“Hello. May I speak with Mrs. Paxton?”
“This is she.”
“We have an urgent matter to discuss.”
“Who is calling?”
“I must speak to you in person.”
“Is something wrong? At least tell me what this is about?” She is alarmed.
“I really can’t explain it over the phone.”
“I’m not meeting a perfect stranger unless I know what the heck is going on. I’m hanging up right now... Unless you tell me what this is all about…”
“I’m doing a job for your husband.”
“For my husband? I don’t understand. Why don’t you contact him? Do I need to have him call you?”
“No! It’s not like that Ma’am. He hired me to spy on you.”
“Mrs. Paxton, I can’t explain this over the phone. Please trust me and let’s meet, I’ll tell you everything then.”
“You’d better be for real. I mean it. Where do we meet?”
“Bookstore close to your house; the one you always go to.”
“So you do know something about me.”
“Meet me there in 45 minutes.”
Mrs. Paxton sits restlessly at the corner table, her usual seat. She pauses from scribbling in her overstuffed notebook and sips her coffee drink. As her pen presses onto the paper after a long pause the man shows up and sits in the chair across from her.
She examines the stranger and shakes her head in disbelief.
“I am a little disappointed in you already!” She sighs.
“We need to talk…”
“You said that to me twice over the phone already. Now, let’s flesh out the details. Did my husband hire you to check up on me? And if that’s true, aren’t you compromising the secrecy of your operation by calling me at home; much less asking to meet me here?”
“I know a lot about your husband, Mrs. Paxton. He is the one cheating on you.”
Mrs. Paxton’s pen slips from her hand and falls down. She scoops it from the floor and taps it against the table.
“Why would you spy on him instead of doing your job and follow me around? That doesn’t make sense God damn it.”
“Are you taking his side?” the man asks.
“No, I’m questioning your professionalism. You’ve already made several errors. Using your cell phone to contact me; how smart is that?” she shrieks.
She takes a sip of her favorite drink and with her two longest fingers she fishes out a Virginia Slim cigarette out of her purse as she realizes the Non-Smoking reality of the bookstore. The she nervously squeezes the Virginia between her fingers.
“You were hired by my husband to spy on me? Do you get that? You need to spy on me not to turn against the man who is paying you, he’s your employer damn it.”
The man is silently listening.
“Who is the guy? Who is screwing me? Do you have any pictures of us together? Any recorded phone conversation? Any evidence to prove I’m having an affair? At this point you should know how many times a week we meet, where we go and what we do and if you were doing your job right you would’ve known by now how good he is in bed.”
Mrs. Paxton smiles. She picks up a few pages of her writings and fans her face. “Oh, I am getting hot,” she thinks aloud.
“No, I haven’t followed you around yet.”
“So you haven’t done your job yet? What are you going to put in your damn report? You won’t make a penny working like this for my husband, believe me.”
“Whose side are you on? I am confused Mrs. Paxton.”
“This is the question I should be asking you.”
“Are you not surprised that your husband is spying on you? He’s the one having an affair Ma’am. I have evidence…”
The man is anxiously looking into her eyes waiting to see some appreciation for his loyalty.
Mrs. Paxton read his mind.
“Do you expect me to appreciate your loyalty? You should be loyal to my husband and do his job and not coming here and tell all these things about him…” Mrs. Paxton sighs.
“Besides, What’s new? I know my husband.” She rolls the pen between her fingers.
“You already know he is unfaithful and never confronted him?”
“That’s none of you business. Besides, what’s the use? First he would shamelessly deny it and plays dumb and when I confront him with proof, he would say it didn’t mean anything. That’s how men are. Statistically speaking, faithful men are the very hardworking ones, bums and executives are not.”
“So you are Ok with that?” the investigator asks.
She nervously taps the Virginia on the table causing her to cough up bits of tobacco.
“That’s where you come into the game. Don’t ask too many questions, you are distracting me.”
“I was hoping you and I could team up, you know, join forces... Your husband does not deserve a beautiful woman like you…” he drones.
“Oh! My goodness; is that it? That’s your pitch! Your husband does not deserve a beautiful woman like you. Is that your pick up line?” She is pissed off.
“I can do better Mrs. Paxton.”
“This is not what I had in mind. I…, I imagined a charming and intelligent character with an ingenious plan. I hoped to be mesmerized by your wickedness and wit, a man who could sweep me off my feet. I was even thinking of having an affair with you and maybe even plot to murder my husband to make the story more sizzling. Oh! I had so much hope for this script and then you showed up!”
“Don’t underestimating my intelligence Mrs. Paxton…” the gumshoe defensively utters.
“You’re not capable of hatching such a complex scheme. You’re supposed to be the personification of my rage, anger, despair, passion, revenge, love, cynicism and ruthlessness. You just don’t qualify.”
She clutches the pen between her fingers like a dagger and stabs her writing.
“I can’t teach you everything. You should jump off of the page by yourself! You’re waiting for me to hold your hand and walk you through a murder mystery. Oh my God; I had high hopes for you. Now I feel like an idiot.”
She shreds her writings and tosses them into the garbage can next to her table. As she gathers her purse to leave, she notices the gullible investigator still sitting across from her waiting for further instructions. She considers a fresh smack on his face but sees no use.