in his throat — his trademark rattle! “Here’s my question. If you, ah, er, that is, where was I?” Those constant memory lapses, how typical! “Oh, yes. Now, Mrs. Entwhistle, where –“
The lights flickered off. “Now what?” Mrs. Entwhistle said, her voice weary with resignation. The lights came on. The detective was sprawled across the polished parquet, stabbed thirty seven times, bleeding like a fountain. “Dear,” she whispered.
“My god,” growled the chief. “I’ll get whoever did this.”
“Were you close?” said Mrs. Entwhistle.
“I hated him! I hated him for his trenchcoat and for his cigar and his cheap community theater dramatics. By god! No one else is going to kill him and get away with it.”
“Well, now, Chief, I don’t know about that,” drawled the rangy cowboy leaning over the bar. “Might be a lotta people wanting to kill him. Man like that, makes a lotta enemies, as the rattlesnake said t’ the polar bear.”
“What the hell does that mean?” The chief kicked the detective over. Underneath his body, sticky with blood, a drift of white cards was spilled across the hardwood floor, each with a line of dialogue written on it. The last card was curled into the corpse’s palm, the word deathrattle printed on it. The chief growled, “A hack to the end.”