This series started in "As Is"
by P. Orin Zack
"She told me it was a buzzerfly, Mr. Spordling."
Ryan Svorlin smiled at Amathea's latest mispronunciation, and set the clump of siskiyou blue he was holding into the hole she'd dug for him. He'd started re-landscaping the grounds of the enormous house he'd won in the L.A. mortgage lottery soon after burying its former owner. Gregory Davis's smelly corpse was still hanging over the kitchen sink when Ryan opened the door for the first time, and he'd stayed in that spot as a local tourist attraction until a visiting former congressman offered to help plant the suicide in his own garden. Taking over a house, 'as-is', in the days after the big financial meltdown, could hold more surprises than it did when Davis was still scamming people with specious investment schemes. Happily, if you could call it that, the bloated debt-based market had finally had a correction large enough to put an end to the hegemony of the dollar, and life went on after a fashion.
"A what, kitten?"
Amathea looked up at him for a few seconds, and then pulled a clip from her hair. "A buzzerfly. Like this."
The pattern on the thin plastic wings struck Ryan as a miniature, robed monk surrounded by a saffron glow, and tipped with rings of stars in a brown sky. While it was nestled along her braid rows, it had seemed as lifeless as Davis, but now, with its young owner flitting it over the plants in the box that sat beside her, it was more like an itinerant preacher spreading wisdom among the leaves. "What did your mother say was like a butterfly?"
"My name. She said this buzzerfly has the same name as me."
A shadow crossed Amathea's pretty brown face as she was clipping the butterfly back into her hair, so she turned to look up at the pale man that had stopped on the sidewalk beyond the bed.
"Excuse me," the man said amiably, setting down his battered attache case. "I'm looking for the Davis house. Is this it?"
Ryan rose. He began to extend a hand in greeting, but froze in recognition, and clenched it instead. "I know who you are, Conklin."
"That's great. Then you won't mind my asking-."
"Actually, I do, Peter. Aren't you supposed to be in prison?"
"Well, I was. Until recently, anyway. But it turned out someone needed me sprung, so here I am."
"Here you are, indeed. Back at the home of the man you did some of your best work for. Well, you're a bit late. Gregory Davis had a last minute change of heart, and left a cornucopia of evidence behind, a treasure trove of files that you seem to figure quite prominently in."
He glanced down at his case. "Those phony bonds. Of course."