The Case of the Nervous Stomach

I was looking under the desk for that strange noir saxophone music when the door to my office burst open.  Each time I heard the music someone always came to the door.  It was annoying.  Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed.  It was a beautiful day.

A harried looking man was standing in the doorway.  “I need help,” he said.

“That’s what I’m here for,” I answered.  “I’m an Outdoor Detective.”

“I know.  That’s why I’m here.”

“Of course.”

Us Outdoor Detectives always talk in short sentences.  You don’t have to think so hard about where to put the commas.

He nervously paced the room, then slumped into one of two chairs and fumbled a cigarette of the package.

“Fumble!” I shouted and dove for the cigarette.  We wrestled for a moment, then he came up with the toonie and did a victory dance.  He returned to his chair, breathing hard.

“You can’t smoke in here,” I said.

He sighed, put the pack away and pulled out a bottle of bubbles. He blew through the little wand.  Bubbles floated in the air.  “That’s better,” he said.  “It helps settle my nerves, but it’s so danged habit forming.  I think it’s the additives they put in here.”

“Of course, even though I’m usually concerned about second-hand bubbles.  How can I help you?”

He looked around the room.  “This place could be bugged.”

“The exterminators were here last week.”

“Good.  Turn on the radio to cover our voices.”

It was a strange request, but I turned to the radio and gave it a try.  “You’re a cute little radio.  How about a drink?”

“That’s not what I meant.  Never mind. I need your help. Are you any good?”

I smiled and settled a cheek on my worn desk.  I’d worn it so much it was wrinkled.  It needed ironing.  “I’m very good.”

“I can’t understand you with your cheek against the desk.  Sit up and talk to me.”

I straightened up.  “I said I’m very good.  I’ve won an Academy Award, a Tony Award, the Nobel Peace Prize, the Pulitzer, I was homecoming queen and took first place in my second grade spelling bee.”

He frowned, relieved.  “All right.  You need to help me beat a habit.”

“Hang it on a clothesline and whop it a few times with a tennis racket.”

“Is that all?”

“Remove the nun first.”

We both nodded at the brilliance of that statement.

“I have a serious habit of buying more guns than I need.”

I was appalled.  “No one can have too many guns.”

“I have three hundred and fifty six, plus a slingshot.”

“I see your point.  Sell the slingshot.”

“You gonna answer that phone?” he asked.

“I didn’t hear it ask a question.”  Then I heard the ring.  It was my cellphone.  I wanted to answer it, but I couldn’t find the keys to the cell.

My new client wept, softly.  “I can’t buy any more guns.  My wife said she’d leave me if I bought another one, and I’ll sure miss her.”

He wiped his nose on a sleeve.  I keep sleeves in the desk for just such an emergency.

“You have to help me go straight!” he clutched my collar.

I grabbed his collar.  Turn about is fair play.  “Stay away from corners!”

“Of course,” he said, enlightened.

I smiled.

“I feel better,” he said and rose to leave.

“Give me a ring if things get bad again,” I said.

“How about a bracelet?” he asked.

“That should have been my line,” I answered, annoyed.

He beat a hasty retreat and was gone.  I didn’t mind.  I didn’t like that particular Hasty anyway.  It deserved to be beaten.  Then I realized I hadn’t gotten his name.  I had nowhere to send the bill.

“Sorry Bill,” I said.  “I have nowhere to send you.”

He looked sheepish and left quietly.

I turned and stared outside at the snow falling in the bright sunshine as the saxophone played on.

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About reaviszwortham

Reavis Z. Wortham is the author of The Rock Hole, and Burrows (scheduled for release July 3, 2012), books one and two in The Red River Series. He also wrote Doreen's 24 HR Eat Gas Now Cafe. The Humor Editor for Texas Fish and Game magazine, he's also a columnist for a number of newspapers and is a frequent contributor for magazines. For more fun, visit his web page at www.reaviszwortham.com for photos, appearances, reviews, and a little look back into history with a glossary of east Texas words used in both books. Happy Perusing.
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