She entered forcefully, flinging open the door to my office and sauntering in as if she owned the building.

Her three-inch black heels were clicking and clacking against the linoleum floor like an orgy of sap sucking woodpeckers penetrating a virginally willow.

This dame was classic, textbook material. Blonde hair in a bun, cute white top, short black skirt, makeup covering her face like a Halloween mask, red lipstick, the whole shebang. The kind of gal that hangs out on Fifth Avenue with her eighty-year-old hubby, flashing her credit cards around like a proud Fed showing off his shiny badge.

Yep. You know the type.

Before she entered, I was minding my own business, sitting there, my favorite fedora hanging over my face, leaning back in an old, beaten, naugahyde chair with my feet propped up on the slab of wood I like to call a desk. When she flings that door open, my instincts go into overdrive, and as my feet kick up the thousands of papers lying scrambled across my desk, my hand desperately reaches for the Colt .45 Peacemaker I keep in the holster just under my left armpit.

You see, I immediately start thinking about all the dirty, rotten people I’ve dealt with over the years. The thieves, murderers, assassins, mercenaries… the punks, freaks, psychos, hybrids, mutants… the sleaze, slime, and sinister sacks of sickening scum… I’ve crossed paths with the whole lot of them. Could this be one of them tryin’ to get even? It doesn’t matter. I live for the danger.

That’s why the name on the door says Jim Robbins, Real Estate Agent.

So there I was! With my revolver almost in hand, the dame cuts through my smoke-filled room like a hot, sharp razor through a lifetime supply of shaving cream. She saunters around, over, and under the piles of cigarette butts, greasy wrappers, empty vodka bottles, and used prophylactics without so much as a batting of her long, thick eyelashes. And before I can manage to pull the revolver completely out of its holster, she’s managed to squirm her flexible, supple body into a chair right in front of my desk.

Seeing the dame like that, storming into my office with all the subtlety of a god of war, I holstered my gun, knowing full well that it would take more than a couple bullets to take down an animal this ferocious. I let my eyes do the shooting instead, and from the skilled, practiced gaze of a man in my profession, gathered enough data in the span of a microsecond to know that I had everything and nothing to fear from this specimen. You see, my deductive skills were so acute, so sharply attuned, that I had figured out everything about that dame before she’d even separated those thick, wet lips from one another.

“Mr. Robbins…” she started before I successfully cut her off.

“Listen sugar dumpling,” I responded gruffly, “For the record, I’m a professional. Seen a thousand dames just like yourself waltz into my office with plots of manipulation and revenge. They all figured they could rope me into their little schemes too. Just tell me a sad story, pout a little, shake their rump around and I’d fall for them like a four dollar set of dominoes. Let’s just say I’m wise to the game, babe, and all about breaking some rules.”

Amused by the dame’s reaction to my deductive prowess, I reached across to my window and pulled the curtains aside a little, allowing a few rays of precious light to defile the virgin darkness of the office.

“The deal is this,” I began again, “We cut straight to the chase—you don’t like me and I don’t like you, but this is business. You’ve got a scam and need information; I need the money–$200 a day plus expenses. The truth is that I’ve been living off pennies wedged between the cushions of my chair, doll-face, and the brandy in the cabinet of this desk.”

“Mr. Robbins…” she tried to start again, but I was quite good at cutting people off.

“So you want your hubby followed,” I stated, as I lit a cigar with my last dry match, “I saw it the moment you entered the office. You think maybe he’s shopping around for another broad now, and let’s face it—he’s looking for a dame that’s got curves where you’ve got angles.”

I puffed out a ring of smoke and just as she opened her mouth to protest, I spoke. “You found that dog-eared copy of his Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition, hiding under the mattress of the bed with those cute heart shaped pillows you bought on sale at Macy’s. That’s right, cutie pie. You were tucking in those expensive green, silk sheets you inherited from your dead aunt (don’t play dumb! You know the sheets I’m talking about!) and that’s when you stumbled across the rag—”

“Mr. Robbins, I really must pro—”

“—and you were outraged! The first thing that runs through that spaghetti strainer you call a brain is, ‘That dirty rat bastard! Hiding smut beneath our $4,500 Sealy Posturepedic Luxury Mattress with Cashmere Cumuloft Fiber!’ and then, all of a sudden, something hits you: your husband doesn’t love you anymore! That’s when your eyes get sore and watery and your head feels like a bowling ball on your neck, and you have to take a deep breath, because you feel your small, privileged world closing in. It suddenly occurs to you that all the meaning you thought you’d uncovered in designer pantyhose and polished silverware was nothing more than a cheap slogan from a stale Chinese fortune cookie.”

I gritted my teeth and stubbed out the cigar against my desk. “But the only reason that bothered you then, and the only reason it bothers you now, is this: you want him interested in you long enough so that when he kicks off, he’ll leave you the estate—the money, the cars, his mother’s sapphires, and that pretty pony he’s got at his ranch down in Montana. You know the pony I’m talking about, sister! The pretty black one with the white spots and clean hooves that you brag about to all your uppity socialite friends.”

I slammed my fist on the desk so hard that a 1997 Hustler calendar fell off the wall and landed in a soggy pile of unwashed boxer shorts. “You rich broads! You make me sick! If I wasn’t so strapped for cash, I’d tell you to shove this case back into that frigid, barren womb of yours and avoid choking on whatever dignity you still have on the way out. But dammit, I’ll take it! I’ll take it, but don’t fool yourself into thinking I’ll enjoy even a moment of this diseased, immoral… scandal!”

The dame looked at me a moment, her face as devoid of reason as a high schooler’s term paper. Eventually, she just sighed, ripped off a pink piece of paper from the pad she’d been hiding, and tossed it on my desk, where it immediately vanished beneath the sea of other documents.

She then turned to me and said something like, “Mr. Robbins, I’m the new landlord. You’re two months late on your rent.”

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