SNEAK PREVIEW from Jill’s forthcoming novel “Dog Spelled Backwards”

I heard Bosco, Zodiac’s owner, cursing me before I walked through the office door. Bosco resembled Jabba the Hutt after a three day bender. His sweaty bald head sat atop a 400-pound body made out of fleshy Play-Doh. I couldn’t believe he was a former cop.

“Ronson, you’re a friggin’ hour late!” he bellowed. The earthworm-like veins on his temples were about to burst. “And don’t give me lip about getting stuck in traffic. If you weren’t a weak little girl, I’d make you drop and give me twenty.”

“What makes you think I can’t do that?” I said, rolling up my sleeves. “How about we see who can do the most push ups in five minutes? You man enough Bosco you big pussy?”

I got down on the dirty floor and cranked out twenty, one-armed push ups. I knew I was being a jerk, but I liked winding Bosco up until he threw a temper tantrum and threatened to fire me. That was all the leverage Bosco had, which made me all the more eager to egg him on.

“Get off the floor before I come over and show you how I do push ups with my johnson,” Bosco grumbled. I wiped my hands on my jeans and sat down on the hard plastic chair across from his cluttered desk. I stared over Bosco’s head at the bumper-to-bumper traffic on York Road.

“You’re a real smart ass, Ronson,” he said scratching his arm pit and checking his BlackBerry. “That’s why I’m giving you this special assignment.” He shot me an evil smile and tossed a thick sheaf of papers at me.

I pushed the papers back across the desk. “I don’t have time to digest this bullshit. Break it down for me, Bosco. Just the facts.”

“OK college girl, you’re going to tail Mackenzie Peters-Royce. She’s a freshman at Loyola and the daughter of City Council member Maurice Royce. Her daddy Maurice believes his little girl is hooking up with her married English professor.” Bosco slid me a blurry picture of a middle-aged man with his arm around a teenage girl. “These are the love birds. Your assignment is to find out where they’re doing the nasty, get some pictures, talk to the motel clerk, and then report back to me. I need that address by the end of the week or else you’re—”

“Lemme guess: fired?” I huffed. “You always say that. So why don’t you just do it now and put us both out of our misery?” Sneaking around cheap motels to spy on pervy college professors and hot-to-trot spoiled teenagers was my idea of hell. This job was really scraping the bottom of the barrel, even for a bottom feeder like Bosco.

“This job stinks worse than Archie’s farts.”

“This job needs a woman’s touch, that’s why I saved it for especially for you.” Bosco licked his slumy lips and blew me a kiss. “Tell you what, if you can get me the address by Thursday I’ll throw in an extra $10.”

“Ten lousy dollars! “F-you, you turd.”

“Who’s my number one girl?” Bosco taunted. “See you at the end of the week, superstar.”

I kicked the door shut and stomped out. The sad part was that Bosco honestly thought he was doing me a favor by giving me this crap assignment. I had to quit Zodiac before I lost my last bit of self-esteem.

I fumed on the way back to my car.  Archie jumped into the passenger seat and slobbered stinky dog kisses over my face. He always knew I was being kicked around. I felt so low that I didn’t even try to push Archie away when he forced his 85-pound body into my lap.

“This is the last shitty job I’m doing for Zodiac, Archie. Let’s get the hell out of here and head to the dog park.”

When Bosco had his aneurysm, I sure as hell wasn’t going to call 911.