The minute the dame walked into my office I knew she would be trouble. Everything about her said 'trouble'. The way she opened the door and made the hinges scream like the offspring of a shilling whore and a member of the cast of Friday the 13th. The way her high-heeled shoes clicked upon the floorboards like a pair of castanets in an oyster farm. Those, and the sandwich board she was wearing with 'trouble' written across it in five different languages.

"Mr. Pistachio, I need your help," she said through a pair of moisten lips as red as the bottom of a sunburnt embarrassed tomato child who's just been spanked.

I looked her up and down, from the shoes to the long blonde hair, stopping shortly once again on the sandwich board, before returning my gaze to her face.

"Damn, you're ugly," I said.

It was a little trick my old mentor 'Bathroom Cleaner' McCarthy had taught me. Don't flirt with the sexy ones. Bring 'em down. Show 'em their place in the customer/client relationship with a well-timed insult. 'Bathroom Cleaner' had been a great man, despite the unfortunate event that led to the creation of his nickname and permanent genital scarring.

She smiled a thin little smile, the kind of smile a badger would make when faced with whatever it is badgers like to eat. "Can I sit down?" she asked, but the tone in her voice was serious, as far removed from badgers as a tone of voice can be.

"Certainly. If that sandwich board will let you."

She sat down. On the floor. This didn't faze me much, as there was only one chair in my office, and my hips were parked firmly upon it. On the whole, looking back, I'm not entirely sure why she asked.

"Do you mind if I ask?" I queried, looking down at her pretty little face, now currently level with my knees.

"Ask what?" she breathed, putting more passion into two words than can be found in a truckload of passion fruit parked outside a brothel.

"About the sandwich board?"

"Oh, this? I just threw on whatever was clean."

I tipped a shot of bourbon down my throat. "Couldn't you have found one that covered your face as well, you hideous scabby old witch?"

She smiled again. I smiled back. Ol' Bathroom would be proud. "Mr. Pistachio," she said. I didn't say that. It would've been odd if I had said that. "I need to hire your services. It's about my father."

"I dread to think what satanic beast could've spawned a hellish bitch-queen like you."

"He's been killed, Mr. Pistachio."

"My apologies. I dread to think what apparently dead satanic beast could've spawned a hellish bitch-queen like you."

"Mr. Pistachio -"

"Call me Trent. You're making me sound like a Disney character."

"Trent, I need you to investigate his murder. Everyone thinks my brother Leonard did it, but I know it could never have been him." She looked up at me with those big brown soulful eyes like my mother's Pekinese had made after pissing up my trouser leg. Little did she know that I had then kicked it to death.

"He was caught holding a bloody knife over the corpse by fourteen witnesses, and when he was arrested said 'I'm glad I stabbed the bastard.'" she continued, wiping away a tear with a hanky with 'trouble' written across it.

I nodded slowly, like a badger would nod when faced with an argument a badger might agree with. "So what makes you think he didn't do it?" I asked.

"My father was killed by a gun, Mr. Pistachio."

"I told you to call me Trent, you ghastly bearded crone."


I stood up from my chair, and she stood up too. Then I sat down again and crossed my legs. Then she sat down again, too. Finally I stood up again, then when she stood up, twatted her round the head with a cricket bat. She sat down again.

I crossed over to my office window, and looked through the blinds at the broiling city. Yep, I thought, it's still there.

"Well, you deformed monster, I'm afraid I can't help you."

"Why? You think I should go to the police? They can't help me."

"No, I can't help you because I'm not a private detective."

Her eyes widened like the wallet of a city hall pen-pusher when faced with an extortionate bribe. "You're not?"

"No. I'm a landscape gardener."

"So you wouldn't be able to investigate my father's death?"

"I might be able to go round your house and advise you on what sort of shrubbery to buy."

To say she was a little disappointed would be like saying that Jeffrey Dahmer was a little eccentric. "I see," she said.

"But frankly, I'd rather not, because I fear that if I spend much longer in the presence of your fearsome visage then I may be heartily and noisily sick all over the floor."

She got up to leave, adjusting her sandwich board accordingly. "Then I will not take up any more of your time, Mr. Pistachio."

"It's TRENT, you unspeakable old goat!!" I yelled, leaping onto the desk and readying my cricket bat for another swing. I'll say one thing for the harridan. She almost got out in time.

After I had beat her skull into the consistency of mush, I fell back into my only chair and poured another glass of bourbon. This proved difficult, as I had broken the bottle in my rampage. I shrugged, sat back and placed my feet upon the desk.

I love my job.

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