The New Client

The New Client by J.M. Snyder
Richard Guy is a private investigator who specializes in missing persons cases. Wealthy socialite Tiffany Murphy comes to him for help in locating her twin brother, Tommy, who left home and hasn't been heard from since. She's seen him turning tricks downtown and wants Richard's help in finding out why.

The moment he sees Tommy's picture, Richard wants to find the guy, but for his own reasons. He puts the word out on the street that he's interested, and it isn't long before Tommy takes the bait. Who would've thought the guy he was hired to find would turn out to be the one he'd been searching for his whole life?



Tiffany lay the photograph on the desk between us like a blackjack dealer turning cards. A young man smiled up at me -- I recognized those dark eyes and roguish curls. "This is Tommy," Tiffany said. "My twin brother."

"I noticed." Everything that made Tiffany a hot dame was there in her brother, and for the first time since she came in, I felt my temperature rise. I admit it -- I've always had a thing for dick. Fingering the edge of the photograph, I asked, "Who would lose a boy like this?"

With reproach, Tiffany said, "This boy is twenty-three. And we didn't lose him. Five years ago, we employed a gardener named Geoffrey Goderich. He was a rough man, coarse, unrefined. Common, if you get my drift." I thought I did. Tiffany continued, "Tommy took to him immediately. I don't know what he saw in that man. Followed him around the yard like a puppy, and several times the maids caught them in the arbor in a variety of compromising positions. The amount we paid to keep that quiet! Father was livid."

I glanced at the photograph again -- so Tommy had a thing for dick too, eh? This case sounded promising. "So what happened?"

Tiffany shrugged, a move that settled her long curls about her shoulders. "Once the landscaping was done," she said, "we let Geoffrey go and assumed that would be the end of it. Two days later, Tommy was gone, too. No note, no goodbye, nothing."

"And you haven't seen him since?" I asked, jotting down the name Goderich on a notepad I kept by the phone. It didn't ring any bells.

"Oh, I've seen him," Tiffany assured me. When I raised an eyebrow, she explained, "Down in the Castro." Ah yes, 'Frisco's famous queer quarter. She saw the look on my face and nodded, triumphant. "Yes, there. Corner of 18th and Castro, last Saturday night. It was the first time I've seen him in years, and you can just imagine what's been running through my mind ever since, seeing my own brother on the street like a common hooker. Did Geoffrey put him up to it? Is this the only way he can make ends meet now?"

I took down her questions in shorthand under Goderich's name. Tiffany frowned at the squiggles and added, "He has a trust fund, Mr. Guy. Quarter of a million dollars, half the family fortune, saved away in his name. Once he turned eighteen, he was granted full access to the account. And has he touched it? No, not one penny. I don't even want to think about how he's making a living. I don't want to know --"

I interrupted her. "But you do." At her quizzical expression, I noted, "You're here, aren't you? Hiring me to find him, though it sounds like you already know where he is."

"I want to know where he's staying," Tiffany said, ticking off each demand on her long, perfectly manicured fingers. "I want to know that he's alright. That he's not being forced to do ... whatever it is he's doing now. I want him to know he's welcome home whenever he wants to come back, no matter what Father's said to the contrary." Her voice softened, and she told me, "I want him to know that I care. Can you find him and tell him that for me?"

I stared at Tommy's photograph. If he was turning tricks down in the Castro ... well, it was his own life, right? He was old enough to call the shots. But if he was half as sexy as his twin sister, and liked to hustle to boot ... I used the head in my pants to make up my mind. "Five hundred up front," I told her, and Tiffany pulled out a checkbook from the pocket of her raincoat without blinking an eye. "I'll find him, talk to him, see if I can answer your questions. I don't guarantee that he'll come running home with open arms or anything like that. I can't even promise that he'll call you." Tiffany nodded as she wrote out the check. I glanced at Tommy's picture again and shifted in my seat to relieve the sudden pressure in my groin. "It's another five hundred when we meet again. I'll have a full report for you then."

"When?" she wanted to know.

"Give me a week," I said. "I'll call you when I have something. And I keep the photo."