Banana Constitutional Monarchy.

Five games of solitaire in, I checked the deck. No ace of spades. Why would you sell a deck with no ace of spades? Superstition? Idiots.

I yell at Max to run down to the drugstore and get me a new deck but there’s a crash of thunder over me, and then I hear a voice. Senor.

“You’re not Max.”

I ‘ave understood that Senor is most cunning and most discreet,  La Infanta requires senor’s cunning and discretion. Never actually seen a tapir in person before. Shorter than I expected.

“And La Infanta is who, and I should care why?”

He smiles like he’s the principal and I’m the kid that just figured out that the teachers don’t actually live at the school. La Infanta is a very rich and beautiful woman, Senor, and she will be grateful.

What the heck. That’s a particular noir cliche I haven’t had in far too long.

She's a head of state, Slylock, you keep both hands where I can see 'em!

One flight to the backend of nowhere later, and I’m shown into an old garden inside crumbling adobe walls. The city is fifty shades of tan, and the jungle clearly has a few things to say about the city being here, most of them vines, banana trees, and ferns poking of cracks in the stucco. It looks like it’s always sunset. It’s like if someone took the feeling of being on vacation too long and built the remnants of a Portuguese colony out of it.

Her Infantaness herself is wearing a few crown jewels, an expensive looking bathrobe, sunglasses, a long cigarette holder, and an expression that says she doubts whatever I’m here to say was worth getting out of the jacuzzi for. But she is beautiful, and she’s obviously rich.

We’ll see about the gratitude.

This, Me Donna, is the Americano detetive, the Tapir is going on, I have every confidence his efforts will not fail us.

She looks at me and nods. I don’t speak Inscrutable, but I’m guessing that means ‘We’ll see.’ Always nice to start a job in agreement with the client.

“You still haven’t told me what it is Her Infantness wants me to do,” I mention as the Tapir drives me out toward the outskirts.

My country, detective, it has a problem you see. There are… undesirables.

“Undesirables.”

Ci. We have tried many ways to… convince them to take themselves away. The Infanta, she does not wish to use violence, but to protect this glorious nation, all must be done. You see? Your cunning is famed, senor, and if you can arrange matters so that no violence becomes necessary.

What have I gotten myself into?

The undesirables are snakes. And after three hours of looking at them I can’t see any way to move them. Heck, I can’t even talk to them. My intrepid guide doesn’t speak their dialect himself. Not that they look interested in talking, they seem to prefer to drape themselves all over in attitudes of sloth. Which is specist, I know, but that seems to be the way they run things around here. I know laziness is supposed to be the stereotype, but this is something else.

“I don’t know what you want me to do here.”

The Tapir looks nervous. Wonder if this would have gone differently if he’d volunteered a name, but he looks secret-service-y enough that I don’t want to push. Cannot you… trick them? I had heard you were skilled at tricks.

“Fair point. For example, you might have heard that I have a sidekick?”

…Si?

“Aren’t you wondering why I didn’t bring him? And no, it’s not because I assumed he’d be eaten.”

it is not that his passport is not in order, I am willing to wager. Note of resignation in his voice. He’s sharper than he looks.

“Sorry, guess again, he’s back in the states alerting the Feds as to the source of the new drug that’s been popping up the last few years. Not sure myself if its the orange lichen or the orange mushrooms, but they already knew it was from here. It’s pretty obvious that these snakes are on something, and I can’t see any other reason for you to want them out of this particular scrap of wilderness.” I put my feet up on the dashboard. “Thanks for letting me get a good long look at your operation, by the way.”

I see senor that you have planed for many eventualities senor, did he just tip his hat? may I inquire what your plan is for the powerful handgun in my pocket?

“I’m thinking I’ll point out that Interpol will be pulling up at your Childlike Empress’s house right about now, and without a credible witness,” I give him a quick smile, “you’re not going to have the chance to take the fall for her.”

So that’s how I ended up testifying in the trial of Senor Alberto St. Pinchaque, formerly head of the intelligence department of Her Radience La Infanta de Gatito. He didn’t seem too broken up, I have to say. Looked almost proud of himself.

Wonder why.

I didn’t see the princess again, though. I don’t think she was very grateful.

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