I leaned back a little too far in my squeaky old chair causing my head to slam against the file cabinet which in turn caused the half empty bottle of bourbon I'd been working on since early that morning to fall and shatter on the grimy tile below. Ignoring the commotion I asked her what she wanted from me.
"Are you kidding? I just told you." She seemed agitated. "I need a private detective to locate my husband and I was told that you were the only one they could think of."
I nodded understandingly and dug a half smoked cigarette out of the overflowing ashtray at my side. "Tell me, does your husband have a habit of disappearing for long periods of time, or is this something out of character for him?"
She sighed heavily and snatched the smoke from between my fingers as soon as it was lit. Taking a long drag she looked off into the distance as if talking to herself. "Well, he was always a very caring and loving man....but that all changed the day he came back from the dead."
I stroked the graying stubble on my chin and tried to process what she had just said. "When you say "came back from the dead" do mean, like really dead, or just sort of dead inside and unable to love?"
"No." She flicked the cigarette carelessly across the room. "I mean actually dead. Like Mel Gibson's career."
In my line of business you see a lot of crazy people, after awhile your able to smell the lunacy leaking form their pores, but this woman didn't stink of anything but cheep perfume and expensive cheese. Had she been anyone else I would have tossed her head first out the window, but something told me I needed to listen to what she had to say.
"He died about six months ago." I could hear a quiver in her voice as she relayed her tale. "Four days he was dead. I had already removed his name from the chequing account and cancelled all his credit cards when some preacher from Galilee shows up and says he's going to bring Lazarus, that's my husband, back from the dead. I of course was livid, I mean here I had just spent several thousand dollars on a funeral and small gathering afterwards, when this stranger shows up and tells me he's going to bring my husband back. I told him, if your going to bring Lazarus back, you better bring back the two hundred an twenty-five dollars I spent on fruit platters and coconut water, as well."
I adjusted my prodigious ass in the cheap wooden chair it resided in and tried desperately to look like I was paying attention and not thinking of woman's volleyball.
"That skinny, sandal wearing rabbi mumbled a few words over my husbands tomb and POW, Lazarus got the hell up and walked out. I knew I should have had him cremated. Anyway, after that Lazarus was a different man. He stayed out till all hours of the night, drinking and gambling and when I questioned him as to where he'd been, he'd call me a "death virgin" and condescendingly tell me I would never understand because I'd never been dead. Now he's gone, along will all the money I collected on his life insurance policy. I need you to find that son of a bitch before he spends it all. And hey, if you have to kill him in the process, go right ahead, you can't very well be arrested for murdering someone that's already dead and burred."
Her story was an old one; guy dies, guys gets raised from the dead, guy steals wife's insurance money, guy skips town and girl hires P.I. to find him. I've heard it a million times before and it always ended the same, with me wishing I'd taken that job filing the corns off of elderly peoples feet, instead of chasing down deadbeats.
There was something different about this case, though. I had a pretty good feeling that Lazarus was not going to be difficult to find, because I just happen to know about a certain after hours club that catered to a very select clientele, and if I was correct, which I almost never was, Lazarus would be there.
"Okay, I'll take the case." I said. "But its gonna' cost you a 'C' note up front. And it would be nice if you picked up that cigarette butt you threw on the floor before my booze soaked carpet goes up in flames."
As she rose from her chair she casually tossed a sweaty wad of crumpled bills and an envelope across my desk, then exited through the window without even glancing toward the smoke.
The after hours hot spot I mentioned was known as 'The Resurrection Club.' Is was the most exclusive club in town, granting memberships only to those who had died and been brought back to life. I was not a member, but and old friend of mine, Gandalf, was. It was he that would sneak me in through the kitchen so I could search it's halls for Lazarus.
Gandalf was waiting exactly as he had said he would, and once Chef Osiris was distracted, I was led straight into the main hall where most of the guests passed their time. Poker and snooker tables crowded with players dotted the room, as did large screen televisions all silently playing the classic 1931 horror epic, 'Frankenstein.'
I casually mingled among the crowd, scanning the faces for one that matched the photograph I had received from Lazarus's wife. You would think that a place catering only to people who were resurrected would have very few members, but it was jammed wall to wall.
One of the snooker tables read like a whose who of walking corpses; Dionysus and Quetzalcoatl were teamed up against Fox Mulder and Freddy Kruger. Dionysus was right in the middle of chastising Freddy for neglecting to remove his knives before his last shot, which had tore a large gash across the otherwise pristine felt. I was sure a fight was about to break out, but luckily Ellen Ripley stepped in to help cool the boiling tempers.
I moved past the snooker game and made my way to the back where several poker tables held half a dozen players each. I arrived just in time to see the bouncer, Optimus Prime, snatch up one gentleman by the back of his dress coat and dangle him ten feet in the air as the remaining players looked on in surprise.
"You don't belong here, do you Mr. Dantes?" Asked Optimus of his helpless prey .
To his credit, Edmond Dantes didn't flinch or change the casual tempo of his voice. "Now, now Optimus, lets not do anything rash. Although we both know I didn't technically die, everyone certainly thinks I did, which I believe is grounds for allowing my presence at this table. Don't You?"
Without a word Optimus flung Dantes across the room and through the double doors that separated us from the front lobby.
Several droplets of urine escaped my urethra as I pictured the same thing happening to me when Optimus found out I had not only never been resurrected, but preferred He-Man over Transformers. I needed to hurry up and find Lazarus and get the hell out of there.
No sooner did I decided I wanted to finish writing this and go play Battlefield, did I spot Lazarus sitting quietly at the very table Dantes had just been ejected from. He sat slack jawed between Jesus and Spock, slyly palming chips from Jesus' pile while his attention was distracted by the ruckus. Lazarus' own stack of chips was dwindled down to almost nothing and I had a very strong feeling it was all he had left of his wife's insurance money.
As casually as possible, I strolled up behind him and leaned over so as to whisper in his ear. "Don't turn around, just listen." I saw his back stiffen as he followed my order. "Your wife sent me to find you. She's pissed off and is probably going to hire that giant robot to squash you between his rusty aluminum toes, unless you return home immediately." At hearing his wife's name, Lazarus' shoulders sagged like my penis while watching The View. He hadn't expected her to send someone to look for him, and he certainly didn't expect them to track him to The Resurrection Club.
"I'm going to leave here in a moment." I continued. "And after I do, you are going to calmly get up, cash in the chips you stole from god, and go home to your wife. If you don't do this, I am going to tell the guy who brought you back to life the last time, that you've been palming his chips all night. That way, when your wife has you killed in a few days, and she will have you killed, there will be no one willing to bring you back, and you will stay dead. Do you understand?" He nodded his head and slouched down into his chair as if he were a balloon being deflated.
I backed up slowly and made my way toward the exit. Once in the cool air of the early night I pulled my cellphone from the confines of my pocket and dialed the number written on the back of my hand. It belonged to Lazarus' wife, I wanted to tell her she could be expecting her husband within the hour and that it looked like most of the money was gone.
For a moment I felt sorry for Lazarus, knowing his wife would most likely have him killed by the end of the week, but then I realized he had already died long ago, and every day he's enjoyed since has been one more than anyone else has ever received. I also realized Lazarus was willing to steal from god, so he's probably a giant ass-hole and the world will be better off without him.