I was lighting a cigarette off a pile of its dead brethren when the lights went out quick as a fella at sunrise. When they came back on there was a guy in opera clothes standing across from my desk.
I said, "If you're looking for Detective Morgan, you found her."
"Such a beautiful voman in such a filt'y business."
"It pays the rent," I said. "You sound Russian."
"Romanian. I vant to hire you."
"Try Jones at the Windsor building. He's a commie. Seems more your type."
"I neet a voman detective," he said. "Or a very pretty man."
"Then forget Jones," I said. "What's so special you need a dame for?"
"I am lookink for somevone," he said. "Unt she is hiding vhere no man may go."
"The makeup counter at Woolworth's?"
"T'e abbey of St. Valpurga." He dropped a photograph on my desk. I'd never seen a nun tarted up like that.
"What'd she do?"
"She khilled my children."
"Ah. Catholic school teacher."
"I do not speak in jest."
"Hey, I know. I lost four brothers to Sister Mary Bruno myself." I tapped out the cigarette. "You want me to put on a cross and penguin suit to snatch a skirt. What then?"
"I vould rather you not wear t'e cross," he said, wincing. "But brink her to me. I vill arrange to turn her over to t'e authorities."
"Forgive me for betting they never see her."
"Forgive me for excludink you from dat decision."
He stank of a lot of things, but mostly money. "Make me an offer."
He did. And right away I knew I was going to spend my week saying prayers in Latin. This was a weird one, but it was the best offer I'd ever gotten to do something with my clothes on. Bar nun.