Raymond Chandler once said that a slow moment in any investigation could be livened up by an armed man suddenly bursting into the room. What did he know about detective work? The whole point is not to get involved in cases that include men with guns. If I wanted that, I’d have joined the police.
Still, I couldn’t help but feel that bringing a gunman to justice would give me the kind of free publicity that my slick new competitor, Prest Investigative Services – or P.I.S as I like to call them – could only dream of. At the very least, it would give me an excuse to actually dust the chair on the opposite side of my desk.
Unfortunately, my chronic bullet allergy put a bit of a dampener on the whole idea. Still, as I finished my second glass of own-brand scotch, I couldn’t help but think that the basic idea had some merit. A good, headline-grabbing case would really take the P.I.S… But not a case with guns.
Of course, the universe has a sense of humour that is more twisted than the mess of wires behind my computer. How else could I explain the fact that, as I began to fill my third glass, the silhouette of a tall man gripping what looked like an old service revolver suddenly appeared in the frosted glass panel on my door.
If movies had taught me anything, it was that this was the time to scrabble through my desk drawer for a pistol, duck behind the desk and fire a warning shot between his eyes. The only problems were that movies are movies, my desk was made from cheap MDF and this was Britain not 1930s Chicago.
Even if I could get through the decade and a half of clutter clogging my desk drawers, the only thing I could muster was a staple gun that I’d borrowed from the estate agent’s down the hall during their grand opening. When they closed a week later, they never bothered asking for it back.
But, that would involve sorting through my desk. And, that’s a four-day job that I wouldn’t even do if someone held a gun to my head. No, I’d have to be smart about it.
My eyes rested on the ornate marble finish pen that took pride of place on my desk. After I’d filed off the “Ebenezer’s Floor Tiles” e-mail address on the side, it actually looked like I’d paid good money for it.
Picking up the pen, I slipped it into my jacket pocket and pointed it forwards. If movies had taught me anything else, it’s that an object poking through one’s jacket pocket is always mistaken for a gun.
Ducking behind the desk, I began to plan my next move. It would have to be quick. There was a fifty percent chance that the man outside was facing away from the door. If I slipped it open quickly and acted tough, he might actually think that I’d got the drop on him.
Keeping crouched, I made my way to the door. With shaky hands, I reached for the handle. My heart hammered like an angry bailiff. It was now or never.
In one move, I flung the door open and jabbed the free pen into the guy’s spine. Putting on my toughest voice, I growled: ‘Drop it or else!‘. He dropped the gun.
The next day, the headlines read: “GRUBBY P.I. ALMOST GIVES WW2 HERO HEART ATTACK DURING CHARITY CALENDAR PHOTOSHOOT!”
Anyone who tells you that any publicity is good publicity is a liar. Luckily, the old geezer saw the funny side of it though – but it meant yet another name on my already lengthy Christmas card list. And my office chair was still as dusty as ever.