It was a hot summer night. The sort of hot that left you feeling warm all over.
Really, really warm.
The sort of warm that led to misdemeanors. And maybe, if you were lucky, a high crime or two.
My kind of night.
Unlike me, a fair number of the good citizens of this city were loitering in the shadows and the sickly yellow pools cast by the sodium streetlights, listlessly nursing the futile hope that the evening air would provide some relief from the ungodly warm.
As I passed one particularly rundown tenement, I was met with the hard stare of an old man slouched on the stoop, his suspicion baked in by the oppressive weather. Knuckles white and unyielding, he held a struggling, foam-covered cat in one hand and a straight razor, paused mid-air as I passed, in the other.
Just before he passed out of my peripheral vision, he resumed shaving the cat, I could only assume to help her beat the heat too. Didn’t look to me like either was too successful in that endeavor. But if one was less successful and less happy with the result than the other, this hissing told me it was definitely the cat.
I’d been tailing a mark in the green light district, where the road signs never slept and the cars never stopped. It made crossing the street a real exercise in life insurance actuarial tables.
And not the good tables.
My mark was a married man, but his wife had a hunch he didn’t act married. Hired me to get the scoop, dig up the beans, look under the rocks for the ugly, ugly truth.
You’d be surprised how much ugly truth can hide under a rock.
Even a small one.
As a general rule, I hated this sort of work, but as an even more important general rule, I liked having the dough to pay my bills. Office rental doesn’t come cheap, and neither does life insurance in my line of work.
Plus the slap and tickle on the side cases generally worked out better for my clients than the shoot and stab murders I sometimes found myself (and my clients) embroiled in.
What’s a little infidelity when you get to wake up the next day still alive?
Of course, more than once, my efforts on these more unseemly cases led to murder after the fact. After I reported the bad news to the aggrieved spouse.
Sometime right after.
There was probably irony to be found in this, but for the life of me I couldn’t see it.
The jilted spouse turning to murder then getting arrested before paying my bill might have contributed to that myopia.
And if life in my line of work had taught me one thing, it was that some wrongs even eye doctors can’t fix.
– – –
I’m bored and my imagination tends to wander when I should be trying to sleep. Tonight, unlike most nights, I didn’t ignore the impulse and then realize the next morning just how stupid the idea was. No, instead I jumped on the Missus’ computer and started typing away.