Steve Braunias provides a true-crime drama.
I hired a private detective once. God I hated him. He was a conceited sonofabitch who gave the impression that he felt a great longing to look at himself in the mirror for hours on end. I suppose he was quite handsome but he wasn't that handsome. I saw a guy recently at a fashion event – yeah, I know, what the hell was I doing there? – who was so handsome that his face glowed like a lantern. The rest of the room was in darkness. Well, everyone wore black.
I hired a private detective as an act of love. She was so moved that she wept. She was a beautiful woman with narrow green eyes and her mouth was set in a kind of smirk. I was fascinated by that smirk and the whole time we were together I wondered what it meant and whence it came from. All I found out about her background is that she came from old money. "First four ships," she explained; we took a tour of Canterbury once and walked along the clifftops of Taylor's Mistake, which her people owned.
I hired a private detective to track down her jewellery. Necklaces and rings and bracelets, all of them heirlooms from some grand ancestor who sailed in on a vessel of ruthless enterprise, had been taken in a burglary. She lived on the beach. At night, the tide shivered in the shiny rocks and a green light from the opposite shore shimmered on the black water. Colonial landowner wealth washed up on her doorstep; she was a catch, but we never really looked that good together. There was something wrong about us, something unconvincing.
I hired a private detective after the police said they couldn't do all that much about it. She was devastated. Generally she wasn't a very emotional person. She was poised; she was restrained, kind of diffident. She moved through life with a light step and had a vague, smokey kind of presence. I found all of that madly attractive. My love for her was like a search party. She was flattered by the close attention, for a while.
I hired a private detective through the Yellow Pages. He had a large office in a building on Lambton Quay. He kept touching his face, stroking it, caressing it. There was so much love in that room; he was having an affair with himself. I hated him on sight, just as I immediately hated everyone at the fashion event I went to recently. The handsome man walked to and fro, his face swinging like a lantern. I recognised a couple of people, including one of the great bitches of Auckland. "Please behave yourself," said my date. I was charmed into silence. So much of my life has been spent in love with someone, hating everyone else, a shimmering light in the near distance.
I hired a private detective to track down the burglar and recover the stolen jewels. He came to the beach house. He walked around. "That," he said, pointing at a smashed skylight, "was the entry point." He seemed to regard this revelation as a moment of genius ripped from the pages of a Sherlock Holmes caper but the police had already established it and actually the broken glass on the carpet made us a bit suspicious, too. He said it was possible the burglar would sell the jewels to either a pawn shop or a market. He thought the chances of getting them back were slim but you never know, we might get lucky ... I thought about killing him and dragging his body out to the rocky shore after dark. The case of the missing detective. Last seen touching his face.
I hired a private detective and although he was vain, lazy, a waste of money, his suggestion that we make inquiries at pawn shops and markets led us two days later to a market stall selling most of the jewellery. "Stay right here!" I said to her and rushed around to the nearby police station and arrived back at the market with two officers. A couple of days after that, a neighbour knocked at the door and said, "I found these necklaces in our front hedge – are they yours?" She wept with joy. I never saw her as emotional as that again and after our romance ended I missed her, for a while.