Tess Wexler Nichols
Dr. Anthony "Paladin" Cross
Macy "Lolita" Hayes
Narrator: Parlortown. A city seeped in sin. The people here may not all have
jobs, but they've all got secrets, and sometimes those are worth more. Everyone
here has something to hide, and often times they'll hide it from everyone-
even the one they love. So it is for Macy Hayes. She and Stella Decker founded
a private investigation firm together, Decker and Hayes, and they founded
a lot more together in the privacy of their apartment. Even so, Macy has secrets
that she's never told Stella, secrets that lead her to an abandoned clock
tower in the South Tip of Parlortown, meeting with Dr. Anthony Cross and Tess
Wexler Nichols, the knockout who'd hired them to find out what happened to
her dead husband. Yeah, the same dead husband who just showed up on the meeting
with a number of boys with guns. Macy was beginning to hate secrets.
Tess: Jack, you're alive!
Jack: Save it, honey. You're not going to set eyes on that code.
Tess: Jack, no, not-
Cross: Code? What code? What is he talking about?
Jack: Why am I not surprised?
Macy: What the hell is going on here?
Tess: Jack, just… just don't say another word. They don't know. I haven't
told them anything. I thought you were dead!
Jack: Not for lack of trying, darling! You're going to have to try a lot
harder than that to kill me.
Tess: I swear, it wasn't me!
Cross: If you're trying to double-cross me, Whisper…
Jack: I don't think you're in any position to negotiate, old man.
Cross: Oh, quite right, Mr. Nichols. Lolita and I will be more than happy
to run up the white flag.
Jack: Search them.
Narr: Two of the six armed men came forward to search Cross and Macy, but
as soon as Macy was close enough, she kneed the thug in the crotch, grabbed
his gun and jammed his finger down on the trigger. Cross had done the same
to his, and before the others had time to react, Paladin and Lolita had swung
their assailants guns around and taken out Jack's other four armed henchmen.
The dropped the two men to the ground and kicked them in the face almost in
unison. Suddenly, the tables had turned on the formerly late Jack Nichols.
Macy and Cross both had guns trained on him.
Jack: Let's be reasonable here…
Cross: It's all right, Jack. I'm more than prepared to be reasonable.
Macy: What the hell is going on here, Paladin? What's the score? I've told
you, Paladin, I'm never working with you again, I want no part of your games!
I'm finally out of your nonsense, I am not letting you drag me back in.
Cross: It's been a pleasure working with you, Lolita, but you've got it all
wrong. This isn't about you at all.
Narr: It was at this moment that Macy feels the pain in the back of her head,
the pain that told her she should have kept an eye on Tess, rather than allowing
the redhead to sneak around behind her and smack her over the head with the
butt of a handgun. As she tumbled to the floor, her other half, Stella Decker,
was sliding into a booth at Stan's diner, opposite Julian McGuiness, the pair's
main competition in the gumshoe biz.
McGuiness: Thanks for coming, Stell.
Stella: What do you need, McGuiness? I'm on a case.
McGuiness: Me too, and like I told you, I need your help. Also, I've got
some information you might want.
Stella: Yeah, what's that?
McGuiness: That broad, Tess Nichols. The one you're working for.
Stella: I never said that.
McGuiness: Give me a break. Anyway, I wanted to warn you about her. Her story
Stella: How would you know?
McGuiness: Because, like you said, Bobko is steering the cases my way. She
came to me with her shtick first. She wiggled her way into our office and
was really selling this thing- "Oh, my husband, oh, I'm so vulnerable,
I need to be protected…" Just dripping with seduction. The story
stunk and I told her so. I said we weren't buying what she was peddling.
Stella: You homo. But of course you figured we'd fall for her, head over
McGuiness: You're working for her, aren't you?
Stella: All right, all right, Julie. So what did you want?
McGuiness: I'm actually working on a related case, just coming at it from
an angle that's not so dirty looking. I have a lead that might get us both
a bit of information. I'll tell you what I know, if you can help me get the
Stella: Fine. Who's the client?
McGuiness: The owner of the Blue Diner, Stickler. Wants to know why people
keep smashing his plates.
Stella: The bastard! No wonder he wouldn't tell us jack!
McGuiness: Yeah, well, he told me plenty. Apparently, this isn't the first
time his plates have been all smashed up, just the first time there was a
side of 'dead guy' with them. Apparently, every two days or so, he's been
coming in, finding the place turned head over heels, but nothing missing,
not even money, just broken plates all over the floor.
Stella: All right. So, what do you want from me?
McGuiness: He's closing the diner up early tonight, Nine O'clock. If you
stake the place out, there's a good chance we'll find whose been smashing
things up when they come back for more.
Stella: Why don't you just do it yourself?
McGuiness: Like you said- I've got a lot of cases. I'll be doing work for
a certain City Councilman tonight.
Stella: Next time I see Bobko, I am going to kick the bastard's teeth in.
McGuiness: Isn't that what you got you into this mess?
Stella: All right, fine, you've got a deal. But if there's any trouble, I'm
going to come and find you, you and your city council boyfriend and making
you both pay.
McGuiness: Bring it on, Girlfriend.
Narr: Stella took a cab back to the office and found the place empty. Tommy
had gone home for the night, and Macy was nowhere to be seen, either in the
offices or their apartment upstairs. Stella tried Macy's cell phone, but got
no answer. As it got nearer to nine PM, she gathered herself up and got ready
to head over to the Blue Diner once more. She took a few swigs of whiskey,
wrapped herself in her heaviest long coat, jotted a quick note to Macy, in
case she came home, and headed out. When she arrived at the Blue, Stickler
was just locking up the doors and heading out. Once the old man was out of
sight, Stella walked up and started to case the place, noting the most likely
points of entry, in order to make sure she staked out the right door. The
back alley door was the least secure. As she headed out of the alley where
the Dumpster had been located, she almost ran face first into Tess Nichols,
wearing a fur coat over a less than conservative dress.
Tess: Oh! Miss Decker!
Stella: Tess? What are you doing here?
Tess: I… Oh, but you'll think I'm foolish.
Stella: What is it?
Tess: I just… I felt I needed to see it, see where this horrific thing
was done to my husband!
Stella: You shouldn't be out alone in Parlortown at night. There's no knowing
what could be done to you.
Tess: The same that was done to my husband!
Stella: And worse.
Tess: What are you doing out here, Miss Decker?
Stella: Call me Stella, babe. I was just following up a lead. You know how
it is for a dick, always on the job.
Tess: I can't tell you how much it means to me that you're helping me find
out what happened to my… Jack. Is this where it was done?
Stella: Just over here, yeah, but there's nothing to see anymore, except
a little batter bit of police tape in the trash.
Tess: Still, I had to see it. I must say, I'm glad you're here… I feel
so much… safer with you around.
Stella: Don't mention it.
Tess: I know I don't have a lot of money right now, Jack, he took everything
before he… but I do appreciate you.
Stella: Say nothing about it. We're happy to help.
Narr: Tess shivered as she looked over the rim of the dumpster, gazing intently
at all the broken blue shards. Stella put an arm around her as the snow began
to fall once again.
Stella: You should really be heading home. It's only going to get worse out
here tonight. I'd take you home myself, but I have to follow up on a few things
still. I'm sure you can catch a cab down at the end of Jensen.
Tess: You're going to stay here?
Stella: Like I said, leads.
Tess: Can I stay with you? I won't get in your way.
Stella: Tess, it isn't safe out here.
Tess: I'll be safe with you- I know it.
Narr: Tess threw herself into Stella's arms and looked up at her, her eyes
widening into freshly glazed saucers, tears welling up and threatening to
join the fresh snow on the pavement. Tess whispered to Stella, her words floating
out on the visible vapor of her breath.
Tess: Please, don't make me leave you, not now. I'll do anything…
Narr: Stella's eyes were locked in Tess's- she couldn't have looked away
if she'd wanted to. She felt Tess breath heaving against her bosom. After
a moment frozen in that position, the two slowly came together in a kiss,
a kiss shattered only a moment later along with the silence by a gunshot that
echoed through the alley. Stella felt Tess go slack and tumble into the soft
white that had begun to accumulate on the pavement. In her right hand was
a small but extremely sharp knife. Stella looked up to the head of the alleyway
to see Macy, the handgun from her purse smoking in her hand.
Macy: You're welcome. Our partnership is over.
Narr: The woman who'd hired them was dead at their feet, while the dead man
was back up and about, doing who knows what, and Decker and Hayes are more
confused than ever. Is their partnership as dead as their client is? What
happened to Macy after she'd been knocked out? What had Tess really hired
them for? What was the code Jack mentioned? What did this all have to do with
Stickler's plates? We'll return in two weeks with the next episode of Decker
and Hayes, "Crossing Off Names".