“And then, if needed, I would obviously seduce her. Which would lead to Prong Eleven, which I am too much of a gentleman to explain. So, that’s the gist of the plan. You know me, I always have a plan; but without JB here to be a worry wart all the time, I feel like I can improvise a bit more. Really test my skills as an undefeated lead detective, you know?”
The look on Lizzy’s face told me that she knew. Or maybe that she didn’t know. To be honest, I guess I hadn’t spent enough time studying her to figure her out yet. That was JB’s job, he looked at her constantly. The big weirdo.
Lizzy’s question snapped me back to attention. “So, what’s my part in all this again? In all of those prongs, you didn’t say what I would be doing.”
The club was just coming into view now. One big neon sign reading, “Girls, Girls, Girls,” hung next to one with the name, “A Tale of Two Titties,” and a pair of electrically hooked-up honkers that flashed in an alternating pattern. Was Lizzy crazy? I wasn’t going to send her in there, she couldn’t handle it. She was only an apprentice detective. A gumshoe really. This was going to take it all. Finesse. Improv. Ninja skills. Sex appeal. No, this called for a lead detective.
“You’re just going to be the lookout for this one, okay? I’ve seen Showgirls on VHS about twenty times, so I know what I’m getting into here. I just need you to be the lookout this time.”
She glanced past me for a moment and then met my gaze. She looked skeptical. Or hungry. One of the two.
“A lookout?” Lizzy asked, her voice tinged with either disappointment or relief. “That’s it?”
“Yes,” I reaffirmed. “And try to keep a better lookout than you did with your cat, no offense. We just can’t have any screwups here, these pants are important.”
Lizzy then gave me a look that I did recognize. One she wore every time she got annoyed by something I said. I at least learned that one so far.
“Fine,” she said, then pointed behind me. “Then lookout, there they are.”
I turned and followed the direction of her finger. There, laying in the dirt of the road, flat and tan like a squirrel ran over by an 18-wheeler, sat the pants! I ran over to them quickly, jumping and rolling when I hit the ground, scooping them up special ops style. I got to my feet quickly and looked around. No dirty, rotten pants-snatchers to be seen. The cowards!
“They must have heard that I was on the case and ran,” I told Lizzy. “If I were a criminal, I’d do the same thing.”
I took the few steps back to where Lizzy was. My knees burned with each step, as I’d scraped them both when I secured the pants. It was worth it, this was just the sting of victory.
“I wouldn’t, however, just drop somebody’s pants into the street all willy nilly like that! Especially not their special occasion pants. What kind of a person does something like that? They must have been raised by wolves or something.”
Lizzy looked down at her pocket. Not the one with the panda, but the one next to it. It looked like she was texting.
“What are you doing?” I asked her. She jumped a little and shrugged. “Nothing,” she lied. “Should we head back now? JB’s mom will be so happy you solved the case already, maybe she can still wear them in time.”
She smiled at me. It seemed a little different. It seemed a little suspicious. I think that I was about to have my second case for the day. A detective double-header.
I would need some time to sort this out. It seemed like she was in a hurry to get back. Which could only mean one thing. Well, I hadn’t figured out that one thing yet, but I knew that if I was being led one way, I should go the other. A Backwards Bandit Bamboozler, but this time used for justice instead of evil.
It was time to do exactly what I said I would do. I was going to improvise. “No,” I said, enjoying the look of shock on her face. She must have forgotten that I was no ordinary detective. I was a lead detective. “She can’t wear these like this! They’re filthy! Just like the pants-snatcher who dropped them. We need to take these pants to the same place that these dancers are taking their customers.”
She looked at me with confusion on her face. I couldn’t help but smirk as I finished. “The cleaners.”