(Soundtrack for this post is the noir saxophone. You know how it goes.)
I had two slugs in me: one was Bacardi’n’Coke, and so was the other, and they were talking about joining up with the six from last night and getting the party started again. I knew when he came into my office he was trouble. He sidled in like a guy who’s seen it all and had it taken away.
“They tell me you’re the romance detective,” he finally stammered.
“That’s what it says on the door.”
I’m a tough woman, and what I do is hard, dangerous work, but it’s work I can always get. There’s plenty of it lying around. But even then I could tell this was going to be a tricky one.
“I met this girl, but…” he started into the same story they all have. Boy meets girl, boy hears something bad about girl, boy turns her away.
“So d’you want her?”, I interrupted.
“Well er I think I’m not really sure and she’s going back to…”
“Then reach out and take her. Give her a call, there’s a booth downstairs. It’ll only cost you a dime, and it could buy you the rest of your life.”
He walked out in more of a daze than when he’d come in. I turned back to my Bacardi’n’Coke. Another case solved for Phoebe Tucker: Romance Detective!
Such a shame that there is not the faintest scintilla of a reason for Roy to have Lexi’s phone number; he has always encountered her through the machinations of Kirsty, and why would he have asked for it when he didn’t think there was any point?
He was back in a few minutes.
“I don’t have her number.”
“Well, you came to the right place. My rates are twenty a day, discount if you pay in Bacardi.”
As soon as he’d handed over the moolah, I put my information network on the job. A word to the right person here, a bulging envelope handed over here, tracing the vodka bottles back to the caravans, and I knew I was on the right track.
And I was even more sure when two guys stopped me on the way to my contact and told me to lay off Miss Viktorova. Big guys, the sort you’d see wrestling sheep or standing in for a wall that had fallen down. We had a friendly discussion about the relative merits of Sheri Cobb South and Kate Noble, and I left them nursing their wounds in the Bull. Nobody can afford good romantic thugs these days.
I brought the number back to Mr Sad Sack. He didn’t seem happy about it. But you don’t employ a romance detective if you don’t want a romance; he’d paid his money and he was going to get what it bought. I dialled, then passed him the phone.
Yeah, I can hear that saxophone right now!