I had a good mind to pick up the phone and tell the HM Revenue exactly what I thought about their calculations.

But instead I sat there and pressed a few more buttons on my large calculator. It didn’t add up. Nothing did. I was half way into a bottle of scotch and I had only drunk two glasses. I didn’t add up. I had five ex-wives yet they still found time to call me up, bitching most days of the week. Didn’t add up. I was constantly working a case, but was still behind on rent, car payment, credit card bills. Nothing added up. I threw the calculator against the back wall. Then I stamped on it. 200lbs of solid beer gut crushing the thing. I picked it up. Not even a scratch. It was still working. Damn it. It just didn’t add up. Nothing made sense anymore. I stood there and thought about that.

         The phone rang. I sat down and picked up the receiver. Somebody was breathing heavily. It was a female. That’s not guess work. I knew. I’m a private detective. The best in South London, maybe further, but certainly top five in South London.

         “Riker, you son of a bitch, I want my money back. You really really screwed me.”

         “Listen baby, I didn’t say I was any good in the sack. If you paid for it, you got my best. I don’t offer refunds.”

         “What? I’m talking about a case you retard. I paid you to find out if my husband had been sleeping around.”

         “Well had he?”

         “Butthole, that’s what I paid you for. I haven’t heard from you in two weeks. I was washing his clothes last night. I smelled women’s perfume all over his shirt.”

         “Hold on lady, I’m a detective. I have other cases on the go you know. I work all day long, no rest.”

         I snapped the TV off.

         “Go ahead, what’s your name?”

         I grabbed my pencil.

         “Mary Louise.”

         Hmm. I leaned back in my swivel and kicked my shoe heels up onto the desk. There was something inside of me. Something was brewing. I farted. That’s better.

         “All right Mary Lou, I’m still on the case. You are top of my pile. I’m on it right now. I’ll bring news this afternoon…..”

         “It’s afternoon now, Riker.”

         “I’ll bring news in the late afternoon, be patient. Now about my cheque, I’ll need an advance.”

         There was silence on her end. She needed to think. She was playing hardball. But I have the hardest balls around. All I had to do was sit here until she cracked. I waited. Minutes passed. Then waited some more.

         “Hello…..Mary Lou.”

         The line was dead. She had hung up five minutes ago. Damn. I needed to work on my skills. I was slipping. Maybe I was the best P.I. across London, but if not, I was definitely the best along this street but I was slipping. I was losing it. I had to solve this case. I snatched the MARY LOUISE case file from the pile on my desk. On it was some red lettering. UNSOLVED. Then I looked at the rest of the files. UNSOLVED. They were all unsolved. Jesus. Mother. Anybody. I needed a break.

         I threw on my coat, hat and checked in my inside pocket. My cigars were there. Then I checked my boot. The blade was tucked away. I pulled open my drawer and there was my Colt, gleaming. I jammed it into the holster. I was ready. But wait, I felt like I had forgotten something. Something important. I farted. I was ready.

         I opened the door, looked out, saw nothing, took some tiny steps, walking slowly, with stealth, catlike, got to the stairwell, looked around the corner, empty, just like I thought it would be, ha. I sprinted down two flights, out the front building, reached my car, yanked the door open and jumped in. Marvellous, just marvellous. I composed myself and attempted to start the engine. At the fourth attempt, it caught, bolted forward and I skidded, swerving off into traffic.

         Mary Louise had this husband named Dennis Lafferty. He owned six buildings in London. Two massage parlours, one video rental store, a furniture showroom and two further buildings that were going through renovation. He was a dirty son of a bitch. But I didn’t care about that. I needed to find out who he was banging six nights a week. I hadn’t had any real action in two years. His sexual activity really pissed me. I should work this case for free. But the last time I worked a case for free I woke up the next morning married to a client. I won’t be falling for that again.

         I took a right and pulled up outside of his office building. All I needed was a break. Some luck. A little something to give me faith in this world. My IBS was nearly killing me. I found my bottle of Gaviscon and took a large swig. Ahhh. That’s it old man, relax. The automatic door to the front building slid open. It was Lafferty, talking into a mobile phone dressed in the sharpest suit I had ever seen. He was wearing sunglasses but there was no sun. What a smarmy son of a bitch. A stretched limo was parked. A driver in a little black cap and leather gloves opened the door. Lafferty got in. The door closed and the driver sprinted around the car and hopped in. They were off.

         I followed the limo for three minutes, then it pulled over and Lafferty jumped out. Strange. Very strange. My detective instincts detected that something was not quite right here. I quickly parked on a double yellow and followed on foot. Lafferty took the steps underground to the Tube. I followed to the Northern line platform, southbound. A tube came zooming along. I made sure to sit a few seats away. A stop came and he made a move. I followed through the crowd. He ran and jumped onto another tube, going west. I squeezed onto the same carriage. Finally he got off at Bond Street. He walked up the stairs and to the exit. Small drops of rain were falling. He covered his head with a newspaper and ran off. He sprinted off. Christ sake. I ran after him. He really had some legs. Please man, please. He stopped outside a hotel. Thank you. This big expensive looking place. I would never room there. They would never have me. I was panting like a dog. Like a wolf more like. He strolled through reception and pressed for the lift. He got in. I waited for the next one to arrive. I had noted the floor number. I was skilled like that. I got in and pressed 21. Then I exited and walked along the corridor. I listened. What I was listening for I have no idea, but it seemed like the best thing to do. Then I heard something. A toilet flushed. It was coming from room 212. I pressed my ear to the door. I heard voices. One female and the other was Lafferty.

         “Baby, you made it. You must really love me.”

         “Let’s get on with it. I’m gagging.”

         “But do you love me?”

         “Love is just a word. Real indication of love is this large thing busting from my ball sack area. That’s true love. Now jump on. Ride it cowgirl.”

         “Hey, I’m not in the mood anymore.”

         “Okay baby, I’m sorry. Of course I love you. Come here. I’ll show you.”

         He was a real smooth son of a bitch. I made a mental note of his lines. Might even work for me some day. Who the hell was I kidding? I giggled. Then I heard it. The head board slamming against the back wall. Then the moans and groans. He was a stud of the highest calibre. I hated him. I pulled out my tools and jimmied the lock. I got my iPhone set to record. Then I swung the door open and started filming. I got it. All of it. He was there plugging away. The man was a God damn athlete. He didn’t even notice me. But she did.

         “WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?”

         “A detective. And not just any old detective I am the greatest detective around.”

         Lafferty climbed off. He was half dressed. He pulled his white brief up. His stomach was all muscle and veins.

         “Let’s see some identification, detective.”

         “I’m private.”

         “Who sent you, my partner? Was it Johnson who sent you? I’ll kill him.”

         “Don’t worry about who sent me. I have all the evidence I need. I’ll be leaving now. But before I go I need to ask you one question, Lafferty.”


         His hands were on his hips. He was a Greek God. A statue. I wish a bird would shit on his head.

         “Why bother? I mean, it seems so tiring. Is getting some action, some snatch, some tail, is it that important? At certain times I have been on a run for 3 years with no action and I feel great. Strong as an ox. What’s the fascination with constant sex?”

         He sat on the edge of the bed, staring at the floor. His hair silver. And those first rate biceps, pumped.

         “A guy like you would never understand.”

         I walked out and rode the lift down. I strolled past the bell boy and out of the hotel. The rain had stopped. I dug out my iPhone and dialled.

         “Mary Lou, baby.”

         “Dennis is that you?”

         “No, it’s Riker, detective Harry Riker. The greatest detective across....”

         “Yes I have heard your shit before. Why are you calling me ‘baby’? Don’t ever do that again. Your voice makes me cringe.”

         “I bring good news.”

         “Was I wrong? He was being faithful after all?”

         “No, he was boning this hot blonde with a huge rack and really firm butt. She really was something to look at. She even had moves in the sack. I have evidence on film. I captured the whole thing. It’s great news. I have solved your case. Another case down. You can thank me now.”

         She erupted.


         “I have been called ‘great’ before.”

         “Riker, email me the tape. I’ll have the rest of your money wired to you. And Riker....?”

         “Yes baby?”

         “I hope you die very soon.”

         She slammed the phone down. I felt pretty good. Another case solved with my great skills. Yet another happy customer. I was exhausted though. Hungry. Starving. They had drained me, mentally and physically. I gave everything to the job. Nobody cared. I found the nearest food outlet. I walked in and looked around. Seemed okay. Nice place. There were couples and work colleagues getting on with life. They were happy. They were contented. Some were in love. But eventually cracks would appear. Small doubts. Deceit. Then, they would they would need my services. Idiots. Ha. I grabbed a menu and flicked through. The burger looked good. Oh the pie and ice cream looked good too. I’ll order both. A waitress approached. I winked and smiled.

         “What do you want, man?”

         “A number two and the ice cream with apple pie please.”

         “You order desert at the end of the meal, man.”

         “Can’t I order it now?”


         “Okay kid, do your best. But remember, I pay your wages, so a smile won’t go amiss.”

         She gave me the finger and was off. Kids. Little pricks. Then they grow up and become giant adult pricks. Much like myself. Suddenly the door swung open. Two men ran in, masked. A gun was drawn out. The fellow in front was waving the piece around. People started screaming. Even some males were screaming. You ever hear a grown man scream? I couldn’t stand it anymore. I stood up. The gun got pointed in my direction.

         “Hey man, sit down. I’ll get to you.”

         The other masked fellow was rifling through bags and purses.

         “Gents come on, you got enough there. Move off before the cops show up.”

         “Don’t anger me old man. I have a twitchy finger.”

         A screaming male stood up. He was about to do something stupid. Or just, more stupid. But before he could make a run for it, he took a gun butt to the head. He went down, splintering a table. Menus and cutlery fell to the floor. The masked men did a little hi-five. They were proud of that. Nobody was screaming anymore.


         “Can’t sit friend, I have piles. You know what that is? It’s when you strain to crap. It’s real nasty. It gets messy.”

         Then masked man was in my face with his chest all puffed out. I felt his breath. It was really bad.

         “You make me sick, old man.”

         He swung a right hook. I threw up an arm and blocked it. He didn’t expect that. Then I jabbed him in the gut. He bent forward. I raised my knee and felt his nose crack. Blood spurted out. The gun fell to the floor. His pal dived for it, got a hand on it and as he raised it up I kicked it off. Then I drew my piece. He was startled. I felt pretty good. I felt like Clint Eastwood. But better. Both masked men were now standing.

         “Okay homos, drop the purses and run along. You’re interfering with my lunch.”

         They did both and were gone.

         One lady clapped. Then others joined in. Some males did wolf whistles. Then I heard the sirens approaching. I removed my trilby hat and nodded. Real gentleman like, I walked toward the door. Then I walked the hell out of there and didn’t turn around. I didn’t need some cop breathing down my neck.

         I found my car and drove it home. I parked up on the curbing, got out, rubbed my eyes and locked the car door. I was beat. I made it inside. I threw the keys onto the desk. The phone was flashing. There was a message. There were five messages. I pressed play.

         “Harry baby, it’s me. I just called to say that I still love you. But I had to move on. I’m with Fred now. Your good friend Fred. He’s a great guy. Nothing like you. Good news, I’m pregnant.....”

         Oh crap I thought. The message continued.

         “.......It’s Fred’s baby. He treats me well. He actually likes to take me out. He’s so romantic and we go for little walks in the moonlight. Fred also enjoys company. He is the total opposite of you. Anyhow I just wanted to say hi. Bye Harry.”

         The machine went beep. I shut it off before message number two started. I was beat. I was beat. I was beat. I sat on the bed. Then stretched out and closed my eyes. I dozed off and had a dream about medieval England. I was the king. I had a queen and other servants. All female servants. They were scrubbing me in the bath tub. It was shaping up to be a great dream.

         Then the phone rang, waking me. I sprung up. I had to. I was Harry Riker damn it. The greatest private detective around.

© 2004-2012 Underground Voices