The next day dawned bright and clear. I hate that. One of these days – I swear – I’m gonna move to New Jersey so I can enjoy some good old fashioned gloomy weather. Probably move right next to the Newark airport; just to make sure I get the full “doom” effect.
Simon walked in the kitchen in his boxers and got a cup of coffee. Didn’t say a word. I had that going for me anyway. I peeked in the living room and saw Jimmy sleeping on the couch in his favorite ducky underwear. I had plenty of bedroom space (my new house had four in fact), but Jimmy didn’t feel comfortable unless sleeping on a couch, floor, or the backseat of a car. I heard him murmur something about “caught in a river riptide” and “washing up on the rocks” and let him be. Went to get a cup of coffee myself. Made sure I turned the damn coffee maker off this time.
I joined Simon on the back porch.
“Well,” he said, “what do we do now?”
It was a good question, even if Simon was the one asking. I had been pondering the same thing myself. So many clues. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Not that you can “make heads or tails” of anything; I mean, if you think about it, it’s really a stupid thing to say. Which is why I only think it but never speak it aloud.
“Well, I was watching Nightline last night after you and Jimmy passed out and I got an idea,” I said.
“What was it about?” he replied.
“What, the show?”
“Yeah. What happened that gave you the idea.”
“Nothing they said. It just happened to be on when the idea came to me.”
“Of course I’m sure.”
“Because,” he continued, “Ted Koppel’s a pretty smart guy. He generally says some pretty insightful things. I just thought that he might have said something that gave you an idea.”
“Well, he didn’t. I’m my own man.”
“Okay, okay, I was just asking.”
“No, you don’t think I can come up with an idea myself, is that it?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Yeah, but you were thinking it.”
“No, I wasn’t. Look, Dick, you’re the smartest person I know besides all of my friends and everyone else I’ve ever met. I mean that. I was just trying to get a faint understanding of how you do what you do.”
“Um-hmm. Sucking up now, aren’t you?”
“If you say so,” he said. “So, anyway, what was the idea?”
“Well, I think we might just be stuck in the mire of the details a little too deep to see the big picture anymore. I thought it might be a good idea to get another perspective.”
“You mean like a 3rd party?”
“Like a consultant?’
“Yeah, something like that.”
“Where are we going to find a consultant who would be able to help us with this?” Simon asked. “I don’t suppose you happen to know one?”
“Oh, I might. I just might indeed.”
Saul “The Sandman” Goldblatt arrived promptly at 3 o’clock, just as he promised he would. I call him Sandy. We go way back. Well, technically that isn’t true; he has a suite in my building that he shares with his partners Don Johnson (like the actor, but no relation) and Don’s sister Stacy Johnson (like the girl I was hot for in high school, but no relation).
One morning about six months ago I came back from Starbucks and accidentally walked into their office by mistake. I saw the three of them and was so startled I dumped my coffee all over their carpet. Since I thought I was being robbed, and being one who subscribes to the philosophy “shoot first, ask questions later”, I also promptly chased them around the room and blew about a dozen holes in their nice paneling (I was carrying a .40 automatic then).
Once things settled down and I realized my mistake, I quickly apologized, and even though I kind of felt they owed me for the coffee, I didn’t push it, what with making a mess of their office and almost killing them and all. Long story short; we got to talking shop, learned a little about each other’s business, and have become good friends and allies, though I haven’t seen any of them since that day. So you can see why when I got to thinking about hiring a consultant, “Johnson, Johnson, & Goldblatt” immediately came to mind.
I took Sandy into the den and we sat down with Simon and Jimmy who were eating Apple Jacks right out of the box. Sandy seemed very calm and confident, not like the last time I had seen him when he had been jumping around like a squirrel crossing a 4-lane highway as he had dodged my bullets. I respected the fact that he had obviously taken time to work on his bearing and presentation skills. Professionals do that kind of thing. I gave him a knowing nod.
“Hello Mr. Lassiter,” he said.
“Please, call me Dick,” I replied.
“Yes, well, Dick then,” he said, “what can I do for you today.”
“We’re looking for some advice – my partners and me – regarding a case we’re working on. I thought an outside perspective might shed some light on a few things that we haven’t been able to figure out.”
“Such as?” he asked.
I laid it all out for him. That dude that came into my office to hire me, the spy moose and his worldwide rampage, Rok Hard and the Barking Spider, the really weird trip to that country where the Dutch people live, the break-in at the shampoo factory and all of the mops that were missing, – no, wait, sorry, that’s something completely different – and all of the clues picked up along the way.
“I see,” Sandy said when I was finished. I noticed that while he had been holding a notepad and pen the entire time, he hadn’t taken a single note during my story. He obviously realized the sensitive nature of the case and opted not to compromise national security by writing any of it down. He probably had a photographic memory and had memorized it all. That would be bitchin’.
“And what areas of the case would you like my firm to provide consulting services for?”
“Well, everything,” I said.
“Yup. Everything. The whole shooting match. The whole kit and kaboodle. The whole nine yards. The whole enchilada. The whole – ”
“I think I get the picture,” he said
“Oh, okay. Yeah, to be completely honest with you Sandy,” I continued, ”we don’t have a clue what’s going on with this case. Not a fucking clue.”
Jimmy and Simon nodded vigorously.
Saul was silent for a moment, his brow creased in a puzzled expression.
“Mr. Lassiter, – ”
“Yes, Dick,” he said, “I’m a little confused here.”
“Boy, do we know that feeling,” Jimmy chimed in. Simon nodded in agreement, unable to add anything as he had just stuffed another handful of cereal into his mouth.
“Are you asking Johnson, Johnson & Goldblatt to consult with you regarding your investigation,” Sandy continued, “or are you asking us to completely take over the whole investigation for you?”
“Um,” I said, “it would be the second thing you said.”
More nods from the nodding fools.
“That seems rather unorthodox, don’t you think?”
“Well, yes, in a way, but it’s been done before.”
“It has,” he asked, though in more of a ‘repeating the statement in a dubious ‘I-don’t-believe-it’’ sort of way than in the more conventional ‘asking because I really don’t know’ sort of way.
“Yes. In fact, I’ve done it before myself. Twice, if I remember correctly.”
“You have.” Again, more of a statement thing.
“Um-hmm,” I said, nodding. Jimmy and Simon nodded too. A picture of well-oiled teamwork.
“Could I ask, Mr. Lass – I mean, Dick – how many cases have you worked on in your career as an investigator?”
“Oh, boy, let me see here,” I said, looking up into the heavens. “Tough one there. Um, wow, kind of hard to put a handle on it, but if I had to guess – and I’m really stretching here – I’d have to say . . . um. . . two.”
“Plus or minus one,” I concurred.
“Yes, well. You realize this is a little beyond the normal scope of my firm’s services, and as such, I’ll need to confer with my partners – ”
“Dick,” Simon rudely interrupted, “it’s 7 o’clock.”
“Gotcha,” I said. “Hey listen Sandy, okay, that sounds fine, you go right ahead. In fact, if you could just do that in the other room – your conferring and proposaling and all – that would be just great, because they’re doing a rerun of Fear Factor on TNT that we haven’t seen – ”
“The one where they have to eat bull testicles,” Jimmy offered.
“ – right now and we’ve been looking forward to watching it all day, so while we’re doing that, you can do, you know, whatever it is that you do and we’ll meet back up in a hour or so, okay? Great.”
I got up and ushered a confused looking Sandy to the next room while Jimmy and Simon pulled all of the cushions off of the couch searching for the remote control. There was a slight panic when several minutes went by without finding it, but it eventually turned up in the guest bathroom medicine chest.
We settled down in front of the tube and got ready for the first round.
An hour later we had finished cheering the winner and were relaxing in the afterglow of another fine episode when Sandy walked back into the room.
“Alright gentlemen,” he said, “I have my recommendations ready.”
Now we were getting someplace.