Having escaped that dark and dismal place on Rue Morgue Avenue, feeling my way about in complete darkness, bumping into walls and doors, my heart thumping like an ancient locomotive, I finally found an unmarked exit and stumbled into the narrow lane. Not knowing what to do I went home and decided to sleep off the rest of the day.
Later that night as I stood inside the rain I waited for Tiny Man Giant to leave his office. When he did I followed him, hoping he would lead me to Mary to whom I had to deliver the message. Giant vanished in the crowd, but I managed to keep my eye on him, because of his long black coat. When we got to the outskirts of town, near the old dance hall, a tall, thin woman accosted him. They exchanged a few words and then, on his toes while the woman bent over, he planted the coldest kiss upon her brow. As I watched them from a distance the letter burned a hole in my jacket. It had to be delivered. Tiny Man Giant turned and disappeared as I watched the woman enter the door of what was once a convent. A few moments later a red light went on. A sign on the window said: 'Clean Mary – I can be your friend.'
I realized this was the Mary I was supposed to take the message to. The rain had turned into a raging storm and as more red lights were turned on and barely clothed ladies took their seats behind the windows, I knocked on the door. A few moments later Clean Mary appeared wearing nothing but a see-through gown that – not unlike Clean Mary herself - had seen better days.
“I have a message for you,” I said.
“Who sent you?”she asked. She scanned the square with restless, feverish eyes. A burning cigarette was dangling from her lips.
“Siegfried Schulz,” I replied, “the one-eyed undertaker. And Tiny Man Giant, too” I added just to be complete.
“What do they want from a flat chested junkie whore?” she asked and then, with surprising strength that completely overwhelmed me, she pulled me inside and slammed the door behind me. Clean Mary pushed me up against the door and frisked me for hidden weapons. There was smoke in her hair.
“Come in,” she said, opening the door to her room as if she were offering shelter from the storm.
She closed the curtains and sat down on the sofa. “Come sit on my knee,” she said and offered me a glass of champagne. I declined politely and proceeded slowly and carefully – I didn't want her to think I was reaching for a gun - to remove the letter from the inside pocket of my jacket. Mary lit a fresh cigarette and opened the envelope.
“There are tears on this letter,” she whispered. Then she looked up and I noticed there were tears in her eyes, too.
"What does it say, the letter?,” I asked.
“He wants money up front,” Clean Mary explained.
“The one-eyed undertaker is not somebody that you play around with much,” I told her.
“It's not from him, it's from my father.”
I couldn't believe my ears. “Tiny Man Giant is your father?”
The woman nodded and wiped the tears from her eyes. “I've been clean for a month now and I thought I could live my life on the square, but they will never let you be.” She stood up with a heavy sigh and walked away. “Wait here,” she said, “I'll pass the hat and collect a hundred grand.”