“Matt, you’ve got a client?” Jen said.
“You don’t sound too sure,” I said.
“I’m not. He slipped me this note, and he’s covered head-to-toe: coat, gloves, scarf, sunglasses, and ball cap.”
“It’s June,” I took the note.
“Yeah, and the AC isn’t working well enough.”
“We’re trying to keep the lights on,” I said. I looked at the note, which said, simply ‘My name is Jeremy. I need to see Mr. Allen.’
I shrugged. “Send him back.”
Jen shrugged and left. Moments later she ushered the man, just as she had described him, into my office, closing the door behind her. As soon as the latch closed the man shucked out of his coat, gloves, and scarf, panting and sweating. He didn’t look healthy, like he had been out of the sun for too long. He had thick bags under his eyes, and his muscles seemed weak. His knees wobbled, and he seemed exhausted. It’s like the guy has been in bed for a month, and could use another two weeks to recuperate.
“Jeremy,” I ventured, “what can I do for you.”
He sat down opposite me, then looked over his shoulder back towards Jen’s office. He got up, then dragged his chair around to my side of the desk. He sat again, then leaned in close and whispered, “I need your help.”
His head darted back to looking at Jen’s door.
“Can you be more specific?”
“I’m—I’m irresistible to women.”
“You’re . . . what?”
“Women can’t resist me. I—”
I held up my hand, cataloging everything.
The whispering, covering up, the unhealthy appearance, the nervousness, all began to come together. I looked for other signs, and found a big one immediately: marks on his wrists. He really has been in bed, and he probably enjoyed it for a while, but then he literally got tied down.
“Literally. Good Lord, you really are. You poor idiot.”
He frowned at me.”
“You did this to yourself, didn’t you? I’m guessing it’s not a fortune teller or you’d go back to him or her. There aren’t many Romani here that can do this. No, I’m guessing you managed to actually find some kind of potion or a djinn.”
He touched a finger to his nose at the last.
“Well no one bothered to tell you it’s not like Disney’s Aladdin, did they?”
He shook his head.
“Well, great. Okay, breaking a genie’s curse. Hope you managed to hold some money back because this is going to cost you.”
I walked over to Jen’s office. “Jen, take an early lunch. This guy’s twitchy, and wants to make sure everything is extra-confidential.”
Jen gave me a raised eyebrow, knowing something was up, but then shrugged and grabbed her purse. “I’ll bring you something back?”
“Sure, but keep it out here. I’ll get it from you after he’s gone.”
I closed the door and went back to my chair, waiting until I heard the door shut.
“Now, quietly, tell me everything that happened, starting with where you found it, and what the vessel looked like.”