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.