Peter Gunn theme by The Blues Brothers
Aachoo Voo, Private Eye
It was starting out to be one of those days. You know the kind. The kind where you get in the shower with your socks on and don’t even realize it until you notice the soaking wet footprints all over the newly cleaned living room carpet. The cat gave me one of those “you-know-I-hate-water looks and dove under the bed to play with the dust bunnies. The dog, however, eyed me adoringly and slopped up the Evening in Paris scented tracks with gusto and a couple of bubbles oozed out between his teeth but he seemed happy enough.
I shrugged and took off my wet socks and threw them in the trash. I wasn’t big on doing laundry. I’d rather buy new stuff than tote baskets down to the Sit and Spin and watch little old ladies get mugged as their machines cycled down. I wasn’t thrifty but I was practical. That’s what everybody said about me. Except my Mom.
I was stirring up some pancake batter and frying some swine when I heard a knock on the door. Not the front door. The side door where only men that were up to no good knocked. We’ve all got one of those, don’t we? (Doors, I mean.) “Come in!” I yelled as I poured the sweet batter into the hot, sizzling skillet and removed the bacon almost at the same time from the other pan. I had skills. Everybody said so.
The door swung open and there stood Lance, twirling a white coffee cup on his pinkie finger and looking like he’d just had a rough night with Marilyn Monroe. He lived upstairs but he was hardly ever there. I didn’t know what he did for a living but I was a witness that the boy knew how to live. I have to admit it, he was a pretty thing, tall and dark, with a swagger in his walk and a come-hither look in his eyes that made me weak in the bread basket. Oh, he was a little rough, maybe, a little splintered, but I wanted to throw him down on top of the cabinet and give him a good shellacking. (Oh, did I mention I’m into furniture refinishing as a hobby?)
“I…I..was running low and I thought I’d stop by for a fill up.” he smiled that crooked little smile of his and I dropped a pancake somewhere in the vicinity of my big toe. It was hot, it burned like hell, but I didn’t mind. “Sure,” I murmured, “help yourself.” and pointed towards the percolator. As he poured the steaming black, hot coffee into his cup, I turned, hiding my face as I silently screamed in pain and took the pancake off my bare foot and threw it to the dog. He gulped it gratefully and then gave me a look between “Oh, thank you! and What the hell!?” The phone rang. It was in the living room. Lance said, “You gonna get that, Sugar?” And I stood there, undecided and let it ring twelve more times. It was probably my mother. She always called at that time of morning. And every hour after that. She had no life. And consequently, neither did I.
Lance walked into the living room, carrying his cup and looked intensely at the phone like he could tell who had been calling just by looking at it. “One of your big cases, no doubt.” he shrugged and sat down on my tweed sofa. I stood in the doorway of the kitchen and said, “No doubt. Have a seat and I’ll join you in a minute.” I ran to the kitchen sink and splashed cold water on my flushed face, combed back my tousled hair and slathered bacon grease all over my neck. (I knew what guys liked.)
I straightened my pink bathrobe and put on some Pink Frappe lipstick that I kept a tube of in the corner drawer. “Aachoo?” Lance called out and the parrot that my mom had gifted me with said, “Bless you!” even though he knew it irritated me to no end. He was big and gray and a slob. His cage was always a mess and he ate me out of house and home. “Be quiet.” I shushed him as I entered the living room and turned my back to the bird. He squawked and threw a peanut at me but i ignored him and smiled hesitantly at my guest.
“What can I do for you, Lance?” I wondered out loud, not realizing that I was merely wondering out loud and hadn’t really said anything. “I guess you’re wondering why I stopped by so early…..” he said somberly, even though it was already 10:30 but then people like us didn’t believe in early birds and getting worms and that kind of thing. We were Afternooners. Night owls. Midnight riders. Children of the night. Gumshoes. Well, I was a gumshoe. I had no idea how he made his living. There were rumors. There was talk.
The big blousy bleached blonde down the hall who didn’t like anybody liked him and was always pulling me aside and asking if I’d seen him. “Have you seen Lancy?” she’d ask in her coy and disturbing manner. “I haven’t seen him around in days and I have something I need to give him.” And she’d bat those four inch eyelashes and I’d get a little ill in my tummy. I always told her that I thought he had run off to get married. (I had a mean streak no mother could ever spank outta me.)
“Yes, I was wondering about that. ” I said softly and brushed back my wavy dark hair as his eyes met mine over the white coffee cup. “Would you like some more?” I offered, meaning coffee, but the look he gave me said he was there for a whole lot more of a whole lot more. “I sure would, Sugar!” he grinned and handed me the cup. “I’ll take all you got this morning! I’ve had a very long and adventurous night and I’m running on fumes.” For some reason, that kinda upset me and I hoped he wouldn’t go into detail but he seemed in a talkative mood.
He followed me into the small yellow kitchen and as I refilled his cup, he stood behind me so closely I could feel his day old stubble on the back of my head. “Man, you smell good enough to eat!” he exclaimed and breathed deeply of my essence. I was glad I had put on the bacon perfume. It was an old trick and it worked every time. I cleared my throat and turned to him quickly, spilling the hot black coffee all down the front of my bathrobe but I pretended not to notice. He took the empty cup from my hand, set it down and began to dab at the spill with a dish rag, never taking his brown eyes off mine. “You don’t burn easy, do you?” he breathed noisily and I breathed back just as noisily, “No, I reckon not. I’m a girl that keeps her cool.”
“Oh, Aachoo!” he murmured seductively, raking his hand through my hair and from the corner of the kitchen, the bird merrily called out, “Bless you!” “Shut up!” we both shouted at the same time and went back to whatever we were doing. I pulled away then and he kind of groaned a little cause my bathrobe button had caught on his zipper and ripped it out of his pants. It was one of those things that frequently happened to me. I didn’t know why.
It just did.
Nov 9, 08
Lance (Tony Curtis)