Lesley A. Diehl
Crusty McNabb is the owner of the only private detecting agency in Sabal Bay and has taken on a new apprentice, Eve Apple Egret. The local newspaper is publishing a special feature each week in which owners of small businesses are being interviewed. Today Mr. McNabb talks about his PI agency.
Reporter: Mr. McNabb, how long have you been in the detective business and what got you started?
McNabb (a tall, man with a craggy face, bushy sideburns and graying, thinning hair): I worked a few years as a cop in Miami but found I didn’t like the bureaucracy. To be honest, I couldn’t adjust to life in a big city. I was raised in this area, but thought I’d find an urban area more exciting. Well, it was, but to be honest, I didn’t like taking orders and being told how to work my cases at all satisfying. Like my recent hire, Eve says, I’m a stubborn old coot and always have been pigheaded. I came back here to open my own agency. That was over thirty years ago.
Reporter: What kind of cases do you take?
McNabb: I’ll take on whatever pays the bills. I’m not picky. Most of my cases are insurance fraud, although I have done missing persons and also have been hired by the local police when they need extra help to track down evidence. Recently, we’ve been involved in a sexual harassment case and attempted murder.
Reporter: So, you and your newest hire, Ms. Appel worked on these cases together?
McNabb (fidgeting in his chair as if he was uncomfortable with the question): Uh, well, not exactly. On the suggestion of Ms. Appel, I took on a young woman to go undercover on the sexual harassment case.
Reporter: So, you hired yet another woman?
McNabb (a note of defensiveness in his voice): It was only temporary, and as I look back on it, I think it was a mistake.
Reporter: Why was that? Didn’t the woman do her job.
McNabb: She did it too well and put herself in danger. I told Eve it wasn’t a good idea to take her on, but…
The door to the office opens and a tall, slender woman with spiky blond hair and wearing a pair of four-inch stiletto heels enters.
Eve: Oh sorry. I didn’t know you were in here with anyone.
The woman strides across the room and greets the reporter.
Eve: I know you. You’re the gal our local paper recently hired. How’s the job going?
Reporter: Great. I’m interviewing Mr. McNabb here for our feature on small businesses.
Eve grabs a chair from the side of the room and pulls it up next to the reporter. She sits, crosses her legs and smiles.
Eve: Great. Maybe I can be of help. What were you talking about?
Reporter: Mr. McNabb was talking about one of his cases, the one on which you sent a young woman in under cover. He says he thinks it was a mistake to take her on. What do you say about that?
Eve (waving a hand in dismissal): Without going into details, let’s just say, we had some worrisome moments.
McNabb (clearing his throat): The truth is I needed a woman to do the job. Eve was too old, so I hired a younger gal, college student age. In either case it’s difficult to work with women who insist upon doing things their own way.
Eve: No one got hurt, did they? We solved the case. The undercover person had to be a woman. What were you going to do? Dress up like a coed?
McNabb: Of course not, but if your ex-husband hadn’t interfered, that young woman wouldn’t have been kidnapped. Something unexpected happens anytime you and your friends get involved.
Eve: It’s not my fault my ex is such a bubble head.
McNabb: Maybe if you had supervised the woman more closely….
McNabb (reaches into his desk drawer and searches around for something)
Eve (leans over the desk): I tossed out all your stinky cigars long ago. This is a no smoking office. You know that.
McNabb (growls something unintelligible, then leans back in his chair, crosses his arms over his chest and scowls): I tell ya, having a woman PI is more trouble than it’s worth. I’m not my own boss anymore.
Reporter (getting up and nervously putting away her tape recorder and note pad) Well, I think I have everything I need for the article. Thanks so much for your time.
McNabb (following the reporter to the door): Did I tell you she’s a disaster with a gun? Can’t hit a thing.
Eve (confronting McNabb at the door): I’m working on that. I went to the shooting range today and practiced.
McNabb: Did you open your eyes this time?
Eve: Most of the time.
The reporter drives off, McNabb and Appel continuing to argue in the doorway of the agency. The article appears on page 10 of the paper under the heading “Local Detective Agency Promotes the Role of Women in PI Work.” McNabb sets the paper on fire in disgust while Eve shows the article to her friends and family who laugh at the thought of Crusty McNabb willingly endorsing females in crime work.
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