Thursday, September 28, 2006


The Drugstore Comic Book Incident (V)

Part five of only very slightly more than six in a thrilling new hardboiled noir serial.

We came through the half-open door at a trot, pushing the startled Hynes back into the apartment. He fell back on the sofa and began to gibber.

‘On! Plaes! Not clowans!’

Arlington Copley Hynes was a proof reader with the city’s top publishing house, and moonlighted as a corksoaker, preparing stoppers for wine bottles. Before this he’d worked in a soft drink factory as a Coke stacker, and for a footwear company as a socktucker. Don’t ask me how I knew him, I just did. I had no idea how he was mixed up in all this, but by G-d I was going to find out.

Sam and I had slung Reverend Brewski’s body in the trunk on top of the Barker guy’s, and had followed the twin trails of blood from the reverend’s stumps back down the street, down several blocks, in fact, until they’d ended abruptly. I figured he’d been thrown out of a car to die like a dog in the road.

On our way to Hynes’s apartment I’d paid a visit to Krabbz and Klapp’s costumiers. I had some dirt on both of them so I didn’t expect any co-operation problems. In the event, neither of them was in and the store was shut. I shouldn’t have been surprised; it was four in the morning, after all. When you’re in a 24-hour job like I am, you tend to see nine-to-five workers as shiftless bums. So I slipped the locks and put a bullet thru the alarm system and Sam and I chose a couple of clown suits and put them on. Makeup as well.

For some reasons Hynes had a clown phobia. I recall hearing that it stemmed from something that had happened to his parents. Myself, I’ve always felt sorry for clowns, ever since I saw one get caught accidentally on a giant hook once at the circus when I was a kid. He hung suspended fifty feet above the ground, while the trapeze artists swung backwards and forwards trying to tug him loose from the hook. It was a half hour before they finally managed to jerk him off.

Sam stood over Hynes and menaced him while I tied him to a kitchen chair with some rope I kept in the car. Then we started interrogating him. I was Good Cop, Sam was Bad. It went something like this:

‘We know you cut off Reverend Brewski’s legs, Arlington.’
‘i dident I don’t no what yuour tlakin abuot’
Honk honk! (this from the novelty hooter Sam was carrying)
‘Come on, Arlington, make it easier on yourself.’
‘I swaere Idunno nohtin abotu no leges!’
Squirt squirt! (this from the novelty squirting flower Sam was wearing)
‘glub gulbblubgg’
‘I’m not going to be able to control her, Arlington. Just tell us what we want to know and we’ll be gone.’

A half hour of this and we glanced at each other. It was clear he was telling the truth. He knew nothing about any of it. I sighed, and undid the ropes. My knots were so expert it took me a good five minutes. He slumped, eyes glazed, on the floor.

I lit a cigarette and dropped a couple of bills on him. ‘Buy yourself another guitar.’ Sam raised an eyebrow through the thick layer of pancake. The apartment was virtually wallpapered with the instruments.


I drove in a mood as foul as the night. There’d been a queue at the river and all the bricks that would weigh a body down had been used already. We’d finally heaved the two stiffs into the oily stinking water and now I was just driving around aimlessly, trying to think. Beside me, Sam seemed oddly cheerful. I’ll never understand women. Take my ex-wife. That Christmas when she asked for something hot, hard and throbbing between her thighs, how was I to know she wanted a motorbike?

‘Why so chirpy?’ I grunted eventually, unable to stand any more.

‘Stop the car,’ she almost giggled. ‘I’ve been thinking and I’ve realised something.’

I pulled over and she leapt out, beckoning me. I lit a cigarette and went round to her side of the car, scratching uncomfortably at the clown costume. I was beginning to wonder if Krabbz and Klapp were really just the names of the store’s owners.

‘Look.’ She was pointing at the bloody words Brewski had scrawled on the door of the car.’

‘ACH done this.’

‘No,’ she said. ‘Look at those letters. That’s a K, not an H.’

I stared. Ack. My G-d.

Ack Maroon. Ayres’s and Barbudo’s chief enforcer. One of the most violent, sadistic men I’d ever met. A snarling, roaring demon from the suppressed nightmares of my past.

This was getting weird.


She spent the night at my place, Sam, of course. It was too late for her to return home, and probably unsafe. ‘Do you mind if I share your bed?’ she murmured when we got in the door.

The next morning I woke sore and aching. My right arm did, anyhow. It had been a hell of a job sawing the bed in half. I resolved to replace the metal frame with a wooden one.

She left after we promised to call one another later to review progress. I made myself a quick breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes, hash browns, grits, pancakes with maple syrup, a half-pound steak, fries, flapjacks, bagels with cream cheese and lox, toast, Cheerios, a chocolate malt, OJ and coffee, washed down with a half bottle of Jack Daniel’s. I know what you’re thinking, but I was on a diet. I lit a couple of cigarettes and glanced at the morning’s headlines. The city’s famous giant gorilla had apparently been kidnapped, if that’s the word, from the zoo. KIDN-APE-D! said the headline. G-d-damn a-shole press men.

I got to work. My first call was to the FBI.

‘Put me thru to Agent Challinor,’ I told the girl. I waited no more than a minute.

‘Challinor here,’ said a cultivated voice.

‘How’re you doing Philip?’ I asked cheerily.

‘You mean, “How are you doing COMMA Philip,” surely?’

The guy’s amazing. He can correct punctuation even in spoken language. It also makes him kind of an a-shole. We have a reciprocal arrangement, him and me. He has access to high-level information that can be of use to me, and in return I supply him with leads on suspected Communists in the city. I’ve never met anyone with such a fanatical loathing of Commies as him. He once broke up with a broad because she painted her nails red. Not only that, he got her thirty years in Sing-Sing too.

‘I need all the poop you got on the Cosifantuttis,’ I said, lighting a cigarette. ‘First names, the size of their outfit, what sort of rackets they run, that kind of thing.’

‘No problem,’ he said. ‘I’ll call you back.’

He was as good as his word and five minutes later I was scribbling in my notebook. Linguini and Ravioli Cosifantutti were the joint bosses of a Bolognese mob family who had set up in this town about five years earlier. Little was known about them or their associates, but they were thought to be involved in drugs, prostitution and protection racketeering. Their main source of income, however, was illegal wicker. And there were rumors that they were trying to kick-start a revival in the underground comic book market.

I gripped the receiver and gritted my teeth as the room swirled and the flashbacks snowballed thru my head like wildfire.

Once I’d got a hold of myself I thanked Challinor for his information.

‘What have you got for me?’ he said.

I gave him the names of two guys I’d overheard in my local bar making negative remarks about the death penalty. I swear I heard him slavering as he put down the phone.

Next I called Laughs and brought her up to speed. I gave it to her straight. She went quiet after I told her of the possible Mob connection. Poor gal. I took a hard hit off of the JD bottle. I learned a long time ago not to care; but damn, it’s hard sometimes.

Then I called Lieutenant O’Nann. He was out of breath as though he’d been exerting himself. He had a positive ID on the handless corpse: a small-time wicker dealer named Ball Bag. They’d brought his mother, Mrs Noreen Bag, in to identify him, but in the end it had been dental records as they couldn’t understand the mother’s accent, and couldn’t in any case pick out any words in her speech that weren’t obscenities.

In return I told O’Nann a pack of lies about my own investigation. To tell the truth, he didn’t sound much interested. He said all his staff had been drafted by the Commissioner into the search for the missing gorilla.

I got thru a package of smokes and a quart of JD before the phone rang. I picked it up, expecting Sam. Instead, a vaguely familiar female voice said: ‘Did you hear about the ship carrying nothing but red paint that crashed into the ship carrying nothing but brown paint?’

‘Excuse me?’

‘Did you hear about the ship carrying nothing but red paint that crashed into the ship carrying nothing but brown paint?’

I began to feel a prickle down my neck, up my cr-tch and across my face. Something wasn’t right.

The lady paused for effect, then said: ‘The crew were marooned!’

It was a set-up, and I knew who by, and I turned but not quickly enough and I got a sense of movement behind me and a crashing blow to the back of my head, and then darkness.

He seems to have forgotten about the dog, doesn’t he?

a) He’s a hard-bitten private eye, so he’s got no time for sentimentality.
b) For God’s sake, he has to keep the word count down somehow.
c) I’ve a feeling the dog will be back…

utter nonsense and i love it!

and that's a pretty picture of pennywise..
Footie, that was my kind of breakfast!

And Krabbz and Klapp’s... Did Spouse Sparrow hit you up to provide backup for that lame excuse of his?

Bring on the soppy shite, fuck the word count, and get yer dog back.
My favorite gag is the bit about sawing the bed in half. Made me titter like a little girl again.

As for those three options, I don't find any of them palatable, nor do they seem mutually exclusive. I vote ALL!!! ALL OF THE ABOVE!!! YEASH!
I haven't cringed so much since that doctor shoved his fingers up me hole, no it wasn't a checkup, he had retired and just wanted to keep his hand in.

My favourite Pennywise line (since you asked)
"they all float down here".
Hooters and a squirting flower are often a girls best friends in the low-down world of private dickery, Foots.

I am surprised however, and, yes, a little disappointed, not to have been offered some of your breakfast of champions. Was it on account of the bed? If it had been woodwork* you required, I'd have been your gal. I've never done metalwork before though, and was unsure about the sparks igniting my flammable nightie.

And I was wondering where the comic books came into it.

Aaand what OF Monstee, poor wee blue thing?

*Much could be said here in terms of the merits of working with hardwood versus, say, a soft knotty pine, but the former usually yields a more pleasing result; easier to polish too. I won't go too far into that though, there are many evening classes one can take for that sort of thing.

Gripping stuff, Foots!
A corksoaker and a socktucker! Har, har, footsie, you have surpassed yourself, funniest episode. Still laughing.
Sparrow - breakfast?

Footsie, you fucker - it's supper time here and I've had a skinful already... I don't know whether it's just the booze, but that's the best episode so far! Loving it! Just wait 'til you find out which c-nt has done me over and for what... I'm comin' for 'em!

(ps - give my regards to the bitch, Monstee. Hope she gets well)
I snarfed my way into a mild stitch. Most excellent Footeater! I'm really really enjoying this.
I vote C.

RIPPING stuff, Footie! Poor old Arlington. though I'm glad he and his clowan phobia have been worked into this. Clever trousers.
one thing you don't realise..

or maybe you do.

no one cares which direction you take this, as long as you take it. we all know it will be amusing, one way or another.

do i have to start making demands again?
Binty -- Breakfast.

"I made myself a quick breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes, hash browns, grits, pancakes with maple syrup, a half-pound steak, fries, flapjacks, bagels with cream cheese and lox, toast, Cheerios, a chocolate malt, OJ and coffee, washed down with a half bottle of Jack Daniel’s. I know what you’re thinking, but I was on a diet."
Careful now...

You get dog back and just might find it am behind whole Dang thing!

Dear Mr. Eater,

it seems, after much deliberation, that you are not properly motivated to finish your drugstore comic book incident of barely more than 6 parts. i'm hear to give that motivation.

i expect the next installment on my desk, by monday morning.

Regards (and hopes that all is right in your world),

Mrs. Laughs

Are you going to the party?
Are you going to the Boston Tea Party?

Redcoats in the village
There's fighting in the streets
The Indians and the
mountain men, well
They are talking when they meet
The king has said he's gonna put a tax on tea
And that's the reason you all Americans drink coffee

Are you going to the party?
Are you going to the Boston Tea Party?
It was a half hour before they finally managed to jerk him off

Love it, love it, love it.

I wonder if Glark or Anonymous commenter are going to crop up in this somewhere...
Thanks, all. Sarah, I've missed your deadline.

Work has me over a barrel but I'll try to get the penultimate episode up this week.
Foot: I've begun drugging my child with narcotics. Any comments?
SafeT, it can only be for the good.
SafeT: I have alerted the Michigan state police to your predicament. I'm sure they'll be most sympathetic.
Yep, It's great.
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