[Editor’s note: Originally published April 8, 2009.
It might help the reader, a little, very little, to recap the previous stories of our semi-famous private eye:
Private Nut: Reloaded
Private Nut: Nice Guys. ]
I ambled down from my oak tree squinting at the daylight. I’d slept in.
After the last week, I needed it. The parade of crazy people, all women coincidentally, had scrambled my little brain. I was wondering if it was really a coincidence, but decided not to worry about it. It was going to be swell to get out of the office for a day. I snugged up into my favorite ball cap and climbed into my ride.
The good thing about the week was that I had some extra cash. Lost cat jobs don’t usually pay so well, but that short broad, with the hips and the rack and the surprisingly cute crooked nose, felt guilty. I think she had a big heart in there, too. Seems the cat didn’t want to go back to her house, what with a crazy sheltie, whiny teenager, and territorial older cat. Our guy Joey got scratched so bad he was laid up for a week. The dame paid triple. I sent Joey a card.
Yeah, today was going to be good. I felt a little strange rolling along with a big coffee cup in the middle of the afternoon. But people may have been staring because I was a squirrel moving down the sidewalk in a motorized rollerskate, with a big cupholder on it. You don’t see that every day.
Whoa! I pawed frantically on the brake. A blonde flash had shot in from the edge of my eye-space. I stopped just in time to not smash into the ankle of a jogger (who had been moving easily at about an 8 minute pace, good for her). She saw my face before I saw hers, mostly because I was working my way up slowly, taking in the spandex scenery. “Sorryaboutthat. Didntseeyoucomingdownthere. HeyIknowyou!”. She seemed a little jacked up, and I don’t think it was from almost getting run under.
Catching up with her face, I put it together right away. I did know her, and her chemical habits, well. “Hey, doll! Yeah, long time no see. How are the kids, and ah… have you been… ‘drinking’?”
“Nothingbutdarkroasttripleespressosince9am. Andtheyrenappingfornow. Whathaveyoubeenuptowherehaveyoubeendidyouevergoout-withthatcutieyouweretellingmeabouthowisthatwartdoing? Imrunningreallywelllately. Didyouenterthatracelastweekend?”
“Um, yeah, sweetheart…” I was following along pretty well, but I didn’t feel like small talk. It was time to tell this chickie-pal somethin’ for her own good. “Look, I didn’t say anything before, but we really gotta talk about you and the juice.” She stared at me, her face motionless, which was amazing since she was running in place at about 340 steps per minute. “I know you like your coffee, but do you really want to be this jazzed on caffeine?”
“Oh…youjustdontunderstand! Illtrytoslow downandexplain itto you… I only have a little time to myself every day. I’ve got a household to run, you know. Three kids, or four… I lose count some days.” She took a drink from her hydration pack mouthpiece. “Fresh ground 100% Columbian, if you’re wondering. Anyway, when I get that precious moment to myself, I have got to be ready to _go_!”
She took another sip, but I heard the gurgle as it ran dry. That worried me.
She perked up even more, which I’d thought was impossible. “Hey! IwrotesomemorestuffthatIwantyoutoreadformewouldyouplease?” She slung her backpack around and pulled out a thick bundle of paper to toss at me. It hit the ground with a smack like a drunk who missed that first step (lemmee tell ya, that hurts). I strained to pick it up. “For the love of Spillane, there must be 500 pages here! How long have you been working on this?”
“But, it’s only three-thir….” I was cut off by another thud on the pavement. It was like I’d feared – she’d lost her buzz and crashed. I’d been there before and knew it wasn’t pretty. I had to do a lot of stakeouts in the old days – coffee and donuts are the only friend ya got when you’re somewhere nobody wants you to be, all night, and you gotta be ready to run if they notice you.
I figured this chick would be fine where she was, but I knew she’d feel lousy when she came to. I left my coffee cup next to her. It wasn’t as strong as her usual stuff, but it oughtta get her home.
Geesh, the day was already getting weird. I thought a familiar bar would be a safer place to hide for a while, and the sooner the better.
[coming soon – Private Nut: Happy Hour ]