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“What happened?”

“The Pretender..... He got the drop on our shooter.....”

“Mumbles? Poor choice of an advanced scout, I must say. Did you learn anything?”

“Yes..... This Pretender, he’s had expert military style training. Secret counter intelligence perhaps?”

“Now Bishop? You will have to hunt for your target..... This method of yours, it seems to be rather questionable.”

“Perhaps, but what’s one more pawn, when the goal of the challenge; is to conquer the allies of the king?”

“This knight, he will not stand as being challenged by mere pawns. Such training, of which you speak; could be suggestive of any of the known agencies, for the gathering of army or of civil intelligence; perhaps even the secret service.”

“Right..... His unexpected, fast- on; quick to adapt, guarded tactics; they do seem to make the guy perfect, in classification of being a knight.”

“Correct..... You need somebody that can improvise as he does, and you will need to find him before the Rook does.....”

“I will not fail as easily as Mumbles.....”

“Good! Here is a list of my known associates. Do not contact anyone from the list. This Pretender, he is no fool. Additional stealth may be required, in order to procure his talents. Your good Bishop. This one, he’s better..... We need all the talent we can get for our enterprise.”

“You’re the boss, Mister Dolor.”

“….. Justly so.....”

Never thought, I’d have to hunt old Marty the Pretender down…. Quite a talent Marty. The man, he can mimic just about any familiar voice; that from those of the male’s persona anyway.

Marty, he used to be a thug working for a low class mobster; that didn’t even live long enough to make his name. His talents well sought, by intelligence agencies; and by criminal enterprises alike.

Not only can Marty succeed at practiced voice Impersonation, his skills in the art of disguise, are as of today unmatched. Trying to find a talent such as his, in so large a city that most likely does not want to be found; is one- major headache.

We had joked many times of this day, me and old Marty; eventually as coming to pass. Unfortunately, we never really took the time to prepare for the realities of an actual situation. Big mistake for many a known private detective.

Time for some old- style detective work. Finding Marty, will not be easy. But, I need to get to him first.....

My Fleet-Master, she chokes a little at the starter. This condition has been apparent to me for many days, and I’ve yet had time to take her to a mechanic; and have her checked out. It’ll probably require a complete overhaul. Nothing's ever easy. Two times stalling, third time starting; no complaining. Celia She, has yet to let me down.

I know what you’re thinking. Naming one’s automobile seems a little on the eccentric side. My grandfather, he taught me long ago: your ride, she’s a lady. Pick her, as you would a wife; and treat them both just as right. Good man, Grandpa Malone. He lived happy, and he died happier.

One thing you learn in the trials and the errors of being a successful private detective is: to never leave a trail for your enemies. Use multiple aliases, and do everything you can to protect your family. Many a successful detective, they’ve even gone as far as changing their names.

Same could be said for the private detective’s right hand- man. When in the position of continually putting your life on the line to take down the criminals, and the masterminds that are herald to the detective’s calling; many an unknown adversity is sure to arise. One of the many lethal hazards of the private detective’s trade.

I look into my rear view mirror. One, all too familiar Packard One- Twenty; it has been following me for the past thirty- five minutes, give or take a few seconds. What extraordinary stupidity do these low budget thugs have, on their thoughts, today?

I decide that I will lead them on a merry chase before I lose them. One of the next life saving talents you pick up living the life of a private investigator is high speed motor vehicle operations. These two, they’re no talent for tails; that much I know for certain.

“Miss Minerva, she’s not going to like this Slash.....”

“Shut-up, Crunch! Follow that detective..... I’m going to make him pay for putting her into the hospital.”

“She told us to leave the detective alone Slash!”

“She isn’t going to know about it Crunch! You’re going to lose him!”

“….. I think that there’s somebody following us Slash!”

“What’re you talking about, you big Boob? We’re the tails here!”

“But Slash?”

“Shut- up, and drive will you?”

“The driver behind us! He’s got a gun Slash!”

“Right! Everybody carries a gun these days..... What?!”

Curious, the car that has been tailing me, it seems to have been disabled. One gunshot from an automobile behind. The gun, it sounds kind of familiar. Forty- four caliber Smith and Wesson revolver, if I’m not mistaken….. May be, that old Marty is looking for me.

No signs of any additional tails. It could also be, an unknown adversary. So rich and entertaining, this styled life of professional investigations. Never a boring day.

“Those two idiots..... It amazes me that the organized criminal elements of so great the city, can hire so useless the guns.”

The Rook, he complicates things by saving those that don’t always need saving. Hazard in itself, to know him. A threat to one’s own existence; to work with him. For once, I need to think like a detective. Where would the Rook go to, if he was looking for me? Thoughts of an abandoned warehouse come to mind, but this place; it would be the first place assassins would be staking, in their attempts to hunt for me. He has to be heading for a place where he can make connections. This special place, it can be only one of a couple of places I know.

I turn off the main street, circling around a couple of city blocks to make sure nobody is tailing me. No signs of a tail, I pace myself to a destination of old and past associations. I just hope the bad guys aren’t thinking the same.

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