- A Head By Nature Has an Eye
- It was a bleak day and it was looking rather like it would be a bleak night. Or maybe nights are bleak by definition. Unless you're near the poles. I wasn't near the poles. I was downtown. I was in my office. I was a private eye.
- The day had started off bad, but it had spun off enough compounded random detours that it was clearly being redirected from Detroit to Cleveland. I had already had to turn down three clients. Their proposed work was far too high-profile, too public. And I had done it too many times before. I wasn't interested.
- But my fourth client was different. He was an ordinary working-class Joe, a guy who looked like he lived in a bad part of town but not really as bad a part of town as my office. My office tends to be the worst part of town. I like it that way. I'm a private eye.
- "Do you... uh..." he started. I stopped him right there.
- "Look, you've never seen me before," I snapped. "I just have a common-looking face, see."
- "No, it's not that..." he said, and laughed nervously. "Do you do assassinations?"
- Working-class Joes tend to stay working-class Joes in my experience. I gave him the old rabbit eye.
- "Look, you're making me nervous," he said, trying to follow my eye with his. "Maybe I should go to someone else."
- I jumped in front of him and slammed my hand to the door, holding it shut. "Yeah, I can pull a hit," I quipped. "That's right up my alley."
- He shuffled his feet. "I don't know aboat thi--", he got out, and that's when I put it together. I slammed my hand to the desk triumphantly. It was an uncomfortable stretch.
- "You're Canadian!" I shouted. "I charge Canadians three times extra."
- "That's okay," he said, uncomfortably. "Now let me tell you who I want, um..."
- "Yeah, yeah, stopped in the ticker," I poffed. "Drained of the salts of cognition. Given a one-way ticket to Cleveland."
- "I really want to go to someone else."
- But I waived the fee completely and took the job. It wasn't going to be easy, but that's how I like it. Tricky, like shaving the tops off the cobbles in the dark, bleak road. Because I'm a private eye.
- "So..." I turned toward Bob. He was busy adjusting his suit and sunglasses.
- "Look, man," Bob said. "I don't care how we do this. I'm tired of this nutjob. Let's just throw a dang net over him and call it."
- Bob was old for an agent, and Canadian to boat, heh heh. He'd had an extremely distinguished career; it's a wonder we even got him to work on this much of *this* mission.
- So I bit my tongue and called up Alex.
- I decided to open the folder the client gave me. But no, that wouldn't do. I'd have to intuit the contents, like a gypsy who owned her own antique shop, but in another antique shop, looking for deals she could mark up.
- "John... Trotson," I decided. So I got out my phone book. The only Trotson had a first name of Alex. I paused to consider this, like a kewpie doll a neighborhood punk carefully etches room for and inserts into an icicle in February.
- I couldn't be expected to do any better. I wasn't a seer. I was a private eye.
- "Let's go pay this Trotson a visit," I quipped to nobody in particular.
- Alex answered his phone cheerfully. "You got a job for me?" he immediately asked.
- "Look, Alex..." I sighed. "Yeah, we could use your help. The turkey is leaving the coop, man."
- "I could fix the door," he offered. I closed my eyes and waited.
- "Oh... but turkey? That's not the bird we usually... yeah, okay. I'll be right there."
- I was outside Alex's door. I was going to have to use some subterfuge here. Fortunately, I can handle trickiness. I'm a wooden nickel. I'm a seal covered in loaded dice and hotglue. I'm a private eye.
- Alex opened the door before I knocked. He was wearing a suit and sunglasses. His eyes lit up.
- "Say, there," I said in a posher voice than usual. "I'm trying to find a nice preppy school I can send my precocious children to. You look like you know the area. Nice house you have. Uh, I mean, elegant abode." I cursed in my head like a bluetooth.
- Alex nodded, beaming. "That would be an honor, sir. They didn't tell me I got to do this!"
- So he gave me some addresses. I nodded and cleverly looked like I was paying attention. Then I read the first one and headed off for it. "Anytime, sir!" Alex called after me.
- "You did WHAT?"
- While talking to a teacher-looking type standing outside the third school, I realized that that tricky weasel had given me the slip. I had been fooled like a pilot whose copilot rigged up an artificial artificial horizon. I had been bamboozled like a country boy told that jumping off skyscrapers was the New York activity. I really felt like I was crashing into the ground, here.
- So I headed back to my office. That's when the bleakness really set in. I was just about out of leads. But I still had one. I opened the folder.
- Hmmm. This really wasn't going to be an easy assignment. And it was even more high-profile than the jobs I had turned down. But at least I wouldn't be around for all that.
- "Bob, I just found the folder you were supposed to give him. What did you give him exactly? I'm sending Alex."
- Pain wasn't something I feared. I'm as hard and cold as a complex solid in a six-drink McDonald's dispenser. So while I didn't have to worry about that constraint, I still needed to think of an job-appropriate method. I couldn't let down the long and storied traditions of private eyes.
- Then that Trotson lad burst into my office. "Sorry, sir, I need to take you back now," he insisted.
- "Oh, no, you're one of--dang, I should've known before from the suit. Look, why don't you all just find another President? I'm done with that scene. I'm a private eye."
- But he talked sense for a while and I decided they needed me after all. "Look, just let me finish this one jo--b," I got out past a choked cough. "Sure, okay, if it means that much to you, sir," he said. "But come back before 8. You've got a meeting with the Secretary of the Treasury."
- And he left. So I was free to do the assassination. I started considering the myriad uses of fedoras.
- I knew sending Alex was a bad idea since right after I did it. But I couldn't reach him for some reason, so I took off for the "office" myself. I ran into the building, flashed my badge at the front desk and stepped past bellboys and waitstaff, into the elevator. Into the hall and into the room.
- He was sitting in a chair with his head back and a hat on his neck. "I don't think I really get mass," he said.
- So I helped him up and walked with him back to the elevator. "I'm not finished with my job," he protested. "You're being as annoying as a feather sock."
- "What job?" I straightened up. He gave me a folder, sighing.
- Bob was in a world of trouble.
- The End.
a guest Apr 26th, 2014 1,055 Never
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