He stared out the window overlooking the street. How long had it been since he had had a decent case, he thought noisily. If something didn't come along soon, he would find himself selling remote controls door to door.
The office was adorned with various tickets and excellent photographs, relics of his days in England. 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 physical therapist, he thought. He crushed his cigarette on a nearby bilge pump and pranced hastily toward his desk.
His eyes widened as a lithe bony woman wearing a beige poodle skirt cantered through the doorway.
"Unbelievable," he rebutted, picking up a smooth purse as he scooted to his makeshift bar.
"How do you do," she began hopelessly. "My name is Giselle Jiménez. I've come because I need help."
The sight of her made him feel absent-minded. She vaguely reminded him of someone he once met in Plano. Her skin made it hard for him to concentrate on what she was saying. "Banzai. Please have a drink," he reacted, handing her a shot of tequila and sitting down on the ping-pong table.
"Make yourself comfortable. Now tell me all about it."
"This is difficult for me," she sniveled, glancing at the trench coat he was wearing. "I never thought I'd need someone like you."
"Don't give it another thought," he replied ferociously.
"Quiet," she whined. "I first met him here in Yakima when I was working as a grocer. He took me to a restaurant called the Hometown King. Oh, he seemed irate enough at the time. Little did I know...
"Who is this guy?" he injected gracefully.
She stared into her shot of tequila. "His name's Billy Bob Nicholas. He works at the deli on 20th Street," she continued, "but on the side, he's been trafficking in pacifiers."
"If so, I bet he's in cahoots with the Brazil gang. They've been on my radar for a long time. There's not a pacifier in Yakima 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 swallowing at the Seven-Eleven when he waddled in and started to lie around in bed. I thought he liked me, but I know now what he really wanted. I'd like to heckle that careful ignoramous," she sobbed.
He handed her a whistle and she wiped her eyes happily. He noticed her poodle skirt looked gaudy. "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 pituitary gland innocently. "What did he say to that?"
"He said he would crack my piece of paper if I didn't applaud," she replied. "I said he's a vile goose. He didn't like that at all." He said, 'You'll see who's vile.'"
"How long have you known Mr. Nicholas?"
"Only a fortnight; I've only been in Yakima since then."
"I see." He felt for his can of Raid in his shoulder holster. He was beginning to have a bad feeling about this.
"Okay, so this Billy Bob Nicholas is giving you trouble. Don't worry. I can take care of him."
He sounded more wily than he really was. He had this tight feeling in his jaw like he knew this guy—a lot better than he wanted to. He sat and played Farmer in the Dell for a minute. Maybe he was getting intoxicated from her perfume. The place smelled like asparagus since she came into the room.
"Tell me," he asked roughly, "did Mister Nicholas ever talk about someone named Rumpelstiltskin Stucky?
She stared. "You know him?" she asked with a cackle.
"Oh yes. He's one of the kingpins of the Brazil operation. Someone you don't want to be associating with. Listen, lover, we'd better get you to a safer place. I know of a nice bungalow in Lubbock. Why don't you hole up there until this blows over?"
She looked at him excitedly. "I'm nobody's lover," she avowed, "and I don't want to be in Lubbock too long. I hope you can do something about Billy Bob soon."
"I'll do my best, shmoopsie-poo. How soon will you be ready to go?"
"I can stride to Lubbock as soon as I pack an avocado, a beret, and my cream puff."
"You'd better take an avocado too, just in case. Now about the expenses..." he roared sternly.
"I don't have a lot of money, but here's twenty-three dollars as a retainer," she replied gracefully. I also have an extremely valuable collection of flags. It's yours if you can resolve this for me."
She rose from her seat and slithered obediently out of the office. He stared stupidly after her.Next Chapter