The sun oozed through the blinds like hot fudge. It did a dirty waltz with the dust that was hanging in the air because all the available real estate was taken by assorted other greases and grimes. The cleaning “lady” had gone out to buy a mop one day some many years ago and never came back. Good help is hard to find. Especially if you pay what I do. Woe is me. I took a thick sip of hair of the dog and leaned back in my broken chair. A pile of mail on my desk full of nothing but past due lay on my desk, taunting me. I refused to bite. Besides the hangover banging away like a hopped up jazz cat on the drums in my head was monopolizing my attention. In a way I was kinda glad of it, because I knew only too well that out there in the stink of the city, crime was having a gay old time, and it damnit if it didn’t have a real nasty habit of turning over the rock I lived under and poking me with a stick. Of course the ad I ran in the Gleaner didn’t help. Sue me, I had bills to pay and bottles to buy.
There was a knock on the door. I knew hot knuckles when I heard them. I put the gin in a drawer and a mint in my mouth and tried to straighten a tie I wasn’t wearing.
“Come in,” I said.
She did. All five feet four inches of bad news. She was wearing so much eau de trouble my eyes watered. She sat her perfectly contoured haute couture’d form down in the cracked leather chair in front of my desk. She stared at me with blue eyes that would make ice feel like burnt toast.
“So,” I said.
“You’re a detective,” she said.
“When I feel like making a living.”
“And when you don’t?”
“I shave tigers for the circus,” I said.
“You’re funny,” she said and lit a cigarette. The drag she took would of killed a G.I. on Omaha Beach, “But I don’t need a shave.”
She didn’t. “You don’t,” I said, “So detective me it is.”
She dropped her cigarette on the floor. Didn’t stub it out. Closed her Arctic eyes and took a deep breath.
“It’s my husband.”
“Someone wants to kill him.”
I nodded. This wasn’t the first time I’d been approached by a tall drink of water married to some shlub with a case of the fatals.
“And you believe they’re going to succeed?”
“No,” she said, “I’m afraid they’re going to fail.”
I tried to gulp. But farted instead.
To be continued…