“How many elephants does it take to change a light bulb?”
That’s what I was asking myself as I balanced precariously on on my desk on one foot, screwing in a replacement for the burned out light overhead.
It wasn’t like there was much else I could do in the next day or two. The Chief had been apologetic about it, but they needed to impound my gun and suspend my license while they ran a match against the bullet inside poor Manny. I’d been at the scene, and I’d been packing heat. Rules are rules.
No law though against being in my office. It’s a small space, but that suits me fine. Just a door with a shingle opening onto a little side street in the sketchier part of town, but that’s never stopped cases from finding their way to my door. Seems trouble has a way of finding me.
So I shouldn’t have been so surprised when a voice behind me in the darkness called my name. But I was so focused on fixing that damn bulb I nearly tumbled right off the desk then and there. Which would’ve been a helluva way to make a first impression.
Trying to recover what was left of my dignity, I finished screwing in the bulb, got down off the desk and turned to face my new client. And what a client!
She was dark haired and slender, with eyes as big as saucers and legs that seemed to go on forever. She had a look all her own, and somehow the whole package fit together like God was having a really good day. I could’ve spent all day just drinking in the sight of her, and I probably would have, if she hadn’t spoken up again.
“Are you the Smellephant? Or do I call you Mr. Smellephant?” She had a lilting English accent that reminded me of tea cozies and old castles, of wild brambles and cottages by the sea. I could feel myself falling, and falling hard.
But rule number one in this business is don’t fall for the clients. So I pulled myself together and put on my best tough guy face. “Sister, you can call me whatever you want. How can I help you?”
That’s when she smiled, and I knew I was a goner. “I think I shall call you Mr. Smellephant. It suits you quite nicely. I must say you are far more handsome in person than in the picture books. And I have a case for you.”
“And you would be?”
“My name is Rebecca. Rebecca Winthrop.”