I said show her in and Thelma sashayed to the door in her tight satin dress: that dame had more moving parts than my Benrus watch.

Moments later, my first client in weeks tottered in on stiletto-heels, worrying a tissue in her fingers while periodically blowing her nose like a Frisco fog-horn. This broad was upset; or if she caught a cold NyQuil was heading into a new tax bracket.

Eldorado Schmendrickson had splashed out for the togs and accoutrements right enough, but she was still the Tenderloin District trying to pass for Pacific Heights. The peroxide blonde turned up her cute nose-job at my half-bottle of rye, even though it was the real deal and aged a full two weeks.

“Gimme the bird!” she exclaimed: usually I had to start divorce proceedings before reaching that stage. I asked her to explain and she started in.

“I must have it! It’s priceless!” she gasped. “Made by the 12th Century Knights of Malta but left behind at Tel Aviv airport when the Crusaders flew home. The Saracens lost it to the Persians in a poker game but if the US Government got it, that would pay for another round of Quantitative Easing. So it all comes down to Mansour Arbabsiar.”

I cut her short: “Look, Toots, my credit-rating may be even worse than Ben Bernanke’s but I still got a dime for a newspaper.” Everybody on the street had heard of the Iranian-born, Texas schlemozzle who the flat-foots accused of trying to biff some diplomat camel-jockey.

“But it’s all true,” the dame insisted. “The Iranians, the Saudi ambassador, Arbabsiar, the Mexican drug cartel.”

“Says you,” I replied, breaking the filter off my Marlboro before applying my trusty Kuwait War Zippo. I never understood the point of filter-tips; like condoms for cigarettes.

”If Iran is so full of dangerous nut-jobs,” I asked, “why not use one of their own guys with an exploding jock-strap instead of contracting out the dirty work to the Mexicans? It’s like going from the Axis of Evils to the Excess of Weevils.”

Eldorado stared in silence: we hadn’t even discussed my fee.

I blew a smoke-ring toward the ceiling-fan and thought aloud: “If they don’t want to use an Iranian then why not do the hiring abroad instead of here in America, where 99.6 percent of supposed terrorists are undercover cops? Couldn’t the Iranians more safely cook up a terrorist deal in the Middle East? Or was that the week when all their suicide-bombers go on vacation, or hold their annual convention like the Shriners?”

Her eyes teared up and her shoulders began to heave but I continued without mercy: the broad was only playing for sympathy.

 “Okay, Babe,” I explained, “say that they can’t find a suicide bomber because the Persian ones want expensive medical benefits for after they blow themselves up: maybe it’s a union thing. So Iran, which the Federales say runs a huge network of spies across Latin America, really needs a Texas used-car salesman to find a Latino gangster? Their embassies in Bogota, Caracas or Mexico City could have made a local phone call and it would have been cheaper.”

Tears began to cascade down her rosy cheeks: someone in this burg was selling water-proof rouge. “It is not a lie!” she insisted, “Arbabsiar is a killer.”

“All he killed so far,” I replied, ”is about a quart of Four Roses per sitting, but that isn’t bad going for an alky who’s supposed to be a Muslim radical. What’s his opinion on pork-rinds?”

She began to work her sinuses like a surfacing sperm whale. “Help us put him behind bars,” she begged. “Convince your conservative and libertarian friends to invade Iran. The Neo-Cons are right! Everything that our government tells us is true,” she pleaded.

“Simmer down, Sweetcheeks,” I continued. “Let’s assume that the fiendish, terrorist masterminds in Iran really need a gringo dipso to find a Mexican gunsel. Then, when their boy thinks he found one, he offers a hundred grand up front to dynamite some DC diner. A thousand Ben Franklins is one helluva down-payment for a guy he never met before. How did Professor Kebab-siar know that this campesino wasn’t working the night-shift at Taco Bell?”

Turning the other way, she shuddered and honked some more.

“Then Agent Double-O-Zero, our ex-Persian James-Bomb, asks Juan Valdez if he knows how to use explosives: this is like paying a guy for a boob-job before you know if he went to medical school. The only people dumb enough to believe this story work for Fox News.”

The bottle-blonde whimpered again, but louder.

Staring into her reddened eyes, I concluded: “I think our under-cover cop masquerading as a Mexican terrorist, call him Manuel Labor, poured two fifths of tequila into the bankrupt, used-Chevy dealer, offered him mucho-dinero and taped the conversation for evidence.”

Despite the tears, Miss Schmendrickson was as tough as case-hardened steel, but you learn on the street that Occam’s Razor can sometimes beat a blade. Sure enough, she shifted her strategy as fast as if somebody threw an electric switch: she reached over my desk and began to stroke my arm.

“You are so smart, so strong,” she purred. “This is why Eric…I mean…this is why I need your help.”

“Eric? Eric Holder?” I asked, recoiling as if snake-bitten. “US Attorney General Eric Holder?”

“Oh, no!” she cried out in despair. Then Eldorado gulped and nodded: the look in her eyes told me everything.

Trust a broad to stop at nothing for the man she loves.

If they could dummy up a war with Iran, voters might be distracted from economic melt-down, her boyfriend’s boss might get re-elected and Eric wouldn’t need to chase ambulances in Encino. They could have a life together.

I pressed the intercom button: “Thelma, please take Miss Schmendrickson downstairs and get her into a cab.” As Eldorado dried her eyes and collected her belongings, I almost felt sorry for her.

When she reached the door I called out: “Wait, what about the bird?”

She smiled the way that dames do when they get the rug pulled out from under them. “Never mind,” she said softly.

“The bird, does it exist?” I insisted.

Eldorado sighed. “We made up that part too,” she explained at the door. “It’s the stuff that dreams are made of, just like US foreign policy.”

I pressed the button again: “Thelma, I still got a half-bottle of rye. When you come back upstairs, bring your own glass.”

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