Phyllis Esposito: Interdimensional Private-Eye #1
When you’re at the end of your rope, a bit of slack seems like a gift, but all it really does is let you sink lower.
I was in my office, nursing a killer headache and half-grateful, half-bitter that I didn’t have another dose of sponge to chase it away. The only place to get it is 87C-12, and I couldn’t go back there any time soon. In any case, when Bobby messaged me, the chime near collapsed my skull.
“Hey boss!” His bright-eyed face was a little too bright on my computer monitor. “You got a customer coming this way, I think. Look!”
The image on the screen switched to the hallway security monitor, and sure enough, a lady was walking confidently down the hallway towards my door. She had already passed the back-alley dentist and didn’t seem the type anyway, so she was either a client or she was really lost.
Of course, the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
It was hard to tell from the monochrome, wall-eye camera, but something about her seemed off, and it was more than just the dress which was too fancy for this neighborhood by half.
“Bobby, lower volume 20%, please.”
“Sure thing, boss!”
“This better? She doesn’t have an appointment.” Bobby’s face peeked onto the screen, superimposed over the security display. Bless his little computerized heart. If I had had any appointments in my calendar, he would have hounded me to be a little more put-together.
“How do I look?” I asked, attempting to straighten up in my chair.
“Maybe the hat? Tuck your hair up in it, and say you just got in.”
A knock came from the door, and on the screen, I saw the woman standing patiently outside. That settled it. She was here to see me. There’s a sign on the door and everything.
I took Bobby’s advice and tucked my scruffy ponytail under the reproduction fedora. Doubly-helpful in that it helped me both look and feel a bit more like I know what I’m doing.
The room didn’t spin much when I stood up, but I decided to stay behind my desk for the moment.
“Bobby,” I said, then cleared my throat. “Buzz her in.”
The door buzzed, and she entered my office.
The strangeness I’d sensed through the screen was obvious in person, though your average civilian probably wouldn’t notice. The cheekbones, her eyes, the lithe proportions of her hips and shoulders. Her long, red hair covered her ears, but I’d bet anything they weren’t round on top.
“Good…” I scrambled to remember what time it was, and then saw that Bobby had helpfully placed a crescent moon on the screen. “Good evening to you,” I finished. “And welcome.”
She looked around the office a bit, with the air of someone trying not to look disappointed. I see that look a lot.
“You are Ms. Esposito?”
Her voice was like a song. Another dead giveaway, if you’re in the know.
I extended a hand. “Call me Phyll.”
She looked at my hand with confusion, so I withdrew it. No offense taken. You can’t get too hung-up on the courtesies in my line of work.
“And you are?” I asked.
“I am… De-bor-ah Moon.”
“Please forgive the impertinence, Ms. Moon, but I’m betting that isn’t your real name, and that you’re not from around here. Not this slice anyway.”
She grimaced, and I caught a glimpse of some larger-than-human-standard canine teeth. “Is it that obvious? I had hoped that…”
“Not obvious at all, to your average local,” I said. “But this is what I do. So tell me.” I tried for a charming smile. “How can I help you today?”
Tags: Phyllis Esposito