“That’s me Lady,” I said. “Ouch!”
“Oh,” she said. “Did I hurt you? I’m most terribly sorry.” I did not fail to miss the sarcastic inflection, though the hard, cold thing pressed against my knee disturbed my concentration just the weeniest bit.
“No problem,” I said. “How may help you, Ma’am?” I pride myself on being a perfect gentleman, even in the most trying of situations. Especially in the most trying situations. And even more especially when a pretty lady makes out she wants to blow my kneecaps clean off. I had been wishing I’d never gotten out of bed. Now I wished I’d never got in it in the first place and just left town. Opened that Pet Store in Deadbeat Creek, the way I’d planned if things went sour. Or changed my name to Trixie La Froo and gone in for cabaret.
“You’re gonna give it to me!”
“Shoot!” I said. “No, wait,” I added as her frantic, panicked look came back. If I could have seen through the cracked plastic tabletop I was sure I’d have seen her knuckles whiten around that pistol. “Back up a moment. Who are you?”
“Who I am is of no consequence.”
“Excuse me? I beg to differ.”
“You can differ all you want, you’re not going to get it.”
“Whereas you are, I guess. Gonna get it, I mean. So what is it, exactly?” I was babbling. I guess you’ve noticed. “What is it, and why do you think I have it?” She looked around at this point and leaned in a little.
“The thing! Give it to me.”
“Jesus!” she breathed. “Do I have to spell it out?”
“Unless you’re up for playing twenty questions,” I said. “Yeah, spell it out.”
“God, but you’re dumb! You’ve got it. I want it. It’s mine, you thieving scumbag!”
“Wait!” I said again. It wasn’t the insult I minded. Water off a duck’s back. Only her expression hardened again and I was suddenly convinced my future might involve a chair – the kind you steer with a little stick on the armrest.
“What if I could get it? I mean, I don’t have anything on me. But what if I could get it for you?”
“Oh,” she said. “As to that, you’ll get it for me or you’re dead! And there won’t be enough left of you to push up so much as a single daisy. Don’t worry. I’ll give you forty-eight hours. Then,” she said. “I’ll find you. That’s a promise.”
She left, blowing me a kiss on her way out.