It was nine P.M. on a dark and stormy Wednesday night. I remembered that because it was raining at night, in the middle of the week. I had just polished off a long neck when there came a knock on my door, or maybe there were three. It took a minute for me to wipe myself off and put the long neck back in my pants. I had lost count of the knocks.
She stood in the open doorway with a couple of 38's pointed at me, she had a gun too. The dame was like most of my other female clients I guess, except this one had both arms, all her own hair, and legs as long as Highway 3 leading to the New Jersey Meadowlands. It would normally be a pleasurable drive except for the smell to be found at your destination. I greeted her with the obvious introductions based on my first impression, but she indicated that she had already applied the Vagisil and was waiting for it to neutralize the yeast infection.
Red told me her story. They all have a story; something about a two bit husband who had done her wrong. I told her to have the poor bastard give me a call, I'd tell him how to do her right. She went on about how she loved the "mug", and even her lousy husband too, but only after enjoying a frosty pint at the pub from time to time. But, he had gotten himself mixed up with the wrong element, and one of those elements was lye. OK, so maybe lye is a compound, not an element. Maybe it's something red headed dames with both arms and all their own hair do when they need a mook like me to do their dirty work for them, but I ain't answering anymore questions about lying dames or chemicals, see?
Hubby, or "Pookie" as she liked to call him, had gotten himself canned and pickled at the bottom of a ditch somewhere all over a brown paper package that he was supposed to deliver to the wrong element. The local cops called him, "The Tin Man". I knew him as a half pint loser who liked to wear cheap Bling. "Tin? I don't know, but if it was gold or silver it had to be plated, just like the back of his head after he made fun of my mother back in '89. Yeah, I knew the bum from school. He was nothing but a bad seed. The kind you leave in the sink because it ain't worth the 50 bucks to drop it off with the corner hooker.
She showed me the package. It had already been opened and was still vibrating. "Oops, wrong package", she said while showing me another brown paper package which was also still vibrating. "What can I say, I'm an adventurous girl", she said. Red leaned in towards me and made eye contact. "On that topic, do you like to go Spelunking, Mr. Wortham?" "I don't know", I replied, "But if that has anything to do with where those vibrators have been recently, I'll pass". I was playing it cool, but Mr. Happy was acting like a seat back on a plane about to take off, "In his full and upright position".
The real package contained a little black book with a series of dollar amounts and coded entries. The kind a bookie makes when tracking which of his numbered clients he owes or he pays, not that I would know anything about the world of illegal ferret fighting or armadillo racing. Then I spotted it. 9678426. "Bollocks!" I yelled out loud as if part of this story needed to appeal to my friends in the U.K. It was my coded number, right there on plain lined paper with a positive sign next to a five figure debt I owed the Tin Man. I wasn't angry because I owed that much money, I was angry because the mental midget's coding system used numbers on a touch tone for the last name of his client. 9678426 equaled WORTHAM, or a Mr.YOPVIBO, perhaps. Creative? I think not.
My path had suddenly become clear. I wanted the book. I wanted to put an end to the punk with the cheap bling, and I wanted Red. She was begging for me to take the case, but I didn't let on that I had my own motives for burying the hatchet with my old school year friend. Somewhere between his shoulder blades would be best. She tried to ask again but I kept holding her head in place. I fed the Swallow, tossed some seed into the cage for my pet bird and we headed off to find The Tin Man.
She drove me in her convertible, then we pulled away from the curb and headed out of the city. I know we were past the city limits because we weren't hitting as many pedestrians. Road Kill took on a whole new meaning with Red, but I liked her spunk, not of the viscous pungent variety of course. She shifted those gears like a ten dollar hooker wearing a fifty dollar pair of gloves. She ground the gears enough to cause a man's face to wince in pain, but she looked classy doing it. By the time we had reached speed on the highway, it was time to get off but no room to do it without causing an accident.
We found the Tin Man's suburban operation; nothing more than a backroom at a Korean Tapas restaurant. The sign in the window highlighted the Kim Chi Chicken Carpaccio Special. Sounded to me more like a daily oxymoron than a daily special. The back of the place was only guarded by two street punks, which Red offered to dispatch with a couple of swift kicks to their respective groins. It was magic watching that woman work. Breathtaking it was; choreographed to perfection. Clearing the path to the door, I kicked it in and paid the Tin Man my compliments. He reached for his rod, adjusted his alignment and then pulled out a gun. Focused on me, Red slipped around behind him and pistol whipped the back of his head with her 38. She had left her gun back in my office.
While I doctored the little black book to remove any evidence of my name, Red opened her purse to look for something to tie the Tin Man up. I found my entry, and changed it to 8675309 and left it neatly on the Tin Man's desk. The police would either call some puke named Vorkfoz, or Jenny-Jenny depending on the code breaking system they used. When I looked back, Red had already handcuffed the Tin Man to the chair, tied up his feet and legs with a series of long black leather straps, and covered his head in a leather mask complete with ball gag. "You're my kind of woman", I said. She responded by giving me one hell of a hot kiss on the mouth. I asked her to remove her cigar next time.
On the road back to the office, we called the local cops and told them the tale. The Tin Man would go down for at least 20 in the state pen, and given his relative size to the boys in cellblock "D", would probably be forced to change his name to Cindy Lou.
Back at the office, we said our goodbyes. I gently kissed her lips but she crossed her legs and broke my glasses. We agreed to see each other again, down at the Purple Pit. Red was a regular dancer there on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She told me my table dances would be free. She told me that I was the real thing, a real man, the only one. She told me a lot of things that I wanted to believe. I ran into an old cop friend from school the next day who asked if I had heard about the pinch they made on The Tin Man. I played dumb, not hard for a guy that looks like me. Then he told me about the $2 Million that was missing from the Tin Man's office.
It occurred to me only then, that Red's oversized purse seemed a little full when we left Tin Man's office, especially since it was absent of several pounds of leather left behind and wrapped around the skinny runt in the chair. I rushed to the Purple Pit and asked for Red, only to be greeted by girls named Goldie, and Paisley, and one named Crystal. "We don't have a Red here, but we have other colors honey, just pick one out".
Dames. What's a flat foot, broken down, private detective like me gonna do about 'em?
I sat down, took a good look at Goldie and asked, "What's a pocket full of change from an honest but working class mook like me, buy these days". Goldie smiled and replied, "Stack 'em up on the stage nice and tall and I'll show you".