Thursday, February 21, 2008


I sat back on the seat, enjoying the suppleness of the limo's Corinthian leather. Across from me, Fabulanna's academician of all things theatrical smirked at me. Next to him was Cheryl, Frank's lawyer and the fiercest of legal eagles. She didn't look nearly as comfortable as her client; I had to wonder if Frank knew that Cheryl and I had gotten loaded one night and she told me all about his weekend habit of dressing up like Gloria Swanson and shooting at his manservant Ted with a BB gun. It was just a mercy that Frank's mansion didn't have a pool.

"So there was something you wanted to say to me?" I quipped.

"I did," Frank said, toying with a chestnut curl.

"And that is?"

"Drop your investigation. Now."

I chuckled. "Oh, come on, Frank -- you'll have to do better than that."

The professor's already arched eyebrow approached his hairline. "As you wish. Drop your investigation now, or I will be slapping you with a lawsuit for slander that will take every dime you have and put a lien on your income for the foreseeable future. You'll be doing training manuals for Motel 6 again before you can say, "We'll leave the light on for you."

Cheryl gave me a "what can I do?" shrug. Now this was more like it. "I'm curious," I said, buffing my nails on my trenchcoat. "When exactly did I slander you?"

"When you started nosing around the Lone Star Gym, intimating that it has some nefarious connection to the missing mimes. You do know that I'm part owner, of course."

"Of course," I said, lying baldly. "I didn't think it would take you this long to get in touch with me, however."

Frank glared at me like Britney Spears facing down a psychiatric nurse. "You try mounting a production of Antigone with an all-dwarf cast and see how much spare time you have," he snapped. "Which is beside the point -- I want you to stop interfering with my place of business. The Lone Star Gym is a fixture of Fabulanna and provides a necessary service to anyone who wishes to maintain a lean, trim figure."

"Or wishes to hook up with anonymous gymrats in its fabled locker room," I added. "By the way, is the Sling of Outrageous Fortune still set up?"

Frank's nostrils flared to an impressive width. "More slander."

Cheryl sighed. "As your attorney, I must advise you that proving slander on this particular point will be very difficult, considering the pictorial spread you authorized last year for Fabulanna Living," she said. "In which the Sling was prominently featured. Against my advice, if you remember."

Frank's mouth pursed tighter than Betty Bower's hoo-hoo. "It was supposed to be described as a chiropractic device," he muttered. "I had no idea they were going to photograph Manuel in the Arrow position."

"We were saying something about slander?" I chirped brightly.

With a visible effort, Frank got his emotions under control. "This is your final warning, ZanZan," he gritted. "Go do something useful for a change, and forget about those ridiculous mimes. No one will miss them, I assure you."

Somehow, I doubted that. The silent little devils in their striped tunics and jaunty berets were as much a fixture of the Fabulanna landscape as the Boom Boom Room and the Rose Chateau. "What about Carrot Top?"

An odd look crossed Frank's face, a mélange of fear and hopefulness. "I'd advise giving him a wide berth," he said, his voice dropping. "Of course, if he disappeared from the face of the island I wouldn't exactly cry, especially if he took his little buddy Joe with him."

That was strange. While they weren't bosom buddies, I didn't know of any problems between the professor and Fabulanna's sports expert. "A lot of people seem to have an issue with Joe these days," I mused. "Did he screw up a point spread for you or what?"

Both Frank and Cheryl looked confused. "What are you talking about?"

"Well, you're talking smack about Joe, so I just wondered--"

A light dawned, and it wasn't the rosy glow in the east. "Oh, dear God. You really don't know whom you're dealing with, do you?" Frank muttered, turning a pasty white. "I'm talking about--"

A metallic BOOM threw me forward into my seat belt as my hosts lurched back in their seats, grasping for the Jesus bars. "What in the name of Harold Pinter!" Frank screeched. "Cheryl, get ready to sue the ass off whoever hit my limo!"

I leaned forward, peering past the dazed Milo at the starred windshield. Beyond, a large shape waited patiently. This really wasn't turning out to be my night.


Uncle Robbie said...

You really must skip your next midnight quilting bee and give us more of this, darling. It's too-too delish!

Glitter Queen said...

Goddess knows, you captured Cheryl to a tee! But who is this Frank person? I can't quite place your inspiration for that beautifully drawn character.

BTW, it's Ted's birthday. I've earmarked his favorite pre-wash on my Amazon Wish List.