Copyright 2011 Tom Andry
“Mr. Moore,” his voice sounded of years of drinking and smoking, “what did you find out?”
“Go ahead and take a seat, Mr. O’Malley,” I replied, motioning to a chair in front of my desk as I returned to my seat.
The guest chair was heavily reinforced for some of my heavyweight clients and was bolted to the floor for some of my hot-headed ones when I got tired of replacing windows and chairs. When I looked up, Shawn was rooted to the spot, his eyes wide and face flushed.
“Oh, please, Shawn, you must have heard of me or you wouldn’t have come.”
“How did you…” Flamer stammered. The muscles in his neck and shoulders started to ripple. His pecs and lats convulsed as he clenched his fists unconsciously.
I never understood why supers insisted on being half-dressed all the time. Aside from just looking like a dork, their body language gave away way too much if they weren’t careful. In the thirty year history of supers, you can count the “careful” ones on one hand.
“Calm down, Mr. O’Malley, I have no intention of ever revealing your identity to anyone. Ever.” I picked up a piece of paper off my desk and pretended to look at it, “I just like to know who I’m working for.”
Slowly the tension drained from the super.
Silently, I exhaled. With the “brick” types, you never knew what to expect. Those guys (and sometimes girls) loved to lose their tempers. Now that he realized that I knew who he was, we could continue.
“You had a question you wanted answered,” I began. “But first, there’s the issue of my payment.”
Shawn leaned forward, “You followed her?”
“You saw what she was doing?”
I nodded again.
“Tell me!” he practically shouted.
“Please, Mr. O’Malley,” I leaned back in my chair, “let’s dispense with the formalities first.”
He grimaced and reached behind him.
What I thought was a belt was, in actuality, a fanny-pack. I coughed into my hand, covering my smile.
“There,” he practically threw the other half of the money at me. “Now tell me, is she cheating on me?”
“In a word, Mr. O’Malley, no.” I gathered up the money and pressed the comm button on the phone. “Khan, bring in the pictures, please.”
Flamer looked shocked, “What do you mean, no?”
“Well, I can’t say for sure, but you asked me to follow her for a night and see what she was doing.”
Khan entered with the pictures and handed them to me. In return, I handed him the money. On his way out, he noticed Flamer’s fanny-pack and practically ran out the last two steps.
“I can tell you, she most definitely isn’t out sidekicking with someone else.”
“What? Well…” he stammered. “What the hell is she doing?”
I smiled and waited a few moments locking my eyes with his, “Having sex.”
It looked like I had slapped him. I couldn’t help but smile. He looked away, processing what I’d just told him.
“Wa… wa… with who?”
“Now, Mr. O’Malley, that wasn’t part of our agreement.”
He started to stand, face and chest flushed with emotion.
“Now, don’t argue, Mr. O’Malley. You were convinced that whatever she was doing last night was what she’d been sneaking off to do for the last few weeks. You wanted to know what she was doing and I told you.”
“But she could still be sidekicking with someone else!”
“If you’d like me to continue following her, I’d be happy to discuss with you a new contract.”
“But I paid you a fortune!”
“Let’s be reasonable, Mr. O’Malley, you paid me a small fortune. You had to because you wanted me to drop everything I was doing and run after her.” I stood as well, “You see, what you super-types fail to understand is that out here, in the real world, you don’t go off half-cocked. I did that for you because you offered me enough compensation to make it worth my while. What I got for it was a car that may have to be completely scrapped, the ire of a super much more powerful than you, and I almost lost my life. Now, if you feel you’ve been unfairly treated, I suggest you take it up with The Bulwark. Perhaps they’ll come to your aid.”
Flamer sat back down with a plop. Finally taller than him (though only barely) I watched as he seemed to deflate. He knew The Bulwark would never side with him, not when I had a signed contract. Plus, with the work I’d done for half of them, they’d need an ironclad case before ever moving against me.
“No, that’s okay,” O’Malley squeaked, “you’re right, I was just caught a bit off guard.”
I sat back down, “I understand, Shawn. I get this all the time.”
“I bet you do,” he muttered, quietly.
“So, do you want me to keep following her?”
It was pointless since Samantha had already confirmed Cindar wasn’t sidekicking for her, but I wasn’t about to turn down additional money. Plus, she could be sidekicking with someone else. I doubted it, but maybe.
“Well,” he thought for a moment, “hey, don’t I get to see the pictures?”
Honestly, by this point I would have bet that he’d forget to ask. I had already shuffled the raciest picture that didn’t include a clear shot of Whisper’s face to the top of the pile. I handed it over.
Shawn’s eyes got wide. “But… but… that’s a…”
“Yes, Mr. O’Malley,” I smiled watching the emotions run across his face, “a girl. She was having sex. With a girl.”
He shifted in his chair. After a moment, he opened his mouth.
“And no, you can’t keep the picture,” I replied before he could ask.
He carefully lowered the picture and set it on my desk. He stood slowly and I averted my eyes.
I really don’t understand why they insist on wearing spandex.
He turned and walked out of my office without saying a word. From the ajar door, I heard O’Malley say, “Bob Moore? What kind of name is that for a PI?”
Khan’s voice, “He gets that a lot.” A moment later and Khan was back in my office occupying the chair recently vacated by the pink spandex-wearing super. “Oh. My. God.” Khan could barely contain himself, “Did you see him? He’d better get that under control or they’ll pick him up for indecent exposure.”