I tapped my pack of Lucky Strikes against the corner of the desk. I needed a drink, a stiff drink, but Frankie was still making like he had gone clean for good and the stash I normally kept in my desk was gone. The smokes would have to be enough.
I dug my lighter out of my coat pocket and flicked it with my left hand while sliding a cigarette out of the pack with my right. Flame to paper, and then relax.
That’s when there was a knock at the door.
I yelled, “We’re closed!” but the knock came again. It was soft but persistent, so I asked, “What the hell do you want at this hour?”
The door opened and she floated in.
This broad was trouble the moment I saw her. Headlights to bumber, she was a classic beauty. The kind you take notice of. The kind you don’t forget. Her hair was red and she glided into my office like she owned the joint.
That would have been enough to make her memorable, but there was more. The wings, for one. Fluttering just over her shoulders were two wings, semi-clear like a bug’s. She was flying–that was weird-ass fact number two. Three was even more bizarre: she couldn’t have been more than 8 inches tall.
“You the dick?” she asked.
I coughed like a kid trying to take his first drag. In my line of work I’ve seen a lot of strange shit, but I’ve learned not to let it affect me too much. Most people, seeing a small insect woman flying into a place of business, might get upset. I took another drag and then said very slowly, “Yeah, doll. I’m a PI. What is it you need?”
“I’m needin’ ya to be helping me. Ta find someone.”
I hadn’t heard the accent the first time she spoke but I caught it that time. Sounded Scottish.
“That’s what I do, honey. I find people. Your name?”
She fluttered to the edge of my desk and landed there, hands on her hips. She was small but shapely. It was the first time in my life that I wished I was smaller.
“I’m Sharon MacAlister. I need ta find the troll witch. And I’m needin’ some whisky, too, if ya can spare a thimble.”
I raised an eyebrow and smiled. I liked her spunk. “Sorry. Fresh out of booze. Occupation?”
“What d’ya mean?” she asked.
“What do you do, Ms MacAlister?” I asked.
“I’m a thistle fairy,” she said. “A thistle fairy who lost the damn MacBain ring ta the troll witch. I’m needin’ ya ta find her so I can get it back. The clan is gonna kill me if I don’t get it back!”
“I can pay ya,” she said. “Clan whisky if ya like, since you’re out. Or gold.”
“I’ll take the gold,” I said chuckling. “Hell, at this point I might even help you for free. You’re my first fairy.”
Sharon MacAlister looked up at me and huffed. “Don’t be gettin’ any ideas, longshanks. Just help me get the MacBain ring from that damn troll before the clan finds out.”
“Yeah sure, doll. I’ll help.”
Only 9:30 and it was already looking like an interesting night. A very interesting night.
*Written for the 500 Club in a respectful (though admittedly playfully) mashup of styles of Dashiell Hammett and Martin Millar.