I was practicing lighting kitchen matches with my thumbnail when the bim walked in. She'd been poured into her dress like maple syrup into the squares of a Belgian waffle. She had on cheaters and an oyster fruit necklace worth more lettuce than I'd seen in my lifetime. "Mr. Malone?" she said.
"I . . . I need you to find someone." She sounded as helpless as a kitten up a tree. I didn't have to ask her name. Misty.
"Your sister's been missing two weeks? The sister who always wears black and married a loser from Chicago with a birthmark on his neck?" It was a wild guess, but if I was right, she'd be impressed enough I could charge twice my usual rate.
"Why . . . How did you know all that?"
"When you've been a dick as long as I have, you learn to read people or you die faster than a fat guy in a swimming pool full of blind narwhals. How much cabbage have you got on you?"
"Kale. Rhino . . . Scratch? Mazuma?"
"I can't pay much."
"Those rags and marbles tell a different story. I'll need three centuries up front."
She reached into her sugar bag, but what came out wasn't three C's, just the business end of her roscoe.
"Careful with that gat," I told her. "I'd hate to see you fry. It'd be a waste of two perfect pins."
She tried to throw lead. Click. Click. "Forget these?" I asked, holding out my hand and six slugs.
"Snuck 'em out while you weren't looking." I got on the horn and called the johns. "How about I pour us some eel juice while we wait?" I asked her.
She just sneered. Women. I'll never crab 'em.