Special Case File # 1
Dear Reader: This is the first John Harrison case file I will reveal to the public. John Harrison, now deceased, worked as a Private Investigator in a large city in the USA. I… well, found myself… with his file cabinets and have come to enjoy his experiences. I give them to you — at least this first one. Enjoy.
Impossible Case: July 17, 1973
She came into the room and the room came into me. My daydream of a sunny beach popped like a blown-up potato chip bag against the palm of my hand. My legs involuntarily stood me up.
The door closed behind her. She stopped before my desk. The back of my neck arched my eyes up to look at her through my bifocals. Not too tall, 5 feet 7 inches, a wild mane of golden-red hair over deliciously dark chocolate eyes. Delicate bones, and lips, lips….
My arm proffered a dry hand. She took it in hers, gently in a soft, warm embrace and then seemed reluctant to let go of it. “Mr. Harrison?” she asked with a voice of purling liquid silver. I nodded and waved my tingling hand for her to sit. I had an instant urge to rush around the desk to present the chair to her. She sat, a drapery of silk across a pillow.
My legs let me jerkily down into my chair. I opened my mouth to speak, but she pushed a palm of soft flesh at me. “Mr. Harrison, I’ve come to you to solve my problem.”
My eyes locked themselves on her cheeks as she said the word, “problem.” Her cheeks puffed oh so delicately; lips. I wanted to fight the world for her — take on the Hydra with a dull butter knife — charge Hell with a thimble of frozen water; anything. She needed protection.
She crossed her legs, sending a wash of skirt over her thigh. My mouth went dry. She looked at me; a slight disappointment lensing her face.
I opened my mouth to apologize. “No, Mr. Harrison, don’t say it,” she said firmly, but her face softened. She nodded. “Well maybe — and that’s only maybe — just try to solve my problem, please,” she finished wistfully.
How did she know what my body was thinking? I clamped my mouth shut, shifted my desert-dry tongue across the roof of my equally dry mouth, and opened it again to speak.
“No, Mr. Harrison ,” she said, “let me tell you my problem, first. Then tell me if you think you can help.”
She paused, took a deep breath: “Mr. Harrison, I want you to make men stop wanting me.” She said it flat and cool. She smiled at what must have been the astonishment spread on my face.
I shuffled the sandpaper parts of my mouth, determined to speak. “That’s impossible,” I clapped out. Her elegant eyebrows arched. I’d disappointed her again. I hurried on: “You’re beautiful. I don’t know of any man — heterosexual, that is — who wouldn’t be drooling all over you.”
A coy smile sifted gently across her lips. “Yes, I know what that’s like — and that’s why I want your help. It seems that’s all I’ve ever known since I washed up on the shore of life. I want something different,” she said.
My mind dipped into an imagined drooling scene.
Her voice rose. “Mr. Harrison, can you solve my problem? Will you take my case?”
The window air conditioner rattled on; a cold breath of air came from it. I realized that I was eagerly leaning forward on my desk, so I pushed myself back into the chair. Damn, pay the rent shot through my dull brain. I’d just foolishly blurted that it was impossible; it truly was.
She shifted in the chair. Was she going to leave? I nodded agreement.
“How will you do it? I don’t want anyone hurt. Have you got a plan?” She caught and held me with those dark eyes.
Frozen in place. “Give me some time to consider it,” I said. Postpone — I’d learned something in this private investigator game. “After all, you are an extremely beautiful woman. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a lovely lady before.” I stopped. Had I gone too far?
Her face, however, remained doubtful yet passive.
“I’ll think about it, put some ideas together. You know, think about it. Although I have come across some things I haven’t yet been able to accomplish in the P.I. business — we’ll let the gods handle those. I think I can help you.”
I was lying. She knew it.
“Come back tomorrow, same time, and I’ll have a plan for you to consider,” I said.
She gracefully lifted off the unworthy chair and walked back to the door. I followed her like a plebeian puppy. She opened the door. I grabbed it as it swung past, unsure whether to let it open and hold it for her, or to close it and try to take her into my arms.
She brushed quickly past me. I held my arms rigid against the physical impulse. A whiff of exquisite perfume and woman brushed my nose. I held the door and the door frame in my hands; I was torn between the mental and the physical.
She paused in front of me.
“What’s your name, Miss? I didn’t get your number,” I squawked out.
She turned. Her beauty etched into my psyche. “My name is Aphrodite,” she said softly. “No number.” She turned from me and walked away in a warm honeyed motion.
I watched her until she disappeared behind the foyer door. I slowly closed the door, poured a hard slug of Yukon Jack, added some soda for my parched gullet, turned the desk fan on myself, and pulled out a blank page to write this statement to add to the growing file of Unsolvable Cases.
Copyright © 2009 by Kim Rush (originally published in Bewildering Stories, 2009)