She stood up and laid a single dollar bill onto my desk.
"I want to rent you, Mr. Randolph," she said. This kid was adorable.
"It's actually hire, Miss Dolan."
I heard a woman outside in the lobby of the building yelling Katie's name. I figured it was her mother. The yelling got louder until a woman burst into my office.
"Katie! I can't believe you ran away from the group like that!" the woman said as she knelt down and grabbed Katie by the shoulders.
"I'm sorry, Miss Barbara," Katie said.
I guess that wasn't her mother after all...
She looked like she was going to cry. Normally when a full-grown dame cries it makes me wanna rip my heart out. If this poor little thing began crying I was liable to start bawling right along side her. I tried to avoid either of us crying.
"Are you the baby in this picture?" I asked.
She nodded, "I think so."
"How old are you, Miss Dolan?"
"Nine," she said.
I continued, "When was the last time you saw your father?"
She got sad again, "S'been a long time."
I rubbed my chin. This was going to be rough...
"I want you to find this man," she said as she held out the photo. I rose up from my chair and took it from her. It was a black-and-white picture of a man who looked to be in his early-30s. He was standing in a kitchen holding a newborn baby. He had a smile on his face, but his eyes were a tempestuous sea of sadness, a raging river of remorse.
I looked back at Katie, "Who is this man?"
She looked down for a moment, then looked back at me and said, "He's my daddy."
She made her way up to my desk without a hint of nervousness. This was a little lady on a mission.
"Are you Jake Randolpe?" she asked. It was cute the way she mispronounced my surname.
"Yes, ma'am. But it's pronounced Ran-dolf," I said.
"I'm sorry," she said. "My name is Katie Dolan."
"Well, glad to know you, Katie Dolan. Why don't you have a seat?" I asked, motioning to the chair in front of my desk.
She climbed up into it, straightening her dress.
"Now, what can I do for you, Miss Dolan?"
She pulled out a photo...
I was in my office on Sunset trying to decide whether to take a nap at my desk or go over to the couch under the window and lie down. The L.A. afternoon was shimmering outside, and the monotonous hum of the traffic was lulling me into a stupor.
Then she appeared at my door. She was blonde, had a pink dress on, and a look in her cobalt eyes that spelled heartache. She stepped in.
Was she a femme fatale? A vixen with a fistful of trouble? No, she couldn't have been more than nine or ten years old...