Illustrated by Mark Fults

I've known Richard Logan since the early sixties, when he sold some action paperbacks. He's no spring chicken, but he's kept writing -- just no other sales. Like me, he's continued to write, and mainly for his own amusement.

When I saw this one, I was amused by it -- so here it is. ShelVy

“PI of the Future”

My secretary, Millie, is a real looker – what the kids would call ‘Zim-Zam’. Of course, the kids don’t make no sense, never did, but even worse now that the zonkers came zooming in from their galaxy.

Millie – long legs, short skirt, big boobs and wavy blonde hair – was standing there, baby-blues focused on the big wall screen.

“There’s a crime wave coming, Mike,” she said.

I snorted.

“There is! Look, those three yellow dots means there were three muggings in the city in just the last five minutes!”

“Dunno why you watch that gadget, Millie,” I said – but I liked to watch her standing there watching it. “That Crime ‘Caster ain’t no better’n the old Weather Channel used to be.” Millie was full of these modern ideas, which was against her (where I’d like to be, but she’s a bit stand-offish) but also part of why the Spillane Trust hired her. Me, I’m old-fashioned. But my dad’s Trust told me that if I wanted to set up a Private Eye office, they wanted the money spent in ways that could keep me moving right.

So – Millie.

Guess they were right. Since then, there’ve been lotsa cases, lotsa publicity, lotsa business. Only thing there hadn’t been was lotsa Millie – in the way I want her.

“It’s the real thing, Mike,” Millie was saying. “They take everything into consideration – politics, crime reports, even the weather. Hot weather, like we’re having now, causes tempers to flare and things go crazy. Look!” she said, excited, “There’s another mugging, not five blocks from here!” She turned those baby blues to me.

“Doll, I don’t care what kind of gadgets they come up with.” I nodded at my size twelve brogans I had resting on the top of my desk. “That’s the answer to crime, even today! Track down stoolies, take me where clues are, even kick butt when needed.” I patted my jacket where my shoulder holster was. “Them shoes and my .45 are all I need! A slug’s a lot better than a needle-gun. I don’t wanta wait for drugs to take effect.”

“Some of those drugs are instantaneous,” Millie said. “You need to keep up-to-date on science.”

"I don't care what science does, sweetheart; people will still stay people, whether they use spears or rayguns."

“At least people are modern! More than I can say for that wreck you drive.”

“’Wreck’? That’s a reconditioned Chevy ’57,” I told her, real indignant. “It’s a classic!”

“So you squeal around on rubber tires while everybody else floats by, real smooth,” she said, sarcastically.

The phone pinged.

‘Pinged’! That was Millie, too. A phone should have a healthy ring to it, but Millie liked the ‘ping’ and she was my secretary, so. . . .

“Mike Spillane’s office,” Millie said to the empty air. I like holding a real phone to my ear, but Millie wanted ‘modern’. I asked her to say, ‘Mike Spillane, Private Eye’, but she said that was silly.

"Lemme talk to Mike; this is Lt Levins of Homicide West."

"I'm here, Loot," I said. "Whatcha got?"

"Business," Rivers said brusquely. "Unusual business, which puts it right up your alley."

"What kind?"

"I don't trust these so-called ‘secure' lines, Mike. Drop by my office quick as you can."

"Be right there!" I said, then added, "Of course, I'll hafta reschedule my cases a bit to accommodate you."

The homicide detective snorted. "Don't pull that ‘I'm busy as hell' routine on me, Mike – I know you! Just get over here." The line went dead.

Millie smiled. "Seems your detective friend knows you, Mike; it's been over a week since your last case."

Getting up, I grinned at her. "Don't hurt to try, sweetheart! Keep things tight." I grabbed my sagging felt hat from the hatrack by the door and left.

At Levins' office, my jaw was sagging. "An alien wants to hire me?"

The lieutenant nodded. "At least, he wants a private eye. When he first said that, I thought he was talking about some spy gadget but, no, he's been watching lots of old TV shows and knows all about your kind."

"‘My kind'?" I grinned. "Sounds kinda derogatory, Levins."

"Which would you prefer – bringing a discrimination case against me, or having a client?"

"You know the answer to that!"

"Even though the client is an alien?"

"I've been told their money's as good as anybody else's. Where is he/she/it?"

The lieutenant shook his head. "Not so fast, my friend. Dealing with aliens means you gotta go through government channels. The FBI will be here in a sec."

"The FBI? You're kidding, aren't you?"

Lt Levins, a tall and lanky man with black hair, shook his head. "Alien stuff is big politics. We don't want to get on their bad side. As soon as I found out an alien had been killed, the first thing I did was call Washington."

"An alien was killed?" I said, startled. "I hadn't heard anything about that!"

"You wouldn't know now, if the brother hadn't wanted to hire you! This isn't the kind of thing we – or they – want publicity about. You're going to have to keep this close to your vest, Mike."

I paused, thinking quickly, then asked, "Who benefits from the alien's death?"

"Nobody!" Levins said. "Not that we know of, anyway," he added.

"Then who does it hurt?"

The lieutenant's eyes widened, then he smiled. "That's what I like about you, Mike; you have a sharp mind. I was on this for over an hour before that occurred to me."

I grinned. "That's because of your disadvantage, Jerry."

Jerry Levin raised an eyebrow. "My disadvantage?"

"Yeah," I nodded, giving a smug smile. "You're honest! You hafta think like a crook to be able to outwit a crook."

"You're telling me that the reason you aced the Police Academy is because you're a crook?"

"That still bugs you, doesn't it, Jerry?"

The homicide lieutenant grinned. "Nobody likes to see their best friend beat ‘em, Mike! But," he added, "I still can't see why, with a legitimate career ahead of you, you opted out and went into business on your own."

"Same reason you called in the FBI."

"Huh?"

"I should say, the reason you called in the FBI is what I was rebelling against. You've gotta do things through channels, by the book; I write my own book." I pushed back my hat and grinned at him. "Saves time changing the rules, if I make my own rules."

"Well, you got some rules now, buddy. This alien stuff is too important to let some smartass egotist mess up. According to Guy –"

"Guy? Who's he?"

"He's part of the FBI team who'll be here any time now – in fact," Jerry added, "here he is now."

I looked around to see two men approaching; one short and pudgy with a round face to match his body, one tall and handsome as a TV star – and with a visible attitude that showed that he knew it. The handsome one put a hand out to my friend. "Lt Levins," he said. "It's a pleasure to meet you."

Jerry took his hand but didn't return the compliment. I couldn’t blame him. "Agent Samson," he said, then shook the pudgy man's hand. "Agent Guy Bowdrich." He looked at me. "This is Mike Spillane, the private detective I told you about."

I had no difficulty disliking Samson. The man was wearing a stylish three-piece suit, a crisp white shirt, a four-in-hand knotted tie, and the hat on his head had a sharp snap-brim. I wondered who the hell his stylist was as I took the jerk's hand.

Samson made the mistake of trying to impress me with his grip. I bore down, and was rewarded by seeing Samson's face tighten as he resisted a pained expression.

"How was the alien killed, Samson?" I asked, releasing my grip.

"You're not here to ask questions, Spillane," the FBI man said. "You're here to listen to the rules. This is important government business."

I nodded. "And it's a murder I'm hired to solve. I can't do much without information, and you have it. How was he killed?"

Samson straightened up, his face grim. "Spillane –"

"Shot with an arrow," the pudgy man said, interrupting. "From a really strong bow, probably a pneumatic power bow. Sam," he added, looking at his partner, "Spillane is right. It's his job, and we're here to see he completes it." His voice was soft, but there was no mistaking the strength behind it.

Samson stared at him resentfully. "This bozo has to do things right, Bowdrich! We can't have him –"

"We can't have him fail, Sam. This is too important to take any chances."

"But that's just it! Spillane is known for taking chances, stepping outside the law, doing things his own way. This has to be done by the book."

"Spillane is known for getting results, Sam. Results are what we need." He looked at the private detective. "Samson's right, Spillane; this is something the government is deeply involved in. We can't afford to have the aliens offended and leave. They've already given us a lot of advancement, and we need all we can get. Besides, they tell us there are other aliens out there who aren't as friendly. We need them as allies! We can't have this used against us. Those are the rules you can't break, Spillane; we need to protect our relationship."

I nodded. "Understood. Let's get started."

***

Elsewhere –

She was wearing filmy pantaloons with tight-fitting red panties and a red bra that was barely sufficient for the job. She tossed her long, dark hair back and it settled, hanging below her shoulders. “How’s this?” she asked the man watching her.

He was in his young twenties, and beaming. His name was William Moot. Spiky blond hair stood up on his head. “Sex-eeee,” he said, and whistled. “I didn’t know you zonkers could do that. Wow!”

“It isn’t easy,” she responded tartly. “You humans have strange bodies. But -- do you think it will do? All the stories I’ve followed indicate that your private eyes like pretty females of the species.”

“Any male of my species would like you, Ahkee'seen.” the young man said approvingly.

A flying serpent drifted into the room, encircled the girl’s waist, and rested its head on her shoulder. Absently, Ahkee'seen stroked its head.

Moot shuddered. “They’re poison, aren’t they?” he asked nervously.

“A drop of their venom would kill an army of my people,” she said. “I doubt if humans will do any better.”

“You’d. . .ah, you’d do better without it,” the blond said, timidly.

“Oh?”

“. . .Well, humans aren’t used to ‘em and wouldn’t like ‘em. If you want to get that private eye relaxed and in your control, ditch the snake.”

“At’m is NOT a snake,” the girl said, resentful. “She is my pet.”

“Look,” Moot said, “you’re paying me for advice.” Paying me quite well, too, he thought to himself. So what if I’m selling out my people? The price, as they say, is right! “If you want to get your money’s worth, better pay attention! Your getup is great for attracting a guy, but. . .At’m. . .” he said, struggling with the name, “is guaranteed to chase him away.”

Ahkee'seen glared at Moot for a moment, then shrugged. “As you say, that is why we pay you.” She whispered into At’m’s ear, and it flew away. “But,” she added to Moot, “she will always be near.”

The blond shrugged. “They say, ‘Out of sight, out of mind.’ Works for me.” Again, his eyes took in Ahkee'seen. “Now we’ve gotta arrange the meet.”

--------

After finishing with the FBI, I dropped in on a couple of stoolies I know and chatted awhile before I knocked off for the night.

The next morning, when I opened the office door, I had a surprise – a pleasant one. Millie was wearing stylish boots. . .and not much else! Oh, she was covered, but mostly by filmy stuff you could see right through, like puffy pantaloons that caressed her legs in a way I envied. They dropped down from a skimpy blue bikini bottom. A long-sleeved, see-through blouse was aided by concentric brass circles that covered her breasts.

She blushed as she looked at me, then quickly looked away. “I just wanted to prepare you for your appointment,” she said,trying to sound cold and lady-like. Then she looked at me defiantly and said, “She came in yesterday after you left, wanting an appointment. She was dressed. . .or undressed – like this. I just wanted you to be prepared.”

I grinned broadly, enjoying the view. “Millie,” I said, trying to sound serious, “I really appreciate your sacrifice.”

Fire came into her eyes. “You'd better!” she snapped. She seated herself at her desk and gave me a level look. “What did you find out?”

“An alien has been killed, and his brother zonker wants me to find the killer.”

Millie's eyes widened. For a moment, she forgot how she was dressed. “Mike! That's a really big case! An interplanetary murder case!”

I nodded, almost forgetting myself how she was attired. “Talked with a couple of guys after. Found out the zonkers are divided – some want to be nice, some don't. Politics!” I snorted. “Even aliens have intrigue and back-stabbing. I didn't let on that one was killed,” I added, reassuringly, “but I'll bet the bad aliens are trying to stir things up for the good ones.”

Remembering what she had said about today's appointment, I asked, “When's she coming in?”

Millie glanced at the clock. “Any time now. . .that's probably her,” she added, as the door opened.

I looked at the woman coming through the door, and saw what Millie meant. If anything, her outfit was even more skimpy. The bra was smaller, and had move to cover.

She looked at me, started to smile, then caught a look at Millie. “You bitch!” she exclaimed.

Millie shot to her feet. “Hey, you aren't the only one can dress sexy!” Millie said.

The newcomer slapped Millie, and then I had a real cat-fight on my hands. Not just hair-pulling and name-calling; fists were flying and manicured nails were slashing. I did the bravest thing I've ever done in my life.

I stepped between them.

Grabbing Millie by the shoulders, I used a foot to push the newcomer back. “Millie!” I said, right into her face.

“She started it!” Millie muttered, her tongue wiping blood from her lip.

Where was the cool, reserved Millie I was used to? . . .I wasn't sure but, when I looked at her in that revealing getup, I wasn't objecting.

Firmly, I backed her onto the seat at her secretarial desk. “Sit!” I said. “Stay!” Then I turned to the newcomer. “You too!” I said, pointing at the client's chair in front of my desk.

Heat was still in her black eyes, but she sank into the chair.

. . .Black eyes? Or did she have no pupils? I had never seen eyes like those before. A thought was trying to come to the surface of my brain, but it was interrupted.

She smiled.

Now, I've been smiled at before, but never like that! Her full lips were making promises, the corners of her eyes crinkled, her eyebrows did interesting things – 'dazzling' would be an understatement! It was as if she had taken all the best parts of every video sex star's smile and topped it.

“Mr Spillane – may I call you Mike?” she said in a voice that was also in a class to itself – or, at the top of the class of sultry voices. “I would like to meet with you. . .privately.” She didn't look at Millie. She didn't have to; her meaning was obvious.

“Millie is my secretary and my assistant,” I finally managed to say. “We can talk freely here. I tell her everything.”

“Even about your. . .personal life?” she asked, her meaning obvious. I've had gals come on to me before, but never like this!

Why?

Well, there was only one way I knew to find out. Taking a deep breath, I looked at Millie and winked, hoping she'd get my message. “When and where?” I asked the potential client.

Smiling with obvious satisfaction, she gave me the name of a hotel in the edge of town, and a room number. “In thirty minutes,” she added.

“I'll be there,” I promised. With a provocative swing of her hips, the woman went out the door.

“Mike!' Millie exclaimed, getting to her feet. “She's up to something, and I don't think it's good!”

I nodded. “You're right, Millie. But the only way I can find out what it is will be to go along with her.”

Millie bit her lip, then opened a drawer to her desk. Taking out a flat box, she handed it to me. “Mike, you've got to wear this!”

I took the box, knowing what it was. For months, she'd been trying to get me to wear needle-gun armor. It was lightweight, but was supposed to be good protection. Before, I had always pushed it away. This time, I took it, but I grinned. “Think this is gonna protect me against sex appeal?”

“That's just bait, Mike,” Millie said, back to her serious self. “She's up to something, and you need protection.”

Grin widening, I asked, “Get that off your Crime Wave channel?”

“I'm serious, Mike!”

I nodded. “I'm taking it,” I told her. “I'll change in the car,” I added. “I wanna see a snitch on my way to my. . . date.”

Millie punched my arm. “She's not your type, Mike,” she said – and then she shook her head and added, “Actually, she's trying to be every guy's type! She's gone all-out on sex appeal!”

“Which is exactly why I need to find out what she's up to,” I agreed. “If this is connected with the alien case, I can't see it – but I can't afford to ignore it, either.” I tucked the box under my arm. “Take care. Millie.”

-------

I went to see the Professor. He wasn't really a professor, but he spent most of his time in the library, studying, so – the Professor.

He looked the part. He was tall, white-haired, wore glasses, and was a little stooped from bending over books and the computer all day long. He smiled as I sat down beside him. “What can I help you with, Michael?”

“The zonkers. What do we want outta them, and what do they want outta us.”

He took off his glasses and looked up at the ceiling. “Everything,” he said, mildly.

“Could you be just a bit more specific – and give me the digest version; I have an appointment.”

He aimed his pale blue eyes at me and smiled. “Succinct, and to the point, right?” He nodded and slipped the glasses back on. “Well, they've got a space drive that pays no attention to the speed of light. We'd certainly like that. Also, they have a hologram program that Hollywood drools over.”

I nodded. “I've heard you can actually touch their holograms.”

“Exactly! The fashion world is wild about one thing: Their program can make clothes you can wear, clothes that will even keep you warm in winter.”

“Which the fashion world would want to control, otherwise there'd be no fashion world. Okay. But what do zonkers want from us?”

“Manpower. They are very slow at reproducing, while we outdo rabbits.”

“Laborers – or slaves?”

There was a glint of approval in the Professor's eyes. “Depends on whether the good zonkers or the bad zonkers win, Michael. You see,” he went on, “despite their advancements, their society is no better – or worse – than ours.” He cocked his head. “Need more?”

I shook my head. Oh, there was lots more I would like to know, but I didn't have time. “That'll do, Professor,” I said, and handed him a twenty. The money quickly disappeared, and I left.

I found the hotel and the room -- on the second floor, but I used the stairs -- with no trouble. She was still wearing the same stuff when she opened the door. I looked at her smile, and then her black eyes. . . .

--And it fell in place!

The zonkers had no pupils. Yeah, they weren't built like her, but what if they could fix a flesh hologram instead of a suit? It wouldn't change the eyes! This was connected, after all! She – it! -- had to be connected with the bad zonkers. They wanted to stop my investigation into the murder, because it had been a set-up to disrupt negotiations. They probably wanted to make it look like a human had killed a zonker.

She saw the realization hit me and yanked me into the room and. . .melted. The sexy body sloughed away, revealing the zonker beneath it.

I slammed a fist into the zonker's gut. It tumbled back, but my knuckles felt like I had rammed them into an alligator. Then my gun was in my hand.

The zonker understood guns, and held up its . . . hands?

“You're smarter than I thought, Mike Spillane.” It was the same sexy voice. “But we've got your girl.”

Millie! “What do you mean?” I asked.

“Like you humans say, you've won the war but lost the battle. She's dead.”

“She can't be! I left her at the office --”

“--And we picked her up immediately after. Oh, she isn't dead yet. She's in that warehouse beside this hotel, with Moot guarding the door. If anyone but me should open the door, At'm will kill her.”

“At'm?”

“My pet. She's got the deadliest venom known. Beside,” the zonker added, glancing at a clock on the wall, “she's dead in less than a minute in any case. I left orders to have her killed. We're on the second floor. You can't possibly get down there in time!”

I hit the zonker on the head with my gun. As she/it collapsed, I ran across the room and dove out the window. Yeah, I couldn't get down the stairs quickly enough, but this was faster.

Glass shattered, I curled up in the air, hit rolling, and came to my feet to see a blond guy standing my a door to the warehouse. He was startled to see me, but that didn't keep him from bringing out a needle-gun.

My .45 was still in my hand. Not wanting to take a chance that he was wearing some super kind of armor, I shot him in the head. My next shot was at the lock on the door. The zonker's statement about venom made me figure this At'm was some kind of snake. I'd have to shoot it before it could strike Millie.

The shot hadn't opened the door, but my shoulder did – and there was some kind of flying snake zooming at Millie, who was tied to the wall.

I couldn't shoot, because the bullet would go right through the snake and hit Millie. I threw the gun at the snake. . .and connected! It turned, and came at me. I put up an arm, and the needle-gun armor proved it was just as effective against fangs. The snake reared back, still hovering in front of me. I reached out, grabbed it by the tail, and played crack-the-whip.

Bones cracked, and the snake was dead.

Sirens, no doubt attracted by the gunshots, were in the background as I untied Millie. “Oh, Mike,” she said, and put her arms around me, crying.

I put one arm around her, then tipped her chin up with my finger. “Wanna get out of the private eye business?” I asked.

Her face firmed. “Why should I?” she asked. “I'm working for the best one in the world!”

Hours later -- pleasant hours – it occurred to me I had to be the best – I was the only private eye in the world!