It’s been nearly ten years since I had last opened for businesses. I swiveled in my chair to look out the office window. It felt so good to swivel, that I did it again, and then I spun several times, just as a reminder to what is was like being a kid.
I never liked being a kid, because I was dizzy half the time from spinning around in chairs, on merry-go-rounds, and in the yard.
Nauseous, I stopped spinning and stared outside at the heat shimming off the sidewalks. The heat shimmered because it was summertime.
I know that, because I’m an Outdoor Detective.
It isn’t a permanent job, but there are times when my skills are called for by those in the outdoor world.
A quick knock on my door, and Doc burst through.
“You’re gonna have to fix that,” I said, looking at my busted door.
“I will,” he answered. “But right now, I’m here to hire the Outdoor Detective.”
I leaned back in the chair and grasped the desk to make the world stop spinning. “I’d love to work for you. But I have one important question. Do you have a record?”
He shook his head, sadly. “No. But you know me, Rev. You know I don’t have a record.”
With a heavy sigh, I turned and pulled a record out of my stack of LPs. “This is a soundtrack for an inner cinema of the mind, depicting a plunge into those darker elements of Los Angeles night-life, a recurring theme of the film noir of the 1940s and 50s. It shows a brutal and corrupt society at odds with itself in all facets of life.”
“Huh?” Doc asked, obviously not following my train of thought.
The train almost derailed, but I pulled it back on track with a might mental tug.
Mellow saxophone music soon filled the office. “This is little changed from those days of Robert Mitchum, Robert Taylor or Humphrey Bogart.”
“I don’t want those guys. I just want to find my lost shotgun.”
Nodding, I opened the right bottom drawer of my desk, removed a bottle and thumped it beside two highball glasses. “You want some?” I asked.
“Nope. I don’t like Diet Coke.”
I returned the bottle with a smile. “Just testing you. I don’t like diet drinks either.”
We nodded pleasantly, each alone with out thoughts. I finally got too lonely and formulated a question. “Where did you see the shotgun last?” I adjusted the small fan on my desk so that it would give us some relief.
“You look silly waving at yourself with that Japanese fan,” he said. “The last time I saw my shotgun was when you were using it during quail season.”
“Hummm,” I said, leaning back and staring at the ceiling.
“It isn’t up there,” Doc said. “Why are you humming? Don’t you know the words?”
I ignored his question. Of course I didn’t know the words, that’s why I was humming. “Can you describe this shotgun?”
“It’s kind of long, with a metal barrel and a wooden stock,” he answered.
I thought about that description. Then I shifted tactics. “Just why do you need a shotgun this time of the year? There aren’t any hunting seasons open in July.”
“You’re right. I want to shoot skeet.”
Startled, I jerked upright. “Why. What did our friend Skeet do to you?”
Also startled, Doc jerked upright. “I don’t know. What did Skeet do to me? Maybe he has my shotgun.”
“Nope,” I said, relaxing. “I gave the shotgun back to you when I finished with it.”
“Do you have witnesses that say you did?” Doc asked.
“Do you have witnesses that say I didn’t?” I shot back.
Doc ducked, the shot just missing him. Then he straightened up. “Good point.”
“It was a good point, but I missed,” I said, blowing into the barrel of my finger and winking at Doc.
He winked back and it startled me. His phone rang and he answered it, bellowing into the receiver.
“Bellow!” he shouted. “Bellow!”
I stared hard at him until he hung up, because I hate cellphones. “Look, there’s one thing that is successful in this business,” I said.
“Someone who knows everything. Hey Snookums!” I shouted through the busted door.
Seconds later, a somewhat irritated War Department answered. “What!”
“Where’s Doc’s shotgun?”
“It’s in your gun case, right next to Wrong Willie’s rifle you borrowed last year.”
I waved a hand. “There’s you answer.”
Doc waved back, stood up and offered his hand.
“No thanks,” I said. “I have two of my own.”
He turned to leave, and then stopped and turned. “I just need to know one thing, kid. Are you just acting like an Outdoor Detective?”
I turned my back to look out the window once again. “No, acting is reciting words someone else wrote and then you pretend they’re you own. This is just make-believe.”
“I should have known,” Doc said and slipped downstairs to get his shotgun, and I soon found out, mine.
“I should have known he’d do that, too,” I said quietly to myself. “Because I’m an Outdoor Detective.