Session 2

I took my order to go, lest I arrive on the scene after they clean up the body. How often do you get to see a guy who was just shot five times in the dick, after all?

I'm a man of many talents, but no man can drive a car and eat Chinese take out with those goddamn tiny plastic forks they give you. I arrived at the address, easy enough to spot by all the flashing blue lights and yellow police tape, with a shirt streaked with duck sauce and a crotch full of wonton soup. Had Wang put the lid on loose on purpose? I'd thought there was something suspicious in those slanty eyes, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt because I felt guilty about that time he got me drunk on some Chinaman liquor he keeps in the back of the shop and I confided in him that I frequently jerk off to the girl pictured on the front of the menu. He told me that was his nephew. How the fuck was I supposed to know? I mean really, if you think they all look the same as adults... Anyway, I've never fully trusted those people. Not after Pearl Harbor.

I parked my Chrysler Town and Country station wagon on the street behind a cop car and shoved the last half of my third egg roll in my mouth. Grabbing my flashlight in case things got hairy, I stepped out of the car and ducked under some police tape.

“You!” shouted a young voice as a flashlight shined in my face. “What are you doing here?” He sounded black, and I thought I might ask him the same question, considering the neighborhood we were in.

“Mff hmmff fmmf mmf!” was all I could say without spitting out my egg roll, and I certainly wasn't going to waste that explaining myself to some dumb rookie piece of shit.

“Stand down, Brody,” said an older voice, one I recognized at once. Sal Greenbaum. That old Jew and I went way back.

The light lowered from shining directly in my face, but stayed on my crotch. “I caught him sneaking in under the tape.”

“It's alright,” said Sal. “You done good, son.” His gaze fell to where the light was shining. “Jesus Christ, Philmore. Did you piss yourself?”

I swallowed my egg roll. “That's soup, you fucking racist.”

“What the hell are you doing here? This isn't some John shacking up with a tranny in a dingy motel room. This is an actual crime scene, Philmore. You're out of your jurisdiction.”

“Would you like to see my badge?” I opened my jacket slowly, so the jive-talking rookie with the flashlight wouldn't have the excuse he was looking for to pump me full of lead, then reached for my laminated Private Investigator's badge.

“Save it, Philmore,” said Sal. “You've shown me that Cracker Jack prize of a badge more times than I can count.

“Are you suggesting my credentials aren't valid?” I lowered my badge to my crotch, where the light was still shining. “Read it and weep, Sal. I'm fucking registered.”

“Yeah, in South Dakota, where they don't require a license. At any rate, you need more than bullshit credentials to be allowed access to an active crime scene. You'd need –”

“To be hired by someone related to the victim?”

“No. That absolutely wouldn't –” He looked at me with narrowed eyes. “Hang on a tick. Who would hire you to investigate a murder?”

“Claire Belmont,” I said, trying to read the reaction on his face. I had to admit, it was difficult. Sal had been at this game a long time, and he knew how to keep his cards close to the chest.

“Who the fuck is Claire?”

Of course, there was also the possibility that he genuinely had no idea who I was talking about.

“The deceased's widow?”

“You mean Clara?” Sal shook his head. “Jesus Christ, Philmore. You don't even know your own client's name?” His eyes glazed over in thought as he lit up a cigarette. “Now why would Clara Belmont hire a bargain basement two-bit phony dick like you to investigate her husband's murder?”

“She thinks you like her for the shooter. Also, some of what you just said was hurtful.”

“We do like her for the shooter. It's a pretty cut-and-dry case.”

“Clearly she doesn't think so,” I said. “If she's the shooter, what kind of evidence could she possibly hope for me to dig up?”

Sal blew smoke in my face and laughed. “You just cracked the case, Philmore. She's obviously hoping that there's someone on the jury as dumb as you who she can sell that story to.”

“Again, that was hurtful. But I'm willing to be the bigger man and let it slide as a professional courtesy.”

“There's nothing professional about you, Philmore. You're a washed up never-has-been. Now get the hell out of my crime scene before I have Brody here slap a pair of cuffs on you.”

I glared at the young black cop. “I bet you'd like that, wouldn't you?”

He shrugged. “Now that you mention it, I think I would.”

“Figures.” I shook my head. “A fella can't even walk down the street nowadays without fear of being harassed by queers and nig–” Realizing I was speaking out loud, I stopped myself just in time. But Sal and Brody were looking at me expectantly to finish my sentence. “–caraguans.”

Brody shined the light back up in my face. “I'm neither a homosexual nor a Nicaraguan.”

“My mistake,” I said. “I must have misplaced your accent. Where are you from?”

“Shreveport.”

“Ah.” I nodded. “That explains it.”

I left the scene no closer to cracking the case than when I'd arrived. But I had renewed determination. Sal would rue the day he called me a two-bit phony dick. I'd show him. I'd show them all. I was going to get to the bottom of this case and clear Mrs. Belmont's good name. But I needed to get a look inside that house before the trail got colder than a dead tranny's cock in a morgue. Ignoring my sudden erection, I looked for another way in.

Session 1

     Thick ribbons of cigarette smoke hung heavy in the orange rays of sunlight that penetrated through the office blinds. It was Friday evening, and I was quarter of the way through a bottle of scotch, ready to call it a weekend, when a nice fat pair of tits burst through my office door.

     “Are you Sid Philmore?” asked a voice coming from slightly above the milk-white cleavage barely contained in a sleek blue dress.

     I pulled my hand out of the front of my pants and minimized my computer's browser window. “That depends. Who's asking?”

     “My name is Clara Belmont. My husband was murdered.”

     Sometimes the universe just pitches you an easy one. “So are you seeing anyone?”

     “Mr. Philmore, please!”

     I looked up. There was a woman's head above the tits, and it was crying.

     “Oh, you meant recently. Sorry.” I didn't have a handkerchief to offer that had been washed since I'd last jerked off in it, so I offered her the next best thing I had close at hand. “Dorito?”

     She wiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand. “No, thank you.”

     I leaned back in my chair. “So what do you want from me?”

     “The sign on the door says you're a detective.”

     “Yeah, so?”

     Ms. Belmont put her hands on the edge of my desk and leaned down to look me in the eyes. “So, Mr. Philmore, I'd like you to detect. I want you to find out who killed my husband, and why.”

     “Isn't this sort of thing usually handled by the New Orleans' finest?”

     She huffed and narrowed her eyes. “My house is crawling with police. Of course they think I did it. They're wasting all of their time and resources looking for evidence to indict me while the real killer's trail gets colder and colder.”

     I crushed up the few Doritos that were left in the bag and poured all the crumbs into my mouth. They were a little stale, so I washed them down with scotch, then lit up a cigarette.

     “If you don't mind me asking, how'd he die?”

     “He was shot,” said Ms. Belmont. “Five times in the genital area and once in the face.”

     I scratched the stubble on my neck. “That probably rules out suicide, but I'd have to see the crime scene to be sure.”

     “Of course. This is the address.” She produced a card from her purse and reached over the desk to offer it to me.

     I accepted it and squinted at the tiny lettering. “Mortimer J. Belmont.” Something smelled funny, and it wasn't the recycled nicotine and fart constantly cycling through the air conditioning vents for once. Something in her story didn't add up. I narrowed my eyes at her. “Hang on a second, I thought you said your name was Claire.”

     “It's Clara,” said Claire. “That's my late husband's card. I've written my number on the back in case you need to contact me.”

     I could see why the cops had her pegged for the crime, handing out her phone number to random guys like this, and on the back of her dead husband's business cards, no less. This lady was after my dong in a big way, but I wasn't going to give it up cheap.

     “Listen, Claire,” I said. “My services don't come cheap. I'll need –”

     “I'm willing to pay you five thousand dollars a day, plus expenses. Tragic as poor Mortimer's death is, it will leave me a very wealthy woman.” She licked her lips. “Once I'm exonerated, of course.”

     That was a shitload more money than I was about to ask for. It was time to earn it. Half of this job is performance art. It's important that you do some of the shit the client expects from watching too much TV. I picked up the phone and dialed.

     While it was ringing, I looked up at my new client. “I'll need to call in some favors.”

     Claire raised her eyebrows. “Of course.”

     “Emperor's Palace,” said Wang or Wong. I could never tell which was which, or if they were even two different people. “Will this be take-out or delivery?”

     “Louie. It's me, Sid.”

     “Ah, Mr. Philmore. Will you be having the usual?”

     “That's right. I need everything you can dig up on a...” I squinted at the business card again. “Mortimer Belmont.”

     “Yes, very good. Szechuan Chicken. Anything else?”

     Why not? It was Friday evening, and I was coming into the biggest score of my career. I turned my head away from Ms. Belmont, cupped my hand over the corner of my mouth, and whispered “Two extra egg rolls.”

     “Very good, Mr. Philmore. Your order will be ready in seven minutes.”

     I turned back toward Claire. “It better be, or it's your ass!” I angrily jabbed the End Call button on my cell phone with my finger. That last part was a lot more dramatic when I'd had a physical receiver to slam down.

     “Extra egg rolls?” said Claire.

     Shit. I had to think fast.

     “That's detective code. It's like when they say stat in a hospital.”

     She gave me a tight-lipped scrutinizing look, then nodded. “I have other matters to attend to, Mr. Philmore, as I assume you do.”

     That was good. I needed her to get the hell out of my office so I could finish whacking it before I picked up my Chinese food.

     “Could you close the door on your way out?”

     “Of course.” She paused in the doorway. “You're about to leave and visit the scene of the crime, aren't you?”

     Jesus Christ, lady. Is two minutes of privacy too much to ask?

     “Yeah, sure,” I said. “I've just got to make one more quick call.”

     Claire nodded, then closed the door behind her as she walked out. I took a deep breath, poured myself a finger of scotch, then expanded my browser window. Still six more minutes to the money shot. Fortunately, Claire's tits had kept my dick hard, so I wouldn't have to waste much time getting back in the groove. But it was going to be a close call as to whether my Szechuan Chicken was going to be hot or cold.