Friday, September 01, 2006


The Drugstore Comic Book Incident (I)

Part one of six in a thrilling new hardboiled noir serial.

I was a little over halfway through my first bottle of Jack D of the night when I heard the footsteps coming up the corridor to my office.

A woman’s footsteps, high heels clicking over lino (which kind of muffled the clicking and spoiled the effect to some extent). I sat in my chair with my back to the door and took a hit from the tumbler of Daniels (rocks, no water or soda) and lit a cigarette. From the sound of her heels and the distance between her steps I figured she was long in the leg and broad in the hip. Just the way I like a dame.

I swiveled round in my chair to face the door. I lit a cigarette. I always have the lights off after midnight but the blinds were open and the light from the giant neon 9/11 sign across the street slanted in sweepingly to bathe my desk and the doorway in a harsh blue wash. I sucked on my cigarette and tweaked the top drawer of the desk ajar. Pussy, my partner, revealed her butt. She’s a beauty. The reason she’s called Pussy is that she’s a nine millimetre, which the G-d-damn NRA a--holes reckon can’t stop a rampaging sheep. They say you can’t kill s--t without at least a 45 mm. I say with the right man behind the gun you can stop a rhino with a single slug, never mind the caliber.

I smoked and I watched the doorway with Pussy nearby and before long this broad appeared in the doorway and pointed a pair of 38s at me. For all I knew she had a gun as well. She was wrapped in an evening dress made out of silvery nothingness and she had the kind of smoldering eyes that could melt steel at twenty-five paces. Her hair was flame red. As though it was on fire. Which it was.

I threw the rest of the contents of the JD bottle over her which wasn’t such a good idea as the fire in her hair got worse so I ripped the fire extinguisher off the wall and sprayed her till she was smoking but not smoldering and she threw away her cigarette holder with a rueful grimace.

‘I’ll get to the point’ she said. I laughed inside. A few paces forward and she’d be right on top of the point. I lit a cigarette.

‘You are Mr Foot Eater, Private Detective.’ She said it as though it was a fact, which it was, even though technically I’d lost my license after that episode with the senator’s garden gnome and the Mexican maid.

‘I want you to find my husband. He’s vanished.’

‘Yeah, yeah…’ I started to say. I lit a cigarette. I’d heard the story a thousand times before. Guy marries classy dame, starts fooling around after a couple years, runs off with secretary, wife gets jealous and wants some PI to track the guy to Peru or Sweden or wherever the ----. Once upon a time I’d have taken the chick’s money and clocked up a nice little earner, a couple months on five bucks an hour, and at the end I’d have told her, hey, sorry honey, but your man’s not coming back, oh, and by the way, here’s the bill. But I’m older now than I was then.

She cut me off, this broad with the silvery slinky dress and the melons. I fished a penknife out of my pocket and peeled one of them as she spoke. I don’t usually take bribes but I’m partial to fruit. I smoked while I ate.

‘I want you to find my husband,’ she said, planting herself on my desk top, ‘and I know you will, because you know him. You were once part of a cartoon series with him.’

I went cold.

‘His name’s Binty. Binty McShae.’

I went colder.

In that instant, I knew I had to take on this broad, follow her down whatever hellish road she was leading me.

McShae. Maroon. Ayres. Barbudo.

My world went spinning.

I lit a cigarette.

You direct this story! Is the mystery broad:

a) Sarah?
b) Sam, ProblemChildBride?
c) FatMammyCat?

Footsie! You darling! How long have you had up that link to me?

I must know -- was it the promises of oral sex that did it? I meant every word of those, you know. My husband will totally service you, just like I promised.
Footsie - fan-fucking-tastic! Raymond Chandler, move over.
It is, of course, FMC, nobody else could manage those heels with those ankles!
OOOO!!! I love "Choose Your Own Adventure" books!
"Do you A:take the money, turn to page 183 B:take the weapon, turn to page 84 C:convert to mormonism, close this book and pray."

I have no direction to offer. Oh, wait, Sarah! But she's not married to Binty...
SafeT- she could be for the purposes of this story! Footsie, was the cigarette was untipped? Did he roll his own? Brown fingers?
I take my melons with me everywhere I go, and yes, I'll say it, if the right PI wants to nibble on one, I always have fruit forks, Royal Doulton, table-cloth in my tardis-like purse. And napkins for post-prandial mopping.

I say fmc is the broad. She has recently had a bump on the head and the plot possibilities for that are great. Amnesia; erratic behaviour; puzzled silences. (Actually you'd have the last two things there with me but you'd have to remember to write in "the broad took her medication with neat gin" several times a day and that could get boring. But if you forgot the medication part the thing would degenerate from noir to farce (jeune) quickly.

I don't know Sarah as well as fmc - must correct that; so many interesting blogs so little time - but she's a feisty one too and I think, ripe for noir.

For this tale, I say fmc's your broad. Shebah's right about those ankles, and The Cat knows kickboxing, which with the right lighting could be very noir.
d) None of the above.

The Broad is Binty. He's had a sex change operation, performed on him by Dr. Maroon, and now he is so traumatized that he has compartamentalized his personality, and is now in search of his former (male) self.

Um, those weren't melons you were eating, Foot. Way to go with the evidence.
FS: I've never understood the attractions of oral sex. Watching it performed or even reading juicy descriptions I can understand, but talking about it?

extremely lacklustre drum signature

SheBah: don't assume too much. For all you know she has elephantine ankles. The dame in the story, I mean.

SafeT: I liked the idea but those 'Choose...' books sucked pond scum. Far better were the {ahem} British Fighting Fantasy books of the 1980s, which used the same principle but added sharp weapons and buckets of gore.

And you might want to revisit the comments on McShae's site for some context in the Binty-Sarah thing.

SheBah: you appear, unusually for you, to have got suddenly drunk between your first and second comments.

Sam: I take my pork-pie hat off to you, ma'am. In fact I'm considering handing this story over to you to write.

FS: bzzzzzzt! Ah-uhhhh! No 'none of the aboves' in this thrilling hardboiled noir serial, thank you very much. My gaff, my rules. Ask your hubby what that means.
Foot, I am seriously starting to suspect that YOU are my husband.

Part Welsh, likes Bruce Springsteen, Heckler & Kochs, those "Fighting Fantasy" books, and you're highly paranoid.... That's a fairly accurate description of my hubby.

Is there something you want to 'fess up to?
I think he'd confess to anything except the part Welsh bit. Sparrow you must come to the party too. I'll send details. You can bring your husband's hernia with you, it may form the focus of an amusing party game I've just thought of called "name that partygoer" You get blinfolded and then different...I'll tell you all later.

Foot Eater it is obviously Sarah and McShae.

Party! Party! Party! (jumps up and down)
I wouldn't get too excited, Sparrow, it's the Scottish National Party. Do not sign anything, no matter how persuasive he is.
Hmmm, I think I already joined that. Did it involve a lot of whisky?

They keep threatening to kick me out, as I can never remember the pronunciation of "Culloden." ("Cul-LAW-den", or is it "CULL-o-den"? Shit, I'm fucked)

I'm pretty sure it was them that required my husband to do a Sean Connery impression for the welcome message on our answering machine. Confuses the fuck out of American telemarketers, which is not bad.
My vote's for Sarah. from recent comments about the place she needs a good adventure to get involved in.
THIS IS GREAT!! even if i'm not the broad, i'm going to enjoy it!!
Funny you should say that, Sarah, because...
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