Mightier than Magnum, more cliched than Marlowe and mankier than Miss Marple, I give you Dirk Fowler PI.
I've rewritten the first chunk from memory, but I'm going to have to adlib the rest. Here's the first bit.
Dirk Fowler, PI
Yeah she was still talking, but I’d long stopped listening. You see plenty of them in this game. At least one a month. Bled their ex dryer than a prune in the desert yet they want more.
“He’s seeing this new woman. He must have some money he didn’t tell the court about.”
Bitterer than a coffee and vinegar sandwich. That’s love for you. Felt sorry for the ex, whoever he was. Trying to start a new life, but she won’t let him. Can’t live with him, can’t live without him. Can’t live without hurting him.
“Look this ain’t really my area. If you think he hasn’t been truthful, go back to the court. There’s really not much I can do. Anyways, I charge two hundred and fifty a day plus expenses. What little money I’d find would get eaten up in days.”
She stood up. That line always works. “I’ll think on it.” She let herself out.
Sighing, I reached for the middle drawer of the filing cabinet. Bottle of cheap scotch, a nearly clean glass and a mound of paperwork the taxman keeps harassing me to send him. That’d have to wait. Again. The clock had struck one and Scotch was calling my name. That sweet amber fluid was reminding who the boss was. Just the one glass though. One o’clock treat. Another little treat at four, but that was it. No more. Course when I get home, it’s a different story.
I sat back in my chair, feet on the desk. It’d been a quiet month. One rich-kid runaway, one philandering hubby and a seventy year old, convinced her neighbour was poisoning her cabbages. Stayed up all night in a shed for that. Turned out half the cats in the county were using her veg patch as a toilet. Only charged her a hundred for the night, too. It’s just not enough. Earned barely enough to pay the office rent this last month. I needed a big case, that’d sort everything out. And more scotch. I needed that, too.
It was then that I saw her.
Through the half frosted glass that read Dirk Fowler PI, all I saw was a mass of blonde hair and pretty face. Like some angel, floating down from heaven, she was hovering outside the door. Must have the wrong door. She must have.
I finished the scotch and slammed the glass in my drawer. “Come in.”
The door opened. The frosted glass hadn’t let me down. Mounds of blonde hair flowed wild from her head. Dressed in a skirt and shirt, her body pointed out in all the right places. She was a babe, a dame, a woman. I could feel my mouth smile. I didn’t want it to, but it did.
“How can I help?” I stood up, held out my hand hoping she’d walk forwards and shake it.
She stepped forward. Red lips and blushed cheeks, but not through make up. Nature’s own rouge: anxiety. “Are you Mr. Fowler?” Her hand half pointed towards mine, unsure whether to shake it or not.
“Sure am. Dirk, call me Dirk.” I could hardly use my real name now, could I? A PI called Wayne? Nah. I’d get laughed out of town.
“I saw your advert.”
She was still stood, half leaning over with her right hand slightly raised. I couldn’t stop staring at her eyes. Blue and green. Deep. Mesmerising. Seemed to go back miles into her head. Miles. Just like a train tunnel. You can see the outsides, but as you move in, you just can’t see where they end. If you look hard enough, you think you can see a small patch of light. The end of the tunnel. But it’s not. The more you look, you more you realise it’s your eyes wanting to see it. They don’t trust what they’re seeing, they...
“Mr Dirk, are you okay?” She took a step back, crossed her hands over her chest. Broke eye contact.
Shit. Keep it together, Wayne. Keep it together. Stop staring. Say something.
“How can I help, Miss?” I put my hand down and looked at my desk before looking back at her face. Concentrate on her nose. That’s what I had to do.
“I need your help, he’s,” she paused, her voice breaking. “He’s missing.”
“Take a seat, mam.”
She sat down, real prim and proper. Leaning forward with her hands on her lap, she hadn’t learnt to sit like that in Exeter. Some finishing school up London way. What was she doing here? All the way out here? All the way out here with a nose that pretty and eyes that go on and on and...
I blinked. Twice. “Shall we start at the beginning?” I pulled my notebook out of the pile of papers in the in tray and opened it. Fresh page. New job’s always a fresh page.
“As I said. He’s missing, I...”