Dear readers, tonight we revisit the world of Alexander Southerland, P.I., whom we visited before. This time we reprint a magazine interview with his gnomish lawyer, that lovable scamp Rob Lubank. Caution: foul language ahead.

Welcome to Community Outreach. Today’s guest is one of the most well-known defense attorneys in Yerba City. Could you please introduce yourself to our audience?

Glad to. I’m Robinson Lubank, attorney at law. What th’fuck d’ya wanna know about me?

You’ve been described as someone who has his finger on the pulse of Yerba City. Would you say that this is an accurate assessment?

You kidding me? I’ve got this town by the balls! I’ve got the dirt on every important person in the metropolitan area, and that includes the judges. That’s why I’m the best defense attorney in the city.

Have you always wanted to be a lawyer?

I’ve always wanted to make a lot of dough, and I figured out pretty early in the game that making it as a mouthpiece would be a hell of a lot less risky than robbing banks. As you can see by my big adorable round ears, I’m a gnome. I don’t pack a lot of muscle into this three-and-a-half-foot body of mine. I’ve got more brains than brawn, and the law is a good racket for a mug like me.

Gnomes are known for their financial success, aren’t they?

Hey, that’s a stereotype! Not all gnomes are rich, but, yeah, a lot of us are. We tend to have good heads for business. When the Dragon Lords stormed out of Hell, they brought trolls and dwarfs along to slap their enemies around on the battlefield. They brought us gnomes along because they needed people with intelligence to build their economic infrastructures. We gnomes prefer to do our fighting across a table in the boardroom, or in the courts.

What was it like growing up in Yerba City?

I had it pretty good. My father was a bank manager. Very fuckin’ respectable. He taught me the value of money, which is something I’ve never forgotten. School was okay. I made some dough helping some of the guys get through it, you know, doing their homework for them and “convincing” some of the teachers to alter their grades.

How did you do that?

Hey, teachers aren’t any cleaner than anyone else. They’ve all got something to hide. Maybe from their spouses, or maybe from their bosses—maybe even from the coppers! Once you’ve ferreted out their little peccadilloes, they become very willing to make deals.

So blackmail is the key to your success?

Watch it, pal! “Blackmail” is such an ugly word. It’s not my fault that so many people have skeletons in their closet, or that I’m so good at discovering them. Once my operation started to grow, I began hiring investigators to get the dirt for me. There’s this hard number named Alex Southerland, for example. He’s done a lot of good work for me. We have a nice copacetic little arrangement. He tends to get himself into a lot of hot water with the boys in blue, and it’s my job to get him out it. For a price, of course. I make sure that I rack up a lot of billable hours keeping him free to operate, and, as a result, he’s into me deep. He pays some of it back by doing investigative work for me, but the poor bastard will probably die owing me money. And the way he operates, that could happen sooner rather than later.

What do you mean?

His mode of operation is to stick his chin out and see who takes a poke at it. The more damage he takes, the closer he gets to wrapping up his case. Good thing he can take a punch! All I can say is, better him than me. I’m too handsome, but you can’t really mess Southerland’s face up any more than it already is.

Sounds like you’re taking advantage of him.

You kidding? I’ve done more for that fuck than he’s ever done for me! Like the time he stuck his nose into an operation that was being run by a corrupt cop—a captain for the Yerba City Police Department, no less! Southerland got himself hauled off to police headquarters where he found himself in one of the interrogation sweatboxes getting batted around by a troll with a bad attitude. Who got him out of that mess? Me, that’s who! I had the goods on that captain, and he had no choice but to dance to my tune. It was either that, or his wife would find out all about the sultry little ocean nymph he had stashed away in his downtown luxury condo. Southerland wound up causing a big shakeup in the YCPD—with my help, of course!

Do you still work with Alex Southerland?

He still works for me, if that’s what you mean. And I still bail him out of trouble. Don’t tell him I said so, but I kind of like the big oaf. He’s actually pretty smart, for a human, and you gotta admire a customer like him who can stand toe to toe with a troll and live to tell about it. He did some work with the Barbary Coast Bruja, too, and she’s the most powerful witch I’ve ever known! Lord’s balls! He had to deal with some scary shit in that case! Witches, demons, human sacrifices—hell, some old Azteca god tried to eat his heart! I’ll say one thing about that dumb cluck—he’s a tough nut to crack!

Sounds like you worry about him.

Me? Nah! Gracie, though—that’s my wife—she’d never forgive me if I ever let him get seriously hurt. She’s human, and she’s got a little thing for that big ugly pug.

Is that so? You don’t seem upset by it.

It’s not serious. My Gracie is quite the dame! She’s a flirty little doll, but it’s just a game she plays. Besides, you know what they say—once you go gnome, you can never go home! Gracie and I are devoted to each other. She’s my partner in crime… err… so to speak.

You seem like a confident guy. Is there anything you’re afraid of?

I can handle myself in most situations. Like when that 500-pound troll came into my office and tried to put a scare into me. I outsmarted that boneheaded ape and sent him packing! I’ll say this, though…. I’ve made a lot of enemies, and the one thing that keeps me awake at night is the possibility that someone might try to hurt my Gracie. She’s a tough broad, but Yerba City is a tough town. If anyone ever lays a glove on her, I’ll bury him so deep that his mother will forget that she ever brought him into this world!

What are the best and worst things about living in Yerba City?

The best thing about Yerba City? That’s easy! Money circulates through the body of the city like blood! It flows through the streets and alleyways, and pulses through the offices in those steel-framed skyscrapers. Nothing is more exciting to me than money, and this city is practically made of dough! The worst thing? All the senseless violence in the streets. It ain’t going away, though, so no sense bellyaching about it. All you can do is protect yourself and try to profit from it whenever you can.

What do you do to relax?

Relax! Th’fuck is that? I don’t relax—I’m too busy working! Listen, pal—no one makes money by relaxing! I sleep about three hours a day, and I make sure that I’m fuckin’ billing somebody for every minute of it!

So what’s next for you?

Well, it’s an election year, and Mayor Teague has his hands full with a tough cookie named Montavious Harvey. I’m digging up as much dirt on Harvey as I can, just in case he wins the election. Things have taken an unusual turn—a vengeance demon is stalking the mayor, and my boy Southerland is mixed up in it somehow! Apparently, Southerland ran into the demon back when he was fighting the Dragon Lord’s war in the Borderland, and he’s been having nightmares about it ever since. Now he’s working with three trolls to stop it and send it back to the abyss where it came from. I hope it doesn’t kill him—the son of a bitch owes me money!

Can you share a secret with us? Something you’ve never told anyone else?

Nice try, pal! You won’t dig up any dirt on me that easily. I’ll tell you something about Southerland that he doesn’t know yet. I’ve got it on the q.t. that he’s about to have trouble with owls. Don’t tell him, though. When it all goes down, it’s gonna be a fuckin’ hoot!

Douglas Lumsden earned a doctorate in medieval European history at the University of California Santa Barbara. He taught world history at a couple of colleges before settling into a private college prep high school in Monterey. Now retired, he writes an urban fantasy series featuring hard-boiled private eye Alexander Southerland as he cruises through the mean streets of Yerba City and interacts with trolls, femme fatales, shape-shifters, witches, and corrupt city officials. Douglas and his wife Rita can be found most days pounding the pavement in our running shoes, or with their cat named Cinderella who is happy to stay indoors.

You can find Rob on the pages of the Alexander Southerland P.I. series, starting with A Troll Walks into a Bar, and the just released A Hag Rises From The Abyss.

Join us next week to meet a prince leading his people to a new continent. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.