“Sorry Joe, but I’m going to have to drop a dime on ya,” I told him.
The man looked at me with fear on his mug. He tried to play it off like confusion, but it was fear, or my name isn’t Sam Slade.
“Come with me, kid,” I said. “Your number is up.”
“I was just taking an extra towel for my son at the pool…” said the guy, his face covered in more guilt than a religious statue. Sure, for that comment to make sense I mean gold “gilt” not “guilt,” but aurally speaking, it made sense in my internal monologue. Either way, I wasn’t about to take any lip from this palooka.
“Sorry, pal, but I’m the house dick.”
“The house what?” he asked, playing the boob. He tilted his head and gave me the eye. “Aren’t you hot in that jacket? It’s like 90 degrees out here.”
I scoffed and pulled the belt around my trench a little tighter.
“Clam up, or I’ll be fitting YOU for a Chicago overcoat, if you get what I mean.”
The man shook his head. “No, honestly, I have no idea what you mean.”
“Look you,” I said, trying to keep my temper. “I said I’m the hotel’s new house dick.”
This egg stared at me like I’d lost my mind. What a maroon. I tried a different tack.
“I’m an Op, a Peeper, you know, a Shamus! And I’m going to have to drop a dime on you for glomming the extra towel. The sign clearly states ‘one per guest.’ ”
I grabbed the schmuck’s arm and led him away from the pool, straight into the lobby of the hotel. I started to give him the third, but he yanked his arm out of my paw.
“Don’t make me pull out my bean shooter,” I warned him.
Again, the nance’s face clouded over with fear disguised as confusion.
“Your what?” he asked. ”Look, freak, I needed a towel for my son, so I took one.”
“Exactly. And now that you’ve gone and done it, I’m going to have to drop a dime on you.”
I looked around the lobby for a set of phone booths, but found nothing. I kicked myself for not checking in with the boss on the location of the horns in the event I needed to drop a dime on someone. Finally, I found one near the bathrooms, but it only took quarters. Since when did it take eight cups of joe to call the bulls?
“You got some quarters on you?” I asked the guy. He’d begun to shiver from the cold.
“Are you kidding me?” he asked. “I’m in swim trunks.”
I froze, unsure of my next move. ‘Dropping a quarter’ on the guy just didn’t have the same ring.
“Get a cell phone, asshole,” said the guy. “Until then, I’m going back out to the pool with my son.”
I was behind the eight ball on this pinch. The guy turned and stormed off towards the pool. I let him go. In the old days, I would have played that daisy a little chin music, but I just wasn’t the man I used to be.
I pulled out a gasper and lit it, deep in thought.
“I’m sorry, sir, you can’t smoke in here,” said the kid at the desk.
I took one last drag and put the pill out on my shoe. My eyes drifted towards the hotel bar. On the square, I’ve been known to be a bit of a boozehound. It’s how I lost my last job.
I thought better of it, and I made my way outside. This wasn’t the place for me. I needed to tip a few in a joint where I felt a bit more jake.