This Bum For Hire – The Steakout

28 March 2009

Naive Dame sez: "Oh, relax, Charles...  We're perfectly alone.  What do you think there's some gumshoe outside, listening to all our secret plans?"

Naive Dame sez: "Oh, relax, Charles... We're perfectly alone. What, do you think there's some gumshoe outside, listening to all our secret plans? Why, that's patently ridiculous!"

I woke up at my desk to the sound of the world’s most annoying alarm clock: an angry woman.  The dame had marched in from off the street and directly into my frontal lobe.  She demanded that I take her case, without so much as a “How do you do?”.  I don’t cotton to people ordering me around, even if they do have legs that go all the way up, so I took a drag on my cigarette and thought about it for a minute.  Unfortunately, my wallet was as empty as that clip I poured into the last scumbag I ran into, so I didn’t have much choice but to take her on as a client.  So long as she was paying cash and didn’t expect her feminine wiles to get her any discounts.  After all, feminine wiles don’t buy you perfectas at the dog track.  “So what’s the deal, sweetheart; who done ya wrong, and how bad?”  It turned out that some so-and-so had taken all her dough, and I don’t mean the pizza kind.  He had wormed his way into her heart, and then into her purse, just long enough to get his sticky fingers all over her hard-earned cash.  Though, I’m not sure how hard a dame that looked like her had to work for a living.  “This is fucking ridiculous,” she screamed, “it was my life’s savings!”  Tell me about it, doll face – this economy’s been rough on everyone.  In fact, I hoped this perp didn’t have his sights set on going down swinging, because I couldn’t even afford to put bullets on layaway.  “I’ll take the case, Hon, but I can’t promise you’re going to get your money back,” I told her, and deep down I knew that something wasn’t quite on the up-and-up with this broad.  “You better fucking come up with something, and quick, or I’m just going to go to the fucking cops!”  Dames – always with the cops.  I got her to calm down, and finally she was able to speak rationally – as rationally as any broad can speak, that is.  “Look, I just want my money back, no questions asked.  I won’t go to the cops, I just want all of it back.  I don’t care where it went, or why it was taken, I just want my fucking money back.”  I told her I’d try my best to oblige, right before she left my office in huff, just like how all the broads in my life leave me.

After she sulked out of my office, I poured a double of the cheapest whiskey ever made, and thought for a while about my rotten luck.  It had only been two weeks ago that I encountered my own money problems.  The kind of problems that can’t be solved with quick thinking and a loaded .38.  I had stumbled onto an opportunity that was guaranteed to net me a pile of greenbacks, see, and without my having to lift a finger for it.  All I had to do was provide a little help to someone, and the pennies were sure to come raining from heaven.  It was so easy, I almost felt like one of the criminals I have to chase down and beat some justice into.  Almost.  Unfortunately, for a guy trained to pick out and track down bad guys, I fell victim to one of them easier than a greased-up monkey at a pie eating contest.  It looked like my client and I had something in common – besides hating me, that is.  Hers was going to be a tough case to crack, though, and my landlord’s daily eviction notices informed me of the importance of solving it, and lickity split, at that.  You don’t get to be this grizzled by sitting on your ass waiting for things to happen, though, and luckily I knew just where the type of people who steal from an unsuspecting bird generally hung out.

Carpaccio

Vigo The Carpathian's favorite dish is Carpaccio.  Because they sound kind of alike, that's why!

Vigo The Carpathian's favorite dish is Carpaccio. Because they sound kind of alike, that's why!

The deep mahogany walls, zinc bar, and fine crystal of the restaurant I was sitting in were belied by the nefarious and rough-neck clientele seated all around me in their three-piece suits.  I glanced side-to-side, trying to see if anyone reacted to my presence, but the candles seemed to be the only lighting in the place, which made it a perfect hide out.  Or maybe they couldn’t pay their electric bill, either.  I pressed the waiter into service, but the only tip he gave me was in connection to the wine list – a tip I graciously accepted, as it had been almost ten minutes since my last drink.  I ordered the carpaccio, hoping that they’d cut the price since they didn’t have to cook anything – no such luck, the wiry waiter informed me.  I didn’t trust him.  When it arrived, the beef was paper thin and dressed simply with olive oil, capers, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice.  It disappeared down my throat almost as fast as I did out the bathroom window.

Steak Au Poivre

Cow Chart (chart is to scale.)

Cow Chart (chart is to scale.)

Wandering around the city with only a hip flask of hootch and a hair-trigger .45 soon began to take its toll on my stomach, as well as on my psyche.  A little red meat was in order, and the restaurant I was standing in front of looked like just the type of place where a swindler would come to celebrate after fleecing some poor dame, or maybe even a road weary private investigator.  The maitre ‘d handed me a tie upon my entrance, and though I knew he wasn’t the perp I was looking for, his name shot right to the top of my shit list.  As I waited for someone to take my order, I couldn’t help noticing the sideways glances I was getting from the well-heeled assemblage of potential matchstick men seated around me.  I was on the job for my client, but I couldn’t help thinking that one of these fat cats may have been the mug that took me to the cleaners.  Perhaps our perps were one in the same, just like that he/she I met in the park last night, the lying bitch.  After the waiter took my order and promised to keep the martinis coming, I loosened my new tie and surveyed the room for a possible suspect.  It was hard to differentiate between tables, though, and I was as confused as a kitten at a koala bear convention.  Had I been hired to investigate the robbery of a Brooks Brothers, I would have been in business, but these weren’t the types of cats to slum it with some leggy chick with a killer ass just for a couple grand.  Nor, for that matter, a down-on-his-luck private dick with more bills than hollow points in his gun.  When my steak au poivre came, all those thoughts melted away, as the scent of cracked black peppercorns hit me in the face like a drunk guy who thinks you’re flirting with his girl, just because you accidentally bumped into her, then asked if she wanted to go in the bathroom and make an extra buck.  The steak was rare, and the creaminess of the beef was bolstered by the cognac, cream, and butter of the sauce.  Unfortunately, this restaurant’s bathroom was sans window, so I had to do it the old fashioned way: walk slowly out the front door, then run like I stole something.  Because that’s, actually, exactly what I’d just done.  The characters in the restaurant definitely had skeletons in their closets, but swindling my succubus of a client wasn’t one of them.  At least I got a new tie out of it.

Prime Rib

What prime rib is made of.  (Not pictured: puppy dogs kissing kitty cats.)

What prime rib is made of. (Not pictured: puppy dogs kissing kitty cats.)

Finally, I had a lead.  It seems my client and I weren’t the only ones who had been tricked out of their money by some evil genius.  I had been perusing the discount rum section of the liquor store when I heard another patron complaining about being defrauded by a scheme which seemed remarkably familiar.  In fact, I was more and more convinced that if I found the guy who ripped me off, I’d be led to my client’s guy, as well.  It seemed that everyone was getting the old bait and switch, lately.  The word on the street was that the man in question was a bigwig from overseas.  I knew exactly where bigwigs from overseas like to eat, so I tightened my tie and hightailed it over to one of the fanciest restaurants in town.  The Bentleys and Ferraris in the parking lot told me that I was in the right place.  Also, that I had made a lot of wrong decisions in life.  Blending in with my highfalutin counterparts at the bar, I talked about my thousand foot yacht, my rocket powered helicopter, and the media room in my mansion which only showed the movie Major League , on a continuous loop.  I couldn’t tell if they were laughing with me or at me, but I could definitely tell that I was in the right place.  Once seated, I scanned the room for a professional flim-flam man.  I assumed he’d be wearing rings on all his fingers, and maybe have a scepter of some kind.  I don’t know why I thought that.  Unfortunately, the other customers in the giant dining hall were as boring and unadorned as a Coldplay boxed set.  The waiter soon wheeled out a giant metal serving cart, however, full of wonderful cuts of beef to captivate my fevered mind.  I chose the largest one, and he served it on my plate next to mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and whipped horseradish, which I was assured was made out of real horses.  The beef melted in my mouth, and was complimented perfectly by the tartness of the horseradish and the richness of the bread.  It’s too bad my suspect wasn’t here, but my now eaten meal felt as good as having him cornered, on the business end of my partners, Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson.  When I was ready to head out, I realized that I had left my non-existent wallet in my non-existent car, and asked to take my leave out the front door before running like I was being chased by a pack of rabid piranhas.

Cheesesteak

This must be the human equivilent of having a female presenting to you in the animal kingdom.

This must be the human equivalent of having a female animal present herself to you during mating season.

In the evening, I looked for what I was convinced was our mutual perpetrator high and low, but mostly in the bottom of a fifth of Jim Beam.  After surveying seedy martini bars and even a scotch tasting in the wrong part of town, I needed to bribe my stomach into holding on to its contents by buying it a rich, greasy dinner.  The place on the corner offering “The Best Cheesesteak In Town” sounded like a winner, though recent history had taught me not to believe everything I read.  Especially in unsolicited e-mails.  After I ordered, I closed one eye, steadied myself against the wall, and noted the ingredients.  The sliced rib-eye had been shaved paper thin and quickly cooked on a flattop.  The onions were sweet and transparent and provided a nice counterpoint to the fattiness of the beef.  The key to the whole thing, though, was the fresh Amoroso roll, which made all the difference – though, the Cheese Whiz spread inside didn’t hurt, either.

The thought of being harassed by missed messages, and the clients who left them, at my office forced me to change plans and swing by my apartment for a nap and some bad coffee.  What I arrived to, instead, was an angry client with a stare that sobered me up faster than than getting stabbed by a junky in the alley behind a strip club.  “Did you get my fucking money?”, she asked in the same manner Bo Jackson used to hit waist-high fastballs.  I sat her down on the stoop and explained to her that she wasn’t the only one who had been taken for a ride recently.  My theory of who perpetrated the crimes was laid out, but I could tell she wasn’t looking for explanations; she wanted revenge.  Cold, unfeeling, bitchtastic revenge.  “YOU GAVE MY BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER TO SOME GUY YOU THOUGHT WAS A NIGERIAN PRINCE BECAUSE YOU THOUGHT HE WAS GOING TO GIVE MONEY TO YOU ONCE HE MADE IT OUT OF THE COUNTRY?!?!?!?  I THOUGHT YOU JUST STOLE THE MONEY, YOURSELF!!!  ARE YOU FUCKING RETARDED?!?!?  Clearly she didn’t understand the obvious upside to the plan as it was presented to me two weeks ago.  Oh, well.  I told her that her case was probably unsolvable, and that whoever it was on the profiting end of this scheme had probably absconded long ago with all the loot – both hers and mine.  While she was on the phone, consulting with the cops for a second opinion, I took my cue and leisurely sprinted down the street towards the park at breakneck speed.  As my mind raced about being duped so badly – by a prince, no less – I stopped dead in my tracks.  Instantly, all my problems seemed far away, and I saw the rest of my life flash before my eyes – replete with champagne wishes and caviar dreams.  From the instant I saw the sign stapled to the phone poll, I knew what my future held, and that that future was brilliant: I was going to work from home for upwards of two thousand bucks a week.  And I didn’t even need any experience.  As visions of the good life danced in my head, my exuberance was tempered by only one concern: I just hoped they allowed pearl-handled .57 magnums at the Four Seasons.

Hope you like your new throne, ASSHOLE!!!

Hope you like your new throne, ASSHOLE!!!

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