There comes a time in every P.I.'s life when he ends up his own client. My pal Murray used to say, "Better a gumshoe who's his own client than a heart surgeon". Of course that was before Murray went to jail. A leggy blond with a huge rack hitting on a scrawny kid from Sausalito is about as out of place as Michael Phelps at a public pool wearing a pair of orange floaties, but Murray always did think with his lower brain. Until the cops fished her out, the blond spent the better part of a week at the bottom of the East River with a knife in her back, a gag in her mouth, and Murray's finger prints all over her like Amy Winehouse at a free meth handout. Murray? Well, Murray ended up getting a double life sentence despite the fact that it was an obvious set up.
The point is, when it's your ass on the line, when push comes to shove, that's when the real detectives are separated from the kids with the Fisher Price action detective play set. It's the time when the Holmes of the world show their stuff. The Columbos. The Magnums.
My first self client case wasn't anything quite so serious as a murder rap, but that didn't make it any easier. Any sleuth worth his salt will tell you that even the smallest mystery carries with it a certain urgency. Every folder you place in the U filing cabinet under "Unsolved" is reminder of your own failings. They weigh you down. They keep you up at night.
This particular case revolved around a unique missing item, or I should say set of missing items. Umbrellas in fact, but not just any umbrellas. These were those special white umbrellas they use when you go to a professional photog.
You see, in my younger days my associate Adam O and I had fancied ourselves pioneers in the independent movie market. We were young and full of dreams. It was a time of innocence, before the real world had chewed me up and spit me out a hardened man. Back then, every day was a new adventure and the world was my oyster. I don't see Adam much anymore. Not like the old days anyhow. He was seduced by a frisky frau from Berlin and has since taken up residency across the pond.
In our youth we'd saved and bought some doodads that we were sure would assist us on our way to our directorial destiny. Adam had a fancy Japanese made microphone, and I had purchased a professional lighting kit complete with umbrellas.
I had all but forgotten that lighting kit until an August afternoon many years later I had need of it once again. With the economy in a downturn and most people turning to Google for their answers, work had been slow. I found myself working key grip on the set of a motion picture titled, "How to Build a Chair". It was a small job, but it filled the space in between cases. Everything was ready to shoot except for the lights. The fluorescent bulbs of the set just weren't cutting the havarti, and we need something a little better. Something a little more professional.