One-Sided Conversation


“Before you speak, just know I already have all the answers.”

The guy is trying to speak. It’s hard on him. All screams and squeals. Since he’s dangling by his tie off a rooftop.

“My compliments to your knot-tying. This is impressive.” My cigarette dropping ash, flutters down about his face; his eyes wide as saucers and flaring nostrils now catching black snow.

My name is Richard Dean Buckner. This is my goddamn town, and this guy thinks he can just stroll in here like a silverback swinging his cock around and take what he wants. The PD here kept me on for fifteen years – all just a never ending one night stand. I got fucked at the end, but not the good kind. Here I am now, private detective, currently muscling swanky bankers who shop at an under-the-counter store where they peddle prostitution to exotic and deranged tastes.

Want an amputee? They got them. Burn victim? Got them. Siamese twin? Somehow, they got them too. But this guy, Scott L. Tibbetts the 3rd, swanky banker, he likes Thai boys ages eight to eleven with hair dyed blonde. I take lots of pictures of housewives blowing the pool boy, skeevy husbands and mistresses feeding each other Peking duck at Asian hole-in-the-walls, the usual, but it always comes down to the freaks.

“Scott, I know they call you on a disposable cell phone.” His feet thrash, frantically looking for purchase they won’t find. His suit coat flares out as the high breeze up here – sixteenth floor – catches his expensive threads and blusters them.

“I know they give you a fee. You wire it. Then you get a time and place.” His hands are wrapped around my arm in a death clutch I find as impressive as his uber-Windsor. He hasn’t closed his mouth. He’s not shouting – not quite, more like breathless bitch squeaks – but he’s trying for attention. Up here.

“The back of your neck must be really sore right about now.” My fist is white and numbing. His chicken neck must be burning and his spine crackling with its dying breath. “So spit it out.”

I raise all one hundred and sixty pounds of him to eye level. “Where?”

I have his disposable. I’d just drop him and wait for next time if I wasn’t certain they’d know he was dead and never call again.

His eyes roll back to whites. His pants fill with piss. I huff and scrub my cigarette out on his forehead. No luck. That usually works, too. I drag him back onto the rooftop. He won’t squeal if he’s unconscious so I might as well save my arm.

I hear a phone ring. I look behind me and see nothing but vents and tar paper. I look at my own phone. Nothing. So, his disposable. Answer.


“You half-hour late.”

“I apologize. I got the location mixed up.”

Big sigh. “I do this because you loyal customer. Hotel Ramirez by airport. Room 420. Key in envelope behind the counter under the name Tom Martin. I give another half-hour.”

“Thank you.”

Click. Silence.

Sorry Scott L. Tibbetts the 3rd, you just became completely unnecessary.

The man gurgles and rolls about, then draws a sudden breath violently like he just surfaced from a near-drowning incident. He jumps up to unsteady feet and claws at his tie.

“Try dangling me now, motherfucker!” He says, horse and empty.

I smile, laugh under my breath. He wrestles with the knot. He puts his entire body into it. Ridiculous.

“Answer me.” I say. “The location.”

“Fine.” A rodent eyeing his escape route. The gears turning. “Back room of the Panda Lounge in Chinatown. Midnight.”

“That’s the opposite end of town from the Hotel Ramirez near the airport. Half-hour ago.”

He opens his mouth. Stutters.

“Remember what I said in the beginning. I already know the answers.” I kick him square in the chest, send him over the edge. His scream trails down like stones falling in a well, getting smaller and smaller until they disappear from the face of the earth.

I check my revolver. Six hollow points. I can get to the hotel in thirty minutes.

~ fin ~

Ryan Sayles is based in the Midwest. His hardboiled private detective series featuring Richard Dean Buckner is forthcoming through Down and Out Books. The first two novels, Subtle Art of Brutality andWarpath, will be released in July and October, 2015. His short story collection, That Escalated Quickly! is out through Zelmer Pulp. His chapbook Disordered Mullets was released by Weekly Weird Monthly. His Buckner novella Disco Rumblefish was published by All Due Respect Books as part of the Two Bullets Solve Everything split with author Chris Rhatigan. Ryan’s short fiction has been widely published online, in anthologies and in print. He’s been included in the Anthony-nominated Trouble in the Heartland: crime fiction inspired by the music of Bruce Springsteen, as well as Dark Corners magazine, Shotgun Honey, Crime Factory and more. Ryan is a founding member of Zelmer Pulp, a writer’s group dedicated to genre fiction. Their multiple publications span numerous brands of fiction including zombies, science fiction, westerns and more. He may be contacted at