Me and some swanky dame with gams that go all the way to the ground? Yeah, hard to believe, considering my recent run of bad luck with the ladies. I'd been striking out more than Mantle with a martini hangover, so this was a thin slice of Heaven and, for once, I was feeling like the cock of the walk. As we strolled into Harry's gin joint, I smiled a little, while listening to the old fat men's necks crack as they turned to stare at a rare beauty, marveling that she'd waste her time in this dive and with a bum like me, no less. Yeah, it was nice.
We went to the bar and, after I'd sized up a suitable vantage point, we took our seats. She wasted no time in ordering up a double bourbon and a beer. My kinda gal.
Me? I ordered up a triple glance around the room, eyes out for Joey Bags and his too happy trigger finger; for the moment, he was nowhere to be seen. He must have noted our grand entrance and chosen to scurry back into one of the cracks where the rest of this dive's roaches hide.
Seeing that the the coast was, for a moment, free and clear of the more dangerous scumbags, I decided to relax and asked Harry, the barkeep, for a shot of cheap scotch. I wasn't sure what Harry was celebrating but he poured out a double and smiled as he said "on the house, Jonny". I tipped a couple of bucks. So far, it was still a good night.
It was then when I thought to myself, 'nights are long, pal and have this peculiar way of steering you down blind alleys and, if you aren't savvy, an untimely demise'. I'd seen it happen to quite a few so-called hard-boiled gumshoes. I wasn't about to join the list at such a tender young age. I was too pretty to die and, besides that, there was bottle of single-malt with a 12th birthday I planned on attending. I'd keep my eyes wide and my senses sharp. Who knew when a mooch like Joey Bags might show his ugly mug and an even uglier .38? I had decided not to die, even if this did feel like a little slice of heaven.
"Not tonight, Reaper" I whispered to myself... or so I thought.
"Come again, Mr. Spender? I didn't quite hear you."
I smiled at the swanky readhead, perched primly on the stool next to mine and said "Just thinking aloud, Miss Liles". Ordering another scotch as a nightcap, I turned around so as to keep my back to the bar and my eyes on the room. The gorgeous redhead, seemingly frustrated by my silence, spoke in a tone dripping with sarcasm. "Poring over all of the 'clues you've uncovered, Mr. Spender? Isn't that what you big, bad private eyes do? Solve the crime and brag about your exploits? Honesly, you offer me so little information for my money that I have to ask if you really ARE a licensed private detective or just a slimy con-man who's taking me for a dull-witted sap, Spender. The truth! Do you have plan for solving this case." She stared at me, her once kind eyes and sweet smile now set into a hard grimace as she sat questioning my character and expecting the worst
After a few moments of silence, she continued her interrogation, asking once again "Do you HAVE a plan for solving this case, Mr.Spender?" It was then that I returned her stare and gave the only answer that I had to give. "Laura, my plan for the moment is to keep me alive which, in turn helps me keep you alive and then, if we're really lucky, I'll find out who's trying to screw with such a crafty, carefully thought-out plan."
Her features, so lovely as she smiled but harsh when set in rage, hardened as the words hissed through her clenched teeth: "You had better do just that, you arrogant bastard."
I replied with what I hoped was a nice mix of cool and sarcasm, "Sister, if it fucking fails, you'll be the first to know."