Title: The Last Kiss Goodbye
Fandom: Star Trek Voyager uber
Rated: PG-13. Contains violence, some coarse language, and dames who lay other dames.
Summary: Can private eye Jane Kates find the missing Borg baby with the big hooters, or will they both fall victim to the Machiavellian machinations of the villainous Canon Bragger?
Answering Kitty’s PI challenge on Janeway7.
Disclaimer: No profit is intended in the writing of this story. Star Trek: Voyager and its characters are the property of Paramount and Viacom.
Feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Archiving and downloading is welcome as long as you credit the author. Many thanks to Meagan for beta-ing this, and Lilian for her help with the hamster (among other things).
It was one of those hot LA days when the sun reached down and casually smacked you around the head till you were drenched in sweat like a second rate palooka after a ten-round bout. When I got to my office the entire building was so drooping from the heat I thought my shoes would sink into the stairs as I climbed them. To cap things off I’d spent the previous twelve hours on an eyeball job miles from a civilised percolator and as a result had this suicidal urge to devour a hot cup of coffee, after which I fully expected to spontaneously combust.
“Coffee, black!” I snapped as I shoved open the door marked ‘J. Kates, Private Investigator’. At least that’s what it’s supposed to read, unfortunately the signwriter’s spelling wasn’t too good and he’d added an ‘s’ on the end of ‘private’. Makes me sound like a clap inspector for the Venereal Disease Ward.
My secretary must have heard me pull up outside because he already had a mug of java waiting. I grabbed it, tossed my hat onto the rack, plonked down behind my desk and glared at the handsome young buck sitting opposite. “Who the hell are you?”
He flashed me a smile that must have opened legs in every casting agency in Los Angeles. “My name’s Canon Bragger. I’m an executive producer for Paramount Pictures and I’d like to hire you for a job, Miss Kates.”
I woke up straight away, and for once it wasn’t to smell the coffee. A job for the studios could bring in some major greenbacks. “Sure, but I don’t come cheap. When you want the best you gotta fork out the dough in dumptrucks.”
“Yeah, I can see that,” he said, with the kind of smirk that made me want to perform dental surgery with my fist. His gaze moved around the room, taking in the peeling wallpaper, faded blinds, cheap wooden furniture and stolid wooden secretary.
“Hey!” I protested, turning on the fan to stop myself from melting away through the cracks in the floorboards. The blades spun once in a languid fashion then stopped, emitting a faint wisp of blue smoke. I quickly switched it off before the whole place burnt down. “It’s part of the image. Hollywood’s full of clichés and my office is one of them. What’s the job?”
“My girlfriend’s gone on the lam and I want you to find her,” he said, tossing one of those celebrity mugshots onto my desk. “Her name’s Anna Borg.”
“Some babe,” I said, eyeing the photo. She was a hot-looking blonde with more curves than a Major League playoff and lips that were fellatio waiting to happen.
“Yeah, that’s why I’ve got to hire a woman for this job,” said Canon. “The guys are only interested in getting into her panties. What is it with you private dicks anyway, you all sex mad or something?”
“Hell no,” I said, using the mirror I’d hung on the door to check out his behind. “It’ll cost ya 25 clams a day, plus a $500 bonus if I can find the chick without screwing her.”
“Here,” he said, pulling out a roll of C-notes big enough to choke a gorilla. “I’ll pay you double, with a full grand bonus, if you start right away.”
The second he was out the door I grabbed the phone and called my bookie. “Tom, put a yard on ‘Voyager’ to win, will you?”
He nearly pissed himself laughing. “Kates, that horse hasn’t come home in seven years!”
“Do it!” I snapped, hanging up on the jerk. I looked up at my secretary, who was sitting in the corner imitating an Indian totem pole. “Whaddaya think, Nothingtosay? This could be the break we’re looking for.”
“Yes ma’am,” said Nothingtosay. Hell, it’s all he ever does say. There’s times I wonder why I hired the lump. Not only is it a major Hollywood cliché for a private eye to hire a secretary they can’t possible afford, Nothingtosay capped it off by being completely useless. He doesn’t say much, doesn’t do much, and has all the expression range of Mount Rushmore. Still, that’s what happens when you hire someone because of their sultry eyes and great butt.
Nothingtosay’s lack of conversation skills were about to make things seriously dull when fortunately a major plot development occurred. The door burst open and in staggered my partner Harry Chin, looking like he’d been beaten up, tossed off a building, pulled backwards through a meatgrinder and dumped in the Pacific Ocean without a life raft.
“Christ in a coffee shop! What happened to you?”
“I got beaten up, tossed off a building, pulled backwards through a meatgrinder and dumped in the Pacific Ocean without a life raft,” he gasped, coughing blood and water all over the floor.
“Geez Harry, what does it take to bump you off?” I said, dragging him to the couch. “That’s the fifth time someone’s tried to give you the Big Kiss-Off, but you just keep coming back. There’s no stopping ya.”
Famous last words. No sooner had I said that when there was the chatter of a tommy gun and the door erupted in a hail of bullets, riddling Harry with more holes than a Swiss cheese.
“And this time stay dead!” shouted a voice from outside.
I pulled out my rod and blasted off a full clip into the door. Loud screams and the sound of running feet told me that I’d missed the shooter and hit someone in the Mexican family down the hall.
Just then the phone rang. I picked it up. “Hello?”
“If you don’t want to end up like your chink friend,” growled a menacing voice. “You’ll forget you ever heard about Canon’s broad.” There was a click as the connection was broken.
“Tea-drinking troglodytes!” I fumed. “This means war!” I slapped another clip into the butt of my rod and threw open the remains of the door, finding myself face to face with a fiery Mexican chick who was looking extremely pissed off.
“Ah, I’m very sorry about the gunfire Miss Torres but__”
“Tu madre es una hamster! ” she shouted, jumping on top of me and trying to sink her teeth into my cheek. I wrestled out from under her and retreated across the room under a barrage of hurled furniture and Spanish curses.
“I think she likes you!” shouted Nothingtosay, seconds before he was knocked unconscious by a flying hat rack.
“Christ at a crap game, how does she react when she’s pissed off?” I yelled, ducking out onto the fire escape ladder. I made it to the pavement faster than a falling bomb, jumping aside just in time to avoid being squashed by my desk which had been thrown out after me.
“I don’t know what Tom sees in her,” I muttered, watching in amazement as the Torres dame tried to push an entire sectional couch out the window. Deciding to get out of here before the cops arrested us both for disturbing the peace, I pulled on my spare hat, jumped into my heap and roared off downtown faster than Pancho Villa escaping from the Texas Rangers.
* * * * * *
During the war my WAC sergeant once told me: when you’ve got something difficult to do you can follow regulations, but then you’re just covering your rear. You can do what a man tells you, but then you just end up getting screwed. Or you can follow your woman’s instincts, but then you just keep changing your mind.
It’s a useless piece of advice but hey, private eyes are supposed to be full of these little adages.
So I headed for the Knees Up Coffee House. To be a success in my line of work you need to have good contacts, people with an ear to the street. And none had sharper ears than my old friend Touthuked.
“Good morning Miss Kates!” said the proprietor. He was a short, cheerful man with a beard that didn’t quite cover a nasty case of liver spots. “Coffee black, I take it? And how about some of my scrumptious breakfast?”
“Some other time Neezup,” I said. I’d eaten here once and my stomach had regretted it ever since. “Where’s Touthuked? I need to talk to him.”
He took me to a back room where I found my best stoolie sitting cross-legged on the floor in some fancy Oriental robe, staring at a candle. “Whattcha doing, Touthuked?”
“I am studying the ancient Chinese art of jian de er-duo. It advocates celibacy and strict control of emotions.”
“Celibacy, well I’ve heard that before,” said Neezup. “A guy swears off dames for the duration, then one day a hot-looking broad walks past and he realises he hasn’t had sex in seven years and__”
“What can I do for you, Miss Kates?” asked Touthuked, a distinct edge to his voice.
“I’ve got a new case. Some guy called Canon Bragger hired me to find his missing Borg baby.”
“Canon Bragger!” exclaimed Neezup. “Isn’t he a big wheel at Paramount Pictures?”
“Your information is flawed,” said Touthuked. “Mr Bragger is persona-non-grata among The Powers That Be at Paramount. Would your missing person be the famous actress Anna Borg? She used to be Canon’s lover.”
“That’s right. She’s a real hot piece,” I said, tossing an enlargement of the Borg babe onto the floor. It was actually a close-up of her breasts - that’s the only part guys look at anyway. Touthuked took an eyeball and promptly broke out in a muck sweat.
“I am in control of my emotions,” he said through clenched teeth. “I am in control of my emotions!”
“Wow, what great hooters!” exclaimed Neezup. “Wouldn’t you like to get your hands on those, Touthuked?” He picked up the photo and stared greedily at it. “I can just picture the sweat gathering in her cleavage in this hot summer weather. Imagine running your tongue down that deep valley of flesh, licking it all up, every last drop!”
Touthuked’s eyebrows began to twitch like he was sending Morse signals to Mars. “Control . . . of . . . emotions!”
“And then I’d squeeze those big melons in my hands, till her nipples were erect and crimson like ripe cherries, then I’d suck them into my mouth and . . .”
“Excuse me,” said Touthuked quietly. He stood up, grabbed Neezup by the neck and hauled him out the door. There was a long pause, then I heard a very loud thump! like someone was having his head rammed into a very solid wall.
Touthuked came back by himself. “Now, where were we?”
“You were saying that Canon Bragger isn’t on the up-and-up any more. Why’s that?”
“The big Hollywood studios are currently in a state of crisis. American society is being slowly and steadily infiltrated by a force which could destroy our way of life as we know it.”
“Those damned Commies!” The sooner Senator McCarthy becomes President the better I reckon.
“Actually, I was referring to television. The film industry fears that the viewing public will be drawn away from the cinemas by the convenience of an entertainment that can be broadcast directly into their homes.”
“Yeah right, as if that’ll ever happen,” I scoffed. “But what’s television got to do with Canon?”
“The studios have been doing everything possible to combat the growth of this industry, but Mr Bragger advocated a different policy. He said that the success of television was inevitable, so Paramount should invest in it instead. This was sacrilegious to the studio heads, and he has been cast out into the wilderness of office politics.”
“Must have been why his chippie left him,” I said thoughtfully. “He couldn’t help her career any more.”
“That would be a logical assumption. However, Anna Borg has not been seen for several weeks. An actress who does not keep herself in the public eye soon becomes irrelevant and replaced by others.”
“Mmmm, that’s fishier than a lakeful of . . . fish. Tell me about this Borg babe. She sounds Swedish.”
“She is definitely not Swedish. Anna is the prized protégé of Doctor Louis Zimmerman, the world famous plastic surgeon.”
My eyes narrowed. “Is that the same Doctor Zimmerman from the Delaney case?”
Doc Zimmerman was a practitioner of eugenics whom I’d nailed for conducting illegal experiments on twins, but he’d managed to beat the rap thanks to his influential friends in the State Department. He had a fancy joint in Beverly Hills so I roared on up there in my heap.
I found him on the back patio with his hands all over a hot-looking broad. She had a great pile of red hair and enough warpaint to keep the Sioux in stock for life. The Doctor was a notorious ladies man, but he might be getting more than he bargained for there. I’d heard of this one; the lads called her the Beverly Crusher.
“Jane Kates!” he shouted, whipping his hands out from under her skirt. “How dare you disturb me when I’m about to conduct an important gynaecological examination! I told that idiot of a guard to forbid you entry.”
“Your security guard is busy holding his groin and wishing he’d been born a woman,” I said, winking at the tomato and wishing I’d been born a man. “I want to talk to you about the Borg babe.”
“I’m a doctor, not a missing persons bureau!” he said. “I already told Canon Bragger I don’t know where she is. Why Anna would prefer him over an individual of my genius and sophisticated taste is beyond me.”
“Then maybe you can tell me about Anna. I heard she was one of your girls.”
I watched his ego struggle with his natural inclination to tell me to take a long walk off a short pier, but it was a losing battle. “The culmination of years of experimentation in selective breeding. Anna Borg is not just a ‘babe’ as you crudely put it, she is perfection itself! For centuries our patriarchal society has tried to create the perfect woman through random chance and social conditioning, but only I, Doctor Louis Zimmerman, have succeeded in doing so!”
“So what happened?” I said. “I guess she wasn’t as perfect as you thought.”
“She rejected me!” he said furiously. “And took up with that slick-talking Hollywood hack with his promises of bright lights and glittering fame. But I’ve seen through him, I’ve found out what his devious plans are! He intends to__”
“Of course he’s laying her you fool, she’s got breasts that could knock the Chrysler Building on its behind. But he also intends to AAAAARRGHHHHHH!!!!” he screamed as his balls were crushed by the redhead’s hand.
“A femme fatale!” I cried, pulling out my rod. They’re a Hollywood cliché, but that doesn’t make ‘em any less dangerous. A slug from my .45 blew her big hair clean off. “Freeze you painted hussy, or I’ll send you on the Tramline To Nowhere without a return ticket!”
She snarled and hurled an entire chaise longue at me, but Torres had given me plenty of practise in dodging furniture over the years. When she tried to skewer me with an icepick I gave her a chestful of slugs from Betsy as a receipt.
“Who are you working for?” I shouted, grabbing the broad by the front of her dress. “Who wanted Zimmerman clipped?”
The dress ripped away in my hands to reveal a padded bra and hairy chest. Christ in a cliché, not another cross-dressing killer! Pity the Doc had never finished his examination. He was lying on the floor, eyes wide, dead of shock.
“Garghh, garghh!” the cross-dressing killer gurgled, blood frothing from his mouth.
“Is that garghh with two G’s or three?”
He couldn’t answer me; he was dead.
I hate it when that happens.
The phone rang, like it always seems to do after a gunfight. I picked it up. “Yeah?”
“Doctor Zimmerman?” said a voice that sounded like cool crystal water flowing in a distant mountain stream. “It’s Anna.”
I really should stop drinking so much coffee, it’s making my voice sound like a gravel truck, or in this case a mad male doctor. “Er . . . yes?” I mumbled, reaching over to drop the needle on a nearby gramophone. Opera music blasted out at full volume.
“Louis, you were right about Canon,” she said. “I-I need your help, please.”
“Where are you?” I said in a deep voice, grabbing a pen and paper.
“Meet me at the Third Act Hotel on Finale Street at midnight tonight,” Anna said. “Please Louis, there’s no-one else I can turn to.”
“I’ll be there,” I muttered. I hung up and quickly dialed my office, my head filled with the sound of ringing cash registers.
“I’ve located the Borg babe. Meet me at the Third Act Hotel on Finale Street, I might need backup.”
“Did you get Harry to the hospital?”
“Is he still alive?”
“Geez, there’s no killing that guy off. Have you replaced all my furniture?”
“And my fan?”
“And refilled my percolator?”
“Good. Meet me there at eleven.”
‘Christ on a clipper ship,’ I thought as I hung up. ‘Can’t that guy say anything else?’
* * * * * *
It was one of those cold LA nights when the fog swept in from the ocean and wrapped this tawdry harlot of a town in a thick blanket to hide its phony glitter from the rest of the world. I was sitting in my heap, smoking the butt I had concealed in the palm of my hand and watching the front of the Third Act Hotel. Nothingtosay was late and so was the Borg chick. It didn’t look good.
But suddenly I heard the click of shoes, and from out of the hotel stepped a babe in an expensive fur coat, six foot tall in her high heels. Her blonde hair was done up in a tight pleat and she was wearing a blue dress that clung to her like it’d been painted on. She had to be the Borg chick; no dame that classy would be going out at this hour.
I threw my butt out the car window and opened the door, stepping out into the fog. My face was concealed by my hat and raised trenchcoat collar, but she realised instantly that I wasn’t Doc Zimmerman. I was too short (and had a lot more hair).
I’ll say this for her, she was as cool as an ice cube in a cold glass of Coca Cola. Her sole reaction to my presence was a single raised eyebrow. “State your intentions.”
“My name’s Kates. I’m a private dick.”
I saw her shoulders slump in defeat. “Canon sent you.”
Her dress became a pool of cerulean around her feet, revealing a silk teddy that was poetry in black lingerie. “No doubt you wish to use my body in exchange for your silence.”
I walked up to the dame, removing my hat to let my auburn hair fall around my shoulders. “I don’t want to lay ya, kitten. I’m just doing my job.”
Her eyes widened. “You’re a woman!”
“Not half the woman you are, babe,” I said, taking her chin in my hand. The photograph Canon gave me hadn’t done her justice. She was more than just an image burnt on celluloid, more than curved flesh and high-sculpted cheekbones; there was a beauty of the soul that was perfection itself. I felt like I hadn’t had sex in seven years, that compared to her my boyfriend Michael Sullivan was just an insubstantial form of light and shadow. I realised why none of my predecessors had been able to resist her, but to me duty always came first, before pleasure, before heart, before everything.
“Sorry kitten, I’ve got to take you back.”
“But you can’t!” Anna cried. “I refuse to be a part of Canon’s evil plan!”
I frowned. “What are you talking about? What plan?”
“Television!” she said. “Millions of sets in homes throughout the United States of America. And beamed to them all, weekly serials filled with gratuitous action scenes, plot clichés, lousy continuity, non-existent character development, and women with large breasts in highly revealing costumes!”
“The future, Miss Kates, the future,” said Canon Bragger, as he stepped out of the night like a wraith from the depths of the Underworld. “American culture is obsessed with big hooters. And with a pair like Anna’s, I can rule the entire country! Thanks, you led me right to her. I knew if I had that chink partner of yours clipped it would give you that extra incentive. Now I’ll take what’s mine!”
“Back off Canon,” I growled, sliding my hand under my coat . . . then freezing as I felt the muzzle of a tommy gun jam into my ribs.
“Don’t even think about it Kates, or I’ll fill you with more holes than a Hollywood script!”
I turned to find myself looking into an evil mug I was all too familiar with - a notorious hitman known as ‘The Bermanator’. I’d met him before, when he’d given Kes, a young friend of mine, the Big Shove.
Canon reached into my coat and pulled out my rod, tossing it into the gutter. “You’ve found out too much, Kates. If you had called me when you’d located Anna you’d be alive in your bed with your pockets full of clams, instead of dead in a ditch with your head full of lead.”
“How the hell did you find me?” I snapped. “I know when I’m being followed.”
“Well before you turned up at your office I had an interesting talk with Nothingtosay. Apparently your secretary doesn’t like you getting all the action and good lines, so in exchange for tipping us off about your movements I agreed to let him boff Anna here.”
Anna looked incredulous. “Why would I possibly want to sleep with him?”
“Honey, I’ve got no idea, but strange things happen in the world of Canon, you ought to know that. Now just step away from Kates, will you?”
“No,” she cried, clutching me tight to her heaving bosom. “I won’t let you harm her! She’s the first person who ever looked at my face instead of my hooters!”
“Christ Bragger,” growled the Bermanator. “Your girlfriend’s acting like a dyke. I hate dykes. Let me blow ‘em away.”
“Anna,” said Canon threateningly. “If you don’t step away I’ll give Rick here what he wants, and use that T’pol chick for my TV shows instead!”
“But . . . she can’t even act!”
“With hooters like hers, who cares?”
“Let me go, kitten,” I said, stroking her hair. “Life’s just a roll of the dice; sometimes you throw sixes, sometimes you come up snake eyes. Tonight I did both, I guess.” I turned to Bragger. “Don’t I get a last request?”
“Sure, why not?” he grunted. “It’s a cliché after all. This is Hollywood.”
“A last request,” said Anna huskily. “A last kiss goodbye.” She bent her head towards me, those beautiful lips parting to meet my own.
“Nah, I just want a cup of coffee. There’s a thermos in my car. Can you get it for me, sugar?”
Anna gave me a look that would have made hell turn to hoarfrost, stormed over to my heap, grabbed the thermos on the front seat and threw it at my head. I snatched it neatly out of the air.
“Thanks kitten,” I said, unscrewing the cap and throwing the contents in the Bermanator’s face.
“AAAAARRGHHHHHH!!!!” he screamed, dropping his tommy gun to clutch his coffee-scalded face. Canon’s eyes popped out and we both dived for the piece simultaneously. My hands closed on the pistol grip but Canon was grabbing the stock and barrel and he twisted it out of my hands, slamming the butt against my head. For a moment I saw more stars than Captain Proton ever did; by the time they’d faded Canon was standing over me with the chatter gun pointed at my gut.
He grinned as his finger tightened on the trigger.
The sound of the gunshot was a muffled crack! in the fog.
Slowly, Canon turned to look behind him. Anna was standing there, holding my smoking rod in her fist.
“I can’t believe it!” Canon gasped. “Bumped off by a damned . . . cliché!” He slumped to the ground, deader than Caesar in March.
“Oh no, I killed him!” Anna cried. “What’s going to happen to me now?”
“Well kitten,” I said, taking her gently into my arms. “I suggest you and I live happily ever after.”
She raised her eyebrow in a really cute manner. “But isn’t that just another Hollywood cliché?”
“In this city there are a thousand clichés,” I said. “This . . . is one of them.” And I pulled her into a kiss that was hotter than any coffee I’d ever tasted.