by Rahul Sharodi
It was the kind of night that felt like morning. I stood alone in my office, trying to fight the temptation to light up my first cigarette since quitting, when she walked into the room. As short as a child and twice as thin, this ravishing blonde didn’t look a day over sixty in her slender business suit. I lit a smoke as she began to speak.
“The name’s Amy,” she whispered sensually, “and I need you to find my lost dignity.”
“Whoa, hold it there, Apple Annie, I didn’t even catch your last name!” I says to her.
“That’s because I didn’t throw it, gumshoe.”
She told me about her work at Penn. And while the look in her eye told me she wanted her dignity back more than anything, the look of her Louis Vuitton handbag told me she was more than able to compensate me for it. I looked at my dog in the corner and said, “Looks like we’re eating tonight, Alfie.”
I made my way around U-City, all the while haunted by the memory of Amy’s sultry perfume, and even sultrier smile. I encountered Rocco, one of the usuals in town. He was crouched outside Wawa, yelling garbled tirades at every Joe and Jane College that passed by.
“You’ll never change, will ya, Rocco?” I said as I shook his hand.
“They’llnever tellmewhattodo Iwasonce OrsonWellesand theydidn’t evenknowitWHAT AREYOU LOOKINGATsomechange WHATFOODshe drowns!” He raved.
“Don’t talk to me that way, you gator-faced stormbuzzard! Now I don’t have time to play games, so I’m going to get down to business: there’s a dame named Amy out there who’s lost her dignity and I’m lookin’ to find it, see? Now you can either play nice or I can toss you in a sanitarium, where you can woof all you like in your brand-spankin-new straight jacket, being fed the wrong kind of medicine by incompetent 1930’s-era nurses.”
Rocco’s incomprehensible response led me to Marbar, a local speako. Having never been here, I waltzed in to find some clues. A few young birds were on the dance floor, doing some form of the Charleston, I imagine. One of them ran to me.
“Do YOU go to PENN?” She slurred.
“Baby, pens are for writing, not for inflated grades and fake diplomas,” I retorted.
“Look, don’t play coy with me girl, I know you know what happened to Amy’s dignity!”
“The silent treatment, huh? Don’t walk away, you’ve got some explaining to do!”
And then she threw up on my wingtips. I promptly left Marbar, realizing there was no shred of dignity to be found there. Luckily, I still had a lead.
Of all the restaurants in all the world, it had to be this one. All of the clues now seemed to point here, but I couldn’t stand to face her. Once the woman I loved, she later became my greatest archnemesis. They call her Greek Lady. I walked in, thinking, “What if she’s changed? What if this is easier than I think?” Just then, a cup of souvlaki hit my face. Damn, was I wrong. I licked off the delicious sauce to see the Lady herself, surrounded by a dozen armed employees. Armed with pita chips, gyros, and overpriced fountain beverages. I ducked behind a table as they launched their tasty attack. And once they ran out of mouth-watering ammunition, I pulled out my snub-nosed pistol and shot them all to hell. “Looks like I’ll have this one to go,” I said to myself.
Having shot everyone who could’ve had answers, I went back to my office, hot and tired. But as soon as I set foot in the room, the phone rang.
“Yeah, who is this?” I yelled into the phone.
I paused and sat down when I heard that unmistakably beautiful voice.
“Look, Amy, I don’t think I can find your dignity. It’s not—“
“I know that. I lost my dignity when I worked at Princeton. It’s long gone.”
“What? You sure played me good, dollface. You played me and my emotions like a game of stickball in the street. But why? Why would you do that? Hello? Hello?”
But by this point, she had already hung up. I lit a smoke and glanced at Alfie, scrunched in the corner with an empty doggie dish. “Sorry boy, looks like I’m selling you to the chop suey factory.”