W. Slammer, Private Eye
December 26, 2012
You got a problem?
By the look on her face I knew the woman was more than confused.
“Look, if you shoot me, who’s gonna help you?” asks me, pouring more than a splash of bourbon into a water glass that somehow mysteriously appeared on my desk. “Here … you need this.” I hand her the glass, “and why not put that gun away. You’re not going to pull the trigger, but if it goes off someone might get hurt.”
She stared me down, then put the chrome 38 in her purse and took the glass, large green eyes never leaving mine as she took a raw slug of whiskey and swallowed. I’m used to women not being able to look away once they see me.
“Better?” I ask, offering to pour another shot in her glass.
“Why not … .” she said, hand trembling, slender fingers wrapped around the glass like she dared anyone to try and take it from her. “I don’t know what to do … .” Desperation oozed from her words like winter syrup from a maple tree.
I poured her another. “You look like you should sit, lady. Take a minute . . . then tell me why you’re really here. Someone steal something from you . . . something you want back?”
“How can I trust you?” she mumbled, slipping onto the chair across from me like wax running down the side of a hot candle . “I’m not sure why I’m even here,” looking me up and down like an alcoholic looking at a bottle of booze. “Someone said you were good.”
“I am.” I sat back in my chair and waited. If there’d been a clock on the wall I could have heard it ticking. “Look, if you don’t tell me what you need, I can’t help.”
She sighed. “They took the map and the letter.” It was a whisper, as though the walls were listening. “I can pay you whatever you ask.” She took another drink from the glass so I held out the bottle to see if she wanted more. She shook her head, still staring at me and licking her lips, long blonde Lauren Bacall hair floating gossamer-like around shadowed shoulders, a net catching flashing white neon light coming through the window behind me.
“A map and a letter.” I return her stare, letting the words ‘I can pay you whatever you ask’ find a place in my head to put their feet up next to my other favorite phrases. “Are we talking tourist map? What was in the letter?”
“The combination to a safety deposit box and the bank it’s in. The bank location is marked on the map. I’m not sure of the state or even the town.”
I couldn't see through the desk, but wished I could when I heard the whish of nylon as she crossed those long legs.
She’s still looking at me and licking those lips like she wants something besides another drink of booze. Oh, yeah. I’m good. I hand her the half-eaten chocolate bar I’d been holding. “Here . . . take a bite before you bite your tongue. Then let’s start at the beginning. Who are ‘they’ and when did all this happen?”
I'm thinking, This could turn into a long interesting night.