Boilerplate Disclaimer: The various characters from the Kim Possible series are owned by Disney. All registered trade names property of their respective owners. Cheap shots at celebrities constitute fair usage.
The Maltese Dragon
The night was as dark and stormy as anything in badly written fiction. I sat at the far end of the bar at Duffy's, "Where the elite meet to eat," and nursed my small Scotch slowly to postpone going out in the deluge. If any of the elite had stumbled into Duffy's by accident they'd have backpedaled out quicker than they came in. I'd exhausted my credit and Duffy had informed Archie I was cash only and pay as I go - hence the size of my drink.
I sat where I could watch the door, in the last month I'd become very popular with bill collectors and didn't want them getting the drop on me, when I saw her come in. She shivered with the cold and my heart went out to her, I could tell she was a redhead, even though the story was in black and white.
She asked Eddie a question and he pointed at me. I drank in the sight of her walking towards me with more pleasure than the Scotch. Even in wet clothes she looked good, and my guess was that she'd look even better out of them. Her legs, in silk stockings, went all the way up to… I let my imagination take me there, because she looked like she'd take offense if I used my hands. She couldn't be as innocent as she looked, at least I hoped not.
"Are you Shego Spade?" she asked me.
"Who wants to know?" I needed her name, and to know if she worked for a collection agency.
"My name is Possible. Kimberly Ann Possible… I need help."
"I'm Shego. What's your problem, Sister?" If she told me that someone was following her I'd tell her to add me to the list.
She hesitated, "Are you available?"
I hadn't had a job in more than a month and was currently sleeping in my office over the Orpheum Theater. "I might be able to handle your case," I told her, hoping I might be able to get my hands on more than her case. "I charge fifty bucks a day - and expenses. Minimum of two days - up front."
She turned pale, "That's expensive!"
"You want the best you got to pay for it," I told her. I'd let her bargain me down to twenty a day and leave her feeling she owed me, but she put her hand in a pocket, pulled out a roll of bills - and counted out a century. I let out a low whistle, "Who do you want me to rub out?" I gestured to a bar stool and called Archie over, I handed him a sawbuck to help clear my tab and told him to bring the little lady anything she wanted.
After Archie served her a ginger ale she opened up like Macy's at nine in the morning. "I've been terribly indiscreet," she blubbered. "You've heard of Ronald Stoppable?"
"Whenever I read the society page," I told her. I like a girl with a past, I could see myself in her future. "Captain of the Yale Polo Team, right?"
She nodded. "There were pictures of us at the beach on Coney Island… I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit."
The image left the blood pounding so hard in my ears it took me a minute to follow her, "My father is an aeronautical engineer, he-"
"He's working on a plane without a propeller - it will fly three hundred miles an hour!"
"Tell it to Hugo Gernsback," I scoffed. "People couldn't survive at that speed." She looked hurt, and I knew I'd made a mistake, "Sorry," I told her, "what's the problem?"
"I've had a letter… They want me to get copies of my father's plans and give them to… I'm sure they're German agents. My father will never bear the scandal if the pictures…" She covered her face with her hands and burst into tears. "I've been such a fool!"
I patted her shoulder, "I'm sure you weren't the first girl taken in by that Lothario. Now, what makes you so sure it's Germans?"
"I'm to take them to Dementor's Doughnuts," she sobbed.
There was a name I knew too well. Otto Dementor, AKA The Fat Man, and reputed local bund leader.
"I get the pictures and he gets a copy of the plans," she explained. "I don't know what to do."
"When's the exchange to take place?" I demanded.
"Day after tomorrow. Please, Miss Spade, I'll give anything to get the photos."
My heart was beating like a jackhammer, but I growled, "Fifty bucks a day, and expenses. They're probably in his office - too valuable to trust anyplace else. Anything else I need to know?"
She hesitated, "They might be in a file marked Stoppable, or even Rockwaller - the photographer's name. I don't know how Mr. Dementor got them."
"Go home," I told her, "I'll let you know when I've got them."
It was late when I arrived at the Bavarian Bakery, but the building was always open. Most of the time I can bluff my way into wherever I need to go. I pushed my way past a security guard, who wasn't being paid enough to care, with, "I got business with the Fat Man on the top floor."
"Don't call him that," he warned as I started up the stairs.
Or maybe he was paid enough to care. The hallway was dark when I emerged from the stairwell, but a light was on in one office. Before I could check it, however, a sap introduced itself to the back of my head and I saw stars - Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. It must have been a double feature. I woke up in a muddy ditch miles from town. They'd left me for dead, and by the way my skull felt I wondered if they might have been right.
I thumbed down a flivver and got back to town. I stopped at the Orpheum to put on my other suit - I wanted to be dry when I went back to the bakery. This time I went up the fire escape.
The light was still on in what had to be Dementor's office. He was chinning with two of his gorillas, one of whom really looked like a gorilla with hairy mitts and the other was a daisy. I drew my roscoe and smashed the window. "You, in the skirt," I snarled, carefully entering over the broken glass, "over by monkey boy."
"It's na' a skirt, it's ma kilt!" he yelled and tried to jump me. That suited me fine. Either he or monkey boy had been using my head for drum practice earlier in the pm and I wanted to return the favor.
"Get her, Monty!" the fat man yelled as the Scot went down for the count.
Monkey boy joined the daisy on the floor. They'd both have headaches to match mine when they recovered. "Well, Fat Man, just you and me," I snarled.
"I'm not fat! I am vertically challenged!"
"And you'll be ventilated if you don't give me the photos of Miss Possible," I threatened.
"Who?" He almost sounded legit.
"The pictures of Ronald Stoppable," I told him, remembering the directions. Something smelled like old fish, if he was blackmailing Kim then why didn't he recognize the name?
"Ach, and why do you want them? They have no value."
"Then you shouldn't object if I take them."
"For this you broke into my office?" His face would have been turning purple if we were in Technicolor, so he had to settle for it darkening. He pointed to file cabinets against the wall.
I eyed him for a minute. I wanted to keep him covered, but didn't know what he might have in the file drawer, and I couldn't tell him to sit behind the desk because I knew he'd have a gun in there. "Stand in the corner," I told him.
"Stand in the corner. You're in time out until you learn to play nicely with Jessica?"
"Who is Jessica?"
"Just stand in the corner."
There were some interesting names in Dementor's files, but I was here for the manila envelope marked, "Stoppable, Ronald." I dug around a little on either side, but there was only the one.
"Ya got something else on him?" I demanded.
"That is all," he snarled.
"Thanks," I said in my most sarcastic tone and tipped my hat. "Expect another visit if you're lying."
It was six-thirty in the morning by the time I got back to the Orpheum. The milkmen and their horses were already heading home. I had the operator connect me with the Possible residence. If Kim was as desperate as she sounded last night she'd be all the more grateful for how fast I'd handled the case.
"Yes… Miss Spade?"
"Yeah, Sister, just got in from Dementor's with an envelope of pictures, I-"
"You haven't looked at them, have you?"
"Don't. Where can I meet you?"
"Breakfast at Duffy's. When can you get there?"
"I'll be there in twenty-five minutes."
"Can I order anything for you?" I offered, hoping to get her to stay and chat awhile with me.
"No, I have to see the pictures," she told me. "Don't look at them!"
I hadn't needed another reason to look at the snaps - the thought of Kim in a one-piece swim suit was enough. But her insistence coupled with Dementor's ignorance made me steam open the envelope. They were pictures of Ron Stoppable at Coney Island in the envelope, and he was with a nifty little number in a revealing swimsuit. But it wasn't Kim. I resealed the envelope and headed for Duffy's - wondering if I'd need to pay a return call to the bakery.
I'd started my two eggs, over easy, and almost finished my first cup of joe when she breezed in like April. She slid into the other side of the booth and grabbed the file, tearing open one edge and glancing expectantly inside.
Instead of the disappointment I expected she looked elated. She clutched the envelope to her chest and prepared to leave, "Thank you, Miss Spade! You've saved my father's plans."
My arm shot out, stopping her from going, "I don't like being played for a sucker. What is this all about?" I demanded. "I looked. Those aren't pictures of you."
"I told you not to look!"
"Professional curiosity," I said dryly. "Now spill."
A horn honked outside. "I have to go!"
She laughed, an oddly unpleasant laugh. "Ronald Stoppable is my fiancé. Those were pictures of him with a girl named Bonnie Rockwaller. My father might have stopped the wedding if he'd seen them."
"Why did Dementor want them?"
"Maybe to force her father into the bund. I don't know, or care." The horn honked again outside, "Ronald is waiting for me."
She pushed my arm aside and I didn't try to stop her. I'd been played for a sap before, and would probably be played for one again - but somehow this hurt more than any time I could remember and it had nothing to do with my headache. I heard another crash of thunder on what appeared to be a clear day.