Aachoo Voo, Private Eye
Lance was cool. He didn't bat an eye. (Well, actually, he did but he always did that for effect.) "I'll be back," he said softly, "you know, you really are hard on a guy. This is the third pair of pants I've lost at your place." And I blushed, remembering the jelly incident and the slamming the door on his pants leg incident and the....well, that was enough remembering for now. Like I said, me and laundry just didn't get along. Maybe it was all that innate rebellion stemming from childhood and the fact that gathering up dirty clothes to wash had been a hated chore.
Most of the time I just gathered them up and threw them in the furnace but there came that day when my dad was late for work and couldn't find a thing to wear and the jig was up. I was grounded for a month and my mom made me learn to sew and make all my own clothes for the rest of the school year. It was not a pretty story. Most of the time, I went around looking like the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz.
Which was an embarrassment, especially to my mother, because she was born into high society and despised the lower classes, which included her in-laws. We were in a class by ourselves, of course, but still, that particular punishment backfired on her and she tried to keep me out of the public eye as much as possible. My Dad thought it was a terrible thing for her to do because he adored me, and kept slipping me money to "Go buy yourself something pretty." But I just saved up to buy myself something I would really need in the future. It was my junior year and I sneaked out to the Ayers' Used but Lovely Resale shop and bought myself a prom dress that didn't have discernible stitches and upside down zippers and told my mother that I had made it with my own little fingers. But I digress........(It was an interesting year.)
The parrot snickered at me as the side door closed and I snickered back and turned on the radio to drown him out. I noticed the water in the fish tank was mysteriously low and the fish were kinda gasping for air and had drawn little frownie faces in the algae. I refilled the thing and threw in some fish food and erased their artwork and went to get the mail. I was looking for a check from Big david, the mobster who spelled his name with a little d. I had done some work for his sister and he'd promised to mail me some moo-la. I didn't much like his kind but his sister Prudence was nice enough. The case concerned her cheating husband, Ricky and the fact that he had gone on vacation with her worst best friend after cleaning out the bank account. I found the two louses on the beach in Mexico.
I had actually found them on my second day there but didn't report back to Prudence until eleven days had passed. I needed a vacation and the lovebirds needed to get all that pent up passion out of their systems before Big david shot 'em. I thought that was the least I could do. Neither one of them had two brain cells to rub together. He was short and she was tall. He was an accountant and she was no account. They were perfect for one another.
The check was not in the mail.
I picked up the newspaper and noticed a handsome face on the front page. It looked vaguely familiar. Very familiar, actually. Said the face had been found murdered the night before by a night watchman on his rounds at Marshall's Hardware and Hat Emporium. That was where I bought all my furniture refinishing products and the occasional hat. No wonder the face looked familiar. It belonged to Si, the shellacking specialist. A smooth talker, if there ever was one. A fairly nice guy but there was something about his shifty eyes that gave me the shivers.
He flirted with you from the time you walked in the door until you bought twenty five cans of Shellac and then insisted upon delivering your purchase to your place of residence. All the time trying to impress you with his extensive knowledge of wood and how to care for it. He looked like a would-be movie star but there was just something.......you couldn't put your finger on it, no matter how hard he tried to get you to put your finger on it.....you just couldn't. Like I said, he had shifty eyes. They darted. They looked you up and down. Undressed you and dressed you again in satin.
I shuddered, remembering the last time I'd seen him. That would have been last Saturday. I needed to strip my neighbor's old chest that he had been bugging me about and I was all out of sandpaper and stripper and had run in to the store that afternoon hoping someone other than Si would be behind the counter. No such luck. "Well, hello there, you good looking, thirst quenching, pretty polished piece of fine furniture!" he said exuberantly as I stepped inside. "How may I be of service?" And I blanched. At least I think I did. I'm not really sure what blanch means but it sounds appropriate. "Just need a few items, thank you." I said as unfriendly-like as I could manage but it didn't put him off. He was on me like ugly on a baboon's bottom. Came out from behind that counter, took my arm, and led me back to where we usually ended up, the Tung Oil aisle.
"Listen, Miss Voo, I need help and you're the only one that can help me!" he whispered urgently, as he looked around to see if anyone was near. I didn't think much about it at the time because he always said that to me but thinking back now, it was pretty obvious that he'd actually meant it. I just hadn't been in the mood to help him. Now he was dead. The paper said he had been found in a pool of paint thinner. He wasn't wearing any socks. He had been clutching a folder full of receipts and a corkscrew. I felt bad. Not bad bad but pretty bad. I wondered who had killed him and why.
I also wondered if I'd been the only girl he'd sold Shellac to and flirted with so relentlessly. I wondered if he'd just flirted with the wrong girl this time. On the other hand, he'd probably been married, guys like him always are, no matter what they say or how hard they try to hide their missing wedding band tan lines with furniture polish. You could always tell. It had been the wife, I was sure of it. Too bad. He was a doll dizzy creep but he sure knew his wood grains.
I shook my head and put the paper down and went to change out of the pink bathrobe. I had twelve of them hanging in the closet. Pretty soon, I'd need to replenish my supply. I hoped they still carried my size and style at the bathrobe shop. I had bought up their entire stock last time I was there. I told them I was buying them for gifts. (It was none of their business.)
I threw the soiled pink robe into the trash and stood there naked, looking for something jazzy to put on. I had a movie date with Andy at four. He was sweet. I liked him and he liked me. We had been out twice and neither time had I set him on fire or tripped him with my long legs or turned his clothes into rags. I was the epitome of grace with him and it felt wonderful. Yes, I was looking forward to this afternoon's matinee and the smell of popcorn and aftershave.
I forgot the day's headline about Si, the Shellac salesman and his untimely demise, and giggled happily as I put on my hose. Then the phone rang. And I heard the bird in the kitchen say, "Pick up the phone. What am I, your slave?" Stupid bird. "Answer it yourself!" I shot back and fell in a tangle of hose and garter belt and a box of bath powder and an open bottle of turpentine that came down from the counter at the same time that I did. Well, at least I didn't have on socks when I got into the shower this time.
STARRING in our cast of characters.................
friends from myspace and other sites
and personal friends and family members
david, Si, Lance Strait, Voo, Andy, the fish and the un named parrot
david "qzert" from myspace
Andy of myspace land
The Last Digital Bastion