When I put the ad in the local newspaper, I didn’t expect much response because I was admittedly three sheets to the wind when I dictated it over the phone to the clerk at the other end. I hated the way my voice tended to slur all the vowels whenever I had a few too many.
The manager of my office building had made it quite clear to me that I would have to come up with enough dough to pay my back rent before close of business on Friday and here it was Thursday and I was deeper in hock than ever before. The wrinkles on my forehead grew a little deeper and I poured a little more hard stuff in my coffee to ease my worries.
The phone rang and I hesitated for a moment wondering if it was just another bill collector trying to squeeze a little bit more lemon juice from my wrinkled wallet.
“Andrews Confidential Inquiries ... This is J.R. Andrews, we guarantee your privacy in all matters of a personal nature.”
There was a slight pause on the line and then a breathless female voice whispered real low like she was trying not to be overheard by someone that frightened her standing in close proximity. Then, her first words hit me like a ton of bricks and I sank down onto the black leather sofa that doubled as my emergency crash pad. Of course, that was only when I was too late on my rent at my apartment building to think about showing my face to my uncompromising landlord. The words brought me back to reality and I knew that my problems were minor in comparison to the worries of the world around me in so many unadvertised situations.
“Mister Andrews, you don’t know me, but my name is Sin, short for Cynthia and I need help desperately before I go crazy with guilt. I want you to know I never murdered anybody and it is all a bunch of lies.”
I could hear her seductive breathing on the other end of the line and speculated about what she had just told me. It sounded like she was sincere but when the word “Murder” is used in a sentence like that, it paid to be super cautious before taking any job no matter how desperate one was for an infusion of immediate cash.
I listened with keen interest to her next words.
“Your ad said you were willing to do almost anything for five hundred bucks and I have it waiting for you right here just to listen to my proposition.”
It sounded like the real deal to me but you never know with all these creeps that run around just making trouble for perfect strangers. They probably sat at home laughing at their target’s stupidity and marveled at how some folks tended to believe their spiel of lies like it was given to them with a straight face in church on Sunday. I wasn’t particularly religious and all, but I did believe in a Creator that put the whole thing together, even if it did seem a bit far-fetched.
I did the only thing I could do under the circumstances.
“Just give me the address, honey, and make sure the dough is in small bills because I don’t want to get stuck with funny money and have egg on my face when I go to spend it later on.”
I could hear the indignation in the woman’s voice as she raised her voice and gave me a piece of her mind.
“I assure you, Mister Andrews, my money is printed by the United States Treasury and there is a lot more where it came from, providing you show me some results.”
I did my best to visualize a scantily dressed blond with her knees up high showing me some of the goodies and hold the receiver like it was an asp to her heaving breasts.
It sure sounded a lot more promising than just sitting on my butt waiting for the building manager to show up and start scraping my name from the door, so I high tailed it over to the ritzy part of town to discuss Sin’s problem with her face to face.
I left the car sitting right there in the alley because I was almost on empty and refilling the tank would have to wait until I had some green stuff in my wallet from this weird and unusual proposition.
I wanted to take this case so badly that I could almost taste the details on my tongue. The upfront cash would solve my cash flow problem and I wanted to get up close and personal with the dame on the other end of the phone in a way that is not discussed in bible class and only covered by strange words like “cleaving” and “begetting”. I know it seemed like an awful lot cleaving and begetting went on back then at the beginning of it all but there was not much else to do without any television or real books to read and enjoy in the nocturnal hours.
I didn’t like to get involved with anything related to a murder investigation because my license was already suspect from a couple of nasty cases that had resulted in multiple body bags being shipped off to the coroner’s office with me as a person of interest. I kept reminding myself that was a major consideration, but my gut wanted me to take the case so badly that I shoved my concerns out of my protesting brain and knew with certainty before I even rang the doorbell that I was going to take the case even if the girl was not as good-looking as she sounded on the phone.
The apartment building was one of those built before the depression things that used quality construction materials that couldn’t be used any longer because it would make the project unprofitable. The Italian marble in the lobby was real and the concierge with the silly moustache looked up at me with distain written all over his delicate cologne drenched face.
“Do you at least have a card, Mister Andrews?”
I dug one out of my wallet, even though it was a bit dog-eared and had a spot of ketchup on one corner. The guy sniffed with contempt at my offering and pushed it onto a silver tray with one gloved hand like it might have some sort of foreign disease hidden in the ink. In all honesty, it didn’t bother me at all because the lobby was air-conditioned and that was sort of unique at that time when the only air conditioners were of the window variety. Apparently, the builder had gotten permission from a patent holder to use the same sort of equipment they were putting into the movie theaters to blow cool air into an entire building with built-in vents and ductwork.
The elevator was extremely gaudy and looked like one of those French things that coasted in for a perfect landing on the correct floor. The operator was a guy that looked like he had been in the Spanish-American War and got a direct hit from a mortar shell. Still, he was perfection personified when it came to landing that thing right on the line of floor seven and smiled showing me an almost toothless mouth that was better left closed.
The carpet in the hallway was better than what you would expect in a five star hotel and that was unusual because these apartment buildings tended to opt for lower quality goods for furnishings and décor in common areas just to keep the cost of operational maintenance down to manageable levels. I noticed that all of the doors were of the thick metal variety with frames that would be almost impossible to jimmy even with Fire Department tools. It looked like a big negative to me because the building also did not have the sprinkler system that almost all commercial property was required to install ever since a terrible fire downtown that cost over a hundred lives.
Before the elevator doors could close, a sleek looking dame with a skinny little dog wearing a diamond studded collar walked with a distinctive seductive sway to the elevator without a single word or the slightest indication that she was aware of any other human beings around her. Her only focus of interest was in the ratty looking little dog that was shivering in the air conditioned lobby.
“Mommy is so sorry, babykins, she forgot to put your sweater on. We will get you nice and warm upstairs and we can get your snack put out by the maid just as soon as you get warmed up a little bit better.”
The middle-aged woman was quite a dish for a broad her age and her backside was so tempting that I moved to the back of the elevator to avoid reaching out to test her flexibility in those delicious looking heart-shaped cheeks. I saw her give me the once over, and I saw what looked like a flare of lust in her deep blue eyes but I kept silent because I didn’t have the lay of the land yet and besides, I was there for bigger and better things like getting my palms around some cash for this new assignment no matter how dangerous or how distasteful. It was a “dog eats dog” world and it looked like I needed more help right now than little babykins with his beautiful owner.