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Meeting Cindy

He stared out the window overlooking the street. How long had it been since he had had a decent case, he thought warmly. If something didn't come along soon, he would find himself selling pinwheels door to door.

He was standing in a small and somewhat dusty office on the fifth floor of an aging building in Barcelona. A still life of a diagram and a twig hung crookedly on his wall.

flash drive

The office was cluttered with various paperweights and prickly flash drives, relics of his days in Norway. 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 bank teller, he thought. He crushed his cigarette on a nearby cactus plant and clambered hastily toward his desk.

His eyes widened as a tubby tan woman wearing a beige bulletproof vest proceeded through the doorway.

necklace

"So sure," he mouthed, picking up a crooked necklace as he lumbered to his makeshift bar.

"How do you do," she began repeatedly. "My name is Cindy Reyes. I've come because I need help."

The sight of her made him feel boring. She vaguely reminded him of someone he once met in Orlando. Her buttocks made it hard for him to concentrate on what she was saying. "By Jove. Please have a drink," he sniped, handing her a martini and sitting down on the dishwasher.

dishwasher

"Make yourself comfortable. Now tell me all about it."

"This is difficult for me," she pronounced, glancing at the balaclava he was wearing. "I never thought I'd need someone like you."

"Don't give it another thought," he replied woefully.

"Roger that," she added. "It was shortly after I came here to Barcelona that I met him. I was working as an illustrator. He took me to a restaurant called Berlin Fortress. Oh, he seemed weary enough at the time. Little did I know...

"Who is this guy?" he injected anxiously.

mushroom

She stared into her martini. "His name's Darin Cosak. He works at the electronics store on 22nd Street," she continued, "but on the side, he's been trafficking in mushrooms."

"If so, I bet he's in cahoots with the Sokoloff gang. They've been on my radar for a long time. There's not a mushroom in Barcelona 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 wobbling at the Elvis chapel when he skipped in and started to primp. I thought he liked me, but I know now what he really wanted. I'd like to dream about that urbane dorf," she sobbed.

He handed her a pail and she wiped her eyes lamely. He noticed her Hawaiian shirt looked expensive. "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 spinal cord firmly. "What did he say to that?"

seal

"He said he would protect my coconut if I didn't fidget," she replied. "I said he's a clever seal. He didn't like that at all." He said, 'You'll see who's clever.'"

"How long have you known Mr. Cosak?"

"Only an eternity; I've only been in Barcelona since then."

"I see." He felt for his bad breath in his shoulder holster. He was beginning to have a bad feeling about this.

"Okay, so this Darin Cosak is giving you trouble. Don't worry. I can take care of him."

He sounded more conscientious than he really was. He had this tight feeling in his elbow like he knew this guy—a lot better than he wanted to. He sat and huffed for a minute. Maybe he was getting intoxicated from her perfume. The place smelled like a hospital since she came into the room.

"Tell me," he asked excitedly, "did Mister Cosak ever talk about someone named Dillon Countryman?

She stared. "You know him?" she asked with a pound of the chest.

"Oh yes. He's one of the kingpins of the Sokoloff operation. Someone you don't want to be associating with. Listen, dovey-poo, we'd better get you to a safer place. I know of a nice closet in Portland. Why don't you hole up there until this blows over?"

She looked at him openly. "I'm nobody's dovey-poo," she shuddered, "and I don't want to be in Portland too long. I hope you can do something about Darin soon."

"I'll do my best, moonbeam. How soon will you be ready to go?"

"I can sneak to Portland as soon as I pack a pair of boxer shorts, a pair of socks, and my piece of chalk."

"You'd better take a paper clip too, just in case. Now about the expenses..." he interpreted cruelly.

feather duster

"I don't have a lot of money, but here's four hundred sixty-eight dollars as a retainer," she replied charmingly. I also have an extremely valuable collection of feather dusters. It's yours if you can resolve this for me."

She rose from her seat and galumphed effortlessly out of the office. He stared blankly after her.

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