My name is Dick Dangerly, I’m a Private Eye in the bloody, beating heart of Los Angeles in the 1940s or maybe it’s still 1939 I’m really not sure. What am I sure about: the criminals are dangerous, the dames are leggy, and I am drunk all of the time.
I’m staring at the phone, trying to decide if it’s ringing or not, when a dame walks in. A leggy dame. Wearing pantyhose, meaning my letters to the mayor haven’t been reaching him.
“Are you the famous private eye Dick Dangerly?” she asks from behind her…I don’t know what the word is for what she is wearing. It’s, like, one of those hats that has a bit of something see through covering her face. A cowl? A shawl? I make a mental note for my secretary to subscribe me to more women’s magazines. I’m going to get to the bottom of this.
“I am, and you’re out of luck, dollface,” I say, waving my hands and only managing to knock over that stupid fucking car that came from nowhere, seriously where did it come from? “I filled the secretary position. Wait. I think I did. Camille!”
“It’s Estelle!” comes through the door.
Once I stop snickering, the dame in front of me makes a noise that she wants to speak, which is good because I have completely forgotten she’s there.
“I don’t need a job, Mr. Dangerly, I need a detective. Can I count on you?” She pulls a handkerchief from the purse she must have pulled from thin air. Seriously, where do these women keep these purses? Anyway, she dabs some part of her face under the thingy she’s wearing and I shoot up.
“Are you sick? Are you sick? You have to tell me if you’re sick, I CANNOT get sick, my immune system has been systematically destroyed, so you have to tell me if you’re sick!” I stumble around until I find my chair. Shooting up was a mistake, as my vertigo is now spinning the room around me like some giant thing that spins around a person. What’s that game people play in casinos? I make a mental note for my secretary to subscribe me to more casino magazines. I’m going to get to the bottom of this.
“I’m not sick! I’m grieving,” she says. “Someone killed my husband, Mr. Dangerly, and I need you to find out who.”
I stare at the general area her face should be, and come to a startling conclusion. There’s only one of her, sort of, and my head is starting to pound. Wasn’t there a glass of something on my desk? Oh, shit, I knocked it over along with that stupid toy car. The bottle, too. Well, if this isn’t just the way to start a fucking Tuesday morning. Now, I have to go all the way across the office to where the bottles are and figure out which one is scotch, and-
“Oh, fuck!” I say, as I clutch my chest and also the bookshelf on the wall to keep from toppling over. “Don’t sneak up on me like that, dame. There could be consequences next time. Brain consequences. I always keep my gun close to my heart.”
I pat my chest but there’s nothing there. Just my shirt and my suspenders. Where the fuck is my jacket? No, wait…where the fuck is my gun?
“I didn’t sneak up on you, we were in the middle of a conversation.”
Is it tucked in my belt? I try looking to see if it’s there and end up chasing my tail for a while. Christ, I need a drink. Where’s my glass of scotch?
“Find your own damn scotch!”
“There’s an awful lot of YELLING,” I yell. Everyone shuts up. There is silence. Except for the phone, which may or may not be ringing. I find the scotch and carefully bring the bottle back to my desk. My heart is still doing that thing where it beats really fucking hard every two or three beats, but usually a bunch of scotch makes that stop.
“Now, Miss Dollface Dame,” I say after I finally have a sip of that sweet, sweet fire water. Also, it turns out I grabbed gin.
“My name is Alice Pettiford.”
She pauses, and I begin to sense that there’s something I should know. The way she’s looking at me, yeah, there’s definitely something I should know.
I make a series of hand gestures that may or may not have been obscene. I’m going to be honest with you, if I’m not looking at a particular body part I have no idea what it’s doing at any given moment.
“My husband is Alexander Pettiford.”
Another pause. “Does he know that we…”
Oh, I finally made an obscene one. Her face is aghast, so I guess we weren’t on the same rowing team in college.
“He was the editor in chief of the San Francisco Chronicle!”
I shrug and try to put more scotch in my mouth. “So? We live in Los Angeles.” Fuck, I forgot this was gin.
“Mr. Dangerly…This is San Francisco. Do you…do you not know that you live in San Francisco?”
“Know? Do I know? What do I know? What I know is that this city is violent, and dark, and filled with thugs and mugs and pugs…those are those dogs with the stupid mashed in faces, right? Mental note to get my secretary to subscribe me to more dog magazines. I’m going to get to the bottom of this.”
“You know what, Mrs. Dollface. I am going to take your case. I’m going to find the man who did you wrong. First, I’m going to find my gun.”
“I think I see it sitting on the back of the toilet in your bathroom there.”
She was right. Too right. I was going to have to keep my eye on Mrs. Newspaper Dollface here. She could be the key to unraveling this whole case. First, though, I was going to take a leak.
Will Dick Dangerly remember to close the door before he unzips his pants? Will he remember to pick up his gun when finishes? Will he find the man who did Mrs. Newspaper Dollface wrong? Tune in next time for more Adventures of…Dick Dangerly!