} FROM THE FILES OF INTERNET IGGIE, MASTER DETECTIVE:
} The Walther jumped in my hand four times, and four neat round holes
} blossomed in his chest. Good, I thought. That'll teach HIM to stiff me
} for my fee. He'd owed me a box of Oreo Doublestuf for nearly a week.
} The word "stiff" buzzed in my brain. I got out a flyswatter, but it
} was too fast for me. Then I remembered, I had remembered the word for
} a reason. The buzzing was getting louder. If I could just remember the
} reason for my reasoning, I could remember the reason I had remembered.
} Then I remembered the flyswatter and flattened that line of reasoning.
} What? Oh yeah, stiff. Got to deal with something that's stiff. I made
} a quick check. No, _that_ wasn't stiff, but it sure felt nice.
} Stiff... stiff... that's it. I had one here that needed immediate
} attention. I gazed at his china-blue eyes, began to stroke his tawny
} hair - but that kind of attention was wasted on him now. I had to
} dispose of him, and quick. It was ten-thirty, and the mall was getting
} Two little blue-haired ladies had come out of Victoria's Secret and
} were staring at what was left of the cookie embezzler. One of them
} nearly dropped her red satin garters. I fired the Walther over their
} heads. Unfortunately, not far enough over. Now I had two more stiffs
} on my hands. This predicament was getting too stiff for me, to say
} nothing of my one-eyed trouser snake. Dead grannies with sexy lingerie
} have that effect on me. I took out my bottle of Old Clawhammer and
} proceeded to get stiff. Oh, dammit, STIFF!
} I searched Stiff No. 1 for ID. I found his wallet, address book,
} passport, keys to his car. Junk. I stashed it in my codpiece. But
} clutched in his hand was a slip of paper with the words
} HELP! I'm being held prisoner in
} a Chinese fortune cookie factory!
} Now THAT caught my attention. The jackpot. The kind of break every
} cheap shamus would stand in the drizzle for all afternoon, without his
} trenchcoat and with his gumshoes soaked to the bone. Somewhere there
} was a fortune waiting for me, and a couple of Chinese cookies to sit
} on my lap and keep us company. Now all I had to do was find the
} factory that this bird had escaped from.
} I looked at the back. All I could see were freckles, moles, zits, and
} four bullet holes. But on the back of the paper were the words
} WON HUNG LO'S PLEASURE FACTORY
} "The Sweetest Cookies in China"
} Tell 'em Coquette sent you!
} (Group Discounts Available)
} I made my way to Won Hung Lo's factory, through the police barricade
} and the SWAT team. Rocket-propelled grenades are a private eye's best
} friend in a tight spot like this. I knocked on the door. It opened a
} crack to reveal a life-size female advertisement for Michelin tires,
} wearing eight pounds of gilt jewelry and nearly as much Jungle
} Gardenia. She greeted me with enthusiasm.
} "What choo want, honky?"
} "I want to talk to Won Hung Lo. Coquette sent me."
} "I'm Coquette." She wiped her nose on her sleeve. "Won Hung Lo ain't
} here. Fact, I never seen the dude. He been on a 15-year trip to the
} Deli Lama. So talk, but make it fast. My time cost fifty buck for
} twenty minute. More, you want any whip and chains."
} "I've got information that there's a fortune stashed here. I got it
} from a friend of yours that escaped from this factory. Somehow he
} happened to get dead. You wouldn't know anything about that, would
} "Yeah, I would. Some gray offed him in the Mall Center Outlet Plaza,
} front of fifty witness. Him and two old ladies, and most of the police
} tactical unit." She chuckled, creating 7.5 Richter tremors in her
} piedmont. "If I knew who it was, I'd give him a job for free. Anyone
} whacks that many pigs, he be OK with Coquette."
} On a hunch, I looked inside the wallet that had been the property of
} the former cookie embezzler and the present Stiff No. 1. The driver's
} license, credit cards, and Young Republicans membership card all had
} the same familiar name. An idea started buzzing, but it took one look
} at the swatter and retreated behind the Steuben glass.
} "You know what Won Hung Lo looks like?"
} "Like I say, I never seen him. Nobody have. He stay out the ho'in
} business, an I stay out the Young Prepublicans. So you want sometin or
} "Yeah. I want the whole deal. The fortune and all the cookies. I own
} this business." I waved the YR card under what I thought was her
} nose. "You see, I'm Won Hung Lo. And you've got a debt to pay."
} "Like what?"
} "You owe the Oracle a box of Keebler E. L. Fudge and a set of
} velvet-lined handcuffs. With extra fudge."