I took a bus downtown and walked to a place called “The Legal Eagle Bar and Grille” right across from the courthouse. Carolyn always lunched there with the other liars–er, lawyers–who had cases that day. It was toney as hell – brass rails at the bar, wood paneling on the walls, paintings of State Supreme Court Justices glaring down at you from above every oak booth, $7 beer and $25 hamburgers that tasted as if someone had poured cheap gravy over sawdust and paint chips and then fried a ball of the stuff in grease that hadn’t been changed since 1937. Lawyers loved it.

I ordered a small ginger ale – $3.50 for a 4-ounce glass that was worth, maybe, 50 cents on the hoof counting a 100% markup over cost. When the bartender wasn’t looking, I slipped one of their cheap plastic ashtrays into my coat pocket. Damned if I was going out of there with nothing to show for that extra 3 bucks.

I didn’t have long to wait. Carolyn arrived promptly at noon in the middle of a clutch of male lawyers who were, I swear, giggling, probably at something she’d said. That may have been unusual behavior for lawyers, giggling, but it was standard behavior for men hanging around Carolyn.

There was nothing wrong with her figure and there never had been, I’ll say that for her. Whether it was in the way her hips swam when she walked or the way she ducked her head coyly and flipped her hair or the way her breasts insisted on bouncing even when she was standing still, she somehow contrived to render her severe tailored suit all but useless for taming the glory that was underneath. I was aware of it from across the damn room. I couldn’t physically see the curves but I knew they were jiggling like mad, I just knew it. So did every other male in the bar judging by where they were looking.

If they knew what I knew, they’d be concentrating more on their lobster bisque.

I made my way over to her table. “Hi, Carolyn,” I said. “Feeding time at the shark pond, I see.”

“Ponsie!” she said with a smile that would have melted titanium plate 6 inches thick, and leapt from her seat to hug me. Not the greeting I expected, I must admit. I was immediately suspicious.

Then her arms were around me and mine were around her and she was pressing herself against me and parts of her were moving and I forgot about being suspicious and remembered…other things. Then she, thank god, broke the spell. She whispered in my ear, her hot breath bathing my quivering lobe in liquid fire, “How’s the dog?”

For revenge, I nipped her neck with my teeth before answering. She sighed. I still had the goods. “As far as I know, fine. I gave him to a dairy farmer upstate. He was a big dog, Carolyn. He needed his space. They’re using him to herd their cows, I understand, and he eats one or two of them a week so they’re saving a fortune on dog biscuits.” I glanced at the table. “I need to talk to you, Carolyn. Privately.”

“Do you, Ponsie?” she said sweetly. She ran her forefinger in light circles around my chest. “What a coincidence.”

Alarm bells went off in my head, the kind that don’t go off unless a major catastrophe is imminent. A Force 5 hurricane, say, or World War III. “Coincidence?” I croaked in a voice as dry as one of the Legal Eagles’s sawdust-and-sandburgers. “Why do you say that?”

“Silly. Because, as it happens, I was about to look you up. I need to talk to you, too.”

“Oh?” I said as calmly as I could manage while the room reeled in circles around me. I grabbed onto the tie of a passing lawyer to steady myself until the storm passed. “What for?”

“Nothing, really,” she said. “Don’t worry about it.” The alarm bells kicked up two more notches. “And do let go of Arnold’s tie, my love. You’re choking him. Oh, look! How cute. He’s turning blue.”

Question: What Is a “Dilemma”?: What you’re in when somebody suggests you ought to stop strangling a lawyer just when you were getting your grip.

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