09/19/22 Snippet, BUZZ ON THE STREETS.

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The local landscape showed signs of what is usually delicately called a ‘disturbance:’ broken crates, scattered garbage from an overturned can, and one shop window sporting a spiderweb of cracks. That looked like it was going to be expensive to fix.
A skinny old guy half-filled the way in front of the window, grumpily sweeping up spilled sawdust and wood splinters from all the crates. From the way he kept smacking the sidewalk with his broom, he blamed it for his half-busted window. “Morning, Senor,” I said, tipping my hat. “You have a busy night?”

“What’s it to you?” the guy replied — and then he took a look at the Shamus suit, tie, and hat. “Oh, morning, Shamus. What’s it to you?” he said again, only this time with a bit more enthusiasm. “You on a case?”

“Geez, I hope not,” I replied, and his face fell slightly. It brightened up again when I went on, “But I’m looking for somebody, might have come through here last night. Guy by the name of Lucas? About so high, dark skin, curly hair, looks like he moonlights as a really good evil companion?”

“Depends. That elf a friend of yours?”

I carefully didn’t grin. “I’m asking about him, ain’t I?” I sighed, and handed him my card. “Look, lemme just cut to the chase. Give that to whoever you got fixing the window, and tell ‘em to send me the bill. I’ll make it go away.” Well, Sofie would. She said she’d be nice about expenses, and the cynical part of me was sure this would all end up being her fault anyway.