Denny leaned his head back to exhale a gigantic puff. “Did you see Shirley’s face when I told her we won?”

“I did. It remains fortuitously located within the scope of my peripheral vision when admiring her cleavage. A fact which to my mind has always been a strong argument in favor of the existence of a beneficent supreme creator.”

“She was awed,” said Denny.

“She was.”

“We were awe inspiring.”

“We were.”

“If the Menendez brothers had had us, they’d be back in Beverly Hills squandering their parent’s money on booze and hookers and talking book deals with O.J.'s agent right now.”

“You say that like it’s a good thing.” Though carefully neutral, Alan’s tone had that distant ring that it took on when wishing something far removed from him.

Denny sounded distinctly annoyed. “There you go changing the subject again. Good thing, bad thing: It’s just a thing. A thing we’re paid to do. A thing I’m damn good at.”

“You are,” Alan agreed with full sincerity.

“We’re still Denny Crane.”

“We are.”

Denny’s face clouded over. Now it was his gaze that grew distant. “But for how much longer, I wonder.” He reached as if for his scotch, but simply backhanded the glass so that it slid a few inches away along the table top.

Alan leaned over and placed a palm high upon Denny’s thigh. “For long enough.” He held the pose long enough to make the point--plus a moment longer, then settled back in his chair. He tried for the tone of their casual chatter.

“Denny, what would you do if you couldn’t practice law?”

“I’d be a dick for hire.”

Alan’s stare inquired further.

“A dick. Private dick. Private eye.”

Alan chuckled. Three years and even he hadn’t the foggiest notion how to tell where the deviously clever left off and the disease began to creep in. Or when it was the other way around. Or if the two were so hopelessly intermixed with what was now Denny Crane that trying to make any distinction would be meaningless. In any event, Denny sounded happy again, and at the most basic level of a life lived, wasn’t that what mattered most?

“A private eye?” Alan intentionally inserted laughter under the words. “You need me to find your key ring most mornings.”

Denny waved him off. “It’s not about that, man. It’s about image. Sam Spade, Phillip Marlowe, Sherlock Holmes: accountable to no one, breaking all the rules, beating up bad guys, making grand Annunciations about the crime—”


“—following women’s backsides around town, hiding in their closets while they undress, taking pictures.”

Alan contemplated over his cigar. “I wouldn’t mind being Watson: backing your plays; writing by the fire on cold, foggy nights; working with words; crafting and defining our own history as we go. And Watson got all the women.” Alan inserted the last with a jab.

Denny seemed not to react. “Mm. But he never got to bottom.”

“Pardon?” The word masked a choking laugh.

“Sherlock was a swish,” said Denny. “Think about it: wouldn’t join the army, wouldn’t touch a gun—made his boyfriend do it, always running around in makeup playing dress-up--”

“Like flamingos?”

“Swish,” Denny declared. “Watson did all the fucking. You’d hate it.”

Alan laughed. “I’d adjust.” He took a sip. “So Sherlock Holmes was a swish, and you want to be him.”

“Not Rathbone. The other one. The snazzy dresser. I’d look good in a top hat and tails, swinging a stick.”

“You would.” Alan could see it, and it had a lot of appeal.

“Do you think ascots come in pink and white?” Denny mused, one hand to his tie.

“If not, I’ll have one made for your birthday.”

“Pink, gold, purple and green. Lime green.”

“Got it.”

“Denny Crane: dick for hire.” Denny nodded—matter settled.

“You know what I like about Victorian dress?" Alan mused. "The corsets. The way they fit against the body, holding one in—repressing and constraining all the vital organs: the breath, the heart, the soul--leaving only the penis to fly free.”

Denny glared at him. “You’re just saying that homo stuff to piss me off.”

“I assure you, I am not. I’m saying it because it gives me tremendous pleasure to contemplate the exquisite paradox of delicate lace and hard, unyielding stays biting in against my skin, molding my flesh to its will, forcing my body up, up, up and over the top.” Alan drew his palms up the length of his torso, over his nipples, his chest, and released them with the flourish of a swell.

Denny looked him over. “You’re aroused.”

“I am.”

“You want to go home.”

“I do. But I’m willing to wait. It’s sweeter for the anticipation.”

Denny furrowed his brow and seemed to focus internally. “It’s now or never. I won’t make it home. I draw my strength from this balcony.”

“I thought it was from Catharine Zeta-Jones.”

“Her too. Come on. Time, tide and Denny Crane wait for no man. Supply closet. Let’s go.”

“You must be joking. With the doll?” Alan blinked at him.

”She won’t tell. Never has.” Denny stubbed out his cigar and stood.

Alan stood as well. “It will make an interesting story for the emergency room nurse as to how I came by thumbtacks in my knees. Not to mention employee health.”

“Wait.” Denny stopped behind his desk and began rummaging in a drawer. He tossed a pistol on top of the shelf.

Alan ducked out of long reflex. “So help me, Denny, if you shoot me again, I am not having sex with you!”

“Oh, don’t be such a crybaby. It was just a BB. Ah! I knew it was here.” Denny closed the drawer and withdrew an elegant, long-stemmed pipe of burnished wood. He popped it between his lips.

“Come here, Watson; I need you.”

“I think you have your Watsons a little confused,” said Alan.

Denny shrugged. “As long as my Watson has the right Denny Crane.”

“He does,” said Alan. He stepped over and with deliberate pressure, carefully brushed some non-existent lint from Denny’s breast. “As if there could be any other.” He let his hand roam lower.

“Supply closet. Now,” Denny barked. He started forward, but paused. He put his right hand to the front of his hip, a blank look on his face.

“I’ve got your keys,” said Alan, jingling a ring from his hand. He held open the office door and ushered Denny out.

“Ah.” Denny brightened and hurried into the hall.

“What would you do as Sherlock Holmes?” Alan asked as he strode alongside.

“I’d have sex with the queen.”


“No, the next one.” They rounded the corner.


“No, the pretty one: Lizzie. Before she got frumpy.”

“You realize you might be expected to handle a case sometime.” They’d arrived in front of the closet door.

“Give me two seconds. I’ll show you my speckled band and how I handle it.”

Alan pretended to consider. “Okay.” He passed the key ring over, and Denny unlocked the door.