Creepy and Hatboy Private Investigations: Soulmates Found, Lives Made Complete, Cold Aching Emptiness Driven Away
It had been another busy morning. I’d been answering phonecalls, taking notes, looking up faces on databases, hunting down leads, and I’d made the coffee. It had been pretty good coffee, too, considering what I’d been given to work with. Still, I was confident that by this time next week we’d be able to afford the stuff with actual coffee in it.
Creepy had been sitting in his spot on the other side of the massive mahogany desk, looking disgruntled. At one point he’d lifted one of the little chrome globes on his desk toy, let it swing into the row of likewise dangling globes, then stared morosely at the resulting demonstration of Newtonian physics until it turned into a demonstration of entropy. He’d also drunk some coffee, and had been too preoccupied to do more than gag and ask me whether I was trying to poison him and why I hated him so very, very much. He’d then vaguely finished the cup.
“Alright Mrs. McGuffin, we’ll check the files and get back to you as soon as we have contact info and a game plan,” I hung up the charmingly retro telephone and sat back. “That’s our twenty-seventh active customer for today,” I announced, jotting down a note on my pad and tossing it onto the desk in front of me. “We are officially swamped. Again.”
“Hm,” Creepy said, eyes on the probably-fake leather desktop.
“Next up, a whole lot of clicking and typing, and probably some more phone calls. I may reward myself by sticking a pin in the board, and if it’s a really good afternoon, connecting it to another one with a strand of red wool.”
“Hm,” Creepy repeated.
“We might even need to call up surveillance camera footage, point at a part of it, and say ‘zoom in and enhance’. You could do that bit if you want.”
“Her name wasn’t really McGuffin,” I confided. “She’d already hung up. I was just seeing if you’d ask.”
“Hm?” Creepy finally angled his head slightly upwards and looked at me across the desk from beneath the brim of his hat.
“I can’t help but notice you’ve been … pensive for the past few hours. And you can normally only be pensive for about seven minutes before you tell me about the aliens that are preventing you from doing whatever important thing you should be doing instead of being pensive. So…” I trailed off, leaving him the required opening to tell me about the aliens. To be honest, our current situation was beyond strange and I had been thinking ‘aliens’ for quite some time already. Ever since realising what was happening, in fact, on that fateful Thursday two weeks ago. Because ‘aliens’ was the least worrying of a range of explanations.
Instead of telling me about the aliens, Creepy surprised me by gesturing at the desk, the cheap office, the big map of the world with the colour-coded pins and red wool connectors scattered across it, and the door sporting a panel of smoked glass with our names etched in it.
“This,” he declared, “is starting to look suspiciously like a job.”
“I know,” I admitted. “Don’t remind me.”
“Not having a job has always been good enough for us in the past, Hatboy.”
“True,” I said, “but … look, we’re good at this, and it’s helping people, isn’t it?”
“I know,” he echoed, “don’t remind me,” then he slapped his hand on the desk. “Damn it, we’ve never taken money or gone through proper official channels for helping people before. I had to sign a G-19 Article 7 Insurance Form 17b, Hatboy! A G-19 Article 7 Employment Form 17b!” he stared at me accusingly, then reiterated, “b!” as if this was the most damning detail of them all.
“That was a damage expenses claim because you attacked the masseuse next door with an axe.”
“I didn’t attack the masseuse. I attacked the eldritch spidery monstrosity from the cellar of space / time that was feeding on him.”
“It was a bamboo back-support frame.”
“You sound just like the building superintendent,” Creepy accused, then slapped the desk again. “And that’s another thing. Now I have to care about building superintendents?”
“Not that one,” I said. “He quit right after the thing with the masseuse. Said his psycho sense was tingling,” I reminisced.
“And now I have to care about the new one.”
“You only have to care about her if you’re going to keep assaulting our fellow tenants,” I pointed out reasonably.
“And since when are we tenants, Hatboy?” Creepy slapped the desk a third time.
“You just like slapping that leather desktop, don’t you?”
Creepy looked sheepish. “I have to admit,” he said grudgingly, “it’s spanktastic.”