} I was so surprised I dropped my cigar into my scotch. Waste of good
} scotch. It was a lousy cigar.
} That was the question I'd been asking myself for three days, ever since
} that package showed up on my office desk: Who are Connie and Dan? And
} now this dame sashays into my office, sits down in my second-best
} chair, and asks the same question: Who are Connie and Dan?
} I stared into her baby blues, looking for a clue. She looked right
} back, with eyes so wide and innocent you'd think they'd never seen a
} man shot in face with a .45. For all I knew, they hadn't. I never
} had. Kinda yucky even to think about it.
} I reached into my lower drawer, and pulled out the scotch. I dumped
} the cigar, and poured myself a fresh shot. I didn't offer any to the
} dame. Let her find her own drinks. I lit a new cigar, and went to the
} cabinet, and pulled the thick, well-thumbed filed marked "Connie and
} Dan, Who." I dumped the file on the desk, sat down next to it, and
} looked the dame in the eye again.
} "There's a lot of people would like to know that. What's it to you?"
} She smiled, and reached into a purse so small you wouldn't think she
} could keep a gun in there. She pulled out a thick pile of bills, and
} tossed it onto the desk.
} "It's worth three thousand dollars to me, Oracle."
} My jaw fell open as I stared at the money. Damn! Another cigar in the
} scotch! At this rate, I might have to go to lunch sober. I looked at
} the dame in disgust.
} "You think you can buy me?"
} "I think I can ask you a question, Oracle. Who are Connie and Dan?"
} Damn again! She'd got me there! I couldn't refuse to answer a
} question, no matter how much it hurt!
} "Connie and Dan, eh? You think knowing who they are will do you any
} good? You'd be better off taking your money back and leaving, toots."
} "Cut the crap and answer, Oracle."
} Answer. An answer. I needed an answer! I tore through the files,
} looking for a clue. Connie and Dan. Who were they? I scanned
} megabytes of database - nothing. Connie and Dan. Connie and Dan. I
} couldn't escape the question. Who are Connie and Dan?!
} And then it hit me: I'm omniscient. Sometimes on a slow day, I forget.
} I wiped my face, and ran a comb through my hair. I turned to the dame
} and smiled slowly. I had her number now.
} "Connie and Dan? WHICH Connie and Dan would that be?"
} She cringed like someone had hit her across the face with a three-day
} old salmon. I could see that she hadn't considered that possibility.
} She started to reach for the money, but I was way ahead of her.
} "Maybe you'd like to hear about Connie and Dan Lefkowitz, of Astoria,
} Queens? Dan was a carpet wholesaler, and Connie spend most of her time
} playing canasta at B'nai Brith. Or maybe you wanted to know about
} Connie and Dan FitzPatrick, the FitzPatrick twins in Norman, Oklahoma?
} Connie won first prize at the 4H fair in 1958, but Dan had to join the
} army after Miss Barston found him in the vestry trying on her dress.
} Oh, no, I've got it now: You meant Connie and Dan, the sideshow act in
} Milton's Circus! They called themselves "The Snake Woman and The
} Lizard Man." Two of the most disgusting people you ever saw. Dan had
} this habit of cleaning his teeth with the tip of his tail - people
} would run screaming from the room."
} I paused to let the truth sink in. I tossed the money back to her with
} a sneer.
} "You owe the Oracle a better brand of cigars and a first edition of The
} Big Sleep."