I always used to punch the people who told me that being a Private Detective was a glamorous job. It's not. I've not only become an alcoholic, but have endured some of the most horrible tortures ever devised. Electrocution, crucifixion, Vogon poetry. I've experienced them all and come out smiling, fedora still tilted rakishly. To be honest, I've come to accept the bad stuff that comes with this job, and I had even come to believe that I could take anything that was thrown at me. This belief was shattered, however, with the kidnapping of the only being I've ever cared about my beloved teddy bear.
This discovery, only a few hours old, is tearing me apart. I will not sleep until he is back in my possession and Ben Powerful the Belgian genius bent on world domination who engineered this heartless bear-napping is dead or of a similarly permanent inert condition. He will suffer. When I can be bothered to find his club, he will suffer. But, for the moment, I'm going to continue in my attempt to become dangerously drunk.
I signalled the end of this monologue, spoken to no other person than the barkeeper, by downing my shot of vodka and pushing the glass forward, indicating my desire to have it refilled. The barkeep, shaking his head and sticking his tongue out at me, thoughtfully obliged; I tipped my fedora in gratitude and emptied the glass once again. It was going to be a long night. The entrance behind me opened with a creak and, turning to investigate the identity of the new arrival, my eyes met those of the last person I expected to see except maybe Jesus or Hitler, which would have been quite surprising too. It was Kristy, the woman who had invited me to kill her overly-amorous husband for her. Dressed in a classy blue single-piece affair, she was every red-blooded male?s dream come true. I smiled blearily and patted the stool beside mine with a sorely bruised hand.
Small world, huh?? she said, taking up the position I'd offered her and ordering a gin and tonic.
My rant had left me short of breath, and I knew my beaten and bloody features, gained courtesy of Oaksy's pummelling me in the warehouse not too long ago, would not be leaving a great impression on her, even though he'd left a solid impression on me. Still, I meet her overused cliche with my own, "We must stop meeting like this."
She laughed a shrill laugh, and the sound reverberated around my ears before disappearing into silence. I suddenly felt the urge to slap her. The barkeeper, whose middle name was Primrose, delivered her drink in due course and she began to sip at it carefully. I looked away and stared at my reflection in the polished surface of the bar, wondering how I was going to pay for the drinks I'd bought. I could only hope that the guy serving them out would, for some reason, consider pocket lint a form of legal tender. "Kristy," I said sheepishly, "You know that offer you made me earlier? about your husband?"
She nodded enthusiastically as she set her half-empty drink down onto the expensive wood with a clink. "You've decided to accept?" she queried, narrowing her eyes and pouting her ruby-red lips. I had to give it to her; she certainly knew how to use her looks.
"I have, but before we shake on it there's some things I need to know about him, besides what he looks like. For instance, his name, where he works? the usual," I uttered casually, before quickly slipping in, "And I'd also like payment in advance for a job like this, since it really isn't what I normally deal with."
"That's not a problem," she said, pulling a large wad of cash out of her considerable cleavage and slapping it down onto the bar surface. The barkeeper's jaw dropped at this rather unexpected display, and I couldn't help but grin.
"I'm not going to ask why you're carrying that kind of money around with you," I said with a sudden feeling of sobriety as I put out my hand for her to shake, "But consider your husband a dead man."
I winced as she took, and shook, my outstretched palm while, with my other hand, I picked up the wad and placed it inside my trench coat pocket, "A good handshake," I said in a manly tone, "Nice and firm."
"You're not the first person to comment on how firm I am," she said, tossing her rich brown hair back and smiling suggestively; she really knew how to use her looks. "But I'm glad you've accepted my offer."
I nodded slowly, placing a couple of greenback onto the bar surface and looking the barkeep in the eyes. He was in his late fifties, from the look of him, and wouldn't be looking to make a fuss. "Here's what I owe for the drinks," I said, "Plus a little more for yourself and your silence." He said nothing as he picked up the money, but his sticking out his tongue again was assurance enough that he wouldn't rat on Kristy and I for our deadly agreement. Besides, if he did, I'd soon be back with my dragunov.
"Well, that's enough about business," Kristy sighed, "Let's talk about you, Mr. Zaitzev. What exactly is a man of your considerable talents doing in here at this time of night? And why, pray tell, have you so obviously been tenderised?"
?Another case, you might say; one in which I have a vested interest,? I replied cryptically, as I pulled out a cigarette and prepared to light up. Before I knew it, though, the cigarette was pulled from out of my hand and was being held up by the barkeep.
I reached over the bar and clobbered the barkeep with a swift blow to the temple. He fell to the floor, unconscious, and I reached into my pocket for another cigarette only to find I was out. At this, I climbed over to where the man had fallen, plucked the cigarette from his hand and took back the money I'd given him, "Stingy bastard? see what you get for trying to keep air clean." Looking back, I smiled pleasantly at Kristy, who smirked mischievously back at me.
"You want to discuss the details of your assignment at my place?" she said, almost as if nothing had happened.
"One second," I replied, and began to stuff my deep-fill pockets with bottles of booze. When I?d reached my fill I climbed back over the bar and took the beauty by the hand, "Let's go."