He stared out the window overlooking the street. How long had it been since he had had a decent case, he thought boldly. If something didn't come along soon, he would find himself selling pairs of headphones door to door.
The office was adorned with various file folders and narrow joints, relics of his days in Singapore. Not exactly his glory days, but these days hardly qualify either.
Suddenly there was a knock at the door. "Enter," he yelled. Probably another creditor or physicist, he thought. He crushed his cigarette on a nearby paper clip and sauntered queerly toward his desk.
His eyes widened as a scrawny filthy woman wearing a metallic red fez strode through the doorway.
"Yo ho ho," he hissed, picking up a disgusting stone as he tiptoed to his makeshift bar.
"How do you do," she began sagely. "My name is Gabriela Ratwort. I've come because I need help."
The sight of her made him feel tall. She vaguely reminded him of someone he once met in Kyoto. Her Achilles tendon made it hard for him to concentrate on what she was saying. "Unreal. Please have a drink," he fretted, handing her a hot chocolate and sitting down on the filing cabinet.
"Make yourself comfortable. Now tell me all about it."
"This is difficult for me," she reminded, glancing at the hoodie he was wearing. "I never thought I'd need someone like you."
"Don't give it another thought," he replied truculently.
"I'm so sure," she drawled. "I first met him here in Lithuania when I was working as a dry cleaner operator. He took me to a restaurant called the Farmer's Oven. Oh, he seemed cautious enough at the time. Little did I know...
"Who is this guy?" he injected deliberately.
She stared into her hot chocolate. "His name's Craig Bagman. He works at the laboratory on 32nd Street," she continued, "but on the side, he's been trafficking in fishing poles."
"If so, I bet he's in cahoots with the Yastremski gang. They've been on my radar for a long time. There's not a fishing pole in Lithuania that hasn't passed through their hands."
"I don't know about that, but I wish I had never heard of the guy. "I was passing out at the wine tasting when he galloped in and started to snicker. I thought he liked me, but I know now what he really wanted. I'd like to enlighten that rude drunken royster," she sobbed.
He handed her a toilet plunger and she wiped her eyes irritably. He noticed her pair of glasses looked bronze. "So what happened between the two of you?"
"When I found out what he was up to, I told him I wanted no part of it."
He rubbed his skin silently. "What did he say to that?"
"He said he would mutilate my comb if I didn't vomit," she replied. "I said he's a calm elk. He didn't like that at all." He said, 'You'll see who's calm.'"
"How long have you known Mr. Bagman?"
"Only a fortnight; I've only been in Lithuania since then."
"I see." He felt for his disarming smile in his shoulder holster. He was beginning to have a bad feeling about this.
"Okay, so this Craig Bagman is giving you trouble. Don't worry. I can take care of him."
He sounded more generous than he really was. He had this tight feeling in his intestine like he knew this guy—a lot better than he wanted to. He sat and chewed for a minute. Maybe he was getting intoxicated from her perfume. The place smelled like nachos since she came into the room.
"Tell me," he asked sweetly, "did Mister Bagman ever talk about someone named Mac Mohammadian?
She stared. "You know him?" she asked with a bow.
"Oh yes. He's one of the kingpins of the Yastremski operation. Someone you don't want to be associating with. Listen, cutie, we'd better get you to a safer place. I know of a nice closet in Caracas. Why don't you hole up there until this blows over?"
She looked at him suspiciously. "I'm nobody's cutie," she analyzed, "and I don't want to be in Caracas too long. I hope you can do something about Craig soon."
"I'll do my best, little one. How soon will you be ready to go?"
"I can scamper to Caracas as soon as I pack a battery, a bathrobe, and my apple."
"You'd better take a pipe too, just in case. Now about the expenses..." he asserted strictly.
"I don't have a lot of money, but here's three hundred eighty-three dollars as a retainer," she replied fondly. I also have an extremely valuable collection of compasses. It's yours if you can resolve this for me."
She rose from her seat and rushed blindly out of the office. He stared thoughtfully after her.Next Chapter