It was a day just as any. The Moon went down, the Sun went up. Six AM, I was in the kitchen. Sat at my booth. Sunday paper, coffee black. Orange juice, and steak and eggs. I had a long day ahead and I needed sustenance to pull me through. Nothing gives me the clout I need quite like the side of a steer. I seared it quick, kept it red, left it cold. Juicing blood on a white China plate. Eggs, poached, of course.
I took it down fast. In that time I’d read an article and a half. I read fast. I filled up the sink with suds and dropped in the dishes to let ‘em soak. I marched up the stairs and cleaned off my stubble. Brushing my teeth, my whites streaked with red, so I splashed it out with a shot of some fizzing green. I slinked myself into my second best suit, I threw on my hat, I walked down the stairs and I was out the door. I looked at my watch. Five minutes ahead of schedule. Good.
Driving to work, I already I knew I’d be the only one there. It’s gonna be a long and lonely day at the office. No cults today for Curtis Kleeder–no, sir, I got a case to work. And boy, do I need work. And how. I’ve been on a real drought, lately, as a private eye, you could say. For a town like Pluto–crawling with so many lowlives as it does–you’d think this private eye would be swimming–well, the truth was, I couldn’t remember what water even felt like. It’s a corrupt town I’ll tell ya’. It’s a corrupt town. The police are no good. The mayor is no good. It’s broken. It’s all broken. The politics is greasy, the business is sleazy. Pluto’s not like how it used to be. There’s no more honor in this town. It’s a bullyship now ran by an oppressive authority. The laws are bananas I’ll tell ya’. Bananas. Heaven, I’d swear, I could get pulled over today for not speeding. It’s all arbitrary. It’s just matters’ of mood, you understand.
I park in my parking spot. I get out the car. I dust away a blotch of dirt that’s caked onto my driver side mirror. Before I turn to walk inside, I look at the parking block that’s in front of my car and I admire the lettering–it reads with my own name inscribed. It’s pretty nice to see. I don’t get lost in the moment or anything, but I do appreciate to see it. I’d earned that block. It’s like a subtle trophy.
I pull out my key ring, I open the doors, I walk inside. I leave the doors unlocked–just in case. I don’t turn on the lights in the foyer, I keep those off. I get into my office and shut the door behind. I turn on the lamp and get right to work. Fortunately, my secretary Karen had left on my desk a stout pile of paperwork to help get me started. I dig right in.
It’s sort of a weird case–if times were better, I’d maybe pass on the case altogether, but I gotta do now what I gotta do. So here’s the scoop. It’s hard to say in any way that’s simple, but if I can break it down to the three most essential parts, the case is as follows: Mafia, gorillas, and laser guns. Those three things. Sounds a bit weird, right? Well, welcome to Pluto, Minnesota.
I couldn’t believe it myself. Last night I was relaxing, playing cards with the boys. kicking back, taking it easy. I stopped by the office on the drive home. I was curious about an old file of mine. When I got to the office, when I walked inside, this gorgeous dane was sitting right in my chair. I was about to pull out and shoot. I’d thought she was a robber. But she was stunning. Blue hair. Her name was Canola. Beautiful dane. Beautiful dane. But beauty ain’t no excuse for breaking and entering, so I pressed her, and I wasn’t too kind about it either. But this dane, though, Canola, with the blue hair, she was crying. Rough shape, very rough shape. She threw me right off my rails. She apologized for breaking in. Sobbing all the way through. She said she had needed to see me. That it was an emergency. She said she had no choice. She said she couldn’t go to the cops. I was her only hope as she insisted. Right there and then I was overcome with deja vu. I asked her, I said, “Canola, how do you know about me? What’s going on these days?” I’d realized then that my gun was still in in my hand. I was shaking it violently all around me. Must’ve looked like a mad man. I slipped it back into my trench coat and I regrouped a bit. I calmed myself down then reiterated, “Canola, what makes you so sure that I’ll be any better than the cops?”
“Fin Oil” she said. Fin Oil–I then remembered. The blue hair. Fin Oil. My old partner. Canola was Fin Oil’s baby sister. I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t seen her in years. Fin was murdered on the job, back when we were both on the force together. He had been murdered in a sting operation that went sour. We were supposed to break up a Mafia summit down by the harbor. Little did we know that it was a ruse. That was more than ten years ago. That was the last time that Pluto had even one honest cop in uniform. “Canola, no matter what the odds, no matter how many gorillas, or how advanced the laser guns, I’m your man from start to finish” I told her. I had no choice. It wasn’t a matter of decision. It was a matter of honor. Fin Oil was the best damn man I’d ever knew. I wasn’t about to let down his only living blood. No sir, not me. Not Curtis Kleeder. No Sir. I’m gonna crack this case if it’s the last thing I do.
I have to think no other than Phoenix Mayo is the kingpin in all of this. Phoenix Mayo’s been a capo since before I was even a cop. Phoenix Mayo is the slimebag who killed my partner Fin Oil. Phoenix Mayo killed Fin Oil with a laser gun. As far as my gut was concerned, this case was already solved–that now was time to tag Phoenix Mayo back for both Fin Oil and Canola. Canola, that beautiful dane. Beautiful dane. Blue hair.
But I’m a professional. Not a cowboy. This case was nowhere close yet to being solved. No matter how badly my gut may want Phoenix Mayo. Phoenix Mayo knows nothing about gorillas. And I now have ten gorillas with laser guns in the lower south side terrorizing Canola’s neighborhood. This kind of stuff is beyond the level of a cappo–this case has head boss written all over it.
My head was starting to hurt just from thinking about it. I was getting the spins, seeing birdies. I needed either some air or some coffee. One of the two. I chose coffee. I walked into the main room to go get some. It was pitch black out there, I couldn’t see all too much. The light switches were all the way at other end of the room. I regretted then not turning them on. I feel my way around, though, I knew the office layout well, after all. I turn a corner. I see a small orange light. Somewhere at about eyes’ height and about twenty feet away in the distance. It looks exactly like the on-switch on the coffee machine. That’s odd. How on earth did that get on–I’m the only one in here. Wait, Canola? No. No, holy smokes, that’s not an on-switch! I draw–
A lit cigarette falls to the floor. Smells an awful lot like burnt gorilla.