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The Hard Case
by Jeff Burton

I leaned back in my chair with my feet on the desk and poured myself another scotch. It was a little early in the day for the breakfast of champions but I needed all the help I could get. My one man detective agency wasn't faring too well. In the last three weeks the only cases I had were the cases of scotch whose last inhabitant was sitting on the desk in front of me. It was half empty. I'm that kind of guy.

The intercom twerped. It used to buzz but we couldn't afford the buzz anymore and had to send the it back by registered mail. My secretary, Miss Dulcet, spoke. As usual the sound of her voice rearranged my pants.

'Sam, you have a new client waiting to see you.' That was a sentence I wasn't expecting to hear, but then again 'Your camel has stolen my watch' was another sentence I wasn't expecting to hear and I didn't. So much for philosophy.

'Shoo them in, Angel, shoo them in.'

A vision stepped into the room. It was followed by the most beautiful woman I had ever seen swathed in a heady cloud of blossoms and spice. That fragrance told a story. I think it was the one about two Jewish tailors and a lion. My heart played a bossa nova and my liver played bongos on my diaphragm. She moved sinuously up to my desk, her hips telegraphing an invitation in sign language that would have seen her jailed in five states. Her hips could have been harnessed to power New Jersey homes for a week. She sat. I wished she'd used the chair. She showed a shapely expanse of thigh. It was a shame it wasn't hers.

'Where did you find that?' I asked her.

'It came by post just this morning,' she said. Her voice sounded like angels eating roast beef. 'I'm just so frightened, oh I do hope you can help me, Mr Shakespeare.' She started to cry.

'Now, now, Angel,' I calmed her, 'We'll sort it out. You'd better start in the middle, I bore easily.'

The story was simple enough. It was the same story told for thousands of years wherever men, women and poultry gather. It was a story of passion. It was a story of love. It was a story that featured marsupials. We all know how that goes. I knew that before long I'd be in the thick of it. I hoped to one day finally be in the thin of it, but that day was a long way away. This was going to be a tough case.