I awoke one morning to find that I had been transformed into a man who gave a damn what a dame thought of him.
There she was on the blue silk sheets, her golden hair fanned out around her, her slip hanging on her like a ballet partner: Janet Hemingway, the princess of sixth avenue.
I’d just worked a job for her. A little job, as it turned out, but no job is too little for Rex Banion, as it turns out.
Her highness rolled over. Her eyes opened: pale, viper green.
“Rex. I’m worried about Mommy. Now that Daddy’s gone, who will protect her honor? She would be devastated if all this nonsense about death cults reached the papers. All the blood and dismemberment. I think it’s best it we kept it between us, don’t you,” she said.
“You’re quick to corruption,” I said.
“Been doing it my whole life,” she said, “500 dollars, what do you say?”
“500 dollars might do,” I said, “But I’m not taking it out in time served.”
“Oh no, Mr. Banion, I wouldn’t dream of paying you for that.”
“Good,” I said.
“And,” she said, ”We can just destroy Daddy’s journals.”
“Of course,” I said.
I had the only copy of those journals, in a safety deposit box in Chicago.
“Good Rex,” she said,”Bring those journals here, and we can burn them together.”
“Your uncle asked me for those,” I said.
“Oh,” she said, ”My Uncle Dunwoody?”
“Yeah, Dimwitty, called me up and offered me a grand for each one,” I said.
“Oh,” she said, as she drew her finger around her lip, “You didn’t give them to him, did you, Rex?”
“No,” I said, “Should I?”
“No,” she said, “I’ll offer two grand each.”
“You want to give me six thousand dollars to destroy three books,” I asked.
“Is that so surprising? Didn’t you read those books, Rex,” she asked.
“No,” I lied.
“I think you might have, because your eyes, Rex, are fishy.”
“Yeah, I did read them,” I said.
“Don’t lie to me Rex, I know your eyes,” she said, “Rex, if word, ever got out, that my father was unstable, Rex, the family simply couldn’t stand the shock. We’d rend, Rex. Uncle Dunny and the European cousins would back away, and our finances would, well, I just don’t know, Rex, We’d have to sell Rockhaven. Its important for the family.”
“Six thousand dollars”, I said, “Don’t insult me. I read them. Your father was unstable. Those journals contain his confessions, Janet, to fifteen murders. I should take them to the police.”
“No, don’t do that, Rex,” she said. With a sharp breath, she stood up off the bed and walked away into the suite. She pulled her hair up and clasped it with her delicate hands, pulling it through her necklace.
I stood up and walked towards her. She smelled like strawberry, when it first comes off the vine.
I put my arm around her waist and leaned in behind her. She pushed her neck back on my shoulder. I wrapped my arms around her hips and kissed her neck.
“Don’t do that, Rex,” she said, “Don’t embarrass my family. Dunny is a bad man, Rex, he spreads lies about my father. Now that the New York dynasty is ending, they are trying to seize the family fortune. My father is the one that made all the money, and now those dancing little baronets in their summer cottages who suddenly aren’t too dirty to take automobile money are trying to steal it.”
“And yet you only offered me six thousand dollars,” I said.
“That’s a lot of money, Rex,” she said.
“Not as much as you might think I might think,” I said, “This would sell for twenty grand,” I said, as I wrapped my right hand around her necklace, “Maybe I should just take it.”
“Don’t do that, Rex,” she said, “I can pay you twenty grand. Don’t take the necklace.”
“Twenty grand it is,” I said, and let go of the necklace.
“Thank you, Rex,” she said. She walked a few steps ahead of me across the pink shag. Her room, here, at the Waldorf. All pink. Couple of white drapes, couple of white pillows, couple of white poodles. Yip and yap all the time.
“So its settled,” I said, “I’ll bring you the journals tomorrow.”
“You’re so kind, Rex,” she said.
She turned to face me, fastening her bra behind her.
“I may require your services again in the future,” she said.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” I said, “At three o’clock.”
“Here, Rex,” she asked.
“No, meet me down in the lobby of the Hotel Amsterdam.”
“Fine,” she said, “Bring me the books, not ashes.”
“I will, kitten,” I said.
“Got claws, you know,” she said.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” I said.
I turned to walk away to the door. I took my Stetson from the stand and put it on my head. Buttoning my jacket, I opened the door to the lobby: its tan carpets so bland against her pink. I turned around.
She was already there. We kissed. That’s when I fell for her.