Tuesday, September 05, 2006


The Drugstore Comic Book Incident (II)

Part two of no more than six in a thrilling new hardboiled noir serial.

I walked the rain-soaked streets through the city’s neon glare and as I walked I smoked and I flipped the spent butts into the puddles where they sizzled like little cancer fireflies.

I’d been working the city all day, paying visits and checking my networks. Nothing. I was heading for a dead-end bar downtown where my best stool pigeon was sure to be.

The dame’s name was Laughs, Sarah Laughs, though she didn’t seem to do much laughing around me. Few people do. She’d been married to McShae a little over six months. By the sound of it things had been going great, so when he hadn’t come home one evening a month earlier it had been a bolt out of the blue. He had no family he might have gone to, and she’d checked out his friends but they hadn’t seen him either. McShae sold wicker furniture for a living. That immediately got my suspicions up. The illegal wicker trade is worth a fortune. If he was messing around with that s—t then he was in more trouble than she realized. Assuming he was still alive at all.

I had to go looking for him because he was the only link I had to something very terrible that had happened to me ten years earlier. God alone knew where Ayres or Maroon or Barbudo were now, so crossing paths with McShae like this was like – I’m going to say something quite hard to swallow now, so if you’re a lady you might want to skip to the next paragraph, though if you’re a lady you shouldn’t really be reading this tale anyhow – it was like Providence offering to s—k your c—k for you.

I got to the bar, Bo Khaki, a little after midnight and threw the empty bottle of JD into the alleyway down the side. The doorman was getting ready to move aside for me but I hit him anyway because I needed the practise. Inside was the stink of booze and sweat and nixed hopes. Every loser and weirdo in town was there, it seemed: that crazy Irishman who had issues with toy dinosaurs was arm-wrestling the gal from Boston with the attitude (and coming off second best); that God-damn scientist guy was using some contraption he’d invented to try and look up the skirt of the Irish broad who did kick-boxing (as he’d soon find out); and that smart-a-- Brit expat from North Carolina was trying to impress the cute San Francisco broad who always comes across so innocent. He didn't see the razor she was holding behind her back.

Bo, the bar’s owner, had my triple JD – rocks, no water or soda – under my nose before I could say where's my God-damn JD. It’s a friendly enough place, Bo Khaki, though the waitresses all wear this horrible shiny slimy makeup which I haven’t figured out yet.

I lit a cigarette. My stoolie, SafeT, was perched next to me and he groaned when I tapped his lid. He’s nuts, like most of them in here; he thinks he’s a robot and wears this kind of dustbin. Back when I was a cop I’d used him very effectively and he’d kind of stayed on. Loyalty, perhaps, or else he was scared s—tless of me. Hell, I scare myself s--tless.

‘How’s tricks?’ I asked. I lit a cigarette, didn’t offer him one. He was drinking two-stroke engine oil, taking his artificial persona a little far, I thought.

‘Same old,’ he said, trying to sound metallic. I held out a photo between my first two fingers, keeping the other two folded over a twenty-dollar bill in my palm. He looked at it, shook his head rustily.

‘Name’s McShae. Scotch.’

‘Oh, okay,’ said SafeT and tried to get Bo’s attention. I sighed and clanged his lid shut, catching one of his ears. When he prised it open again I said, ‘I didn’t want a Scotch. He’s a Scotch. McShae.’

He muttered something and I ignored him and gave him some details. He took the photo and told me to give him a half hour. I sat and drank and smoked and tried to ignore the bitter howling wind within my soul.

SafeT was as good as his word – he wouldn’t dare not to be – and was back in under thirty minutes. He gave me back the photo and jerked a corroded thumb over his shoulder.

‘Guy back there. Refuses to talk to you but says he saw this McShae here, downtown, the night he disappeared. He was scared-looking, that’s how the guy remembered him, and he was alone. He was at the Wicker Universe store down on Charles Manson Avenue, knocking on the door, after hours, and someone opened up and he went in.’

Damn wicker. I knew it. I gave SafeT the twenty and, after a moment’s hesitation, fished out of my pocket a lube job voucher. I’m getting soft in my old age.


I reached the Wicker Universe in fifteen minutes and did a quick scout round the building to see if there were any lights to suggest a security guard. Nada. The triple locks on the front door were more complicated than I’d seen in a while and it took me a full ninety seconds to crack them. I eased the door open. The smell hit me first, that hazy, dangerous sweet aroma of newly woven wicker. I pressed a handkerchief against my mouth and nose. With my other hand I groped in my pocket for Pussy. I had a bad feeling about this.

When I felt I could trust myself not to be overcome by the smell I put the handkerchief away and found my flashlight. I flicked it on and saw a broken dark line stretching away across the lino floor. I bent closer.


I followed the trail which became a smear and then, behind a dense-weave patio set (despite what I saw next I had to admire the craftsmanship), I found the man. He was lying face-up in a sticky pool which was brown in the torchlight but was obviously his lifeblood. He wasn’t McShae. In his wide-open eyes was a look of utter, cosmic horror.

I couldn’t figure out immediately how he had died but I could see right away that something had been done to him beforehand. Something very nasty indeed.

I lit a cigarette.

What has been done to the poor man? Has he:

a) been dogged senseless?
b) received a year’s subscription to Reader’s Digest for his birthday?
c) *** ** ******* *** in **** *aa** * *******?!

Or suggest something of your own. The best idea goes into the next instalment!

Was the bitter howling wind within your soul bitter and howling enough so you had to turn up the collar of your consciousness 'gainst its damp probing fury and put on the earmuffs of oblivion? Dammit Foot if that isn't the worst soul weather of them all.

But are you Foot Eater, at all? I had assumed the chief protagonist of the tale was you, or at least male, but then I hear you reached in your pocket for your Pussy? Are you THAT sort of a PI? I knew you were a hardboiled denizen of a shadowy underworld the seaminess of which we readers can know nothing, but your pussy? Really? Just like that? In broad moonlight?
Is it a sharpening-of-the-mind technique or just an I-may-die-in-here-so-what-the-hell thing? In any event there a re a few PIs of my aquaintance I shan't be shaking hands with again.
I think most definitely (b). He was sucked in not knowing what kind of a porcelein shephardess 'n' zipped-up slipper hell he was entering. I say he died by his own hand - a bloody, gruesome death of 1000 papercuts - each little slice exquisite in its sharp carthesis and atonement for enjoying the "Letters - Where you have YOUR say!" page. Carnally.
I normally let the comments build up a head of steam before responding, but -

Sam, there's nothing sordid here at all (well, there is something very crude but it's not that). If you have a look at the first episode, you'll see who Pussy (note the capital letter, as in a name) is, and why she's called that.

You appear in this tale later on, don't you worry.
Oh, and your second comment is beyond the pale. I'm as broad-minded as the next man, but Reader's Digest comments cross the boundaries of acceptability. I'm appalled, quite frankly.
He was obviously fisted.

Fucking wicker trade. They hook you in, and then you're stuck in their evil woven trap. If Pier 1 comes calling, you haven't seen me. Same for Cost Plus World Market.

Bo Khaki's? How did you know where I work?
FE: haha!

i'm going to have to go with:
c) *** ** ******* *** in **** *aa** * *******?!

because i find all of the asterics to be quite intriguing..
He was sacrificed to the Old Gods by undead Sorcerer and noted homophobe Allen The Wickerman, he had made the mistake of trying to come on to him earlier at Bo Khaki's by using the line,"come here often?".
Or its those fucking Stingrays again, either way you're a sick and funny wee man Mr Eater, see ya at Bo Khaki's, the first pint is on me.
Fat Sparrow: I know nothing about the wicker trade and was hoping people like you would provide me with the research material I need.

Sarah: you're right! But you have to work out what all the asterisks stand for before c) gets thrown into the hat for consideration in the next post. Alternatively, you could meet me in the Woodman pub - my local till a few years ago - it's in Highgate, you can't miss it - for a couple of jars while we thrash out this script.

Old Knudsen: yes, you would have to introduce a Wicker Man connection, wouldn't you? I was waiting for that. Let me spell this out for you. LOUD AND CLEAR.


That said, I'd love to pretend to be a Christian visiting the Hebrides in the early 1970s because Britt Ekland was totally hot.
I'd forgotten about Pussy from chapter 1, Footers. I had noted and quoted Pussy with a P but had thought it might be your torch for some reason. Sorry, the old noggin's not what it used to be.

The Wickerman was filmed in the Hebrides? I didn't know that but I do know a few people who would have made some superb extras.

And I fully expected and look forward to something crude, if not sordid.

It's Readers' Digest comments that have blocked my site from a few of my friends' company servers. I know no shame.
och! Foot, you bastard. what a cheap way to get me to meet you for a pint. :o)

the beauty about C.) was that it was one of your choices.. as that, it means that YOU think of what the asterics stand for.. my mind goes in the gutter when i see the little ***stars. maybe that's the point.

i vote that he got jumped while trying to rob the wicker store, he was a greedy tot and he mucked with the wrong john, got fucked to death with a knobbly vampire pussy. hence the reason for so much wasted blood.. pussies have lips but don't create great suction. ok, that depends on the impliment used.

see what you've made me do?
He's been forced to obtain a certificate of accountancy from a community college under a trans-gendered psuedonym!


He's been dirked gently.


He's had a mercury thermometer shoved up his urethra and then shattered into six pieces right after drinking three cups of coffee.

Oh, and I sound like a really good sort of fellow in your story. Did I move about by doing a robot dance? (AKA 'popping')
I feel productive, really. And I've made it through without being tossed in a dungeon with a heavy weight on the end of my dingus this time--bonus!
His hands had been chopped off by an innocuous looking wicker picnic basket that was actually razor-lined. It's all part of the underground wicker trade.

Further searching will reveal hot air balloons at the ready with large wicker baskets attached
C! C! dammit, it's gotta be C see? Don't want no dime a dozen gadfly slicker, see. Yah! I'm reading this and I should be working. Balls. See.
the more i think of it.. the better that idea seems.

the wicker business (although lucritive and illegal) is still the perfect cover for the vampire vaginas.
Bo Khaki? Don't push it mate.
Arm wrestling. I see.

Ripping yarn, Footie.

It's probably too late to vote, but I say C.
NO! It can no be too late to vote!!!

"I couldn’t figure out immediately how he had died but I could see right away that something had been done to him beforehand. Something very nasty indeed."

hmmmm... Lets see....

1. He was glarked!
2. He had many many holes drilled in his head! (If self inflected, it would be new worlds record.)
3. His feet were eaten!
4. Someone had attempted to give him hysterectomy!
5. REALLY bad paper cut!
6. Oh, oh! What am virus that make you bleed out just before you die? Oh yeah. Ebola!!
7. Unknown. Lots of his blood but absolutely NOTHING done to body. (Hey! It am mystery aint it?)
8. Fucking bike couriers!
9. He took broken glass bath. (...in wicker tub).
10. He had been given famous Singapore Manicure. (You nails look great, but ME GOD! LOOK AT BLOOD!!!)
Me must confess....
Me didn't want to say this but...
Me first idea was from that old Bon Jovi song and guy in story was...

"Shot through the heart
And you're to blame
You give love a bad name
I play my part and you play your game
You give love a bad name
You give love.. a bad name"

Monstee, I was warned that you were a sick bastard, but Bon Jovi? That is really too much.

By the way, my 2-year-old wants you to come live with us. Yes, he is bite-size.
Come on Eater.

Move it bubblebutt.

It's this kind of lard assed, "oh do you mind if I don't?", procrastinating, pussyfooting, "just popping out for an SUV", namby pampy, fucked up, new labour, "come, friendly bombs, and fall on Chiswick", kind of, post punk, "Oh someone else will sort it out", kind of, thinking that is dragging this magnic=ficent nation down into the gutter!!!!

Next episode PERLEASE!! [ with fucking sprinkles on].
Now if that isn't the the funniest thing in the world - DR MAROON IS CALLING FOR THE NEXT EPISODE!!!!!

That caused me to wipe a tear from my eye that did
damn you Foot Eater..

Ah, such fandom I envy
the cute San Francisco broad who always comes across so innocent. He didn't see the razor she was holding behind her back.

Is this my glorious two second cameo? *hopeful face*
Indeed, Lindy.
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