I put a hurtin’ on the whisky bottle, hoping that it would clear my head. Nothing about this case made sense.
I met Mr. Leather at UC Irvine. He was sitting alone in an empty theater.
“What’s this about?” I asked.
“Take a seat. I’m about to make your life a little easier,” he replied.
Two other people entered the theater. The lights dimmed and the curtains opened. Entering stage left was Isabella, all alone.
“I guess I owe you a refund,” I told Mr. Leather.
“Forget it,” he said.
Isabella began her solo performance with a vaguely racist monologue. Then she stripped to her underwear and two nude men flanked her on both sides and they began rolling around on the floor.
“The fuck is going on?” I asked Mr. Leather.
The two men then turned around, spread their ass cheeks, and took a squat while Isabella pissed all over the stage. The performance ended with her reciting the lyrics to Motownphilly. When the curtains lowered, no one clapped.
“That was godawful,” I said to Mr. Leather. “I’ve never seen anything more disgusting in my life.”
But when I looked over, Mr. Leather was nowhere to be found.
I went back stage. Isabella was in her dressing room removing the clown makeup.
“Keep trying kid,” I told her as I lit up a cigarette. “You’ll get em next time.”
“Did you enjoy it?” she asked.
“No, my mother was Canadian so I’m partly offended. But keep your head up.”
“Oh,” she replied and slumped back in her chair. I walked over to cheer her up.
“Look,” I said. “If you’ve got a passion, you gotta keep chasing it. Sure you’re gonna hit some potholes in the road, but keep going. You’ll get there eventually.”
“There’s just nothing that I’m good at.”
“That’s not true. You’ve got talent. It just needs some finessing,” I said.
“Yeah I guess,” Isabella said while she was packing her things. “Say, who are you mister?”
I took a big hit off the flask and offered it to Isabella. “I got some bad news kid,” I told her.
She took the flask and waited for the news.
“Your father is dead,” I said.
A blank look came over her face. Then she took a drink. “Was it Michaela?” she asked.
“I suspect it was.”
Isabella sat back down and looked at the floor. “I knew this would happen.”
“Your life is probably in danger,” I said. I took out the wad of cash that Mr. Leather paid me and I handed it over. “You need to get out of town.”
“But there is nowhere I can go where they can’t find me.”
I took out a pin and paper and wrote down an address. “This is my father’s old cabin up in Big Bear. Lay low there and I’ll come and get you in a few days.”
“But who are you?” Isabella asked.
“I’m James, Private Detective.” I handed her a business card. “Also, one other thing.” Then I handed her a .38 special.
“You may need it.”
She packed the items into her purse.
“Go now,” I said. “There’s some things I got to take care of here. I’ll see you in a couple of days when I have more information.”
I drove back to the office for the night. The apartment was still burned to shit. I walked in the office, removed my coat and holster, turned on the light, and there was Michaela and Luigi.
“Sorry, business hours are over,” I said.
Luigi picked up a phone book and ripped it in half. Michaela stood up from the couch, again with a glass of brandy in her hand, and walked towards me in her form fitting gown.
“But darling,” she said. “We’re just here to check in on a case.”
When she got close, Michaela head butted me and I fell backwards into the filing cabinets. While dazed, I tried to stand up and reach for my holster. Luigi grabbed my hand and threw me over the desk.
“Couldn’t this have waited until morning?” I asked.
“You need to tell us where Isabella is going,” Michaela said.
Luigi picked me up by the shirt and held me to the wall. I thought that this was the end until Mr. Leather busted in with his Tommy Gun.
“Let him go,” he said to Luigi. “Or I’ll blow you ten new assholes.”