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Sasha's Last Case

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The door to my office opens, and in she strolls like she's walking on air -- which, I see by the time my eyes make it down all five miles of her legs, she is. You're Nein, she says, and it's not a question.

Like it says on the door, sweetheart, I tell her, leaning back in my chair like I'm the guy who owns the place. I may be just the joe who lays down my five hundred clams every month to the half-ton mental microbe who owns this glorified roach motel he calls an office building, but as far as she has to be concerned, I'm the highest-order thought process in the whole cerebrum.

Long, tan fingers coax the cigarette from her deep lips, painted the same monochrome grey as blood. Dorothy and the Wizard lied to us all; everybody dreams in black and white. Detective Nein, she says, flowing like liquid across the bare floorboards, I'm from the Brain Trust.

The Brain Trust? I echo. There's not a cat in this town who hasn't heard of the Brain Trust, but there's not a man in a thousand who's seen 'em -- and lived to tell the tale, at least. Smartest guys in the room, a thinking man's think tank. If they've come looking for me, it can only mean one thing: There's a bill come due I didn't even know about, and they're here to collect.

We hear you're good at cleaning up messes. She crosses the distance between us like Zeno's Paradox, half and half and half at a time.

Baby, I tell her, I'm the neatest man I know.

She doesn't say anything after that, just drapes herself along my desk, her short skirt slipping slowly up her honey thighs, exposing the clip of a garter belt and the top of her stockings. She's marvelous, a goddess like you see in those old paintings, rising from the water on a seahorse, seaweed stretched across sensuous limbs, waves crashing in her hair. I slip the glove off of my hand and reach for that horizon that divides the world between nylon and skin.

There're no messes on my turf, dollface. I smile down at her. So if you want to see me at work, we may have to make one first.

Just as I'm leaning down to press my lips to the silky smooth skin of her inner thigh, the door bursts open again

(wait no this isn't what happens)

and a young man crashes in, his dark, keen eyes visible even through thick orbs

(what are you)

as he stares us. She shrieks and tries to cover herself, and I, driven by reflex and thwarted desire, reach into the top drawer of my desk, finding two flasks, a Rolodex with the phone number to go with every powerful name in the City, and

(no no no how did you get)

my trusty .44 -- a last resort, to be sure, but like me, she never misses. I level the pearl-handled piece, aim it right at the X between the double-O of his goggles, and pull--



Raz, who hadn't known it was possible to be kicked out of someone's head so hard you saw everything twice for the next two days (or was it just a day?), henceforth resolved never, ever to go lifting the tiles in Sasha's head marked PRIVATE ever, ever again.