“Name’s Harlowe,” I told the dame. “Youd’a seen it on the door if you weren’t so busy looking into other people’s business.” Sure I was hard on her, but that’s the game. “Mr. Harlowe, listen,” she said. “You don’t know this guy Sharpe. By all accounts, he’s... Why, I don’t know what he is. But I need your help.” I listened to her sob-story because it’d been awhile and my shot-glass had run dry. I already knew plenty about Sharpe. I just didn’t let on. I figure I either take the [[case]], or [[bounce]] this dame out the door.Her life's a glorious trainwreck. Blackmail. The kind you see in the movies. Not a black male. That’s something different. Girl’s a real looker. Wants to use protection. These days, who can blame her? I take her number, tell her not to worry, and send her on her way. I make a few calls to get a handle on Sharpe. They say he dresses up like a GreyElf. RenFair guys worry me, so I grab my wooden sword and head for the door. Just then Sharpe himself busts in, bumping into my sword. Paste is apparently NOT effective in wooden-sword-making so it breaks. He tells me to drop this case quicker than I dropped my sword. That stings. He leaves my office behind and with it, hurt feelings. I tell him to close the door or I'll pop him one. If I know anything, this guy is headed for the girl. [[Drop it]] [[Stay on the case|Sharpe leaves]] She hit the curb like a split-brick house. Left me a number if I changed my mind. It wasn’t 20-minutes she’d gone and I get a goon at my door. Tells me I need to leave the case alone. Flexes. Big guy. Brown hair. It’s Sharpe, all right. I play his game for a minute. “What’s it to you, whether I take the case or not?” I ask him. I didn’t say I played the game well. I just said I played it. His chest got tight. “What’s it to me?” he asked. “I like people doin what I say.” [[Ask for a payoff]] [[Take his advice]]I get back to work. This town’s crazy enough without me getting mixed up in things. Just then a boy walks in. Little Timmy says his cat's up a tree. Now here is a case I like. We head over to his front yard with one of them police-light specials on the roof so we get no trouble on the way. Just as nice as you please, we get her back down where she belongs. Somewhere off in the distance I hear a gunshot go off. Like I said... Town’s crazy.“Yeah, well I like it when bills are paid.” (set: $money to 5) He hands me a five, and turns towards the door. Behind his back I finish up the pastry I was eating. Never show weakness. “Shut the door,” I tell him. [[Sharpe leaves]]Sharpe took my suggestion and closes the door behind him on the way out. Funny... he didn't seem scared of me at all. I dismiss it and the door shuts behind him. Her number sits on the desk where she left it. I start to think... That was too easy. Maybe Sharpe saw it. Maybe he can tell it's chick-writ. Maybe that’s the crazy in his eye. Maybe. [[Drop it]] [[Act on it]]“You’re wasting your breath,” I told him. “I already sent the girl walking. Do the same to you ‘cept I’m too busy. Next time think twice before coming here. It ain’t like I ain’t got no gun this very minute in the drawer.” Double negatives always throw people off. [[Sharpe leaves]]I call the number she left me. Turns out it’s the SugarCane. Place is a dive, but sometimes stripping’s all a girl’s got. Coincidentally, and through no repeated visits or habits of my own, I know the name of the guy who answers. “Listen Jonah,” I tell him. “You got a girl there. Dances under the name Chris. Real name’s Klembot. Yeah. That one. Trouble on the way... a guy. Sharpe. You know him? Yeah. Me too. Only this time, something's off. I’ll hurry... But if he gets there first... well. Be ready.” (if:(history:) contains "Ask for a payoff")[I make the choice I've been waiting to make my entire life: (link: "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli." )[(set: $gun to 0)(goto: "End")]] (elseif:(history:) contains "case") [I glance down at my uneaten lunch. Now I got a choice to make. (link: "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli." )[(set: $gun to 0)(goto: "End")] (link: "Eat cannoli on the way, but also bring the gun." )[(set: $gun to 1)(goto: "End")] ] (else:)[I got nothing outta the deal. No client. No bribe. Maybe I won't go down there after all. I wonder how that broad's gonna turn out.]I roll up to the club and park in a spot that would TOTALLY be my usual spot, if I had ever been here before... although... obviously... I have not. I make my way inside just as Sharpe pulls out a gun and aims it at Klembot. (if: $gun<=0)[ And me, without one. He got the drop on her. It’s too late for me to save the dame... but I got a plan. I start throwing strippers at him until eventually one of them wraps him up in their drama. It’s just the break I need. I slap the cuffs on him as we hear the sirens wail in the background. I need a drink. Thank god I’m at a bar. “Bartender... Give me a MadExile. Today’s been CRAZY.”] (elseif: $gun=>0)[I get off a shot before Sharpe. The story ends, and my body-count’s up a notch. It’s not all bad: I got a dame for my troubles and those are just the ones that SHE brings me.](if: $money>4)[I leave the bribe Sharpe gave me on the counter. “Crime pays, all right.”]