The Clown Gumshoe

I was a lawyer, not a detective. Missing persons cases weren’t my wheelhouse.

“Mr. Leonard,” the mother said.

“Call me Nard,” I said.

She didn’t. “No one will take my case.”

Because you think your kid was stolen by a flying man, I thought. Aloud, I said, “What makes you think I will?”

“You like kids. You wouldn’t want this to happen again.”

“What makes you think I like kids?”

She raised her eyebrows at my clothes and makeup.

“Don’t generalize,” I said.

“You’re saying you don’t like kids?”

Not really. But I didn’t want to see them kidnapped, either. “Fine. But I don’t know how you think I’m going to help you.”

“Everyone knows who you are. They trust you. You’ve made the flotilla safe. All those criminals in the brig…”

“That doesn’t make me a good gumshoe.”

“You’re not just a lawyer. You investigate. You gain knowledge. And you can make people talk. Must be your smile.”

Funny. “You say a flying man took the kid.”

“Jason. Yes. The man wasn’t on his feet–he was flying through the air. He picked Jason up like a hawk and flew away.”

“Issues with the artificial gravity?” I asked.

“I was there. Nothing and no one was floating but him.”

“Didn’t get a good look at the guy?”

“He wore a helmet, like what the external engineers wear, except he didn’t have the rest of the suit. Just a standard Arc-issued jumpsuit. He wasn’t as distinctive-looking as you…”

“Too bad. Another guy dressed like a clown would be pretty easy to find.”

“Yes,” said the mother, her lips tightening. “Too bad.”

I wasn’t used to people acting so seriously around me. Whether they thought I was supposed to be funny or they thought my clown outfit was just funny looking, it wasn’t easy getting a serious conversation from people. On the upside, it threw them off their game, made them sloppy, prone to letting things slip.

“You have two choices,” I said. “I can help you find your missing son. OR I can represent your case if and when the kidnapper is found. I can’t be both, for obvious reasons. Now. Do you want me as a detective, or a lawyer?”

She thought about it. For a long time. Her eyes were cast on the ground and I got myself a good look at her. She must have had her son at a young age. She kept herself surprisingly fit for someone living on below-Earth gravity. Most people let themselves go a bit. Either she worked out every day, or she was taking something to keep the weight off. If it was the latter, she had money. So why no ransom note?

“Get my son back,” she said, finally. “I know a mime who can represent me instead.”

Goddamn ______. He took too many of my cases.

Day 179’s three prompt categories were, “Human flight,” “Clown lawyer,” “Hard boiled.”

One of my stranger continuing series…

– H.

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