There are two things I know about Brighton and its rock. Numero Uno, it’s a book written by that Dicky Attenbro’ guy. The one who now spend his days crawling through the jungle and whispering about termite mounds, and B) It can pull a crown off a tooth if you don’t treat it with respect.
The chill October wind got up again from the sea front bench where it had been seated for the past half hour watching a flock of seagulls. It was sad to see the once popular, early eighties, electro-pop, beat combo reduced to playing it’s one and only hit again and again to a bedraggled group of out of season tourists who cowered under their umbrellas from the bitter wind.
Of course the wind was bitter, it had been promised a headline tour with Kim Wilde as support, but once again it had been persuaded to reunite with its old partners, Earth and Fire. The bickering had started even before they had boarded the tour bus.
The wind whistled round my ankles, not one of my favourite tunes and definitely not the best track off its first solo album, but the fans loved it and heck what do I know, I’m only a gumshoe.
I’d better introduce myself. The names Clay, Matt Clay. I’m a fourth generation private eye. My father, my father’s father and my father’s, father’s father had all been dicks, but on my mothers side there was a long tradition of law enforcement and private investigators.
So here I am, a dick for hire, a gumshoe, a flatfoot, a P.I. a shamus, a Sherlock Holmes, a finder of lost souls, broken hearts and failed marriages, sometimes all at once. I’ve been told my eyes are the same blue as some grotto in Capri and that my hair is as dark as Jet. But then again a mother will tell a boy anything to get him to take the trash out. I stand six foot two in socking feet and six foot six in the stilettos that go with them. But today I’m dressed like a million dollars; I’m handing out leaflets for the First National Bank of Chicago.
At the moment I’m stood on the damp grey sea front, of a damp grey seaside town, the smell of damp grey fish guts filling my nostrils and damp grey salt water spray stinging at my eyes. I’m waiting to meet my new client, a Miss Ophelia Gobblehead. She had rung me on the telephone, a sensible option as ringing me on the kettle very rarely worked. Her voice was enough to make a priest lose sleep, warm dark molasses dripped over vanilla ice cream. She had requested that we meet as soon as possible and so here I was, dressed in a foam million dollar bill costume, waiting to meet a woman I didn’t know, but who I hoped would offer me a job that would at last put the name of Clay on the map, or at least mean I was able to afford a quarter page Ad in, The Echo.
I spotted her as soon as she rounded the corner at the far end of the prom. She was the sort of woman who had here own tag on Goggle Earth. She drifted along the pavement like an iceberg; cold, unapproachable at speed and with all the dangerous bits hidden from view. She screamed trouble. Which was quite off putting and shocked a group of old ladies who had just exited the Bide a’Wee Tea Room and Tena Parlour.
She heaved-to alongside of me and to my surprise spoke to me through broken teeth, a Native American spirit guide who apparently went every where with her. He explained to me, in English so poor that it could have claimed social security, that Miss Gobblehead was in need of my services and that she was willing to pay, well. I explained that I was willing to offer my services and that I got two hundred a day, plus expenses. She nodded her agreement and I shook mine.
We decide to discuss the details of the case over a cup of Java. I knew she wouldn’t be the sort of woman who’d accept a mug of instant de-caff from Fat Larry’s burger van. I needed somewhere with style, somewhere where the waiters spoke with mock-French accents, somewhere where the sugar came in little packets, somewhere where they served biscotti. I needed the sort of place that served a mochatohcacappafrappalatinochico, but heck, this was Brighton, England, where the hell was I gonna find a place like that.