It’s eleven o’clock and I’ve already sent three salesmen packing. One of them wouldn’t take “no” for an answer - he ended up face-down on the sidewalk. And now I’ve got some poor sap begging me for my help. If I didn’t need the money, he would be kissing the sidewalk with the other chumps. But I got bills, and he’s got dough. I guess I gotta make nice.

I’m Charlene Clausen. I’m a private eye.

“You’ve gotta help me! I’ve got nowhere else to turn! These fliers have GOT to make it to the show!” Mr. M’s eyes were red and his face was white. Double-barrel Rudolf during a snow storm.

I took pity on him. “Turn off the water works, Mr. M, I’ll give the thumb screws an extra turn and get ‘em for you on time.”

I only wish I could take the relief off his face, bottle it and sell it. I could retire to Tahiti.

Time to see a man about a dog. I hit the grimy streets of Warrenville with a burn of rubber. I-88, 294, Highway 22, my hopped-up iron ate up the miles almost as fast as it ate up the gas. And before you could say dead-beat geek, I was pounding on a non-descript door in a neighborhood with plenty of script. You can’t talk to the maids on this street without an appointment.

The door opened and I stood facing a geezer in a bathrobe, pointing the business end of an iPhone at my chest. Now I’ve seen things that would send a cop home early, but you do NOT want to know what an iPhone can do to you. It ain’t pretty.

I flicked my eyes to the glowing screen, then back to the geezer’s face. “Wikipedia, eh? Is that what you people call ‘working from home’ these days?”

“What the heck do you want?” he demanded, beads of sweat forming on his forhead.

“Hey, hey ... we’re friends, you and me. We go way back. I just wanna talk.” I would rather be talking to my main squeeze right now, but Geezer-boy will have to do. I gave him my most fetching smile.

“So talk!” He didn't invite me in.

“Hey, it’s about that flier you said would be ready this morning? I just wanted to know how it’s going, that’s all.” I was really pouring on the old charm. And it looked like I still had it. The iPhone started to waver.

“You’ll get your flier. I’ve been busy.”

His eyes flicked here and there, no longer really looking at me. I could see he needed his next fix, needed to feel the cool plastic under his fingers, needed to see the liquid-crystal glow. Well I needed some liquid myself, but mine comes out of a bottle, not a flat screen. I stood there, knowing what would happen. Sure enough, his head jerked to the side - just a quick glance over his shoulder to make sure his precious computer was still there. I simply reached out, grabbed his wrist, and gave it a twist. The iPhone clattered to the ground and Geezer-boy started dancing like his feet were on fire. I caught a glimpse inside his robe ... tighty whiteys. More than I ever wanted to know.


I yanked his arm down, put my mouth to his ear and hissed, “You haven’t even started, have you?”


Good thing I left a little slack in the schedule. I gave the iPhone a little kick. As it skiddered across the floor, I put as much menace as I could muster into my voice. “See that you do.”

I dropped his arm and beat it for my ride. Never could stand to see a grown man cry. But at least Mr. M would get his fliers on time, meaning that my bank account would get a nice infusion on time. As I pulled back into HQ's parking lot, I knew it was just another cold winter day on the mean streets of Warrenville.

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