“I need you to find someone,” the dame said. “Someone…close to me.”

“Your husband?” I irritably blinked the late-evening sunshine from my eyes, the tattered blinds not holding up their end of the bargain.

“My…companion.”

Her lover.

“Fair enough.” I poured a fresh glass, the stiff smell of alcohol–officially a “health tonic” to get around the Volstead–mixing with the “herbs” ground up in the bottom of the glass. I’m a snoop. I deal in euphemisms if they keeps the boys in the precinct off my back and my customers comfortable. “The cost will depend on how long and what I find. Whether I accept or not depends on who. I’m sure you know that I have a reputation for being choosy, and ironically it’s not by choice.”

The woman nodded. “This is him,” she said, passing a Coney Island souvenir snapshot of the two together across my desk. “Max Schliemann. Dockworker and…laborer.”

She hadn’t offered her own name, and I didn’t ask. The photo, though…you could never be sure, of course, but he seemed to have “the look.” Had to be sure, though. “Can you describe your ‘companion’ a bit more? His personality, his haunts, that sort of thing? Any unusual behavior?”

“Max has…a savage temperament,” the woman said delicately. “Very passionate and devoted, but often…mercurial. About a dozen times a year, he will get in an…unsettled…mood and often disappear until he sorts himself out.”

I nodded. “A day or two at most? Likes hanging around Central Park or Elysian Fields when his savage temperament flares up and he gets unsettled? Getting back to nature, as it were?”

“Yes, yes,” the woman gushed, grateful that I had been able to read between the lines.

“Has Max ever hurt anyone during one of his…unsettled savage episodes?”

The woman squeezed her clutched hands tightly together. “Not any…one,” she said. “Can you find him? Tell me you can find him. I’m afraid this time he’s not coming back.”

I grinned, showing the emergent fangs that not even the wolfsbane in my glass could fully suppress on the night of the waxing full moon. “I think so, ma’am. I think so.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!