It all started with a dame.
In my profession, cases should start with dames. It's only proper. She would sashay in, gams up to her eyeballs, with soulful eyes containing a hint of mystery and danger. When smoking, she would use one of those cigarette holders in bakelite or ivory. Red dress or mourning veil optional, but a plus.
My maid Sally fills few of these criteria, standing all but 5 feet in her socks and doe-like eyes containing little in ways of mystery or danger. Cute as a button though. She makes the best out of the headscarf-and-duster look. But my bank account was all but dry and my rent was late, so one takes what one can. Hopefully this was actually about a case, or my current line of thought would be rather silly.
“Letter for you, sir.” she says, brandishing said letter in her tiny hand.
A letter, then? Cases could start with letters, for sure. Usually from some associate from long ago or an anonymous plea for help, setting the yarn a-rolling. Possibly some combination of the two.
“Thank you, Sally. Anything else?” I ask as she hands it over.
“Looking at the state of this pigsty, I would sure say so!” she proclaims, looking around with her hands on her hips. “Goodness, these piles of dishes are almost as tall as me! And dust everywhere!”
She immediately starts bustling about my office, brandishing duster like a sword at my bookshelves.
“Aren't you my maid? Shouldn't it be your job to keep it clean?” I murmur to her as I tear open the letter.
“I would if you hadn't me to come in here. What's the big idea?”
Oh right, I did. Well, a P.I.'s office isn't a place for maids. It's for dames and cops and mobsters and rumrunners. Didn't want to disturb her gentle sensibilities, y'know? Also, after having been dragged to her apartment to have dinner regularly shoved down my throat, I know that she's not one to do the dishes herself. So there!
I merely grunt to assert my masculine right to live in whatever pigsty I want and start reading the letter.
I regretfully have to inform you that I'm totally dead.
Yep, totally bereft of life!
Anyway, that's not important. What's important is that at the time you are reading this I've been murdered in an extremely grisly fashion. Actually me being dead would be pretty important considering it wouldn't be a murder without it and ANYWAY I'm super-dead now and that's not right, so I need you to find my killer and mete out justice and whatnot. I've enclosed a number of the dollars to buy your services, and you'll be recompensed even greater in the event of you solving my case.
Best of luck,
Peeking into the envelope, I do indeed see a considerable amount of “the dollars” (is this guy a foreigner?), just enough to pay my rent if I relinquished eating for the rest of the month.
“A case, sir?” Sally asks me when seeing the dough, mountain of dishes in her arms.
“Yeah, but not much to go on...” I answer as I stand up, shrugging on my trenchcoat.
“Well, I'm sure you'll solve it anyway, sir. You got a lot of imagination. Hope it's a quick one, what with christmas coming up.”
Exit Sally, distinct lack of sashay in her steps. Ah well, can't have everyting. Time to go to work. Strangest opening for a case I've ever seen, but I know where to start. I lock the office door behind me, sign stating “MOONLANDER INVESTIGATIONS” glaring at me as I do. No-one gets the name – but it pops, which is what's important.
Walking out on the snowy streets, I light the requisite gumshoe cigarette.
Girl's got it right. Hell of a way to spend a christmas...