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She waved me away with one graceful hand, and I could see her struggling to remember her lines. "Mr. Schpade, your assistance is required in a confidential matter -- Wait, you're not Mr. Schpade, are you? Oh, dear," she flustered. "They insisted I talk to him. Are you his secretary?"

"Doll, do I look like a secretary? Observe the worn but neatly pressed pinstripe suit, the scuffed but carefully polished wingtips -- it's a real job to find them in high heels, I'll tell you -- the battered fedora, the tough world-weary expression hiding a tender heart, and this lump under my left armpit ain't a supernumerary breast. I'm a PI, doll, a private peeper, a shamus, a gumshoe, and I can do anything Sham can do and some things he wouldn't even dare to try. Want me to demonstrate?"

She held me off with one hand against my agitated bosom, and her smile lit up the drab office like the sunrise. "You're a -- dyke dick!" she chirped happily, and giggled over her little gag.

"Good line, doll, but I prefer to be called a Hard-Boiled Dyke-Tective. Now --" I struggled to get this on a business level, since she obviously wasn't ready to go undercover yet -- "Just tell me all your troubles, doll, and I'll go out there and take care of everything. I get fifty a day plus expenses..."

The Kitten blinked, puzzled: "Only fifty a day..? Gee, I make more than that in an hour!"

She looked blankly at me... I looked blankly at her... we let the silence bounce around the room a while.

Then I settled back into the chair, gave her my nice smile-- the one without the fangs.

"That's swell, Sweetheart, we can always work it out in trade if you prefer."

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