Sunday, May 29, 2011
Another excerpt from 'Julius Katz and Archie'
Here's another excerpt from 'Julius Katz and Archie'. To set up this excerpt, Julius had earlier been approached by a client to participate in a potentially embarrassing charade for a large fee. When Julius turns this client down, a bottle of ’78 Montrachet is later added to the fee to induce him, and well, what can Julius do but accept?
“I thought your dignity and reputation weren’t for sale?” I asked.
A wry smile pulled up the edges of Julius’s lips. “I don’t believe I ever said anything about my reputation being priceless,” he said.
“Okay, your dignity then.”
More of his wry smile. “Technically, Archie, I don’t believe I as much sold my dignity as bartered it away.”
It was a clever joke, but I wasn’t much up to joking then. More of that excess heat began to burn again in me. “For a lousy bottle of wine! That’s what you did it for!”
“I hardly think you can call a ’78 Montrachet a lousy bottle of wine.” Julius’s smile faded as he sat straighter in his chair and rubbed his thumb along the knuckles of his right hand. With others, Julius kept his emotions and thoughts impenetrable, with me he didn’t bother. Right now he was showing his annoyance, but I didn’t care. “The man is a philistine,” Julius continued. “He was going to mix soda water with a ’78 Montrachet to make a wine spritzer. It would’ve been a crime to let that happen.”
“So you were just saving humanity from an outrage?”
“Okay,” I said. “I understand. For a bottle of wine, you’ve agreed to play a stooge.”
Julius stopped rubbing his knuckles. He took in a slow breath and with a forced attempt at humor, said, “And of course, twenty-five thousand dollars.”
“Of course, we can’t forget the twenty-five thousand dollars. So for that money and the Montrachet, you’ll be looking like a dunce to the world.”
“Again, Archie, things are not always what they appear.”
“Yeah, well, as far as the TV and newspaper reporters are going to be concerned, Kenneth J. Kingston will be trumping you at your own game. Should I be ordering you a dunce cap now for the occasion? I might be able to find a good deal.”
Julius slowly began rubbing his knuckles again. “Enough of this, Archie.”
I should’ve taken the hint, but I couldn’t help myself. “Sure, of course,” I said. “I understand. But Boss, should I get a jump on updating your biography to reference that you’re no longer Boston’s most brilliant detective, but have slipped to the second-most? Or should I wait until after Kingston plays you for a chump? Now that I think of it, after that happens I’m not even sure you could legitimately claim that title since probably every other working private investigator in Boston would be able to prove themselves intellectually superior to Kingston, so by the transitive property that would in effect make you Boston’s least brilliant detective. Not as compelling a title for you to hold, but I guess we’ll have to deal with it. If you want I can order stationary now to that effect, or I can wait until—”
I pushed him too far. Julius cut me off, saying, “Goodnight, Archie.” And blast it! My world went black as he turned me off!