It was a dark and stormy night, but then it usually was in Seattle. Ellen Bartelle sat alone in a deserted ice cream shop. She was moodily slurping her usual double dark chocolate peanut butter malted milk shake with whipped cream, absentmindedly glancing toward the street every moment or two. She took another slurp and fought the urge to belch. She began rummaging through her fanny pack for her Tums bottle. After digging around for a while, she began the inevitable unloading of her belongings onto the table in order to locate her missing meds. She smelled the cigar smoke before she saw it. She looked up, just as she laid her hand on the bottle of antacids.
"I thought I'd find you here," the large man said, eyeing the unfortunate placement of the feminine product on the table. Her free hand shot forth like a missile, retreiving the object; they mutually denied that it happened.
"Well, you've come to the right place then," Ellen said in dark tones. She saved her dark tones voice for business, as it inspired client confidence. She continued, "I thought you said 8:00...I was just about to leave."
The fat man was perturbed. He snipped, "Well, if you carried a cell phone like any normal business person I could have called you to let you know I'd be late. I've told you and told you that over and over again and again!"
Ellen was not put off. It was for safety reasons that she didn't carry a cell phone. She didn't want her mother calling her when she was on a case. There's nothing more awkward than spying on someone when your mother keeps calling you to ask why you didn't make your bed this morning. She looked again into his pimpled, zarf-like face. It was hard to keep looking at him full on, but she knew eye contact was keenly important when dealing with a man of his magnitude. She slowly intoned, "What kind of business do you have for me today, Mayor?"
His green, piggish eyes darted about, looking for someone to overhear. The ice cream store owner had gone to the back to mop up, and like I said before, the shop was deserted. He hastily extinguished his cigar on the table, "I thought I told you and told you not to call me that in public!" Ellen's brown eyes snapped with excitement, but she kept her demeanor calm. He was like butter in her hands...like a whole lot of butter.
He exhaled violently, his alliaceous breath filling the too small void between them. Ellen knew better than to back away...it was a sign of weakness. She swallowed hard, trying to keep her eyes from crossing. He began again, "I've called you here today because I need your help. Someone has been embezzling money from my non-profit organization and I can't find out who it is. And yesterday this was taped to my office door." He flung a piece of notebook paper forward for her inspection. She noted the ultra neat cursive writing and the small red smudge at the bottom left. The mayor continued, "Will you help me, Ellen? If I can't find out who is stealing from the organization quickly, the note says he'll go public with the photos from last year's Manwich competition. That would be disastrous...you know how I've gone on the record against meats with nitrates! If the people of Seattle see me eating that footlong, my career will be over!" He was waving his arms dramatically and the sweat was beginning to dribble down his bulging cheek.
"I'll help you...for my usual fee. I'll need this note and an access card to the Fit for Life building."
His plump face broke into a grateful smile and he thanked her again. The irony of the mayor's fitness organization struck Ellen anew as he pushed the overtaxed chair from the small circular table. She began to reload her fanny pack to make her exit. Unfortunately it took longer than she anticipated, so the drama was quenched. She finally finished, scooped up the remainder of her shake and began to walk out. At the door she paused, turned to the fat man, and repeated, "my usual fee." He nodded and she left, using her signature umbrella...light pink with lip prints all over. She was relieved. She had new business, she was away from that breath, and she could finally eat her Tums.