|"What can I do you for?" I asked the dame.
She blinked, and sat in the blue plastic chair beside my desk. I offered her a smoke. She shook her head and said, "No thanks. I quit."
"Good girl," I said, and lit one up for me. "Now, what's your business?"
"Well," she said, and stopped.
I waited, while she chewed her lips and thought.
"You see...I found..."
I charge for consultations. She could sit there spouting sentence fragments all day long, if she would pay to do it.
"Well," she said, "My husband is unfaithful."
"That's a new one. Never heard of that before," I said.
"You're making fun of me." She frowned and started to get up.
I grabbed my pen. "Let's have the details. Is there any proof, or just a vague suspicion?"
"Oh, there's proof." She pulled a piece of paper from her purse.
I looked at it.
"I got it off his desk," she told me.
"This his writing?"
"A poem, eh?" I read it over twice. He called himself a "babe." But there was worse. He called himself his girlfriend's babe. He asked for her to "play the mother's part." Sick stuff.
I folded up the paper. "Take this back. You don't need me; you need to see a priest."
When I looked up at her, she'd pulled a shiv.
"You read that thing," she said. "Now, will you help, or do I ventilate your heart for you?"
"Is this a dagger which I see before me? Put away that blade!"
I socked her, hard. She crumpled to the floor. I got the knife.
"Now, beat it, sister. Take this, when you go." I gave her back the poem. "You and him deserve each other. Lotsa luck."
When she was gone, I tried to do some work, but that damned poem wouldn't let me go.
I gave it up. Fresh air might do me good. I put my hat on and went down the street.
"To hell with air," I thought, "I need a beer."
The joint was packed. I got myself a brew. A pal of mine, a playwright, name of Bill, stuck up a hand and waved. I joined him.
"Bill," I said, "the world's a funny place."
"It is," says Bill.
"And poets ought to be locked up. At least, I know of one who ought to be." I wondered who he was. "I should have got his name."
Bill bought a round.
"What's in a name?" he said.
I guess he had a point.