Bill Meilen
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Chapter Eleven

OTIS Leatherman sat at his desk in the lush comfort of his apartment grande standing in the fourteenth arrondissement. Piled to one side were copies of the day's French language newspapers and magazines, interesting items sectioned off in red for his examination.

There were one or two articles of interest politically, and a good murder story about someone being pushed through a window in Montmartre—a happening that seemed to fit in with a recent pattern in Parisian murder annals. That will be of interest to several British and Stateside newspapers for syndication, once paraphrased into my own words, essential to the security of my cover as a freelance newspaper correspondent, it being essential to satisfy the French Police Aliens Department that one has a respectable source of income.

Swallowing the last cold dregs of coffee from an earthenware mug he stood and walked across the apartment in his underpants and up the spiral staircase to the duplex gallery. In the centre of the gallery was an enormous bed. Lying in it was an exceedingly attractive girl with a shock of blonde hair.

Lighting a cigarette, Leatherman sat on the bed and shook the girl gently, running his hand over the plane of her naked stomach, and down. Stretching luxuriously she looked at him through a veil of satisfaction and reached for him.

He evaded her grasp and stood.

“Not now, Barbarella, we have work to do.”

The girl groaned, “I do declare you're losing the ability, Otis.”

He nodded. “I have my problems, but potency is not one of them, at least not at this point in time. My main priority is getting that copy out and winging its way beyond the grey Atlantic. Get your clothes on.”

The girl sat up, pouting, breasts firm as a brace of California cantaloupes. “Later?”

Leatherman pulled on a towelling robe, and stopped with the belt half-tied. “Now you know I have Heloïse coming this evening. Have to keep something in reserve, my social commitments being so many and varied.” Picking up a handful of clothing he tossed it to her. “Bring your pad down and I’ll dictate the copy, then you can run it over to the Agency with the stills for transmission.”

As he came down the stairs onto the main studio level the telephone purred. He picked it up and listened. “Yo.”

“TransAtlantic News Agency?” a voice said.

“Correct. Copy desk.” Leatherman said, following recognition procedures.

”This is Ballette S.A.. We have an account with you.”


“Do you have anything on the Obispo case?"

“Not right now. We’re interested in any copy we can get though.”

”We have copy. Normal rates?”