[Author’s note: When I’m done editing Oasis, you’ll get the rest of this. Maybe sooner depending on where I go with my writing journal.]
And she wasn’t just a doll, either. She was a full barbecue with all the sauces. She wasn’t young anymore, but she was still far from old. Her landscape was still firm, her lips were pouty, and her manner, well, she was a kitten on the prowl. She wore a string of marbles around her thin neck and had on a dark blue dress that was just the right amount of too tight in just the right places.
There was a time a couple of years back when Rick would take any case attached to a woman like that. He had always been a sucker for weepy glims and curvy gams. He was a patsy for a pretty face, and he knew it.
That’s why he had gotten out of Hollywood. Too many times blond bombshells had cheated, betrayed, winked, kissed, and slapped their way out of a detective bill. That’s why he had packed up moved out here to Edison City.
Now his office had been open two whole days and it looked like his very first client would be one of those same bombshells. Of course, the one in front of him was better aged than most of the picture show chicks that darkened his doorstep back in Cali. Somehow that didn’t make her any less delectable, though.
Rick couldn’t take the case. He knew it. It would just mean trouble by the shovel full.
“So, will you help me find my husband’s will?”
Rick frowned. “No.”
She sauntered closer, leaned way over, and rested her hands on his desk. “Pretty please?”
The dress was in no way loose, but the motion exposed just enough more real estate to break Rick’s resolve. Who was he kidding, anyway? He might as well give in now.
“Fine.” Rick winced when he heard the word escape his lips.
“I’ll give you, say fifteen hundred dollars after you get the will back and make sure I get my inheritance.”
The promise of big money was a worse bet than anything they have in Vegas. Besides, Rick had never been much of a gambling man.
“Or how about you give me a fifty dollar retainer and then you can pay my standard daily rate for as long as you want to keep me on the case.”
“What’s wrong, shamus? You doubt your detective skills?”
“More like afraid of your skill in pulling the sheep over my peepers.”
The corners of her mouth raised up in a smile. “All right then, we’ll do it your way. But you’ll miss out on a lot of dough.”
“That’s just fine. I ain’t looking to gamble on a job, sister. I’m just looking to pay the rent in this fine dump.”
“When can you start? The lawyer said he’d be reading the will on Friday morning.”
“Remind me why your husband’s shyster won’t let you spy the will?”
“We’ll he wasn’t technically my husband when he died. We’d been divorced two months.”
Rick shook his head. He had a gut feeling that this was only the beginning of the whole shebang getting worse. “What are you trying to-”
“But he didn’t have time to change it, honest.”
“How can you be sure?”
“That’s why his lawyer won’t show it to me. The new floozy wife paid him off so’s she can get a new one made up.”
“He’s married again? And you think she’s got it now?”
It just kept getting better and better. Rick knew he had found himself smack dab in the middle of a rich man’s cat fight. There was no way he’d be wrapping things up all neat and tidy. It was certain to turn ugly like the stain on the wall that he hid with the empty filing cabinet.
“What makes you think she’s got it?”
“Well, he died about two hours ago an I don’t think she’s had time to track down that artist friend of hers she used to see before she stole my husband.”
“Alright Mz…” Rick cursed himelf for being so weak just because a pair of mighty fine legs were on the other side of the desk. He realized he’d been hired and paid by a hum dinger and he didn’t even know her name yet. “What was your name again?”
She stole a glance out the window. Her flirty smile dropped. She sucked in some wind and straightened up.
“Charolette Gray. My husband’s name was Joey. The lawyer is Michael Baetelli. The artist’s name is David something. That’s everything you should need to know, right?” She turned and started for the door. “Good bye, Mr. Emerald.”
Rick raised an eyebrow. Something outside must have spooked her. He looked out to see what the trouble was.
The door closed and Charolette was gone.
Rick watched her pass by, then looked around again for the cause of her swift flight. He couldn’t see anything.
Might as well check it out.
He sighed and put on his fedora and overcoat. Maybe he should even follow her a bit, see where she goes, see if she’s on the level.
Rick’s office was on the street level of a three story office building, right next to a dive called Nate’s Deli.
Rick stepped out side just in time to see Charolette turn the corner. He pulled out his keys and locked the door. Sure she was moving quick, be he’d still be able to catch her.
He hoofed it past the deli and turned the corner.
Charollete was gone, but two beefy thugs were there waiting.
Rick put on the brakes, but it was too late. They were too close.
The first thug pounded a jackhammer of a fist into Rick’s stomach.
Rick doubled over and gasped for breath. He looked up to get a glance at his attacker.
The second thug stepped forward and decked Rick right in the kisser. The blow crashed him down to one knee.
“Listen bud, I don’t know what you’re trying to pull, but stay away from Mr. Gray’s affairs.”
Rick pushed out some breath and struggled back up to his feet. “Sure, sure. But who’s Mr. Gray?”
“Don’t get wise, flatfoot. I’ll knock you into next week.”
“Fine. Yeah. You got it.”
The second thug rapped the other on the shoulder. “Come on, Tony. We gotta do the thing.”
The two meatheads turn and made tracks in the direction Charollette was probably headed.
She had lied to get him on the job. Rick was angry about that. Two thugs had sent him a message. That just made him more curious. There was only one thing he could do at a moment like this…
Rick picked himself up, dusted himself off, and hauled back to the deli for a sandwich.