One night I had a dream my youngest son worked as a private detective in Gettysburg.
Inspired, I wrote this in ten minutes and deep down, I hope Jared forgives me.
The Detective, The Dame, The Diamond, and the Dog
by Alan Loewen
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
(Not that anybody in their right mind would steal this stuff, but if you do, I will hunt you down, strap you to a chair, and tell you my Gus the Pus Sucker story)
My name is Austin, Jared Austin.
I’m the only private detective in my little south-central Pennsylvania town and that’s the way I like it ‘cause I like life like I like my coffee: hard, dark, and lonely.
And I’m truly by my lonesome. My one brother is doing undercover work in Sarajevo and the other is running guns in Singapore. My sainted mother lives half a continent away and my old man told his Gus the Pus Sucker story one too many times and is now part of a new concrete bridge support over the Susquehanna River.
I do share my office with a parrot; an evil, screaming thing that I call the Death Chicken, but he doesn’t count as company, more like retribution.
She walked into my office and she looked the way I like ‘em, like my coffee: tall and strong, with a touch of eyeliner.
“My diamond brooch is missing,” she said in a pretty little pout, her lower lip stuck out so far I could have used it as a bookshelf. “It’s worth thousands.”
I flipped my fedora on my head. “It’s ten dollars a day, babe, with expenses. Starbucks ain’t cheap.”
I chased away the taxi that had brought her and we drove to the scene of the crime in my VW Bug. I don’t like driving cars so small I can lick my own knees without so much as stooping, but she was a looker and I didn’t mind her sitting so close I could discern the individual elements of her perfume. I could tell I had hit the jackpot. This was a dame who shopped at Target and never darkened the door of a Wal-Mart.
We drove to the ritzier side of town and before she opened the front door, she warned me of her Old English bulldog who thought everyone who came to visit came to see him personally. She opened the door and she hadn’t lied. He was a real friendly sort and I like my dogs like I like my coffee: all teeth and drool and a coat of fur.
She showed me her boudoir where the brooch disappeared and that’s when I noticed the dog wasn’t as lively as she had claimed it would be.
“Listen, lady,” I said. “I need fifty feet of plastic tubing, a yak, and a safety net, pronto.”
She stuck out that lower lip again. “I don’t have a safety net.”
“Then a long-handled wooden spoon will do and then you need to leave. There are things in this world a dame ain’t meant to see.”
An hour later I gave her back the brooch. “You’ll want to wash your hands after handling that,” I said. “And your mutt could use a cup of joe.”
She batted her baby blues at me. “Would you care to stay for a cup of coffee yourself?” she asked and her eyes told me the creamer would be real stuff from the supermarket and not the artificial junk in those little plastic tubs you can never open right.
“Sorry, babe,” I said, as I flipped my fedora back on my head. “I never touch the stuff.”