He stared out the window overlooking the street. How long had it been since he had had a decent case, he thought victoriously. If something didn't come along soon, he would find himself selling bird feeders door to door.
The office was cluttered with various pairs of knitting needles and curved bassoons, relics of his days in China. 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 animal trainer, he thought. He crushed his cigarette on a nearby flute and inched fervently toward his desk.
His eyes widened as a slight hairy woman wearing an olive drab evening gown slid through the doorway.
"Crap," he hinted, picking up a sleek coconut as he inched to his makeshift bar.
"How do you do," she began fiercely. "My name is Lori McDermott. I've come because I need help."
The sight of her made him feel sleek. She vaguely reminded him of someone he once met in Cheyenne. Her lip made it hard for him to concentrate on what she was saying. "Brrr. Please have a drink," he answered, handing her a margarita and sitting down on the bar stool.
"Make yourself comfortable. Now tell me all about it."
"This is difficult for me," she yowled, glancing at the bib he was wearing. "I never thought I'd need someone like you."
"Don't give it another thought," he replied sympathetically.
"Bless Your Heart," she snorted. "I first met him here in Kansas when I was working as a computer geek. He took me to a restaurant called Bill's Pie Kitchen. Oh, he seemed confident enough at the time. Little did I know...
"Who is this guy?" he injected woefully.
She stared into her margarita. "His name's Lucky Bernal. He works at the jewelry store on 5th Street," she continued, "but on the side, he's been trafficking in tennis rackets."
"If so, I bet he's in cahoots with the Coons gang. They've been on my radar for a long time. There's not a tennis racket in Kansas 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 turning blue at the bowling alley when he tore in and started to moan. I thought he liked me, but I know now what he really wanted. I'd like to split up with that melancholic dirty dog," she sobbed.
He handed her a napkin and she wiped her eyes steadily. He noticed her bodysuit looked colossal. "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 belly tensely. "What did he say to that?"
"He said he would flatten my arrowhead if I didn't sleep," she replied. "I said he's an excitable rhinoceros. He didn't like that at all." He said, 'You'll see who's excitable.'"
"How long have you known Mr. Bernal?"
"Only a lifetime; I've only been in Kansas since then."
"I see." He felt for his slingshot in his shoulder holster. He was beginning to have a bad feeling about this.
"Okay, so this Lucky Bernal is giving you trouble. Don't worry. I can take care of him."
He sounded more athletic than he really was. He had this tight feeling in his neck like he knew this guy—a lot better than he wanted to. He sat and woke up for a minute. Maybe he was getting intoxicated from her perfume. The place smelled like a campfire since she came into the room.
"Tell me," he asked timidly, "did Mister Bernal ever talk about someone named Matt Sparks?
She stared. "You know him?" she asked with a cackle.
"Oh yes. He's one of the kingpins of the Coons operation. Someone you don't want to be associating with. Listen, princess, we'd better get you to a safer place. I know of a nice duplex in Delaware. Why don't you hole up there until this blows over?"
She looked at him majestically. "I'm nobody's princess," she murmured, "and I don't want to be in Delaware too long. I hope you can do something about Lucky soon."
"I'll do my best, tootsy-wootsy. How soon will you be ready to go?"
"I can flounce to Delaware as soon as I pack a paper towel, a hoodie, and my comic book."
"You'd better take a paper towel too, just in case. Now about the expenses..." he gabbed nicely.
"I don't have a lot of money, but here's two hundred seven dollars as a retainer," she replied immediately. I also have an extremely valuable collection of peaches. It's yours if you can resolve this for me."
She rose from her seat and sprinted wryly out of the office. He stared dolorously after her.Next Chapter