Style No. 96: Hardboiled

They called him Khan The Tailor and he was known in the neighbourhood for looking the other way.

They called him Khan The Tailor and he was known in the neighbourhood for looking the other way.

Let’s just set one thing straight before we get started, which is that I ain’t no snitch. A dick’s got to have secrets or he ain’t no kind of dick, private or otherwise. That’s the law of this business if you give a damn about getting clients. Not that it matters whether you solve the case or not. In this town the victims’ll turn round and slit the throats of the criminals in a second. That’s if they ain’t done it already.

But stories. Well they got their own laws too don’t they. Stories got to be told, that’s why they call them stories. There’s a message stored up inside them.

So I was on the case for this broad named Jack. What the hell kind of name is that for a broad you’re thinking? Pal, don’t even. I been there. Anyway it’s a dime in my pocket so what do I care.

She says to me Rex have I got a job for you. That’s me, Rex Mosgley. Investigateur extraordinaire or whatever they say up in Montreal. Rex it’s a pinch caper, she says. My boys they lost two suits pricey as a mint.

— A pinch eh? What kind of suits we talking? (That’s my way of talking to broads.)

— Crushed velvet orange jumpsuits, it’s the latest fashion, oh you’ve got to get one you’ve just got to.

— Damn it Jack don’t talk to me about fashion. Don’t you know the world is all grey for a man like me?

— But can you get them back?

— Does the pope shit in the woods?

— I don’t imagine it’s my place to comment on religious matters.

— Oh come on, don’t get so nervous now. Makes you look older than you are, like you’re someone’s grandma, which just can’t be true for a broad as fine-looking as you. (Rule number one, always compliment the client.)

— Actually my daughter-in-law just had a baby. His name’s Melvin. Melvin Pennington Samsonite.

— That’s a lot of luggage for a little boy to carry. How about you just give me the skinny on this character you say made off with your boys’ funny suits. Let me guess, someone with a .44 Magnum and an attitude malfunction.

— Funny you should mention that. See, it’s Khan The Tailor. They call him the Khan Man because he’s always separating folks from their belongings. And he’s haughty too, like he knows something nobody else does.

— Whoa babe, let’s push the manifold crank back a few turns. Khan the tailor? Stand up guy he is. Sews my underwear every Christmas. (This is when I started thinking something’s fishy. This racialist type Jack broad? Fishier than a goddamn Newfie kitchen I’m thinking.)

— Are you implying I’m a liar, Mr. Mosgley? You do understand that this Khan is a… a Hindoostani, don’t you?

This is when I noticed that she’s got something hidden beneath the shawl on her head. Right from then I knew things weren’t going to end well. I’m telling you, clients are worse than marks in this damn town. It’s no life for a dick no more.

— Bend an ear this way Jack and bend it good. My mother’s from Chandigarh, you hear? Dad brought her back from the service, fell for the mangoes if you get my drift. So here’s what I’m going to do is I’m going to look the other way and let you leave my office. Let’s hope Khan’s willing to look the other way too.

Well wouldn’t you know it, one of those days. Turns out this broad’s name ain’t Jack at all. Frau Jach maybe. Soon as I’m done my spiel she whips off that head shawl of hers and slings a pistol my way. Then she starts spewing some cream-of-word soup, garbled German or  devil knows what. Arbeit macht frei.

But as it happened, I was the one to set her free long before her finger got to scratching that trigger. I have the shotgun bolted to the desk like any dick with his head screwed on right. Not sure what she expected, should’ve known better if you think on it. Hell, when you been working in this business as long as I have, that’s just what you call mandatory office supplies.

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