Part One: Dial "B" for Birther
He said his name was The Donald. I should have known the foof spelled trouble when he walked into my office and started blathering about the President’s birth certificate.
I stubbed out my Lucky Strike and glanced up at him, taking in the $12,000 Armani suit, the perfectly bronzed-yet-bloated face, lapis lazuli eyes as blue-as-the-Blue Lagoon. I half expected Brooke Shields to go swimming across them, one to the other, with Christopher Atkins in hot pursuit. And of course that brass-blond thing on top of his skull he called his hair, all combed forward in a crazy swoop, held in place with enough hairspray to blow a hole in ten ozones. It reminded me of cotton candy. Or maybe a dead marmot.
“That thing on your head,” I said, splashing a shot of bourbon into a Styrofoam cup. “Has it had its shots?”
He didn’t like that. The half-crazed, half-stupid look in his eye caught fire and he leaned back in his chair. “You’re fired,” he said, lifting his chin defiantly.
I raised the Styrofoam cup to my lips. “You can’t fire me. You haven’t hired me yet.”
He pursed his lips, eyeing me across the desk like a proctologist studying a polyp. “That’s true,” he said. “You’re a smart guy. I need a smart guy like you, Stain. That is your name, isn’t it? Samuel Stain, Private Eye?”
“That’s what it says on the door,” I said, nodding at the flaking sign on the frosted glass window, right above the bullet hole. Souvenir from an old client. I really should have got that fixed.
He pulled an airline ticket out of his pocket and dropped it on my desk. “How’d you like to spend a week in Hawaii, all expenses paid? Plus your fee, of course.”
The bourbon came shooting out of my mouth like Old Faithful and splashed down on his expensive silk shirt. It had been yellow when he sat down. Now there was a dark brown stain spreading across the front, with little flecks of green. That would be the relish from the hot dog I’d had for lunch. Oops.
“The dry cleaning comes out of your bill,” he said.
“Tell me what I need to know, Mr. Trump.” I refilled the Styrofoam cup, lit another Lucky Strike, put my feet on my desk and listened.
Turned out he’d been peddling his story for the past few weeks on every talk show in the country. The one about the President not being born in this country. Nobody believed it, except for the wing-nuts. I shouldn’t have either. But when someone waves an all-expenses paid trip to paradise in your face, you don’t say no. Not to The Donald, anyway. Maybe that’s why I didn’t throw the foof out of my office. Or maybe it was the picture I had in my head. The one of a pale, tired sap, broke and going nowhere, lying on a sun-splashed Waikiki beach next to a gorgeous bottle blonde. She was wearing a little green bikini with pink polka dots on it, like in the song, only hers held a pair of gun turrets the size of the ones on those sunken battleships at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. I kept listening.
He was after the President’s birth certificate. The original. He’d sent two tough guys from Jersey out to the islands to get it. That was a month ago. At first they’d reported back regular by phone. Twice a day, like clockwork. We’re making progress, they’d said. You won’t believe the stuff we’re finding out here, they’d said. It’ll blow the doors off this whole story. They said. Then suddenly, three days ago, the phone calls stopped. He tried calling them. No luck. So he called the hotel where he’d put them up. The Trump International, of course.
“It’s a beautiful 38-story property, located just steps away from Waikiki’s famous white sand beaches.” He sounded like a bad infomercial. “With gorgeous views of the Pacific, Diamond Head, the Honolulu skyline, and the magnificent Ko’olau Mountains. It’s opulent. You can’t beat it, Stain.”
I stared at him, at the soft, almost imperceptible tan-lines around his eyes, those lapis lazuli eyes that pulled me in, like the sparkling cerulean waters of the Pacific.
I took a long drag off the Lucky Strike and blew smoke rings at him across the desk. “Opulent,” I said. “Huh. So did you find out what happened to the Jersey boys or what?”
He shook his head, but his hair didn’t move. “No, Stain. I didn’t. The girl I spoke with at the hotel, delightful girl, Phyllis, I think her name was, said they’d checked out. No idea where they went. I’ve checked up with their associates in Jersey. Nobody’s heard a thing from them. They've disappeared, Stain.”
“And you want me to go find them,” I said.
“That’s right,” said The Donald. “Find out what happened. What they found out about Obama. I want to know it all, Stain. Everything. And if you do find them, tell them, for me, they’re fired.”
I looked down at the airline ticket on my desk. I hadn’t had a vacation since I was ten. My old man took me to Coney Island for the afternoon. I ate three elephant’s ears and threw up on the Tilt o’ Whirl. Some vacation. I grabbed the ticket.
On his way out, Trump stopped at the door and spoke at me over his shoulder. “One more thing, Stain. I don’t just want the birth certificate now. I need more proof.”
My eyes widened. “More proof than a birth certificate? Like what?”
He turned toward me, the blue-as-the-Blue Lagoon eyes gazing down from his oh-so perfectly tanned face. “I want the placenta,” he said. Then he went out, closing the door behind him. His shadow paused on the other side as he turned toward the frosted glass. I saw his lips move through the bullet hole in the window. They said, “Get me the President’s placenta, Stain, or you’re fired.”
TO BE CONTINUED