The little man sat back in his chair, put his feet up, and lit a cigarette, blowing tiny smoke rings at the ceiling. Normally, I would tell him to put out the cigarette because my editor’s office is of the no smoking variety, but I had done plenty of illegal shit in the past few weeks so I let him slide. He was wearing a little elf outfit, the pointy shoes, the pointy hat, the little green jacket festooned with bells and ribbons, even the striped tights that couldn’t have been comfortable around his nuts.
“So, what have you found out?” I asked impatiently.
The little man was looking nowhere in particular, watching a little gray ring dance through the air until it blew apart.
“Which part do you want first?” he asked. “The good part, or the really good part?”
I couldn’t help but rub my hands together menacingly and let out a maniacal laugh. Hiring him had turned out to be lucrative; considering I had hired many past mistakes, this elf had made me quite insane with holiday glee. When you are an editor for a less-than-reputable newspaper you’ve got to take chances to get readers roped into the gimmick. I had already taken a loan out to keep the paper going and was eying my son’s college fund, but I didn’t want to go there. I hired the midget in desperation and it was working out splendidly.
“I spent a week watching Chett bang young women on his couch and floor,” the elf said. “It took me a week to find out he had erectile dysfunction, probably why he got divorced? Or maybe it was because he was plowing those barely legals.” The little man shrugged. “Either way,” and the elf took a bottle of pills from his pocket and threw it on my table, “the man needs dick pills.”
There, on the front of the pill bottle, was Chett’s name clear as a crystal. My heart leapt. What a ruse, I thought. I could picture this little man standing in actor Chett Munrow’s front yard dressed as an elf, blending in with Chett’s manger scene, until nightfall when he struck out with a camera and invaded Chett’s life. I could imagine all the good stuff he got into in a week’s time. Barely legal girls was a good start, boner pills were even better, but the elf said there was even better news.
“Alright, this is great stuff,” I said. “Now, what about the really good part you were talking about?”
The elf blew another smoke ring, put out his cigarette in a plant on my desk, lit another cigarette, then took out his cell phone, opened it, and handed it to me. I recoiled in horror.
“Christ, man, what the hell is this?!” I cried, rising from my desk, throwing the cell phone down.
The elf smiled, “That’s what he does Saturday nights when he has the house to himself.” I could tell the elf was a little shaky, but his job was done, he would never have to go back to Chett’s house for me. This was more than enough.
I was breathing heavy from excitement, maybe from fear. “You don’t need to go back, you will get your check in the mail,” I said. I looked at the picture again and suddenly my fear changed to fantasy as I realized the best lead I’ve ever received in my professional career was given to me by an elf.
“Here’s the thing,” the elf said, motioning carelessly with his smoking hand toward the window. “My girlfriend is in the car and she is in a lot of pain, she’s gonna have some serious medical bills, so I’m gonna need more money. A lot more money.”
I looked at him with a furious countenance. “Are you extorting me? Why don’t I just kick your little ass and take your cell phone? It has the picture I need. I could just hang you from my window as a martyr.”
“Hey, hey, hey,” the elf said. “Don’t be hostile. I’m only lamenting my future risk at releasing these photos. Chett Munrow is gonna be looking for the guy who ruined his life, and when he finds me he’s not going to give me a kiss.”
I put the cell phone down agreeing with him by default. I knew he was right. “You have me by the balls here,” I said.
“I know,” the elf said and put a slip of paper on my desk. “That’s my price there, I’d like to see it in a week.” He got up from his seat, collected his cell phone, went to the door and added, “The police would hate to find out the editor of a newspaper they’re not very fond of was illegally hiring midgets dressed as elves to snoop around people’s houses … and keep in mind how much I like to talk.” He smiled a toothy little smile. “Shut my mouth with money and I’ll send you your pictures.”
I nodded and put up my hand, waved him out. I had precious few moments to consider my kid’s college fund before the bank closed. I wasn’t a gambling man necessarily, but I was willing to wager these photos would see a renewed interest in the city’s most hated newspaper. I shook off the thought of my son’s future and called the bank to transfer some funds. Though, it was hard to talk to the teller without thinking about Chett Murow dressed as his ex-wife, slashing a young woman’s throat in his basement. The multitude of purses and shoes on ledges in the photo led me to wonder how far he had taken his Saturday night hobby.