Most of my clients up to this point had been grade school children looking to even the score with a bully or two. I was a little uneasy. I hadn't punched a grown man in years, not since that geriatric cut in line at the deli. But then she slid her hand across the desk and produced, what we in the business refer to as, a stack of cash.
Her name was Sadie, and she was dangerous with a capital “Damn!” I've never been good at math but I knew this was adding up to trouble. I wanted to refuse, but she wasn't the kind of dame you say no to. Hell, she could’ve told me to drink a gallon of horse whispers while balancing a mariachi band on my head and I would’ve done my damnedest to make it happen.
So I took the stack and made my way downtown.
I tailed him for hours, hiding behind a forest safety brochure titled “Did You Check Your Balls for Ticks?” He was starting to take notice, possibly because I kept muttering, “Christ, he's huge!” every time he walked near. Dmitri Boranishmuckinstofferhan, the Russian who won the first fistfight against a nuclear warhead back in the eighties. Tore it to shreds like a paper doll wearing the wrong clothes.
He was much bigger in person.
He turned around and looked me dead in the puss. After a few seconds of me acting like my disguise brochure was a map he started after me like a cheetah after a photo op. I bravely stood my ground for a moment before turning and running off, not screaming as some would have you believe. It was more of a motivational war cry.
I got three strides before he gripped me by the collar and lifted me off the ground like a paper sack in an updraft.
“Why haff you been following me? Stop screaming like small woman!”
His breath was like sour milk covered in human filth peppered with cologne from Abercrombie and Fitch.
“I don't have to tell you nothin', meathead!!” would have been a great thing to say given the time and opportunity. Instead I gave a squeak akin to a mouse having a stroke.
“Explain yourself! And stop pinching me!!'
My usual tactic exhausted, I was left to reason with the big ape. At no point did I beg and plead for him to show mercy on my pitiful body regardless of what witnesses may say. You've seen Rashomon.
So, I spilled my guts, wiped my mouth, apologized and told him the whole story. About Sadie, the money, all of it.
I'd never seen a gorilla confused before, but after staring at his face I now had a working idea. He staggered back and I resisted the urge to run motivational war crying off into the night. I was here to finish a job.
When he lifted his head I saw tears. And they were in his eyes.
“But we were to be married next month! Why would she hire you?”
That's when it hit me. I wasn't here to rough him up. I was here to break up the wedding. With his heaving sobs I got the full picture. The man was an emotional mess. Evidently she couldn't face breaking the news to the blubbering putz herself. Hell, I could barely look at him, all sopping and shivery like that in public. Even I have standards.
I patted his gigantic shoulder. “I guess you were too much man for her, Brickhouse.” I lit a cigarette, turned it around, lit the right end this time and breathed deep.
On my way home I swore I saw Trouble in the shape of Sadie hitching a ride on the 135 train to Splitsberg. I patted the wad of simoleons in my pocket and told myself, Just another day in the life of a private dick.
John Park is a Chicago based writer, performer, and illustrator who tries to smile at least once a day. His works include depressed super heroes, cats in suits, and misanthropic humanists with pet cameras. He's also a vegetarian. Which is important for some people. He can be found on the internet at www.crumpledupking.tumblr.com and www.sadhulk.blogspot.com.