Originally posted by suricattus at In which I tease (or taunt) a bit of Sylvan Investigations...
“Sylvan Investigations. Daniel Hendrickson speaking.”
People tend to be surprised when they hear the name of my agency. I guess it’s not what they expect from a big city PI. They don’t expect the investigator to pick up the phone, either. In all the movies the PI has a cute secretary/gal Friday answering his phones and trying to block the bad guys from rushing into his office.
I handle the cute myself, and I answer my own damn phone. Overhead’s bad enough without having to pay someone else’s salary, too, and I prefer to work alone.
The caller didn’t care about my dimple or my boyish grin. He wanted to sell me a subscription to the Post.
“Not if you paid me,” I told him, and hung up. Some day they’d invent call discarding. Like call forwarding, only it would hang up preemptively on telemarketers.
I really needed a job. Not for the money -- my pension from the NYPD took care of the basics, and I lived a pretty simple life. But I was bored. Bored was bad. Bored was boring.
I looked up to see a man standing in my doorway. Fifty-ish, solidly build, with graying brown hair and worried eyes.
“I was told you… you find missing people?”
I pushed back my chair and considered him. “That I do.”
Parent, I pegged him. Runway. Boy? Maybe. Maybe girl. And where’s…ah. Behind him, the mother. Petite without being tiny, with brown curls and doe eyes that were red-rimmed, now. Daughter. Definitely daughter.
“Come in, please.” I stood up and gestured to them, indicating the chairs by my desk. They came in, looking around. I let them take time to size up the place. Whatever brought them here, it wasn’t easy, and they needed to be reassured. It also gave me the chance to size them up.
I had the basic two-room suite set-up, but I kept all the action up front. The furniture was basic brown wood, the chairs comfortable but not elegant, and the sofa was leather, but scruffed just enough that people felt comfortable sitting on it. The wall behind my desk was covered with photos and citations from my PD career and a few since then, for show. The letters from clients went on the wall to my right, so I could see them, on bad days. I’m not much for modesty – if you’re selling your skills, put ‘em front and center.
His name was Jack, and she was Ellen, and their absent daughter, age fourteen, was Susan. All-American family: mom and pop and loving daughter, like a picture book, except someone had ripped Miss Susan out of the picture.
Or she had cut herself out, neatly and quietly, leaving behind two very worried, self-blaming parents.
I actually preferred it when they blamed themselves. It was easier to get information out of them.
The first thing I knew was that they were Null. Talent – the humans who can use magic – always enter my office like they’re about to apologize. At least until they see that I don’t have any electronics in sight for them to fry, either accidentally or on purpose. Talent feed off current, the hip term for magic, and current, like its name, runs cheek and jowl with electricity. Imagine the fun when they tangle. Yeah. There’s a reason I keep the computer in the back room.
No, this couple were Null, and they didn’t know about the Cosa Nostradamus, either. You can always tell if they do. For one thing, the Cosa-aware notice things about me.
Like the fact that I‘m not entirely human.
(originally published in THOSE WHO FIGHT MONSTERS, Edge Books, 2011)
I have reposted this here with permission because I cannot afford to pledge anything to the kickstarter but would LOVE to read more of this story and so NEED people to pledge to the kickstarter so that we can get it published. So, if anyone reading this can afford to help this kickstarter, please do - and feel free to say there that you saw it here!