IT WAS A DARK & STORMY NIGHT: It seemed it was always dark and stormy these days. Darren Boyd felt as if the sun never came out anymore, and time was just one long stark expanse of streetlights and headlights refracting through the rain. It was just after 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve—a night that should have some tremble of anticipation, but Darren Boyd was not the kind of man who looked to the future with anything other than a grimace. He stepped from his Impala to the curb, locked the door, and reached into the front pocket of his slacks for his cigarettes and matches. He lit a Lucky Strike and walked into the door of Marty’s, one of the few places that was open in the Tragic City. He handed the bouncer the $5 cover without so much as nod and took a seat in a shadowy corner of the bar. Marty’s held a warm place in Boyd’s otherwise indifferent heart—between the patty melt and the purple and black-trimmed cityscape painted on the walls he almost felt at home here. He ordered a scotch on the rocks. There was a band playing, a six-piece called The Back Row Baptists with a folksy Southern sound. “Me and the devil and a bottle of wine…” the singer growled. Yes, it was a perfect place for a private detective like Boyd to find what he was looking for this Christmas Eve. Boyd pulled a notebook from his back left pocket and scrawled something down. Marty’s. (205) 939-0045. www.martysbar.com. Boyd jammed his cigarette into an ashtray, where it sat, smoking ever so little, and he waited.