She had a face like a butt. She entered my office without even knocking on the door. I paid good money for that door. The door was kind of the point of the office. “Nick Caliber?” she asked.“That’s what is says on the door.”, I replied.
“It doesn’t say anything on the door.” Damn. I forgot I didn’t have my name painted on the door.
“That’s because I’m a private eye. A very private eye.” I recovered, nicely, not to toot my own horn, but I don’t like to toot other people’s horns. Never know where they’ve been. “Take a load off, Miss?” She squeezed herself into the chair. I put my shoes on the desk…my feet weren’t in them.
“Smith.” I smirked. I’m the goddamned smirking champion.
“Right. What’s your last name?” She looked confused. Stupid broad. “Never mind. What can I do for you, Smith?” She reached into her purse. She pulled out a ham sandwich. So she wasn’t Jewish or Muslim. Then again, her swastika earrings should have clued me into that. She found what she was looking for, a photo. One of those small, square, black and white ones with the scalloped edges. She held it out to me. I placed my thumb on the side facing the ceiling and my four fingers underneath, applying gentle pressure. She released her pressure on the photo. I pulled the photo towards myself. She opened her hand. As I pulled the photo towards myself, I twisted my wrist. She placed her hand on the desk. I held the picture at a forty five degree angle…. Maybe I’m over describing.
I looked at the photo. Man in front of a house. Slick hair, dark. Swarthy good looks. White t-shirt, tight, like an undershirt. High waisted pants. Dark shoes. “I want you to find him.” She said. I looked at the back. Nothing.
“Who is he?” I knew the answer, but I wanted her to say it.
“My father.” I wasn’t expecting to hear that.
“His name Smith?”
“Of course it is,” she said. “That’s Smith Corona.” I leaned back in my chair. Smith Corona had run the city of L.A.’S criminal underground until his disappearance ten years before. Disappeared with a kajillion dollars. That’s right, a kajillion.
“People have been looking for him for ten years.” I looked at the photo again. Mostly because it let me avoid looking at her ugly mug. Wait, where’d she get a mug? Did she come in with one? She took a sip from it. It read, World’s Greatest Detective. Damn. My ugly mug. “Unless you have information the others don’t have?”
“I do. That picture, for one.” I looked at it again. I was getting sick of looking at this picture. “That house. No one knows he ever lived at that house.” I raised one eyebrow. I had to use my left hand to do it because I was holding the picture with my right. I wish I could raise my eyebrow without my fingers.
“That’s not much to go on.” I said. “Where’s the house located?” She shrugged.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? Sweetheart, that’s not next to nothing to go on, that is nothing to go on.” She pulled out her checkbook and started writing.
“So you’ll take the job?” I opened my mouth to bawl her out, but then I noticed the zeros she was adding.
“Sure, no problem.” I had a job.