It was a cold, dark night. As usual, I was at work, waiting for the phone to ring. To help pass the time, I'd taken up chain-smoking. It wasn't working for me – sooner or later I'd have to switch back to cigarettes.

There was a knock on the door. I moved slightly, looking more casual, whilst checking that the gun in my desk drawer was within reach.

"Come on in, it's open"

The door swung open, to reveal …. Well, let's just say that I wish all the evidence stacked up as well as this broad did. A few more like her around, and the pillow maker down the street would soon be out of business.

"Are you Rigby Reardon?" she breathed, stirring the dust on my desk even from across the room. The dust wasn't the only thing that stirred…..

"That's me, doll-face. Come on in and take the weight off your back." I gestured to the other chair, but she swept past it and sat on the couch against the wall. There have been many clients I've wanted to get on that couch…

"I hear you're a good dick, Mr. Reardon" she said, lifting her blonde head to gaze at me through clear, blue eyes.

"I've always gone to great lengths to give satisfaction" I replied, wondering where she was leading me, and by what.

"Good – because I only want the best. Take a look at this press cutting". She passed over a page from the Tribune, from a few weeks earlier.

"Jeez, that's terrible – seventeen games without a win. You must be quite a Bulls fan."

"No – the other side, Mr. Reardon"

I turned the page over, and recalled the headline immediately. The girl's body had been found on the roof of the municipal library, with not a mark on her. In fact the only lead the police had was that the murderer had removed her brassiere and replaced it over her sweater. For me, this led me to just one conclusion.

"Oh my god, look at those tits!"

"Mr. Reardon!" my guest exclaimed.

"Sorry" I mumbled. "So tell me what this has to do with me."

"Betty was my sister. She… she called me the night she died, and said she was meeting a friend for dinner. She didn't tell me who he was, but she'd been taking classes at the local college, and I think she may have met him there".

I re-read the story, and then looked up and caught her gaze. This wasn't the sort of broad you kicked out into the night.

"Ok – I'll take the case. I get fifty bucks a day, plus expenses. I work to my timetable, and I tell you when I find something."

"That sounds agreeable, Mr. Reardon."

"Oh – and one thing more – I need a name."

"I thought you already had one. Rigby, isn't it?"

"No, doll-face – your name. For the tax-man."

"Oh… of course." She sashayed over to me, and dropped a 500 roll of greenbacks onto the desk. Leaning over, she whispered "Mary-Jo Caldwell."

I was stunned by her perfume, and the way her breasts had blacked out all the light in the room.

When I dared open my eyes, she was walking towards the door, and her rear was as tempting as the rest of her. She glanced back over her shoulder.

"Be seeing you soon, Mr. Reardon."

And then she was gone.

I sat there for a minute or two, not daring to move, in case she came back, realizing that in her haste to leave, she'd forgotten to make love to me.

The phone rang, and bought me back to reality.

"Reardon" I said into the receiver.

"This is Marlowe. You got anything for me?"

"Yeah – leave off chasing down that crooked insurance guy. I always thought that one was too tough – after all, even if you found him, how could you tell? Anyways, I want you to dig around something else for me. You remember the girl they found dead on top of the library building a few weeks back?"

"Yeah, I do. Wasn't she the one with the massive…"

"Cut that out, Marlowe! You know that need to watch your blood pressure. Anyway, we just picked up the case. I need you to hang round the Twelfth Precinct building, see if you hear anything. Ask some questions. But be nice, you hear? And for god's sake, wear a tie. You know they don't take you seriously with your shirt buttoned like that and no tie."

"Yeah yeah, sure thing, Rigby. What you going to do?"

"I'm going to catch some shut-eye, grab a cup of my famous Java – then I'm going back to school."

I knew that Marlowe would snoop around real good – most of the guys at the twelfth were old friends of his. At least, they'd locked him in the drunk-tank so many times, he knew them better than his brother.

I also knew he wouldn't wear a tie.

I had to concentrate on my own appearance. It had been some time since I'd been to school, and I wasn't sure I would fit into my short pants after all these years. So I had a stop or two to make on the way across town.

The first one was to a cute young girl, who I knew was crazy about me. Jimmie Sue Altfeld was nineteen, blonde, and convinced that one day she and I would settle down and have kids. I didn't have the heart to tell her that all I wanted to do with her was practice…

She was pleased to see me, of course, although it did take her a while to believe me when I said that borrowing her clothes was all part of some new role-playing I wanted to try out with her.

I was in kind of a hurry, so I left as soon as I could get away – no more than a couple of hours later.

After that, a quick pit-stop at the Diner on Sixth Street to pick up a fake student ID, and I was all set.

When I got to the school, I headed straight for the library. I had a hunch that I'd find my man there. In my blonde wig and tight skirt, I was even more attractive than Betty had been – and I made sure that I'd used enough padding that my feet were running five minutes behind my sweater.

I wiggled over to the nearest bookcase, and started reading the spines and stretching up to the top shelf. Sure enough, I soon had every man's attention. Within no more than a minute, there was a strong smell of aftershave, and a hand lightly rested on my rear.

"Can I help you, sugar?" said a voice behind me. I turned, and gasped . I recognized this lowlife immediately from an old case. His name was Donald Naismith, and the last time I'd seen him he was in the back of a cop car heading for a long stretch. Obviously, he'd cut his stay in Sing-Sing short.

"Why thank you! You're so sweet!" I replied, trying my best to imitate Jimmie Sue's cutesy, squeaky voice. "I need two books from up on the top shelf, but they look too heavy for me to get on my own."

"I know what you mean, toots. There's a couple of big ones I'd like to get my hands on as well. Please – let me help you get them down."

"You're ever so nice. What's your name?" I simpered.

"Donny .And you are?"

"Betty. Betty Reardon"

I pointed to two big volumes, which he took down and carried to the desk for me. As I squeezed past him to sit down, he ran his hand over my butt, giving it a sly pat.

"How about we go get a coffee later, Betty? I can meet you here at five – it'll be nice and quiet by then."

"Why that sounds great, Donny. I'll be sure to be here."

With a smile on his face and a blown kiss, Naismith walked away. Well, I said to myself, you've got yourself a date. Now just how far are you prepared to go?

Later that day, everything was set. I'd hidden Marlowe in one of the ventilation ducts, so that he could see and hear everything that was said. I was wired five ways to Friday, and the tape recorder tucked into my cleavage was all ready to hand over to the police outside.

A few minutes after five, I heard the door open behind me, and caught a whiff of the same aftershave Naismith had been wearing earlier. I turned to greet him.

"I knew that was you, Donny. I smelled your scent. What's it called?"

He walked up to me, and grabbed my waist, pulling me against him.

"Thrust" he said, and immediately tried to stick his tongue down my throat. I fought free, and glared at him.

"What sort of a girl do you think I am, Donny? I don't DO that on a first date!"

"Aw, give over, Betty. I knew that you and me would go together like ham and eggs the first time I saw you. Stop playing around, and let's go somewhere a little quieter."

"Quieter than a Library? Where did you have in mind?"

"There's a corner upstairs, on the roof that catches the late afternoon sun. We would be nice and warm, and nobody would disturb us there."

"How come you know about it, if nobody goes there?"

Naismith paused. "I … I used to take an old girlfriend there. She was called Betty as well. Looked a lot like you."

I had a decision to make – and quick.

"Well, if you're sure that it'll be OK. No funny business though, OK?

"Sure thing, Betty" he said with a smile, and wrapped his hand around my waist.

When we reached the roof, Naismith let me go up the stairs first, and I heard the telltale click as the door was locked behind us.

"Just over there, honey. See? It's so quiet and peaceful, and you get a great view across the city. Let me put my sweater down for you to sit on." Always the gentleman….. until he leaned over and started running his hands over me again. I took the opportunity to do a little rummaging myself, then pushed him off of me.

"Before we go any further, Donny, I should tell you something. My name's not really Betty."

"So? What does your name matter?"

"It matters when my real name is Rigby Reardon, and I've got all the evidence we need to put you away for the murder of Betty Caldwell!"

Naismith went pale. He turned and ran for the door, and then stopped dead when I waved the key I'd lifted from his pocket. "Looking for this? There's no escape for you this time, Naismith!"

He turned, and his face was uglier than a dog who'd been chasing parked cars.

"You think I'm scared of you? Look at you – dressed up like some cheap slut, some college bimbo." He walked towards me and began pushing me back towards the edge of the roof.

"It's all on tape, Naismith. The building is surrounded, and you'll never get away. Best you give yourself up quietly."

"To you? To a man dressed up as a schoolgirl? No chance! I will deal with you just like I dealt with the others – Big-titted Betty, the girl at the soda-fountain with the hare-lip, and my sister's cleaning woman…."

The next thing I knew, I was standing alone on the roof of the building. I must have blacked out for a minute. Looking around, I saw scuff-marks on the parapet, and a scrap of material that matched Naismith's slacks. Looking over the edge, I saw his body six stories below, spread on the sidewalk like an undercooked pizza – hold the cheese.


When I opened the door to my office later that night, after five hours at the police station, I was greeted by the sight of Mary Jo Caldwell, stretched out on the couch in what Cecil B. De Mille describes as a "come and get it" pose. I tried to remain cool and calm, only tripping over my tongue twice on my way to my desk. I dropped wearily into my chair, and put my feet up on the desk.

"Show's over, sweet-stuff. Turned out to be an easy one. The guys down at the Twelfth will give you all the information you need."

"I know, Mr. Reardon. They called me while you were still there. Did they not give you time to change clothes?"

I looked down. My chest still said North Western City College; my shoes were still hidden from view. That explained the looks I was getting as I walked back to the office….

"Never mind, Mr. Reardon – it's somehow strangely appealing. But I wanted to say thank you. In person."

"No need, doll-face. Nobody got hurt – well, aside from your sister and Naismith, of course. But it only took a couple of days – I guess you're looking for a refund." I said, pulling my most hopeful face and wishing she'd get the message….

"You keep the money, Mr. Reardon. There are more important things. And I wanted to see I there was any way I can show you how grateful I am – in person…."

Now Marlowe was always warning me not to fall for a client, and I knew that despite the way this one was put together, this time I wasn't falling.

Well, I thought as she slowly peeled off her sweater and reached for my hand, maybe I could take a quick tumble…..