"That's me." I glanced at the sign on my door for confirmation. "What can I do for you?"
"I need your help."
I immediately thought of about six kinds of help I wanted to give him, any one of which would have kept him busy 'til sundown. The guy was a real looker--a strong-featured, Nordic blond with eyes the color of cornflowers. From the way he was filling out his pants and the t-shirt under his leather jacket, it looked like his tailor was experiencing a serious fabric shortage. His calves bulged, his thighs bulged, his chest--well, you get the picture. I got it too and my blood pressure started to rise noticeably.
"At your service, Mr...." I paused for him to fill in the blank, smiling reassuringly.
"Travis. David Travis."
"Well, Mr. Travis, what kind of help are you in the market for?"
"I want you to find someone for me. It's very important that you be thorough and very discreet. Money is no object."
That took my attention away from the fat bulge in his crotch. "Who are we looking for?"
"My twin brother, Daniel Travis."
"That should be a pleasure." I grinned at him, but he didn't grin back. "Just stick to the salient details," I drawled, scrambling around in the top drawer of my desk, looking for paper.
"Well, Mr. Diamond, Dan and I flew back to San Francisco from Paris two weeks ago to be with our grandfather on his eightieth birthday. Unfortunately, Dan and Grandfather had a serious argument over money. So serious that Grandfather had to be rushed to the intensive care unit at St. Francis Hospital. He has a bad heart."
David turned the full force of his eyes on me and I started to sweat.
"The next day, Dan flew up here to take delivery of a new sailboat he'd had built. There was an accident--the diesel line for the generator leaked and there was an explosion. The boat sank and my brother's body was burned beyond recognition. Officially, the case has been closed." He paused for a moment, looking over my shoulder at the grimy green wall.
"And unofficially?" My patience was wearing thin as I contemplated just how much money would be no object.
"Unofficially, I don't think Dan is dead. I've got no proof, but I have a gut feeling that he's alive somewhere and I've got to find him."
"Didn't the autopsy establish beyond a doubt that your brother was the man they found with the wreckage?"
"Not only was the body badly burned, Mr. Diamond, but when it washed ashore..." The young man shuddered, then continued in a tight voice. "The head was missing."