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Luckily I was wearing my special ‘Private Dick’ pyjamas: specially tailored to accommodate, and conceal from prying eyes, the discreet bulge of my shoulder holster. I reached inside and drew out my ·44, wincing but bravely concealing the pain when the hammer caught in the hair under my arm.

I patted the cool metal of my ‘piece’. Some dudes pack a ·38 or a ·357, but real men carry a ·44. This baby could stop an elephant ....... especially if it was loaded.

The noises outside continued - there was more than one guy out there! I was surrounded: the ‘mob’ had tumbled me.

Fear not readers. If it is humanly possible your favourite P.I. will extricate himself and bring the full force of law and order, Hank Conan Style, crashing down on to the heads of the wrong-doers and miscreants, like the hurricanes and tidal waves of the apocalypse; like the final trumpets of Armageddon, in a last desperate shoot-out with all guns blazing!! DEATH OR GLORY!!!

Then again, for the safety of the surrounding, innocent, citizens, I could just ring the police.

My finely honed intellect and reflexes work overtime and come up with a solution that is so dazzlingly clichéd that, if I survive this scrape, I must surely be odds-on favourite for next month’s ‘Dick Of The Year’ awards. A simple distraction is all that’s required: a diversionary tactic to delay those trained killers outside the door from getting the drop on me and plugging me full of lead.

I seize Mrs. Crouch, push her through the front door and, amid all the mayhem that breaks loose, scream the words that have struck fear into many a mobster’s hard heart and proved the gallantry and sheer guts of a private eye:

“You yella’ sons-a-bitches! Do whatever you want with her but leave me alone!”

I duck and weave towards the shelter of the undergrowth in the back garden, flinching as the bullets tear through the air above my head like lead pellets propelled by an explosive charge from a chambered weapon.

I execute a perfect forward roll, utilising all the skill of my Marine Commando training and become one with the trees and grasses - blending, like an SAS-trained chameleon, with the flora and fauna.

To ensure I’ve not been followed I employ an old Green Beret trick I taught my Special Forces classes in ‘Nam:

“Missed me-e-e-e!”

The sound of metal ripping the soft earth persuades me to duck. Showers of wood splinters and grass rain down on me in time to the stuttering, staccato bursts that rent the air.

I risk a quick look to ascertain my position - the grass, pouring from the heavens like green rain, sticks to my sweat-dampened face - Oh my God! The fiends. What twisted minds could think of such a thing??? They’re using a hover-mower!!!!!

My mind flips through the vast catalogue of escape plans I have stored in my, almost infinite, memory.

YES! I have it.

Even a bunch of battle-hardened misanthropes like my pursuers shouldn’t shun the cries of a wounded human being. Surely they would take pity and lessen the fervent chase at the sound of a distraught, injured fellow citizen?

If they fall for that, I reason, I could surreptitiously pick several of them off before they realise what hit them.

Yes, I decide, it’ll work.

I draw a bead and let Mrs. Crouch have it! BLA-A-AM!

That’ll keep the bastards busy.

Huh! There are no flies on Hank Conan: which is more than can be said for Mrs. Crouch in a day or two!!!




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