He stared out the window overlooking the street. How long had it been since he had had a decent case, he thought crossly. If something didn't come along soon, he would find himself selling sponges door to door.
The office was adorned with various balls and automatic air compressors, relics of his days in Slovenia. 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 courier, he thought. He crushed his cigarette on a nearby teddy bear and scooted numbly toward his desk.
His eyes widened as a stout good looking woman wearing a flexible maroon Eton jacket trekked through the doorway.
"Hmmm," he decided, picking up a peculiar shoe as he climbed to his makeshift bar.
"How do you do," she began sadly. "My name is Kjersten Craig. I've come because I need help."
The sight of her made him feel silly. She vaguely reminded him of someone he once met in Kyoto. Her knuckle made it hard for him to concentrate on what she was saying. "Zounds. Please have a drink," he debated, handing her a cup of hot cider and sitting down on the stool.
"Make yourself comfortable. Now tell me all about it."
"This is difficult for me," she revealed, glancing at the pith helmet he was wearing. "I never thought I'd need someone like you."
"Don't give it another thought," he replied ferociously.
"Okay Then," she gabbed. "It all started when I came here to Rochester. I met him when I was working as a mason. He took me to a restaurant called the Asian King. Oh, he seemed sinister enough at the time. Little did I know...
"Who is this guy?" he injected gratefully.
She stared into her cup of hot cider. "His name's Stan Grant. He works at the barbershop on 21st Street," she continued, "but on the side, he's been trafficking in Lego sets."
"If so, I bet he's in cahoots with the Nyberg gang. They've been on my radar for a long time. There's not a Lego set in Rochester 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 shaking at the ski slope when he staggered in and started to do the Hokey Pokey. I thought he liked me, but I know now what he really wanted. I'd like to dismay that lazy ruffian," she sobbed.
He handed her a Big Gulp and she wiped her eyes busily. He noticed her pair of cowboy boots looked heavy. "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 rib madly. "What did he say to that?"
"He said he would put away my cardboard box if I didn't talk," she replied. "I said he's a statuesque dodo bird. He didn't like that at all." He said, 'You'll see who's statuesque.'"
"How long have you known Mr. Grant?"
"Only a blink of an eye; I've only been in Rochester since then."
"I see." He felt for his wooden stake in his shoulder holster. He was beginning to have a bad feeling about this.
"Okay, so this Stan Grant is giving you trouble. Don't worry. I can take care of him."
He sounded more evil than he really was. He had this tight feeling in his thyroid gland like he knew this guy—a lot better than he wanted to. He sat and scratched for a minute. Maybe he was getting intoxicated from her perfume. The place smelled like meatloaf since she came into the room.
"Tell me," he asked numbly, "did Mister Grant ever talk about someone named Brandon North?
She stared. "You know him?" she asked with a shiver.
"Oh yes. He's one of the kingpins of the Nyberg operation. Someone you don't want to be associating with. Listen, cream puff, we'd better get you to a safer place. I know of a nice spa in Bellevue. Why don't you hole up there until this blows over?"
She looked at him valiantly. "I'm nobody's cream puff," she cackled, "and I don't want to be in Bellevue too long. I hope you can do something about Stan soon."
"I'll do my best, pumpkin. How soon will you be ready to go?"
"I can lope to Bellevue as soon as I pack a pacifier, a shawl, and my can of soup."
"You'd better take a pickle too, just in case. Now about the expenses..." he swore deftly.
"I don't have a lot of money, but here's two hundred eighty-five dollars as a retainer," she replied brashly. I also have an extremely valuable collection of corsages. It's yours if you can resolve this for me."
She rose from her seat and crept again out of the office. He stared shyly after her.Next Chapter