Or so I thought.
I surprise the putz when I put the mit on his shoulder, and he belches out an alarm to wake up his ancestors. I give him the standard rattle before I learn that he’s not only not my target, but he’s a freakin’ Bay Street lawyer, even if a junior one, who’s trying out his wings as a flatfoot no less.
“Sorry if I spooked ya, counsel, but we don’t get many suits out here in the trenches, I’m sure you understand. So what are ya lost? Did ya mean to turn left at Albuquerque?”
I was happy to learn both that it was his first time swappin’ rat-spit, and that we weren’t working the same file, ‘cause that coulda become as awkward as catching your sister knocking boots with your last girlfriend.
“I’ve been swamped of late with a host of highly distasteful assignments”, he said, “which, among their own reasons for avoidance have done more than just impinge on my lifestyle. It’s 1235 on a Friday night, and here I am, sullying a perfectly fine Zegna, and for what? The faint hope that a motive for a homicide might exist beyond the police investigation? Are the police arresting innocent people now?”
Suddenly I saw the Northern lights of old Parliament and Jarvis.
“Whaddya mean, ‘swamped’?” I asked, wondering if this little 3-degrees-above-high- school, and 26 degrees west of his target, could see the opportunity that just knocked on his window like a Boeing 767, (what? Too soon?). “How many files means ‘swamped’?”
“I must have at least a dozen as we speak, and they keep piling up. I am the junior, after all.”
“Listen”, I said, “I’m out here every day. I get more intel outa that raccoon on the dumpster there than you can hope for outa all of 55 Division. My office is a 2003 Buick, and my boardroom’s a hotdog cart. Try this on. Shoot me all your files, and bill me out at $75 an hour from the 3 Bordens an hour they bill YOU out at. You’ll actually get results, and at a fraction of the cost, in a fraction of the time, and everyone looks like Perry Mason’s smarter brother.”
“It would seem”, he said, “that those who don’t think business can be done in dark alleys, are clearly not in the right alleys.” We shook hands and I gave him my card.
“For your Rolodex.” I said.
He got about half way to his baby-beemer, when he turned back to me. “2 questions, Shamus.” Young enough not to be even a little embarrassed, he asked, “Who’s Perry Mason, and what’s a rolodex?”
I hoped he was just winding me up, and didn’t answer. We can spit sillies on his dime I figured as I slipped back into the ink.
That was 18 pumpkins ago, and be damned if the little daisy didn’t call that Monday as advertised. He became a real butter and egg man for me, with over a dozen Bordens a week steady since then. The darker suits upstairs were so starried by the mug, they made him a partner at the end of the calendar, and I got the carpet to more suits than the fall clearance at Korry’s. “Very nice doing business sir. I’m happy we have each other’s back.” He winked as he handed me an envelope.
As I slipped it into my inside pocket, I added simply, “Ain’t that why they call this ‘scratch’?”
… the life of a flatfoot.