tagHumor & SatireJohnny Lettuce

Johnny Lettuce

byHunterShambles©

Let me introduce myself; my given name is Jonathan James Letwin, however since the age of five or six everyone's called me Johnny Lettuce. It came from a group of kids at school and my liking for a certain salad leaf. Even my family call me Johnny Lettuce, Christmas cards, Birthday cards all arrive written out to Johnny Lettuce.

Still it's better than my best mate, who, ever since I can remember has been called Cromwell. Which for an unorthodox Jew is a proper laugh. We discovered soon enough he was different, and the circumcised head of his penis earned him an early nickname of Roundhead, which soon mutated to Cromwell. We thought it hilarious, so he was stuck with it. Even now, forty odd years later, I still phone up and ask to speak to Cromwell when his delightful wife Lilith answers. Once I thought I even heard her shout "Cromwell" as she held the receiver with her hand over the mouthpiece. To be perfectly honest most of the time I can't remember his real name.

Anyway I digress. I'm 49 years old, tallish but slightly overweight, thinning hair and poor dental work. I drink, my diet's poor and the only exercise I get is dodging the bills that come through my door with regularity. After school and a second tier university education, I emerged at twenty three with an upper second class degree and no idea what to do. I had married young and after a disastrous nine years got a divorce. Now I have an ex-wife and a daughter who hate me. I went from job to job until I graduated to this. I'm a private detective. I've been "Detecting" for about a decade now and I'm passably good at it, even if I say so myself, which I do frequently.

I specialise in divorce, particularly in getting evidence on unfaithful spouses. I have an inside track on this, as you probably guessed. However, there's a million of us out there doing the same job, but I have an angle, I think it's a clever angle, I'm dirt cheap. In order to make my reputation, I cut a few corners, and I went the cheap route. So I've done a few freebies for mates, or mates of mates, I even helped an old girlfriend for a fumble in her jungle, could I sink lower? probably given enough time.

Somehow I pay the bills (often late) and I put a bit aside. My needs are modest and my habits bad, but hey you gotta say I'm making a living. I was between jobs, as in I'd sent the last client the evidence that her loyal, attentive husband was a lying two timing piece of shit and she sent me a cheque. Now I had a few days off as nothing new had come my way.

Anyway, I was sitting in my office, now if you're thinking a beautiful air-conditioned apartment above a chic art dealers, it's nothing like that. It's more a rabbit hutch on the first floor over an undertakers, pick the wrong door and you're looking at the Chapel of Rest instead of my place. With some of my clients I have to say it's a toss up whether it's the right door or not anyway. Getting back on track. It was a lousy Thursday, as I remember, raining, cold and miserable and bloody January to boot. It was very overcast and the office was poorly lit. I had a thirst like a camel on a ten day trek and my head pounded from last nights cheap red gut rot. I had the need for a Starbucks, but not the energy to get one and the only paracetamol I had was washed down with an instant coffee five hours ago... then she walked in.

I thought at first she'd got the wrong door and was about to offer to show her the Chapel of Rest, when she spoke, and it sounded like honey dripping from a spoon onto silk.

"Hello, are you Mr Lettuce, I was looking for Mr Lettuce?"

"I'm Johnny Lettuce, how can I help?"

I need a detective Mr Lettuce, one I can trust to be discreet. Are you... discreet?"

"Lady I can be anything you want, or need. Do you need... anything?"

"A coffee would be good, I like it strong, it's the way I am?"

"I prefer strong myself, why not take a seat while I fill the kettle."

"Thanks, oh, thank you."

I slid the chair under her delicate derriere, and she sat legs primly together, facing the desk, or pasting table as the DIY Superstore labelled it. I quickly filled the kettle and boiled it, straining the water through a small sieve to stop the majority of the limescale getting into the cup. I gave up with a water filter after two weeks, it make no difference to the taste. The drinks always tasted like chalky crap anyway.

"Sugar?"

"Yes darling?"

"I mean do you want sugar?"

"I know, it was a joke, I'd really like a large one."

This was getting out of hand, what the hell was going on here? Was she for real?

She was impeccably dressed in a white raincoat, calf length. Blue jacket, tailored. White blouse, semi see through. Blue skirt, knee length and boots up to meet it. This was not chain store material either, these were damn fine threads. Her face was made up, but not overdone, someone who knew just how much and when. Her hair was auburn, wavy and shoulder length. Add to that two huge blue eyes and post box red lips and that's the gal sat in front of me. Wait, wait, where is all this poor Raymond Chandler dialogue coming from. This was Ilford, East London, not New York or Chicago.

"So, Miss... I'm sorry I didn't catch your name?"

"I didn't throw it Mr Lettuce, but it's Cynthia, Cynthia Barlow."

"Please call me Johnny, all my clients do."

"I think Mr Lettuce is best, at least until we know each other much better."

She breathed in a breathy, sighy sort of way. I felt something stirring, Oh great! a stiffy and I had two cups of coffee in my hands. I managed to place a coffee on the table by her hand and pass behind her, adjusting the equipment swiftly whilst behind her back. I smiled at my smartness, then it disappeared as I saw her face reflected back at me from the mirror behind my chair, her smile said everything, busted.

"So, Mr Lettuce, I need a favour... I want to retain you, exclusively for myself. What do you charge?"

"Well dependent on the case, Cynthia, I have a per day rate and a weekly rate, it depends on what I need to do, and how long it takes."

"Obviously Mr Lettuce, now would you like to know what I want?"

"I would love to know what you want, so I can work out the best way to give it to you, at the cheapest rate, obviously."

"Oh Mr Lettuce, don't sell yourself short, I think you've got what I want and I want a lot believe me."

"Tell me what I have to do, I'll tell you what it costs."

"Right up front aren't you Mr Lettuce?"

"Cynthia, I will be all over you like a rash as soon as you open up."

"Mr Lettuce, please, I'm just trying to make sure I have the right man for the job."

So spill it Cynthia, what can I do for you?"

"Mr Lettuce I need a man, to do something special for me. He needs to be by my side for the next week, I want him up close and very personal, can you do that?"

"Cynthia I will stick to you like a Band-Aid in a sauna, what's the problem?"

"My father wants me married, he's been busy flinging men at me for the last ten years, and now he's getting particularly headstrong about it and he still hasn't cottoned on."

"To what Cynthia?"

She looked down into her lap, then raised those sparkling blue eyes to meet mine, I melted, this was some woman.

"That I'm gay, Mr Lettuce, I prefer slits and tits, I munch carpet, I like a womans touch. I am in short a Lesbian."

"Shit!"

"Hmm, you sound like daddy, are you disappointed in me?"

"No, not at all, your orientation is your affair. Although a women's gain, in your case, is a mans terrible loss, in mine."

"Does that mean you'd fuck me given the opportunity?"

She was staring at me intently, her gaze never wavering, I blushed, how could she make me feel like a sixteen year old caught gazing down his sisters cleavage.

"Whooo, wait up, we will have a client-detective relationship here. Whatever my personal feelings are, I can offer to represent you, at a favourable rate if possible. nothing else comes as standard"

"Good, because you come highly recommended. Although I also have it on good authority that you'd shag your granny if she gave you a tenner."

"What the..?"

"Your daughter told me to say that. She is my lover Mr Lettuce, she thought you'd help me, in return for a meeting or two with her. Mending broken fences so to speak."

"Michelle?.. Shelly is your?... She sent you to me?.. she said that about me?"

A shadow fell across the doorway, I looked over and frowned,

"Hi Dad, see you've met Cynth. Hi honey, how's Dad doing?"

Michelle ambled in, she was dressed like a dream, I'd never seen her looking so glamorous. Hair, face, clothes, all perfect. What the fuck? Had I really spawned this babe? I'd not seen her in two years, not since she's thrown a punch at me and hadn't missed. I deserved it but it still rankled. She bent to kiss Cynthia on the lips, then strolled round my desk and sat in my lap, grinding her bottom into my cock. She grinned and licked her lips.

"So Daddy, can you help us out, have you got what it takes, what we need, have you?"

"Shelly, what the fuck is going on? Who the hell do you think you are, rocking up like this and fucking up my day?"

"Oh Daddy! cool down, we're just fucking with you, and I bet you'd like to fuck with at least one of us."

She leaned down and kissed my neck. Her hair filling my face, a strange and gorgeous perfume coming off it. I was stiffening by the second and her crotch wiggling and throaty giggle told me she knew and was enjoying this.

"Hmm, so, Mr Big in His Pants, can you please help us out here?"

"Get off my lap you little minx and go sit with your girlfriend, then you can tell me the truth."

I reluctantly pushed her off me and she stood awkwardly, before moving gracefully round to sit on Cynthia's lap. They kissed, tongues, hands on each others bodies, ignoring me and my hard-on. Finally they surfaced and grinned at each other. Swinging an arm around Cynthia's shoulder, Michelle looked at me with something approaching that look you get, you know the one, when you tread in a really big turd in your best shoes.

"Dad, and I use that term loosely, Cynthia's father apparently doesn't want her hanging round with women, especially a little tramp like me. He's a rock hard hetero and so insists that Cynth must be too. He's offered me money and also threatened me to get me to leave Cynth. And that's something that I won't do. Now he's allegedly putting out a contract on my head. He'll pay a hundred thousand quid to anyone who can remove me permanently from Cynthia's gloriously sensual arms."

"Fuck, what the hell does your Dad do?"

"He's a Councillor and has his own waste disposal business."

"Oh that Councillor Barlow! I seem to remember the last election, he stormed it, must be very well liked."

"Not really, he's an evil, twisted, manipulative sexist bastard, but there are some people who actually really just hate him."

"No redeeming features?"

"He sired me, but that's about it. My poor mother died a few years back and he's never forgiven her for it. Now he's always on the arm of some girl he's picked up at some club or other. Some are younger than me and our home is becoming a knocking shop. He doesn't care if I see them or not. He's even banged one in the lounge in front of us, just so we know how powerful he is."

"I'm guessing then, you don't want me to just call round and talk this through with him?"

"No, not quite, we want you to go and pose as a hitman, get him to offer you money to kill Shelly. We'll have you miked up and record it, then we hand him over to the cops."

"Well that's easy enough, we'll do it this afternoon." I paused, "Are you crazy? He'll never believe I'm a hitman, come on be honest, do I look like a killer?"

They both burst into laughter and shook their heads. I took that as an affirmation. I grinned too, it was ridiculous, I'd be out on my arse within a minute. Shelly got up and ambled into the kitchenette, I heard the kettle boil, then she returned with the only other mug I had steaming with boiling water. She opened her purse and her fingertips fluttered inside, I waited anxiously for whatever. She fished out a teabag and dropped it in the mug. I relaxed, then she pulled the small calibre pistol out and casually pointed it at me.

"Relax Daddy, I wouldn't kill you outright."

"That's a relief."

"No I'd shoot your balls off and let you bleed out."

"Fuck, put that down please."

"Shelly's a really good shot, she's won medals."

"You don't say?"

"Oh but I do. She has a definite knack with small bores."

"Excepting you of course Daddy."

"Thanks, look whatever you're feelings are about me in this situation, just relax. Well maybe I can pull this off."

"Ohh cheeky!"

"You tease."

They grinned and air kissed each other. Michelle put the gun on the table, then used my best (read: only) pen to fish out her tea bag. She walked round and aimed for the bin. Flicking the end, the hot tea bag flipped over and landed in my crotch. I grabbed it, but not before a hot wet patch appeared at the fly of my trousers.

"Silly me," she grinned and walked round to sit on Cynthia's knee again. She sat demurely knees together sipping her tea.

I rubbed a hanky over the damp spot, making it worse instead of better, giving up I pocketed the hanky, pushing it to the corner. I hoped it would soak up some of the dampness. Shelly finished her tea and dropped the mug on the table. the gun bounced slightly and I winced. Shelly picked it up and put it back in her purse, clicking the catch shut. I ran a hand through my thinning hair and looked at them both. Suddenly I saw through their bravado and underneath were two very vulnerable girls and I knew I would help no matter what.

"OK, I'll go see daddy and offer to take you out for a hundred thou. Then what?"

"See I told you he'd help, whatever else blood's thicker than water. Thank you Daddy."

Shelly swung her legs off of Cynthia and walked round the desk again. She sat in my lap, oblivious of the wet patch and kissed my cheek, wrapping her arms round me she hugged my tightly. My arms crept round her sides until I was able to close them and hug her back. We hung that way for a good five or six minutes. She sat up and kissed my lips.

"You're still a fucking shit for what you did to Mum, but I knew I could rely on you Dad."

She shifted and lifted, smoothed her skirt round her bottom and walked to the edge of the desk, sitting slowly she let it take her weight, which I estimated was barely anything at all. The pair of them were definitely size zero material.

"So, if we can get you wired up, are you game for say tomorrow morning?"

"Sure, where do we meet to set this up?"

"Here, ten thirty, I'll get something in his diary for eleven, OK with you?"

"Fine, I'm err.. between cases at the moment so you got me full time."

"And the rate is?"

"Shelly, you know I can't take money from you!"

"OK we'll work something out."

"OK, well tomorrow morning then?"

"By Dad,"

"By Shelly,"

"Bye Johnny,"

"Bye Cynthia."

Then they were gone, and I was alone again. Oh! how the day dragged. I knocked off early, about half eleven that morning, then went home. My crash pad was a one room affair, where I could eat and watch TV in bed, mainly because a bed and a TV were the only two items of furniture I had. I had an investment property but I rented it out, since this squalid little rats nest did me for now. I sat watching the daytime schedule spew out game shows, women talking, bargains in your loft, all that crap. I wasted the afternoon, snoozed during the evening, then hit the hay going straight off.

The next morning I sat watching the breakfast show and the news, all predictable until a sudden breaking update crashed into my consciousness. It seems one of Tommy Barlow's many admirers had saved me the trouble of a visit. Sometime early this morning they had entered his property, tied him up, cut his meat and two veg off and shoved it up his arse. Then just to show how really peeved they were, they then slit his throat and belly open, after hanging him upside down from the chandelier.

I heard the phone ring and answered, a near hysterical Shelly, clearly panicked, tried to talk, but all I got was sobs and cries. I patiently calmed her enough that she could write down my address, then sat back and waited. I heard the doorbell ring and opening the door was flattened against it as Shelly and Cynth stormed in. Shutting it I walked back into the lounge-bed-diner, they were huddled against the far wall crying fit to bust. I pulled them to me and just hugged them. As the tears subsided I relaxed my grip and offered them a choice of hot drinks. They refused and sat on the bed, amidst the rumpled sheets.

"Cynthia, I'm sorry about your Dad, I really am, whatever else you didn't deserve this happening."

"Dad, it's worse than that, much much worse than that."

"OK want to bring me up to speed?"

"You know yesterday morning at your office?"

"Yeess." I felt the hairs on my neck prickling.

"Well we used the equipment to test it worked."

"Okay so?" I extended my hands inviting them to continue.

"We recorded our meeting at your office."

"And...?"

It's all recorded on the receiver I had in my purse."

I rolled my eyes, I knew what was coming.

"We left it in Cynthia's bedroom and didn't have time to delete it, and by now the Police will have it."

"And then they'll likely want to talk to me and ascertain my whereabouts at the time of..."

"Exactly."

"Do you have an alibi Johnny?"

"To be frank no, I didn't consider it necessary, as I wasn't aware that your father was going to end up as an advert for an abbatoirs artwork."

"DAD!"

"Sorry but I'm completely fucked and you know it."

"They can't pin this on you surely? But I bet that they can hold you for questioning and stuff."

"Stuff?"

"When we saw what had happened we had to get out, so we emptied the safe,"

"Genius, pure bloody genius. I knew a formal education was wasted on you."

"Bastard!"

"Bitch!"

"Wait, wait, look, it's not your fault, either of you. But we need to lie low for a while, before we come in and volunteer information to the Police."

"Why?" Shelly and I said in unison.

"Because our prints are all over the safe Shelly and my Dad's strung up like a turkey at Christmas."

"I don't recall stuffing a Turkeys whatsits up it's arse, but I agree, we need to sort things round. How much did you get?"

"Seventy two thousand pounds."

"Whaaat?"

"It was his emergency fund, his running away money, just in case."

"Well at least we can hide in style, I'll call the Ritz... Joking. Look we need to go to the Police and tell them what's happened from our point of view and we'll be free clear."

"Not quite! I had a run in yesterday with him and said I'd slit his throat, rather than leave Shelly."

"Oh God!"

"Half the staff heard me say it, and they have the day off today."

"Who?..Why?"

"Me, I thought he would be more likely to say something if he knew no one would be there to hear it."

"Smart,"

"No really? oh! dumb huh?"

"No, no one could anticipate this, but why today?"

"Well I had the appointme.."

"No why pick today unless they knew he'd be on his own. Someone inside your house tipped them off, or did it."

"Someone on the staff?"

"Got to be."

"I told you he was smart, come on Dad, who could it be?"

"Smart Shelly, not psychic. How many staff do you have?"

"Nine, excluding the gardeners who come weekly."

"any newcomers?"

"No. Oh yes, Irene, she does the bedding, she took over from Lisa who left in a hurry."

"Really?"

"Dad, touched her up in the linen cupboard once too often, she complained, he sacked her and Irene appeared."

"Not approached her yet then?"

"She's not his type."

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