Woody allen, “the whore of mensa”

THE CLIENT

One thing about being a private investigator, you’ve got to learn to go with your hunches. That’s why when a quivering pat of butter named Word Babcock walked into my office and laid his cards on the table, I should have trusted the cold chill that shot up my spine.

“Kaiser?” he said. “Kaiser Lupowitz?”

“That’s what it says on my license,” I owned up.

“You’ve got to help me. I’m being blackmailed. Please!” He was shaking like the lead singer in a rumba band. I pushed a glass across the desk top and a bottle of rye I keep handy for nonmedicinal purposes.

“Suppose you relax and tell me all about it.”

“You… you won’t tell my wife?”

“Level with me, Word. I can’t make any promises.” He tried pouring a drink, but you could hear the clicking sound across the street, and most of the stuff wound up in his shoes.

“I’m a working guy,” he said. “Mechanical maintenance. I build and service joy buzzers. You know – those little fun gimmicks that give people a shock when they shake hands?”

“So?”

“A lot of your executives like ’em. Particularly down on Wall Street.”

“Get to the point.”

“I’m on the road a lot. You know how it is – lonely. Oh, not what you’re thinking. See, Kaiser, I’m basically an intellectual. Sure, a guy can meet all the bimbos he wants. But the really brainy women – they’re not so easy to find on short notice.”

“Keep talking.”

“Well, I heard of this young girl. Eighteen years old. A Yassar student. For a price, she’ll come over and discuss any subject – Proust, Yeats, anthropology. Exchange of ideas. You see what I’m driving at?”

“Not exactly.”

“I

mean my wife is great, don’t get me wrong. But she won’t discuss Pound with me. Or Eliot. I didn’t know that when I married her. See, I need a woman who’s mentally stimulating, Kaiser. And I’m willing to pay for it. I don’t want an involvement – I want a quick intellectual experience, then I want the girl to leave. Christ, Kaiser, I’m a happily married man.”

“How long has this been going on?”

“Six months. Whenever I have that craving, I call Flossie. She’s a madam, with a Master’s in Comparative Lit. She sends me over an intellectual, see?”

So he was one of those guys whose weakness was really bright women. I felt sorry for the poor sap. I figured there must be a lot of jokers in his position, who were starved for a little intellectual communication with the opposite sex and would pay through the nose for it.

“Now she’s threatening to tell my wife,” he said.

“Who is?”

“Flossie. They bugged the motel room. They got tapes of me discussing The Waste Land and Styles of Radical Will, and, well, really getting into some issues. They want ten grand or they go to Carla. Kaiser, you’ve got to help me! Carla would die if she knew she didn’t turn me on up here.” The old call-girl racket. I had heard rumors that the boys at headquarters were on to something involving a group of educated women, but so far they were stymied.

“Get Flossie on the phone for me.”

“What?”

“I’ll take your case, Word. But I get fifty dollars a day, plus expenses. You’ll have to repair a lot of joy buzzers.” “It won’t be ten G’s worth, I’m sure of that,” he said with a grin, and picked up the phone and dialed a number. I took it from him and winked. I was beginning to like him.

THE SETUP

Seconds later, a silky voice answered, and I told her what was on my mind. “I understand you can help me set up an hour of good chat,” I said.

“Sure, honey. What do you have in mind?”

“I’d like to discuss Melville.



my favourite detective film
Woody allen, “the whore of mensa”