I walked into the bar and a nervous hush fell upon the room, with eyes shifty as they sought the exits and those who couldn’t, attempted to blend into the shadows. There was a silence , only for a moment but as soon as they knew who I was, to a soul they all began to laugh. It had been a tough day. I popped my collar and ignored the jeers and cackling and sauntered over to my usual stool at the corner of the bar. Frank, that old bear, just served me my usual. I was in no mood to talk. That dame had got me good, too darn good. It would be a while before I could walk in the open again without a snicker behind my back. It would be the shadows then. Besides, in my line of business, I preferred the shadows. I of course knew that she was going to be trouble when she first walked into my office, the dames are always trouble, but this one reeked of it. Not just trouble, the worst kinda trouble and as my old lady used to say ‘I should watch my curiosity, at least a cat had nine lives’ – I always laughed and did it anyway. So there she was, trouble, they called her Adler she said and she needed a job done. I looked up at her, blew a smoke ring and took another drag. I told her then I didn’t work for strangers business being what it was. ‘But’ she said ‘Marty the rat said you were the man, or rather, the fox for this’. Inwardly I cussed that cretin; you could never trust a rat to keep his mouth shut. After all, he was a rat and rats rat. ‘So then, what is the job that you have for me?’ She told me. I cussed that rat even more so. This gig would be the death of me but I was curious. I might not have nine lives but I sure made this one that I got had good mileage.
So here I am, at the Lusty Leopard, the day of my latest humiliation, remembering how I got myself into this god forsaken mess.
I tried to find Marty the rat after my little introduction to Adler but he had slunk off into the sewers he’d come from. It would take a few weeks before I got my claws onto him but by then he’d have made himself useful again so I wouldn’t gut him which was my greatest wish. This job was so bad I couldn’t resist; my old lady had me pegged. I had told Adler that I would think about it but we both knew I was in. She had that look on her that said she had me hooked. Even more, that dainty muzzle of hers was drawn back into a smug smirk that said not only was I hooked to the job but to her as well. Most cats would be too but I wasn’t most cats. Even then, I’ll tell you, she was a vision. I have a rule though, one of many but the most important after ‘don’t leave the house without packing heat’, ‘don’t ever mess with a client’. I’m not sure how many times that rule has saved my hide but considering my weakness for the dames and the drink, I’d hazard at countless. My old mentor, Coon the masked, met a nasty end because of one. A biddy connected to an upstart mob boss; the time-tested concrete block drop into the bay did the trick, both of ’em too. He is no upstart no more, Al that is, that was one of many lessons he taught on his way to the top. He is just the Boss now and everyone avoided him; even the cats, nine lives and all. And this job took me straight at him. My old mentor’s mentor also went because of a dame, and the one before him too, I was seeing a trend. This would be a first though, different girl, same man. God, with all that is holy protect us from long-haired, big breasted, tiny waist, generously hipped, long-legged lasses. They were the death of us.
I started by gathering information. The only way I going to pull this off and survive was if I knew everything, and I mean everything about everything. First was Adler. I’m not one to know what my clients did with what I procured for them but this time I’d suspend the normal procedures. I had to know who she was and what her angle was. I also wondered from what rock she had crawled under from. There are only a few vixens about town that one didn’t know ’em and none quite so naturally gifted that she could remain hidden for so long. She was no out-of-towner so what was her story? As for Al, everyone knew about Al, there was just nothing you could do about it.