Person of Interest Mystery Short Fiction By Terry John Malik

“Person of Interest”: Mystery Short Fiction By Terry John Malik

Terry John Malik, author of “Person of Interest”, practiced law for nearly thirty years in Chicago and follows in the story telling tradition of Scott Turow and John Grisham.

The Bricklayer of Albany Park was Terry’s award-winning thriller. Its awards include Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal by I.B.P.A. and Silver Falchion Award 2018 Finalist by Killer Nashville among others.

Mystery Tribune has previously published “Her Lips, Cherry Red” by Mr. Malik.


“Mr. Newsome, I’m Detective Boyle. Dan Boyle.”



“Everybody calls me Johnnie.”

“All right, Johnnie.”

“Am I under arrest?”

“No. You’ve been brought in for questioning as a ‘person of interest’.”

“May I call you Danny?”

“No. It’s Detective Boyle. Let’s begin with the night of October 20 at Downey’s at the corner of Belmont and Racine. Why there? Why did you go into that bar?”

“Lot going on in my head that night. I took a long walk. I remember leaves. Lots of leaves. They crunched under foot. Wrigley was dark except for the marquee. Then I came to Downey’s. Not really sure why I went in—”

“…let’s begin with the night of October 20 at Downey’s at the corner of Belmont and Racine. Why there?”

“You know why. Through the window, Johnnie. You spotted a woman wearing a black lace blouse when you stopped and looked through the window.”

“Guess that’s right. I had been to Downey’s before and knew the types that hung out there. It’s a dingy old place. Its wooden floors reek of stale beer, and opposite the bar is a line of booths with oak benches that look like church pews. She—”

“Elizabeth Grimes.”

“Yeah, Elizabeth. She was wearing a sheer blouse of delicate black lace. She was obviously on the make: as soon as I ordered a beer, she picked up her drink, sauntered toward my booth, and slid into the seat across from me.”

“Was it your idea or hers to go back to her apartment?”


“Go on.”

“When we got there, the whore pushed me onto her bed, seductively removed that blouse, and covered my head with it; you know, like a veil that old Italian women used to wear to church. Then she stood at the foot of the bed and pleasured herself, looking me in the eye through the lace and moaning the entire time.”

“Did you kill her because she was a whore?”

“You tell me, Boyle.”

“It was more than that. Black lace. You got a thing about black lace, don’t you? When did that start? As a kid?”

“Maybe. I’m not sure.”

“C’mon, Johnnie. You’re a smart guy. You know damn well!”

“I know damn well what you’re fishing for . . . all right . . . yeah, I was smart enough to figure it out. Psychology 101 and all that crap.”

“Tell me about it.”


“You want to tell me. You’ve wanted to tell someone for years.”

“Have it you way, Boyle. I was thirteen. I needed money, so when Mom was out one night, I pawed through her dresser drawer where she kept loose cash, and I found several pairs of black lace panties. Dad didn’t know about the panties or the cash until I told him. He confronted her of course. She blamed me for the break-up of their pathetic marriage. There! Does that satisfy you?”

“About what I figured. Back to the Grimes woman—”

“I strangled her with that blouse. But you knew that before I sat down and you knew why! You think I’m some kind of pervert!? Is that it?”

“Not at all. I mean Christ! Your mom was whoring around and in some twisted logic blamed you for the divorce. I think black lace triggers an irresistible outlet for your anger. I can understand that.”

“You can?”

“Sure. I get it.”

“Bullshit! I don’t believe you. You’re playing games with me, Boyle. I’m leaving!”

“Sit back down, Johnnie! I want to talk about Susan Crawford. Let’s fast-forward to New Year’s Eve.”

“I don’t remember her.”

“C’mon, Johnnie, sure you do.”

“I don’t, dammit!”

“We can sit here all night until you tell me about Susan.”

“All right. All right. New Year’s Eve and no date. I got tired of staring at the four walls of my apartment, so I took the subway at Irving to Chicago Avenue and walked a couple of blocks to Michigan Avenue. The street was crowded with New Year’s Eve partygoers—those drunk and those soon to be drunk. They wore silly paper hats and blew cheap cardboard horns.”

“Susan, Johnnie. Tell me about Susan.”

“I’m getting there, okay? There were dozens of street musicians—hundreds of discordant musical notes all at once. I stopped close to a guy playing Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ on a violin. It drowned out all the noise of the street for me, so I tossed a couple of bucks in his case. The melody kept playing in my head all night.”

“Go on.”

“And lights. All the lights—white twinkling lights strung on trees along Michigan Avenue. If you squinted, they looked like twinkling stars against a clear night sky. Then I saw her. It was her dress that caught my eye. It was a shimmering floor length black evening gown, with a thigh-high slit trimmed in black lace. It was decorated above the waist with silver sequins that sparkled like the twinkling lights. She was standing in front of a women’s boutique staring at the window display.”

“You approached her?”

“Why not? I knew what she was up to. Shifting her eyes to my reflection in the window, she asked, ‘What do you think of that lingerie outfit?”

“Keep going, Johnnie. Keep going.”

“When we got to her apartment she stripped down to her panties and insisted on cash before she went any further.”

“Black lace panties?”

“I was counting on that, Boyle! Fancy. Looked very expensive.”

“Then what?”

“Then I tied those damn panties tight around her long, slender neck and strangled her. She died with terror in her eyes and “Ode to Joy” reaching a crescendo in my head.”

“And then there’s—”

“I’ve got nothing more to say to you, Boyle! We’re done here.”

“One last thing, Johnnie. Take a look at this photograph.”

“What’s that supposed to be?”

“A photo of a woman who wears black lace to pick up men in bars while her husband’s at work.”

“I’d like to meet her.”

“I want you to.”

“Who is she?”

“Boyle. Catherine Boyle.”


If you’ve enjoyed “Person of Interest”, you can visit our free digital archive of flash fiction here. Additionally, premium short fiction published by Mystery Tribune on a quarterly basis is available digitally here.

For online archive of short fiction (longer pieces) on Mystery Tribune website, you can visit here.

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