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Flash Pulp 133 – Sgt. Smith and The Rescue, Part 1 of 1

23 Feb

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and thirty-three.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present: Sgt. Smith and The Rescue, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Flash Pulp on iTunes.

It’s where the magic happens.

To subscribe, click here.

 

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight, Mulligan’s father relates the tale of a sudden promotion during his early days in law enforcement.

 

Flash Pulp 133 – Sgt. Smith and The Rescue, Part 1 of 1

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

Mulligan,

Let me tell you how I became Sheriff of Mill County.

It was 1956. Things were different back then.

Mill County was a tiny office up north, but they needed the help – there was the sheriff, a good and reliable man, his wife, Ellie, who covered dispatch, Neddy Thompson, Whisky Taylor, and myself.

Ellie was six months pregnant, Neddy was too young to know the difference between his sidearm and his brain, and I was a mute. Worst off, though, was Whisky. Back then you didn’t think of drunks like you do now. People drank, and Taylor was one of those guys who rode out on the macho routine. We didn’t treat him as we should of – that is, with treatment – but he knew all the local riff-raff by their first name, and his hard drinking and stiff breath left everyone looking at him like he was John Wayne. In general it didn’t do to question his slurring too much.

One Sunday morning, though, Whisky and I were out staring at the pavement passing under our wheels, when we received an excited shout from the radio.

“Shots fired at 884 Maple.”

Until then the closest I’d ever gotten to a shots fired call in Mill County was the occasional complaint about someone poaching pheasant in the off-season. Those, at least, we could pass onto the game warden.

On went the lights, and down went the pedal.

Saturday was always a busy night, down on the drag – that’s when the farmers and factory boys would slosh between the two bars that hunkered across from each other at the town’s major crossroads. The Sheriff and Neddy were sleeping off a hard night’s drunk-wrangling, and the nearest alternate back-up was an hour away.

We made a hard stop in front of a one-story bungalow, and Whisky says “I’ll go round back”.

Then I was alone on the dusty cloth seats of the Chevy Bel Air.

Well, hell, my lack of a tongue meant I couldn’t yell a warning as I was approaching the house, but they knew plenty well we were there, as my wobbly partner had felt no need to spare the siren. Stupidity in the line of duty was my bread and butter at that age, so I strolled up the walk like I owned the place. I hadn’t even drawn my gun when I got the warning.

“Hey, you. Yeah, you, broke-mouth – you stay back, or Lady Fillmore will have plenty to complain about.”

I’d gotten to know Dina Fillmore via previous disturbance reports, and Lady wasn’t the term I’d have used to describe her. The wife of Bobby Fillmore – who ran one of the gin joints I mentioned previously – she was known as a stickler, and her ability to find fault in every person, and situation, she encountered, was the stuff of beauty-salon legend.

It was well understood, however, that she was largely passing on the bile fed to her by her own husband, who often left her in such a condition as to require the steady hands of the beauticians to cover her injuries.

I backed up to the road, figuring I’d put the car between myself and the revolver that the voice was waving from behind a curtain.

While I was still taking cover, there came the sound of a scuffle, then a shot. My weapon was definitely in my hands by then, but there wasn’t much I could do. If I kicked in the door, I’d likely just catch a bullet in the belly, and the drawn shades made it impossible to know what was going on inside.

I started tapping out a Morse code update for Ellie, as quick as I could, trying to tell her to wake the Sheriff. It was so painfully slow.

Before I was done, Whisky came stumbling over the fender.

“Bobby shot me!”

He showed me his arm – it was bleeding, but barely, and his tone was one of indignation, not massive internal injury. I wondered then, and I wonder now, if he maybe just cut himself in his panic to get out of the line of fire.

“Either of you jerks comes waltzing up here again and I’ll start aimin’ straight,” came the voice from the house.

We didn’t have many options – we couldn’t even lean on the local firemen, as they were just an all volunteer squad of chicken-pluckers from the packing plant. We kept the rubberneckers in their houses, and waited for someone with a higher pay-grade to arrive at the scene and make a decision.

Whisky tried screaming a bit of a dialogue back and forth, but the gunman would have none of it. The sound of Dina’s complaints came shredding through the window screen, but, at that distance, her voice was nothing but a string of pleading shrieks.

Despite his complaints, Whisky refused to leave the scene. I suspect he was mostly concerned about his long-term reputation. It didn’t shut him up any.

The Sheriff was pretty blurry eyed when he pulled-up, with Neddy in tow, and when I beeped to let Ellie know, she told me, very seriously, to take care of him.

“Galdang, galdang,” he said.

“C’mon out, Bobby,” said the Sherrif.

“Screw you,” replied Fillmore.

The Sheriff raised his aviators, and gave his eyes a good rub. That’s when the waiting began.

The day grew warmer, then colder. We sat in the car to rest our legs; we stood up and paced. We put on jackets, and took turns refilling our two thermoses of coffee from the Chinese place on Elm. Eventually some highway guys, from Walmont, came to help out – they brought donuts, and joined us in our vigil.

The boys kept trying to talk to him, but the later it got, the more we became worried about his intention to end the situation with a bullet. Neddy was sure it was going to be in Dina, but I’d suspected for a while that the whisky-dispensor’s shack was soon to be the odd-man-out – that the town had one bar too many for the size of the market – and it seemed to me that he was working himself up to ending his problems at his own hand.

I passed about a few notes saying as much, and, despite a round of jibber-jabber from Neddy, which included a suggestion he go home and retrieve his own hunting rifle, the Sheriff decided he was going to sweet talk his way into the house.

After a long hour of creeping and gentle conversation, he was in.

Nothing more happened till dawn.

There were no cellphones then, and, as stupid as it was, we didn’t really think to leave many messages with dispatch. It was just a case of nothing going on, and not thinking it through.

Both patrol cars were off the lot, so Ellie came in the family sedan that they’d invested in for after the baby’s arrival. She didn’t stop for the mail box, or the neighbour’s picket fence – she barely even stopped for the porch. We should have been at hand to prevent her from such a stupid thing, but she was so fast, even for being so pregnant.

I’d never thought of her as a big woman, but she’d been born into raising a cow herd on her parent’s plot, and she swung her belly like a wrecking ball as she bounded up the steps.

Lack of sleep, and the kind of high-powered chemicals that make a woman’s body fit to house a child, gave her voice a level of command usually reserved for ranking celestial beings and four star generals.

“Bobby Fillmore, you step out onto this porch immediately.”

If I were him, I’d have swung the door wide while begging for redemption.

Ellie was a woman ahead of her time – she’d always insisted on uniform slacks to work in, and wore a pair of Doc Marten boots, just like those of us who rode around in the cruisers.

The still unborn Avery, who would eventually come out weighing eight pounds and ten ounces, gave her the extra momentum necessary to kick through the locked door, revealing the captor within.

He may have been a suicidal nutter, but he’d been raised at a time when it was impolite to point a loaded gun at a pregnant woman – or maybe he just didn’t think a woman of her size, and state, would be a problem – whatever the case, he held the weapon across his chest as he addressed her.

“What?” he said.

She didn’t bother responding, she just laid him low with a swift kick.

As Bobby writhed on the floor, she snatched up his pistol. She disappeared further into the house for a moment, then we saw her coming back, directing her husband like an errant child, and pulling Dina along behind her.

Whisky was yelling from where he’d stationed himself as a lookout, but, by then, he’d decided his wound was probably fatal, and had taken to openly drinking away the pain of his already healing scab.

Neddy and I rushed in, but the fight was basically over. We handcuffed Bobby and hauled him away.

In the end, the fallout was that the Sheriff quit. He told me he couldn’t risk doing his job if it put Ellie in the danger of someday attempting another rescue. Whisky was offered pension if he retired early on his supposed gunshot wound, and Neddy was deemed too young – and eager to retrieve his rifle – to take on the mantel. That left me.

For for three weeks, I was the new interim sheriff in town. Before proper elections could be held, however, the powers-that-be juggled things, and the highway patrol out of Walmont were extended to cover the area.

With half of the town’s major problem centers closed while Fillmore was serving time, I couldn’t blame them.

My brief term made a great resume point, though – and I’d had enough of backwaters – so your mom and I were soon on our way to Capital City.

Anyhow, enough of one old man’s prattling, Jeopardy isn’t going to watch itself.

Love,
Dad

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License. Text and audio commentaries can be sent to skinner@skinner.fm, or the voicemail line at (206) 338-2792 – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

Flash Pulp 132 – Mulligan Smith and The Navel Gazer, Part 1 of 1

21 Feb

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and thirty-two.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present: Mulligan Smith and The Navel Gazer, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Flash Pulp on iTunes.

You may need to buy a new iPhone every year, but a Flash Pulp is forever.

To subscribe, click here.

 

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight, Mulligan Smith meets a fellow conspirator while watching for a corpulent criminal.

 

Flash Pulp 132 – Mulligan Smith and The Navel Gazer, Part 1 of 1

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

Security at the building was tight; Mulligan had already been asked to leave twice, and he suspected his picture was now hanging behind the reception desk, or beside the bank of monitors that tied together the boxy-cameras mounted on every corner and in every hall.

He’d been lead to the rental condos by a snail’s trail of paperwork that followed his accountant-turned-embezzler target, but the nature of the twenty-six floor tower – a home for out-of-town businessmen and government workers who required lodging while visiting the city to complete lengthy projects – meant the staff were well paid to root out anything that might make the occupants uncomfortable.

Smith, with his black hoodie and prying eyes, had fallen into that category.

Still, he knew the rotund accountant was somewhere inside, and the employees could do little about the PI spending his time in the small park adjacent to the rear of the building. Although it made a great selling point for the rare family who rented space in the glass and cement structure, it was on public land, and Mulligan was left alone to maintain his vigil with an unobstructed view of the tenant’s sedans and SUVs.

It was his third day, and he was beginning to feel like he’d memorized the face of every resident without having come across a match for the man whose receipt signature had led him to his stakeout. He’d spent much of the time accompanied by a silent eight year old, who busied herself with a pair of cracked, folding opera-glasses, which she used as binoculars, and a multi-pronged pocket knife, which made Mulligan nervous for her fingers.

On the previous evening he’d matched the urchin to her parents: a suit and a drunk, who let her run wild as soon as the work day began. Neither had the mustachioed look of the wide-mouthed, and beady-eyed, CPA.

Mulligan SmithThe girl’s clothing appeared costly, but unwashed, and her nails were grimy from the hours she’d spent hunkered down in the sand-pit that provided a soft landing to the playground’s winding yellow slide. He’d never seen her climb the plastic steps; she’d simply used the pit to lower her profile as she surveyed the same door he pretended not to be watching from his paint-flecked picnic table.

They’d successfully ignored each other for the most part, but, on that third afternoon, the stringy-haired blond-spy took a seat on the bench across from his own.

She tore the plastic from a package of Lunchables, and offered him a cracker with cheese and pepperoni.

“No thanks,” he replied, retrieving his own brown paper bag of food and fishing out a half eaten PB&J.

The stack of sodium went down in a single bite, and she eyed him as she prepared the next.

“Are you here about the clone?”

Suppressing a laugh was a talent Smith had learned young, and he returned the stern look of consideration that she gave him.

“What do you know about it?” he asked.

Her gaze widened.

“I used to like to swim in the basement, but last week I saw him – I probably wouldn’t have noticed, but he was yelling at me ‘cause I was running beside the pool.” She completed her cracker sandwich and scratched an errant itch at her temple. “I know I’m not supposed to, but he could have said it nicer.”

Mulligan cleared his throat.

“Listen, normally you shouldn’t talk to strangers in the park – ”

“You’ve been here a long time, and you look OK.”

“It doesn’t matter, you shouldn’t talk to strangers.” As he spoke, her face slid into dejection. He felt compelled by guilt and curiosity to fill the growing hush. “- but, uh, you saw a man in the pool who you think is a clone?”

“Yep.”

“What gave you the impression that he’s the result of some terrible science experiment gone awry?”

“Huh?”

“Why do you think he was made by a mad scientist?”

“He’s got no belly button. I’ve seen that on TV!”

“So you’ve been hanging out here watching for him?”

“I’m investigating and waiting.” She ripped open the Kit Kat bar provided for dessert. “I ain’t swimming with no clone.”

Smith nodded.

“A good plan.”

This seemed to be enough to affirm her theory, and they finished their lunches in silence.

As he swung a leg out to deposit his trash in a proper receptacle, the girl stood with a sudden exclamation.

“Holy crapoli! There he is!”

She dived to the turf as a tanned man in a breezy tropical shirt made his way out of his crisp black Cadillac – entirely oblivious to either of them – and entered the condominium.

Mulligan covered his annoyance with a string of muttered pseudo-cussing.

“Frakking Shazbot! That effing a-hole!

He’d noted the high-cheek bones and lanky face on several occasions during his wait, but it hadn’t truly registered till that moment.

An hour later, as two uniformed police officers lead the gaunt man from the same doors the PI had been surveilling, Smith congratulated the excited amateur sleuth.

“You’re pretty sharp to have noticed his missing navel, and it isn’t your fault you didn’t know that a tummy tuck could also remove his innie or outie. Next time you can Google it – my clients have been looking for this guy for a long time, and I’m guessing a laptop might be the kind of reward that would help keep you out of trouble. Just don’t bring it with you into the pool – and, seriously, don’t talk to strange men hanging out in parks, whatever they may look like.”

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License. Text and audio commentaries can be sent to skinner@skinner.fm, or the voicemail line at (206) 338-2792 – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

Flash Pulp 127 – Mulligan Smith and The Bystander, Part 1 of 1

8 Feb

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and twenty-seven.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, Mulligan Smith and The Bystander, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Flash Pulp Facebook page.

As the movie Freaks once said: Gooble Gobble, Gooble Gobble, One of us, One of us!

To join us, click here.

 

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight, Mulligan Smith, PI, finds himself out in the cold.

 

Flash Pulp 127 – Mulligan Smith and The Bystander, Part 1 of 1

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

Regardless of the dusting of snow, a small crowd had come to gather outside 240 Maple, most of them having been drawn in by the blinking red bubble-lights of the four police cruisers parked along the road.

Mulligan, his hoodie zipped tight against the chill, watched as the KOCC reporter wrapped her story. Once the cameraman had barked out a quick confirmation that the transmission had completed, and even as the onlookers’ retinas were still aglow with the directional light’s after image, the one man crew, and the correspondent, hopped into the bright-blue news van and gunned the still idling engine.

The PI had used his rubber-necking of the brief broadcast as an opportunity to eavesdrop on the whispered conversations that shot amongst the bystanders, but his time had been largely spent listening to the spouting of an old man whose hat would’ve better served a Cossack. The pseudo-Russian had gone on at length, in a stage whisper obviously intended for more than just his wife, that if there were this many police on hand, they certainly must have the flasher in custody.

Despite the bumper-to-bumper parking, Smith had his doubts.

With his excuse for silence gone, he struck up a conversation with a wispy haired fifty-something, whose face was lost deep in her massive parka.

“Funny what some people will do,” he said.

“Yeah, guess so,” she replied in a thick Wisconsin accent. “Must be a real perverted-type.”

Mulligan Smith“Usually I’d agree, but I’m not so sure this time.” Mulligan took a step closer as he spoke. “Generally a pervert can make do just jumping out of the bushes at a park, or trawling bus-stops – by the time they get around to breaking and entering, it’s not just to share a brief view of their pride.”

“Oh?” replied the parka. “Then what happened here?”

“My guess is that the culprit is seeking attention. They probably don’t get much of it in their regular existence.”

“That’s not what the news-lady said, and everything I’ve read in the paper has made the flasher out to be a goddess in a gas-mask – a little beauty with some sort of weird fetish.”

“Yeah, well, these stories have a way of taking on a life of their own, and legends spring up. Have you ever heard of the Mad Gasser of Mattoon?”

“Uh?”

“The Mad Gasser might have been a person running around Virginia and Illinois in the ‘30s and ‘40s. See, supposedly there was this fellow with a spray gun – the old type that looks like a bicycle pump with a can stuck to one side and a nozzle at the far end – and he’d creep about in peoples bushes until they were sitting around at home watching TV, or whatever – then he’d user the sprayer to try and gas them through cracked windows, or even nail holes.”

“Gas? Did anyone die?”

“Nope, a few folks got sick though.”

“Are you saying you think she used something on her victims and that’s why she wears the mask?” the woman seemed pleased with the idea.

“No, the mask is just so she doesn’t get caught. What I’m saying is that the police chief in Mattoon actually ended up declaring the whole thing a hoax – likely just the product of hysteria, and maybe some chemical releases from a nearby factory.” Smith shrugged. “I don’t know what the reality was, but, as I mentioned, these things tend to collect their own mythology. Maybe claiming you were awoken in the middle of the night by a supple, nude, twenty-year-old makes for an easier confession than the reality of having the bejesus scared out of you by a, uh, stout mother of four, whose children are all college-aged.”

The woman’s eyes grew large, but Mulligan went on.

“Truth be told, I’m actually working for the first victim. Seems he feels his original description of the assailant may not be the most helpful thing in the world, but he’s got too much pride to go back to the police for a second round of red-faced recounting.”

“Why does he still care?” the ex-Wisconsinite asked, her voice now a squeak. “It’s never happened to the same person twice, has it?”

“Well – never mind that if this were a crime committed by a man, the outcry would be triple what it is – the basics are that my client, despite the fact that the increasing media coverage is handling this almost like a case of prankster-ism, spends most nights waking up in a sweat, and now has to get out of bed to check his door locks a dozen times an evening. I do understand a bit of where you’re coming from, though – a guy with that much money rarely has a kind word for the help, and if he’d been more honest in the first place, his pride wouldn’t be in such a bind.”

“How did you know?”

“Well, first off, I actually bothered to look into who’d temped in the house when, and if, each victim’s main cleaning lady was unavailable.” He wanted to be stern with her – he knew he should be. He damned himself for smirking. “You were the only coincidence. If your employers had paid you more heed while you were busy dusting their shelves, they could have recognized you themselves – but then, my suspicion is that if those men had been less inattentive while you were tidying, you wouldn’t have felt the need to make your nocturnal visits.”

He’d thought the woman would break down crying at the news, but she seemed increasingly happy just to be noticed.

He decided he’d actually allow the interview when the KOCC lady called later – it was the least he could do after getting the aging mother fired, and he suspected she’d enjoy the spin he’d give her saga.

He let out a short laugh before continuing.

“Anyhow, it didn’t help that you were pretty easy to spot in the background of the last incident’s news footage. Those boots are pretty tall, and your coat is pretty long, but, if people were paying a little more attention, it’s definitely noticeable that you’re not wearing any pants.”

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License. Text and audio commentaries can be sent to skinner@skinner.fm, or the voicemail line at (206) 338-2792 – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

Flash Pulp 122 – Mulligan Smith and The Custodian, Part 1 of 1

27 Jan

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and twenty-two.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, Mulligan Smith and The Custodian, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by the free audio-novella, Boiling Point.

Find out more at http://neilcolquhoun.com

 

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight, Mulligan Smith, PI, finds himself in a principal’s office for the first time since his youth.

 

Flash Pulp 122 – Mulligan Smith and The Custodian, Part 1 of 1

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

Mulligan hadn’t been inside a principal’s office since the age of fourteen, when he’d been on the receiving end of Christopher Nelson’s fist. This particular office wasn’t that different than the one he’d last been in, it seemed to contain the same bookshelf, the same wilted houseplant, and the same battered carpet. Even the whitewashed cement block walls felt all too familiar.

“You understand that this isn’t something I usually do,” Principal Philips was saying. Her suit was prim, if a little old, and there was a red button with yellow text exclaiming “Read, Dang It!”, pinned to her lapel.

Smith nodded, and she continued.

“I mean, we do a police check when they sign on, to be sure they aren’t a sex offender, and Jackson’s record is spotless. Normally I’d never consider bringing in a private investigator – honestly, you’re the first one I’ve ever met.”

“Not that I’m ungrateful for the money,” Mulligan replied, “but, if Mr Evans is only part time, why not just fire him?”

“Well – it’s simply that he’s so good at it. He manages to accomplish about the same, in a few hours on the weekend, as what old Kevin gets done in three days of trundling around behind his cart,” as she paused, she tapped her nose with her index finger, “- and, besides, he works for almost nothing. Frankly, it’s the budget money he’s saved that’s allowing me to hire you. Really, it’s not even like he’s done anything wrong, he’s just – he’s odd.”

* * *

The situation became increasingly complicated as Mulligan began poking around.

It required almost no effort to determine that Evans had a day job as a cosmetic surgeon, and an expensive one. His clients left enthusiastic comments on his website, and his work had been featured repeatedly in the local paper – usually relating to pro bono work he’d carried out on an underprivileged burn victim.

Smith also hit upon an article naming Jackson Evans, MD, in a “win a date with a local eligible bachelor” charity auction. The PI had wondered aloud what such an apparently driven, and well off, fellow was doing single at the age of forty-eight.

Mulligan’s attempt at calling the organization for a new client in-take exam was politely refused with an offer to add his contact info to the extensive waiting list. If there was a line up for the operating room, it seemed unlikely that the doctor was carrying on his weekend work for the extra pay, and, if money was out, the motivations shrank to sex, drugs, power, or revenge.

He preferred when it was money.

* * *

After two wasted weekends of passive observation, Smith decided it was time for a conversation. He tracked Evans down in a third grade classroom, where the man was sitting in silence, with glassy eyes, on a chair intended for an eight-year-old.

“Reminiscing about the old days?” asked Mulligan.

As he waited for a reply, he kept a lock on the man’s pupils, and wondered if the blank look might be an indication of an unsavory addiction.

Clearing his throat, the doctor stood and tucked the yellow plastic chair under the desk at which he’d been resting.

Mulligan Smith“I was just taking a moment – I’m about done my shift.” The janitor collected himself. “Are you one of the parents? I haven’t seen you around the school before. Do you have permission to be here? I’m sorry, but only authorized personnel are allowed on the premises during weekends.”

“Mrs. Philips is aware of my presence.” Internally, Mulligan chided himself for allowing the janitor to pull rank, then made a move to retake the conversational high-ground. “I’m actually here to ask you a few questions. Consider it an employee satisfaction survey, Jackson.”

“Fine,” replied Evans.

Every response was dispensed in the same flat tone, and Smith began to understand what the Principal had meant by odd – it wasn’t that he was eccentric, it was simply that the man was utterly humourless.

“Please don’t take this the wrong way, but why are you working here?”

“Why does anyone work anywhere?”

“Well, Dr. Evans, mostly they do it for the money.”

The interviewee raised an eyebrow at the mention of his alternate occupation.

“Is there something wrong with the fact that I have another job?”

“No, but it does bring me back to what I was inquiring: why are you wiling away your Saturdays trawling the primary yard for rotting apple cores, and changing out fluorescent bulbs, instead of cutting open middle-aged housewives with poor self esteem?”

“For love.”

“Love?” Smith asked, mentally weighing the need to file a police report. “Love of the job?”

“No, the love of the boy who sits at this desk.”

Mulligan sighed.

“Uh, care to explain?”

“I’ve worked long hours my entire life. I thought I was doing what was best, really, but when Kayli asked for a divorce, I knew exactly what she’d say: that I was always busy, always preoccupied. I apologized, but she didn’t care by then, she wanted cash – and Jayce. The lawyer she hired was good enough to get her both.”

The PI interrupted the account with an exclamation which immediately felt inappropriate, given his surroundings.

“Sorry, continue,” he said.

“Custody’s pretty stringent. I get to see Jayce once a month, and alternating birthdays. Instead, I come here, and work myself raw so that I can have a few moments to stare at his blotchy paintings,” Evans motioned towards a wall of airplane pictures carried out in bright primary colours. “- or to linger at his desk and wonder if he ever sits there thinking about me.”

As Evans turned to hide the tears draining down his cheeks, Mulligan retreated from the room. His final report, combined with Principal Philips’ budgetary concerns, would ensure the custodian his position for as long as he wanted it.

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License. Text and audio commentaries can be sent to skinner@skinner.fm, or the voicemail line at (206) 338-2792 – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

Flash Pulp 119 – Mulligan Smith and The Missing Woman, Part 1 of 1

19 Jan

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and nineteen.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present Mulligan Smith and The Missing Woman, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This episode is brought to you by Mr Blog’s Tepid Ride.

Don’t be fooled by the name, it has almost nothing to do with those long car rides to your grandma’s house when you were a kid.

Find it at http://bmj2k.wordpress.com

 

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight, Mulligan Smith, PI, is tasked with the job of locating a thousand dollar thief.

 

Flash Pulp 119 – Mulligan Smith and The Missing Woman, Part 1 of 1

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

Mulligan finally found the woman in a highway-side greasy spoon named Trudy’s, an hour’s drive out of Capital City. She looked rough.

He took a seat in a booth, and, as she approached, he prepared to give her his order.

“Just an orange juice, please,” he stopped to read her tag, “Eileen.”

It was sloppy – she hadn’t attempted to hide her real name.

“Coming right up,” she replied, a weak smile touching her lips.

“Just a sec, Mrs. Musgrove.”

At hearing her married name, her sensible white shoes planted themselves, mid-stride. Even from behind, Smith could see that her gaunt arms had begun to shake.

“Sit down – please?” he asked.

She scooted onto the bench across the table.

Mulligan Smith“William wanted me to find you to -,” it was his turn to be stopped short, as Eileen’s tears began to soak the pink t-shirt of her work uniform.

“Hey, it’s OK. William has sent me to bring you home. He forgives you. Every thing’s going to be all right now.” She nodded, but remained silent. Even her weeping made no noise – he wouldn’t have known it was happening if it wasn’t for the moisture rolling down her face.

They sat that way for several long moments, then, with a deep sigh, Eileen finally spoke.

“I’m going to clean myself up, then we can go.”

She walked to the ladies’ room with an unsteady gait, and Mulligan guessed she was likely going to swallow or snort some of the illicit supply her husband had warned him about. It was a calculated risk, but, if it got her home and to help, he was willing to take it – besides, she couldn’t have weighed more than a hundred pounds, and he had his Tazer on hand, just in case.

It was only once he saw her hustling through the parking lot to an ancient Geo Metro, a tall fellow with bad teeth close behind, that he realized the chase wasn’t complete.

She was moving pretty quickly for a seventy-three-year-old.

He jotted the license number down, and waved over another of the waitresses.

* * *

William Musgrove, the client, was an aging gent with sharp bird claws for hands.

“One day she pulled a thousand dollars out of our account and ran. She has a drug problem. Find her, and tell her I don’t care – that I understand, and want her back, and I’ll help her in any way I can,” he’d told Mulligan.

It was only later that Smith felt like an idiot for not having realized at the time: the whiskey breath, the patronizing tone, the vague allegations; he’d seen it all before.

A week after his first encounter with Eileen, he stepped up to the deli counter of a small town grocery store, two hours away from Capital City.

She was busy working a block of cheap bologna over the slicer.

“Don’t run,” he said. He used a gentle tone, and it worked. When he saw that she wasn’t going to make another break for it, he followed it up with a quick question to keep her mind from changing. “Is it true you’re a junkie?”

“What? No! Is that what Bill is saying about me?”

“You did steal a thousand dollars from his account, though.”

“It was our account. I deserved that money.”

“How so?”

“I may not have worked his years at the plant, but I certainly kept his house and cleaned up after his drunken mess for long enough.”

He nodded.

“Tough for a lady to vacate a fifty-five year marriage. I’ve seen similar with the occasional meth-head, but, well, if I had to guess, those hands of his were a little rough after a bottle of Jameson?”

Her mouth flattened to a slit. He thought she might attempt to flee, and he knew he’d hit the truth of the matter.

Pulling out his cellphone, he began snapping pictures of the shriveled woman, bologna still in hand.

“I’ve answered enough – I think it’s your turn to do some explaining.” she said.

“Well, first, the next time a guy like me says “don’t run”, run. You trust men too easily.”

“How did you find me?”

“Well, actually, I found your friend with the Geo. A few twenties later, he was more then willing to tell me where he’d left you. As I was saying, you trust men too easily.”

“Listen, son, I’m seventy-three years old. When I married, I hadn’t even finished high school. If I don’t trust the occasional stranger, I’m going to end up homeless. I’d love to have dragged that mongrel through a proper divorce, but I had never held a job until these last two months, and I’ve yet to find a lawyer who’s willing to work for free. I’ve got little more than my pride, but I’ll be damned if I let you drag me back to that old whiskey-hound’s shack.”

“Well, frankly, this store is pretty crowded, and I don’t think I’d get far if I were forcibly hauling a lady who looks like my grandma out the front door.” Smith paused in his photography. “Could you remove your hairnet, please?”

She did.

“So, what now? I won’t come with you, but are you going to tell Bill where I am?” she asked.

“No. I’m going to strongly suggest you move a little further – at least a state away. After that, I’m going to write up an invoice for three more day’s worth of expenses, then talk to a friend of mine who knows a lot about Canada, and photo editing.” Mulligan thrust his phone back into his pocket and zipped his hoodie. “Can’t catch ‘em all.”

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License. Text and audio commentaries can be sent to skinner@skinner.fm, or the voicemail line at (206) 338-2792 – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

Many thanks to Wood, of Highland & Wood, for the intro bumper. You can find their podcast at bothersomethings.com

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

Flash Pulp 107 – Mulligan Smith and The Wayward Son, Part 1 of 1

15 Dec

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and seven.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present Mulligan Smith and The Wayward Son, Part 1 of 1
Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Bothersome Things Podcast

They’re just a couple of fellows looking to rub their audio love all over you.

Subscribe via iTunes, or find everything you’ve ever wanted to be bothered by at BothersomeThings.com

 

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight, Mulligan Smith must juggle friends, and goons, during a busy Christmas season.

 

Flash Pulp 107 – Mulligan Smith and The Wayward Son, Part 1 of 1

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

Mulligan was babysitting again, both on and off the job. He’d been surprised by the arrival of his politely volatile friend, Billy Winnipeg, who’d hitchhiked his mountainous frame across the border in order to visit for the Christmas holidays, and the PI’s nerves had worn thin at the constant social brush-fires that he was forced to stamp out in the Canadian’s wake.

Still, the bills didn’t stop for the yuletide, and Smith had grown fond of the functioning heating in his small apartment.

Mulligan SmithHis current client’s major preoccupation was his layabout son. The thirty-something boy had spent his life expecting the comforts his moneyed father provided, but the elder Mr. Sanders had grown annoyed at watching his accumulated wealth wasted on aftermarket modifications to low-end hatchbacks.

Part of the problem was that Sanders senior refused to see his boy in his full dubious glory. Soon after taking up Junior’s trail, Mulligan realized that the man-child spent most of his afternoons watching pay-per-view, while filling the puckering mouths of his pot-head posse with delivered buffets of pizza and Chinese food – more sinister, however, were the implications he discovered that suggested the wayward offspring had had his hand in several local breaking-and-entering incidents.

Despite these tidbits, Smith was unable to convince his patron that the best solution was to simply cut the lad off from the estate’s largess, in an attempt to force the hooligan into an actual occupation. Instead, the man wanted him to root out the source of his son’s corruption; the bad apple he was sure was ruining the bunch.

The detective did not enjoy watching the man’s never-ending adolescence crash headlong into his mid-life crisis, but the strip clubs and dance bars which the younger Sanders choose to frequent made it difficult for Mulligan to wrangle his northern friend, who often took violent offense to the treatment of the females in both locations.

After narrowly avoiding being spotted by the unruly band when Winnipeg laid flat a boozed up middle-manager who’d pinched a peeler’s bottom, the PI had had an epiphany. Making a quick stop at a nearby costume rental shop, he’d turned Billy loose upon Park Hospital, in the guise of jolly St. Nick. It was his thinking that it was unlikely the touchy titan could find something worth engaging in a pummelling over amongst the sick, but, if he did, at least whomever might be the recipient of his wrath would already have medical attention close on hand.

Later that same day, Smith was pleased to discover that the web-mail password he’d stolen from his client’s rowdy dependant had finally turned up something usable. The heir-apparent had caught wind that his father had made a very large donation of electronics to a local charity, and that the entertainment equipment would be set up in a relatively undefended location.

So, on a blustering Christmas eve, Mulligan found himself in a darkened sitting area that had been freshly furnished with a massive television, high-end audio gear, gaming consoles, and a stockpile of blinking, chittering diversions. Although warm, the space was fronted on three-sides by glass, so that the majority looked out onto the garden, now blanketed in white.

The home had an alarm system, but Junior knew his business well enough to disable it before cracking wide the french doors that opened onto the snow covered patio. Smith watched silently, stooped low in the shadow of the couch, as the ringleader and two accompanying bottom-feeders let themselves into the room. His client’s son made a beeline for the TV, eagerly pulling tools from his pocket to help bring the behemoth down from its mounts.

Mulligan noted a rustling in the drapes that covered the wall perpendicular to the set, and was quick to stand and flood the area with light.

“I don’t think Dad’s going to forgive this one. I’ll make you a deal, you walk out of here quietly and I’ll do my best not to let the recording I’m making of this little meeting fall into the hands of the police,” he opened.

The two sidekicks turned to the man who’d brought them there, unsure of how to proceed.

Smith could see the fear in their leader’s eyes, but Sanders had watched Al Pacino’s Scarface on too many occasions to surrender so easily.

“I’ve got a better idea – how about we beat the crap out of you, find and destroy your evidence, then grab what we came for. Tomorrow, when Dad reads about this incident in the paper and you tell him I was involved, I’ll be sure to make you look like an idiot for suggesting it.”

Even if the hidden camera had been unable to pick up the burglar’s face, Mulligan was sure his client would recognize the boasting tone.

The thugs began to advance, their screwdrivers and pliers suddenly becoming instruments of imminent harm.

“I don’t -” Smith’s reply was cut short when a ten-year-old, driving an automated wheelchair, entered the room.

“Santa?” the boy asked, his wide-eyes staring beyond the shoulders of the gathered thieves.

During the discussion, Billy Winnipeg, in full Claus-regalia, had stepped from behind the curtain which had concealed his presence.

“A home for paraplegic children?” the hulking Kringle asked, his rough hands engulfing the two henchmen’s skulls before slamming them together. “- on Christmas Eve?”

The pair were too unconscious to answer.

Already having extracted his cellphone from a hoodie-pocket, Mulligan moved quickly to direct the confused boy away from the scene.

The red-faced Father Christmas approached the last man standing, one hand adjusting his beard, the other raised in a meaty fist.

“Ho, Ho, Ho,” he said, as the door clicked shut.

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm. The audio and text formats of Flash Pulp are released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

Flash Pulp 106 – Mulligan Smith and The Tormented Husband, Part 1 of 1

13 Dec

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and six.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present Mulligan Smith and The Tormented Husband, Part 1 of 1
Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Bothersome Things Podcast

A show about bothersome news and entertainment, brought to you by two men who enjoy dressing up to terrify trick-or-treaters, and, occasionally, their audience.

Subscribe via iTunes, or find everything you’ve ever wanted to be bothered by at BothersomeThings.com

 

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight, Mulligan Smith must uncover the truth behind who is chasing a well-dressed client.

 

Flash Pulp 106 – Mulligan Smith and The Tormented Husband, Part 1 of 1

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

Mulligan Smith watched the Olive Garden’s wait staff dance the supper two-step as his client, Ruben Micha, wound down his explanation for hiring the PI.

“I believe it’s my ex-wife. I don’t know why she has these people following me, they might be private detectives trying to catch me at something that’ll give her alimony leverage, or it might be a hitman, I have no idea.”

Mulligan chewed the end of the straw projecting from his iced tea and considered the possibilities. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d bumped into another investigator while working a messy divorce.

“Could be. If it helps, I doubt it’s a hitman. The kind of people dumb enough to get mixed up in a murder over something so full of obvious motive as a conflict between former husband and wife aren’t usually smart enough to do anything but drive up and shoot you the first time they spot you.”

His client’s mouth pressed into a tight line and his fingers began to fidget with the black and gold cuff-links that clasped his shirt-sleeves. His suit was sleek, but not new – it rang of a tone Smith had seen before: the moneyed man who has recently split from the woman who built his well-styled wardrobe.

“Can you describe the vehicle?” asked Mulligan.

“It’s blue. It’s a minivan. I don’t really know much about cars, my apologies,” replied Micha.

“- you’re sure its always the same one?”

“Yes. Always the same blue van, always the same bald man driving, and the same sharp-faced woman riding as a passenger.”

Smith nodded. It wasn’t much to work with, but the cheque had already cleared.

* * *

Mulligan SmithAfter sending out a few feelers that came back empty, Mulligan had resorted to the basics – to spot the tail, he’d simply begun following his own client. He soon thought he might have some possible suspects, but the questionable vans had never made an extended appearance, and he knew he may have been imposing his hopes on simple traffic.

Two weeks later, Smith was paranoid that he’d somehow slipped and frightened off whomever was hunting his client. He’d just bought a slice of pizza that he didn’t wish to eat under the sloshy eyes of the drunks that frequented Anthony’s, so Mulligan was sitting in his Tercel, wiping grease from his chin, and mentally running over the facts of the case.

His phone rang.

“They beat me, they beat me!” came Ruben’s strained voice through the tiny speaker.

Within seconds the rapidly cooling slice was forgotten on the passenger seat as the car’s engine kicked into life.

It was a quick trip.

Smith found Micha between two apartment buildings in a neighbourhood that left Mulligan wanting to sort out the situation as quickly as possible.

“It was the blue van! Where were you!?” was his greeting.

“I’m sorry,” Mulligan replied. “I’ll give you a ride to the nearest police station, I know a few folks there, they’ll get your report and get you home quick. Maybe they’ll turn up something I haven’t been able to.”

“No. My daughter is on the way here, I’m going to stay at her house tonight.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes – why? Are you unsure? What – are you on her pay now too?” the battered-man paced as he spoke, his mussed hair blowing about his face.

“No, I just think the police might be helpful. How did you end up here anyhow?”

Ruben scanned the buildings with a lack of recognition in his eyes, as if this was his first time seeing his surroundings.

A black Lincoln Town Car pulled to a sharp halt at the curb.

“That’s ‘Nessa,” said the shaken man.

As Mulligan helped him to the waiting car, the PI noted the blood spattered across the lapel of Micha’s now tarnished suit.

* * *

Smith called for a meeting the following day, unsure if his client was willing to trust him to continue his work. There was little he could have done about the situation – no man can be unceasingly vigilant, but he’d lost pay to a similar incident in the past.

Ruben was forceful that he stay on the case, that he, in fact, redouble his efforts.

Mulligan had done his best to reassure Micha that he would. He’d asked for his daughter’s number, in case she should have any info, and then he’d promised to track down the phantom van.

As soon as the man was mollified and had departed, Smith called Vanessa.

For the third encounter in a row, the client had been wearing the same suit.

They met at Vanessa’s office, and Mulligan explained the task he’d been entrusted with, and partially paid for.

“A blue van? It would be a Grand Caravan, actually, a 2002 blue Dodge Grand Caravan,” Vanessa replied, after a long moment of focusing on her laptop’s keyboard.

Smith reached for his phone to make notes.

“Don’t bother,” she said. “She didn’t divorce Dad, he’s just… He’s had a psychotic break due to trauma. He always wears the same suit – even though its ripped, he threw a fit this morning when I asked him to put on something else. I can’t be watching him constantly, but last night was the fourth time he’s been found wandering around, and I’m just lucky he was only mugged.”

Mulligan rubbed his right eye, mentally collecting together replacements for the funds he’d already spent.

Vanessa continued.

“Three months ago Mom was crossing the street to a cab that was waiting, and she was run down by a couple in a Grand Caravan who were too busy yelling at their kids to watch for jaywalkers. The doctor says once he accepts it, he’ll start to recover.”

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm. The audio and text formats of Flash Pulp are released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

Flash Pulp 103 – Mulligan Smith and The Strange Woman, Part 1 of 1

7 Dec

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and three.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present Mulligan Smith and The Strange Woman, Part 1 of 1
Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Flash Pulp on iTunes.

It’s like Stevie Wonder driving a monster truck.

Find a link it here.

 

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight, Mulligan Smith, PI, encounters a stranger while crawling into an unlikely location.

 

Flash Pulp 103
Mulligan Smith and The Strange Woman, Part 1 of 1

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

Mulligan hadn’t meant to encounter the woman, he’d been busy chasing down a job when he happened upon her – still, once he’d found her, he couldn’t leave her.

It was noon, and he’d come sidling down the long strip of paved pathway while babysitting a client’s son. He hadn’t realized the teenager and his friends had come equipped with wheels in the heel’s of their shoes, and the whole group had zipped away with practiced ease before the PI had been able to nonchalantly exit the park bench he’d been patiently occupying.

With the elbows and fists that Mulligan recognized as the hallmarks of high school students who would never master algebra, or basic grammar, the trio had quickly devolved into a rolling hazard of combat racing. Smith had made his best effort to keep up, but running would have made him memorable should Farrel, the wayward son, decide to turn around.

Instead he’d been forced to follow at the best pace he could manage, and when the boys broke from the trail and into the parking lot abutting a long row of townhouses, he had lost his chance to identify the door which they’d entered via the shared hallway that made up the spine of the building.

The lot that adjoined the housing was a barren expanse of pavement, which in turn opened onto a march of high tension power lines. The towers ran east-west, and the path upon which Smith had been traveling snaked at their feet.

Mulligan SmithThe only other feature he might use to remain unseen was a cluster of entwined shrubberies which had been cut into the shape of a massive, erect marshmallow. As he’d approached, Mulligan had guessed the flat top of the topiary was likely owing to a fear of excess growth entangling in the cabling above.

He lamented the lack of his warm Tercel as the wind plucked at his sweater, then he dropped to his belly and began to wiggle beneath the foliage.

It had been a tight fit, but he suspected the position would allow him a superior vantage point for watching the boys’ exit, and it was close enough that, as they passed, he might hear some snippet of dialogue that would help prove if it was actually the place they’d been doing their shopping at.

He’d been careful to keep his face to the ground to avoid the grasping tree limbs, so when his hand brushed against the cloud of golden hair that surrounded the woman’s face, he’d brought up his eyes to find himself within kissing distance of the stranger.

He’d started and scrabbled backwards six inches.

Collecting himself, he looked her over.

Black welts and dried blood marred the length of her body, obvious in her nudity. Her hair had snared in the low hanging leaves, and hung about her face like strands of a ratty curtain.

Her killer had taken care in ensuring her body was as near the center of the cluster of bushes as was possible, and Mulligan knew it was only the strange coincidences inherent in private investigation that had brought him to discover her hiding place – otherwise it would have likely only been breached once the smell had become too much for some passing pedestrian.

Wiggling a hand into the pocket of his hoodie, he pulled free his cellphone and called it in. After he was sure his situation was understood, he hung up. He knew he’d just have to re-answer the same questions later – and yet, he found he could not leave her, not until there was someone to hand her over to.

Had she been pretty? It was hard to tell. Had she been a good person? It was impossible to know.

“What happened to you?” he asked the dead woman.

“Who and why?” There was a ring mark on her temple that he thought might provide a likely lead, but it wasn’t his job to run it down.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’ve… I’ve got things I’ve got to do.”

Babysitting.

Maybe a convention had already been in the neighbourhood, maybe his truncated call had caused them to pick up their feet, but from beneath the drape of the bush, Smith saw three cruisers pull to hard stops in the parking lot, their lights blinking.

Alongside the building a sliding patio door burst open, and a dozen delinquents pilled out, scattering as they ran.

A trio of familiar faces came pounding in his direction. He spotted Farrel’s horse face opening into a gaping maw as he ran, and watched as the boy’s right hand came up to swallow several mouthfuls worth of unidentified baggies.

“Someone will be here in a minute, I promise,” Mulligan told the woman.

The adrenaline made it easy to extract himself from the bush, and his escape came just in time to intercept his client’s son.

“You, your Mom, and I, have a date with a bottle of laxatives. Then I suspect it’s back to rehab for you, boy-o.”

He worked hard to keep some humor in his voice, but there was none in the rough hand that closed around Farrel’s shoulder.

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm. The audio and text formats of Flash Pulp are released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

Flash Pulp 099 – Mulligan Smith and The Temple Of Ortru, Part 1 of 1

26 Nov

Flash PulpWelcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Ninety-Nine.

Tonight we present Mulligan Smith and The Temple Of Ortru, Part 1 of 1
Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

Have you ever wanted to stare longingly across the table at a beautiful re-creation of yourself?

The art of Mike Mongello can do that for you. Find out how at http://www.supermonge.com

 

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight, Private Investigator Mulligan Smith must plumb the depths of the The Temple Of Ortru, in search of truth for a desperate client.

 

Flash Pulp 099 – Mulligan Smith and The Temple Of Ortru, Part 1 of 1

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

Mulligan entered the room just in time to watch the huddled men moan over their companion’s death.

Three weeks earlier he’d met with the victim’s wife over a cup of mid-afternoon coffee. She’d worn a simple blue dress, with quite a bit of gold tucked about her neck, and she’d obviously taken care in arranging her graying hair into a simple, but prim, bun.

“I don’t want to bring it up to him, just… just in case.”

“I think it’s a pretty extreme thing to imply your husband is in a cult, if you don’t mind me saying so.” Mulligan had taken a long sip from his cup after his response, paying as much attention to her body language as he’d paid to her story. Once, a few years earlier, he’d spent six days chasing ghosts for a man who’d claimed he was being threatened. It had taken his third visit to the client to realize the problem: that the only thing harassing him was a head full of bad wiring.

He’d only charged the man half his usual fees.

Still, the housewife didn’t seem crazy, just a little neurotic.

“I’ve heard him talking on his phone about.. things,” Mrs. Tuttle had replied.

“What kinds of things?” He’d taken up his phone, his thumb prepared to enter notes on anything that might be of use.

“Something about demon lords? Something about the Temple Of Ortru?” Her hand had shook as she’d picked up her mug. “He laughed a lot, and it sounded so vicious, so unlike him.”

“Has he been away from the home more often recently?”

“Well – he’s always spent Thursday night at O’Neil’s, downtown, but a few months ago things changed. He never told me he altered his plans or anything, and sometimes he’d still mention a story he’d heard from his drinking buddies, but his breath didn’t smell as beery as usual, and if I asked anything more about what happened, he’d just sort of change the subject. Now he just never mentions it at all.”

Mulligan SmithMulligan had accepted the case, but he’d assumed that the truth of the matter was much more likely to involve the husband having an affair, while his wife utilized her overactive imagination to maintain her denial.

With that idea in mind, it was with some surprise that he’d noted Tuttle’s behaviour as the man was leaving his home on the following Thursday.

As the wayfaring husband, still wearing the suit he’d returned from work in, said his goodbyes, and exited the front door, he’d taken a moment to ensure his wife hadn’t decided to approach a window to see him off, then ducked into the house’s garage.

A moment later, he’d exited with a knapsack appearing thoroughly out of place strapped across his jacketed shoulders, and gotten into his cream coloured Cadillac.

Mulligan’s first attempt at tailing Tuttle had been a bust; he’d gotten hung up at a red light and was forced to watch his quarry turn a corner in the distance and disappear.

The second week had been much more successful, however, and the PI had happily jotted down the banquet of information represented by the license plates gathered in the driveway of the bungalow at which the chase had ended. What is kept private in the real world is often embraced online, and, via some favours and Google, Smith was quickly able to come to solid conclusions regarding his client’s husband’s evasiveness.

On the third week, after the caddy was safely empty an hour, and the entire cast of Mulligan’s previous visit had long entered the house, the detective had scooped his blue slurpee from the Tercel’s driver-side cup-holder and approached the door.

After a brief explanation, the squat, black-haired woman who’d answered his knock had shown him down a short hall at the rear of the house.

They’d found the men gathered there, their eyes afire with intensity and sweat on their brow.

“I was murdered! Bloody warlock.” said Tuttle, muttering from the far corner.

Mulligan noisily sucked at the remnants of his cup’s offerings, drawing the attention of the crowd.

He tipped his straw towards his prey.

“I’m not the kind of fellow to judge a grown man for playing Dungeons and Dragons, but, I think your wife has a right to know.”

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm. The audio and text formats of Flash Pulp are released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

Flash Pulp 086 – Sgt Smith and The Dish, Part 1 of 1

29 Oct

Flash PulpWelcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Eighty-Six.

Tonight we present Sgt Smith and The Dish, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Flash Pulp on iTunes.

Play them all backwards and discover the truth behind the death of Paul McCartney!

To subscribe, click here!

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight, Sgt Smith finds himself nervously attending a social.

Flash Pulp 086 – Sgt Smith and The Dish, Part 1 of 1

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

Mulligan,

Whenever I had reason to be nervous about my day, your Mom, probably because of her Pennsylvania Dutch upbringing, always had the same solution: pie. There’d always be a slice on hand, often blueberry, my favourite, and she’d eat with me in the stillness of the morning as we sipped our tea and pretended like nothing was wrong.

Mulligan SmithI remember having to take particular care at that breakfast, as I was wearing my Sunday best. It was the only decent set of clothes I had at the time, beyond my uniform.

Then, when I was done, she straightened my attire and told me to watch my tongue.

She was a kidder, that one. I know what she meant though – your touch for subtlety didn’t come from my side of the family.

Anyhow, it was 1956 and, after our morning ritual, I had to leave for a date. It wasn’t long before the sun was burning my prematurely balding pate and I was fussing with my tie in the noonday heat. Around me, the picnic area was awash in color. Balloons had been fixed with ribbons to the edges of all the tables; green, red and yellow streamers hung from the tree branches; and the loud dresses and Hawaiian shirts were out in full Saturday-in-the-suburbs force.

I don’t think they would have set me up with the date if they thought I was actually going to meet her, but they were stretched pretty thin which is probably why they sent a mute to a social event.

Two card tables had been hauled onto the grass, and pushed together to create a buffet area. As folks came strolling in, they’d drop off a little something for the smorgasbord, then wander into the surrounding knots of familiar faces.

It was a beautiful day, but when I think of it, I can’t help thinking about the flies – I don’t know what it was with that neighbourhood, but it seemed to be swarming with those buzzing aggravations.

I was standing at the edge of the crowd, trying not to look too interested in the red-faced old guy who’d been highballing since I’d sidled in – his drinks had gotten him into berating two hand-holding teenagers – when Beatrix arrived.

She stepped from the car, her legs extending from her well-cut baby blue dress like an invitation to sin. As she collected up her goods, the mother of one of the teens stepped up to the tipsy codger in an attempt to explain that the young couple were promised to be married. All eyes were discreetly on them, and not the blond, her hair piled high, who moved confidently from her car to the food table to lay out her covered bakeware.

She was as much a stranger to the party as I was. When we were alone together later, she told me she’d driven all morning just to be there.

As the family drama played out to my left, my eyes stayed on the veiled dish – at least, until a tall woman, her hair held back by a hankie, approached me to chat. I doubt her intentions were anything more than getting a better view of the burgeoning tussle between drunken galoot and defensive housewife, as she seemed little interested in the fact that my lack of a tongue made it impossible for me to maintain my end of the gossipy conversation she eagerly began to recite, stopping only to sip at her wine glass. I don’t recall anything of what she said, I mostly just remember the rock of tension growing in my belly, and the tickle of the occasional fly trying to seek shade under my shirt collar.

Your mother would have known how to better handle the situation; she was always the social one.

I watched the blond set down her bakeware and pull back the simple dishtowel she’d been using as a cover.

I tried to move then, but I think the gossiping woman thought I was coming in close for an especially tantalizing bit of information – she grabbed my arm to steady herself.

Two kids, I swear both of them wearing full boyscout uniforms, stepped up to the table for some grub.

The baby-blue dress stood back, her eyes bright, and I tried again to make my way around the handerchiefed woman- but she was caught up in her own story, laughing by then, and I couldn’t shake her off.

I hadn’t been at the last party to observe the aftermath, but I’d seen the photos: the blood filled vomit, the trashed cutlery spread across the lawn by the fleeing crowd, the weeping children, the glassy eyed stare of Martin Nikolaus, dead but still wearing a child’s coned party hat.

I pushed her.

All eyes moved from those gathered around the teens, to me.

I jumped over the prone woman, and a fella in a tweed jacket stepped into my path.

“Hey now,” he said, grabbing, and ripping, my white Sunday-shirt.

I couldn’t take the delay, so I pushed him over too.

My objective, still holding her dishtowel, had an epiphany regarding my intentions.

She started running.

I may have been the last resort, the bottom of the barrel only out there because we had two hundred miles worth of suburban get-togethers to cover, but there had already been three unfortunates done in by Beatrix’s Drano Casserole, and I wasn’t going to be remembered as the guy who didn’t move fast enough to save the ranks of Scout Troop 97.

On my way by, I upended the table, sending Jello and deviled eggs out over the lawn.

She’d parked across the street, and I was lucky that a dinged Ford truck had pulled up too close behind her. While she was trying to reverse out, she bumped its fender, then, panicking, she miscalculated the distance to the red Buick in front of her and slammed into it with the full force of her chugging engine.

I dragged her from the car then; blood was running down her mouth from the nose she’d broken rebounding off her steering wheel.

By the looks I was getting from the crowd, you’d of thought I was the monster. I’d likely have taken a terrible beating from the tweed jacket who was briskly approaching to defend his manhood, but by then I had my badge out. I was going to sign for someone to call the police, but I could see half-a-dozen party goers already streaking home to set the phone lines ablaze.

Beatrix Johnson – Killer Bea; she never spent a day in prison.

We didn’t have lady serial killers back then, we just had “troubled women”, so she landed in a sanitarium. Still – an asylum then makes prison now look like a resort and spa.

It was probably just as much a relief for me, as it was for her, the day they found her hanging by her bed-sheet.

I still haven’t had any casserole in over half a century though – I’ll stick to pie.

Dad

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm. The audio and text formats of Flash Pulp are released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.