Hard-boiled detective sketch, in response to a Winter Break writing prompt

Myself and several coworkers wrote in different genres every day of Winter Break this year.  Here's my hard-boiled detective flash fiction:

“Yeah, that’s me,” I articulated.

I sound like prick when I talk to a client, but when a smart-looking dame parades through the paint-peeled door marked “Pennington Investigation Services, LCC,” I get all buttery.  If I forgot my elocution lessons, I’d slobber all over myself.  In front of pistol-pocketed pins in black leggings, I’m good for two things:  pitching woo, and queer elocution.

“Mister Pennington—”

“Race, ma’am.”

“Mister Race,” she half-corrected, “I’m so worried about my husband.  He was supposed to be back in town yesterday, but I haven’t heard a word.  The police say I can’t file a report yet, since he’s not ‘missing,’ but he stopped returning my letters only a week into his business trip, and he never called once.”  She was wide-eyed and well-lipsticked.  She looked awfully put-together for a wife who’d been shaking down the buttons at the precinct for a missing person’s report on her husband all day.

“Look, Missus…”

“Greenbaum,” she said.  The girl was in hysterics.

“Missus Greenbaum, how long was your husband abroad?”

“He was supposed to be out of town for a month.”

“And what was the nature of his business in Montreal?”

“He didn’t say,” she cooed, “but it was something about pharmacuticles.”  She was a hell of a broad; the way she let her hair fall over her shoulder while she leaned chest-first over my desk said that even if she didn’t know a prescription drug from a nail file, she’d picked up somewhere that most men were rubes.  Greenbaum, the poor bastard.

“Wait, Greenbaum of Corban and Greenbaum?”  I stubbed my cigarette.  I had Corban for a three-spot back in ’21, the year after I got my ticket.  Seemed like a right guy, until he had some rube knocked off for losing a shipment of hooch from upstate.  I had him as an accessory, but nothing stuck.  Turned out some judge took a throwback after some bruno gave him the broderick.  If this Greenbaum was in business with that Corban, he was either a pretty scary guy himself, or he was a rube ripe to get pooped.  If Corban had the curse on Greenbaum, I’d have to put in some real dick work from way behind the eight ball.

But that’s what I do.  Dick work is Race Pennington’s forte.  “I’ll take the case, ma’am.”

“Oh, thank you!”  The twist in the little black number put the back of her white glove on her forehead and tossed her head back.  Real smooth.  Something in my gut told me I’d have to watch this broad.  But that’s how it all started…


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