The moment she walked into my office through the door I forgot the first rule of detective work: Never trust a beautiful dame. There was something about her. Something special and I could sense it right away. She came breezing in on a cloud of expensive French perfume, all blond and soft curves and sharp, high cheekbones. From the way she was dressed I could tell she could afford an entire team of private dicks so if she came to a skid row P.I. like me it could only be for two reasons: She was desperate and had a secret.
"I was referred to you by a mutual acquaintance, Mr. Sleestak. You come highly recommended as a person who could get things done quietly and with out fuss. I can't afford this problem to be a matter of public fodder for the gossip columns."
"Why don't we start with your name." I said. I didn't bother to correct her notion about keeping things quiet. A lot of my cases usually ended with a lot of noise. The kind of noise that comes from the business end of a gun. I motioned her to a chair and she reluctantly took a seat. She was high class, that was for sure. She was almost able to keep the expression of distaste of her angelic face as she settled onto the chair. I wasn't one for housecleaning. I was sure that this skirt would burn her dress the first chance she got.
"I'm Susan Evers." She said. I knew the name. The famous, or should I say infamous Evers Family had their fingers in all kinds of pies in this town. She was rich. Real rich. "My estranged sister is out to destroy the family."
"Go on." I urged her, taking another drink from the bottle of cheap bourbon I always keep on hand in my desk. I tipped the bottle towards her in a silent offer of a drink, but she ignored my gesture. My already high estimation of her went up a couple of notches.
"As you may know, my family does not always get along." Miss Evers began. "In fact, my parents divorced early and fought for controlling interests in the family holdings for decades. Since in the event of their passing the family money and business goes to us children, my sister and I where used as weapons by each parent to control the other. My mother and sister, Sharon, who is my exact twin by the way, moved to England shortly after the divorce. It is only recently come to my attention that Sharon has been attempting to take control of the business by undermining my influence."
Getting mixed up in family problems was always bad news for a detective. Too much emotion and not enough facts cloud the issue. I've seen this before. People say it's about right and wrong but in the end it always come down to one thing. Greed. I nodded. "So why come to me? This seems like more of a matter for a shyster and not a low-rent gumshoe."
"I wish I could use the courts, but all the lawyers are being manipulated and some of them are in on the plan. Sharon has already impersonated me a number of times and is always one step ahead of my own team. Sharon signs paperwork and makes appearances as me and if I attempt to reverse one of "my" decisions I look weak, foolish or ineffective to the board of directors. That plays right into Sharon's hands."
"Mr. Sleestak, The shareholder's meeting is in two weeks and for the first time in 20 years our parents will be living under the same roof for the duration. It was Sharon's idea that we all get together. We will all be one big "happy family" again until the proxy vote is over and I'm worried that Sharon has laid some kind of trap for our parents. My fear is that Sharon will take that opportunity murder them and me in order to take control of the family business."
She started to cry then, and dabbed delicately at her tears with a lace handkerchief. At that point I knew that little bit of cloth was the luckiest silk to ever be extruded from the bowels of a caterpillar. If I had one weakness it was when a dame starts with the waterworks. She looked up at me. "I need your help to get the proof I need to stop Sharon, Mr. Sleestak. Will you take the case?"
"Yesssss." I said. "Call me Slee."
See the original cover here.