The Hunting of the Salinger
Evil sits at the end of the bar. The restaurant attached to the bar, or the other way around if you're sober, is too muddled with wait-staff tripping over themselves for anyone to have noticed. She's normal-looking, maybe beautiful to the right person, but not to me. I've chased Beatrice Segundo, for ten years now. I'd be damned if I fell for the harlot who'd forgotten to return ten library books.
I'm a private eye with a soft spot for public libraries. Beatrice "Bat" Segundo's days of literature-despising laziness has come to an end, sharp as a stiletto heel. I get up from my end of the bar to collect. It wasn't just a book. It was the pride of the library, The Catcher in the Rye. Besides she had nine others. No respect.
Barely standing, a waiter pushes me back onto my stool. It was a classy joint but the service sucked.
"May I help you," he asks forcing a French accent.
"No," I say. He ignores me.
"Today's specials include steamed terrapin in..."
"Terrapin? Like the turtle?" I interrupt.
"A turtle," he says.
"What kind of place is this?" The waiter follows my eyes around the room.
"It's French," he says. Bastard.
"Can you come back in five-maybe-ten years?" My sarcasm wipes the fake accent off his blatantly German face, and he walks away. I make sure he's gone, pocket a fork, and head towards the she-devil.
I dance my way past barstools and promenading poodles, neo-Franco-gentry trying to impress each other. They're slow and obnoxious turtle-haters to me, and do little to impact my way. I sneak up behind Bat and poke my fork into her side. I make like it's a gun. Hopefully she'll buy in.
"You're nothing but a glitch in the system baby, a snark," I say careful not to snarl as I speak. "I don't want to cause a scene..."
"No scene? I'm not the one poking you in the back with a fork." She's smart for a galleycat, and prettier upon closer inspection. She wore her overcoat too tightly, so that it burst out from the synched belt. A light flickers above her and goes out; the will o' the wisp dies.
"You're the bunion on the big toe of mother civilization Bat." She looks unbothered. "Everyone sees how twisted and scarlet you are." Her hair is scarlet.
"Not if your mother wears army boots," she says. "what do you want from me?"
"Drop everything and give me ten..." she looks confused, "books."
"They're at my place. I'll go get 'em for yah." She smells damn good. How could I refuse? I nod and she walks out. I yell at her that I'll wait here. I'm sure she doesn't hear me over the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd. Tony Bennett sings "Who can I turn to" as she closes the door behind her, and I turn to no one.
Library noir! My dog, we have a whole new genre!
I must call up Akashic Books and alert them at ONCE.
Scoring to come