My name is Samuel D. Diamond. I tell pretty girls that the “D” stands for ‘Danger.’ But it really stands for “Delbert” – which is why I only use the initial. My first name isn’t really Sam either…and my last name is something you couldn’t even pronounce which is why I changed it to “Diamond.”
I’m a private dick – and save the clever comments. I‘ve heard them all.
My office is in New Orleans, a single sweltering box above Ray’s Boom Boom Room on Frenchman Street. The rent’s cheap here because when Ray has a band on, the “boom boom” sounds make it impossible to hear. Ray’s a friend of mine. Even though he doesn’t know it. I paid him his first months rent a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been here ever since...guarding the secrets of anyone who will pay me…even though no one has actually hired me yet.
But when she walked into my office, I could see secrets written all over her. She was sleek like a panther is sleek with blue eyes that invited the unwary to enter them and disappear forever. I could already feel my heart doing a slow fade. So I made a point of looking away with an air of affected disinterest. Make her wait for it, I thought cunningly.
“You must be Mr. Diamond,” she said in a voice that begged for more conversation, just so you could hear it. Just so you could be warmed by it in places better left unmentioned.
I didn’t answer. I just flipped my fedora back so she could get a gander at my eyes. I was Bogie. She was Lauren. She hid her flush of desire well. To a casual bystander, it would have appeared as though she didn’t feel the heat at all. But like I say, she wanted me. I’m pretty sure. .
I fixed her with my number ten grin – which usually causes hearts to melt and underwear to fire through the air…sometimes even someone else’s. But she simply looked back at me with those glittering green eyes.
“You must be Mr. Diamond?” she asked again. She pretended to inject a little irritation onto the question. Coquettish little thing, I thought.
“I am,” I said, keeping my voice several octaves lower than ordinary. I tend to squeak when I am get hot and bothered, which doesn’t fit at all well with the “Danger is my middle name” image. Neither does the fact that I am a recent graduate of the Ray Hunker Correspondence School of Detection of Des Moines – which is why I keep my framed diploma (which was a ten dollar option but I figured what the hell…) in the desk drawer.
Being a dick is still much better than my old job as the assistant to the assistant security director at Cavalcade of Value Shopping Mall in Seligman, Arizona.
“I need your help, Mr. Diamond,” she said.
“Help is my middle name,” I quipped cleverly.
Confusion flickered across her face. Then she shook her head, as though to clear away the cobwebs.
“The job I need you to do is dangerous.” Her eyes flickered over mine and I was glad I was sitting down. “I want you to follow a man. He’s going on a cruise out of Fort Lauderdale. You’ll have to go to Europe, I’m afraid.”
A single tear spilled out of her eye and rolled down that delicious apple cheek.
“Will you help me, Mr. Diamond? Please?”
It’s not often a pretty girl will even talk to me, let alone say “please.” (There was Ingrid Johanssen from my Dungeons and Dragons game several years ago. She asked me once to “Please pass her the attack dice” just before she kicked my butt back into the seventh ring of Argamoth. But she looked like the seventh level cave troll she was playing and I don’t think she ever liked me much anyway.)
Why was I thinking of Ingrid? I smacked myself in the forehead for being so goofy and when my vision cleared, I saw that look of confusion on her face again.
She had placed a cashier’s check on my desk. There were a lot of zeros there…and a ticket for a cruise.
“You bet, toots,” I growled. “Danger is my middle name.”