The standard private eye gimmick in Hollywood is to have a gorgeous blonde breathing minted mouth perfume at a downbeat detective as she asks him to handle a problem only he can solve.
Real detectives are never lucky enough to get that type of client. That is until now. And she’s standing in front of my desk. I’m Thanet Blake, Private Detective.
The sign is right. It’s a mean world full of mean mindless people. Okay, so I don’t understand the human race, we do seem to be a commodity of no value. Everywhere, people are killing people and nobody seems to care enough to stop the continuous slaughter. A year ago, the world situation became too much for me. I unhooked the cable from my television and told the cable company to cancel my subscription. I stopped reading newspapers. I do my damndest to hide from reality. However, because my body demands food, drink, and cigarettes, I have an occupation.
I’m Thanet Blake, Private Detective, and like every shamus, dick, peeper, whatever you might want to call me, I have memories, some good, some not so good, and some damned scary.
It was Wednesday, my birthday. I had become officially thirty-five years old when my wall clock chimed three times. I was very busy sucking on a rye bottle, smoking my favorite brand and singing, If the ocean were whiskey and I was a duck, I would dive to the bottom and never come up. I couldn’t remember the rest of the song so I sang happy-birthday-to-me and mumbled, “To hell with the murderous human race. Give me the isolation of an asteroid miner.”
She didn’t walk into my office. She appeared right after the air became electrified. In the movies, all blondes are goddess-lovely and have green eyes that hypnotize your soul. The vision smiling in my direction had both of those highly desirable qualities. I eyeballed the designer jeans molded to a figure that would cause a century old man to shed eight decades, a T-shirt that hid nothing, and athletic shoes. In addition, I did wonder about my soul.
“Are you Thanet Arthur Blake, the Private Investigator?”
Her voice was husky and sensuous, one you could listen to all day, and hardly wait to hear her say spend the night with me. It could launch ships, melt steel, and talk me into anything. I remember thinking that my friend, Police Officer Lieutenant Gilhoolie, usually pulled a gag on my birthday and this one was a real ripsnorter, a blonde and a private detective. The blonde would, of course, ask the detective to solve a desperate problem as her eyes batted seductively and her breasts bounced like two dribbling basketballs. I managed not to laugh. I couldn’t stop a wise-ass smile as I decided to play along with Gilhoolie’s birthday gag.
“Yeah, I’m Blake,” I said and accidentally belched a rye. “The sign on the door should say so unless my landlord changed it. He does that when I haven’t paid the rent, which is this month. Then I become Lousy Deadbeat Private Dickhead.”
She gave me a bewildered look, brushed the dust from the chair in front of my desk, and sat down. “I want to hire you,” she said.
This time, I couldn’t stop my laughter before saying, “You’re good, lady. Where did Lieutenant Gilhoolie rent you?” She opened her mouth to speak. I raised my right hand and said, “Say no more. I’m a year closer to old age today and in no mood for gags.”
She closed her mouth and I dialed police headquarters. The chain of command, starting at the bottom and working upward, stalled for about two minutes before I finally got whom I wanted.
“Happy Birthday, Thanet.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’m sitting at my desk and staring at the birthday present you sent me. How come she didn’t pop out of a cake? And where are the chains, the whips and leather outfit? It’s an old Hollywood formula, Gilhoolie, a gorgeous blonde hiring a downbeat dick to handle a desperate problem that only he can solve. Anyway, she is quite a present and I thank you.”
Gilhoolie began laughing loud enough to vibrate down a brick building. It took him a full minute before he could talk.
“She’s a client, Thanet. However, if you want to make her into a present, go ahead. This year, I’m just sending you a birthday card.”
I hung up the phone and went speechless, which is a rarity for me. I did eventually manage to mumble my embarrassment by saying, “You’re a for real client.”
She smiled and nodded. I could tell she was politely holding back laughter.