Hardboiled

city at night in rain

The P.I. stepped into the morgue, shaking out an umbrella. He hung it from a hat rack, rested his fedora on the handle, and lit up again, taking a good long drag. Three weeks sniffing out the dame at beatnik joints – only for the trail to end up here.

‘Good timing, H,’ Benny said, shaking his hand then leading him to the back. ‘You just missed the fuzz.’

‘Aw, ain’t that a shame?’ he said.

Benny snorted, pausing before he opened the shelf. ‘It’s a messy one.’

‘Seen it all, Benny.’ Benny shrugged, rolling out the body. Jesus! In life, Miss Penelope O’Mletta was meant to be a real knock-out. Now? ‘I need a drink,’ H said, ash trickling on his loafers.

‘Warned ya,’ Benny said, taking a swig from a flask and passing it over the stiff. H gulped down the cheap scotch, then took a pen from his trench coat and poked the yellow goo caked on a wound.

‘Looks damn scrambled.’

‘Exactly.’

‘What, you saying this is the Spoons?’

Benny shrugged. ‘You’re the gumshoe. But that’s what the boys in blue were saying.’

‘I know those jokers. I wouldn’t put much stock in that. But I don’t know who but the Spoons smoke people like…’ he said, trailing off to gesture over the carnage.

‘Yeah. But H, how’d Old Man O’Mletta’s daughter get tangled in all this?’

‘That’s the question. Pharmaceutical kingpin’s daughter goes off grid blowing the trust fund on more… recreational pharmaceuticals. Kinda thing I’ve seen a hundred times before, they end up home and straightened out. Once the kid fell off a high wall, cracked their head.’ He rubbed his own smooth white dome. ‘This time’s something else. Musta been a real shady character hanging in one of them jazz clubs. I better ask for more, uh, resources on this one.’

Benny chuckled. ‘Well, O’Mletta’s got some to spare. Done with the body?’

‘Sure.’

Benny rolled the drawer back in. ‘Careful out there. If it is the Spoons, try not to draw attention.’

‘Don’t gotta tell me,’ H said, following Benny to the exit. After retrieving his hat and umbrella he opened the door than paused in the threshold. ‘Poker on Saturday?’

‘Course, I gotta win my money back.’

‘Hope you don’t need it too bad with tells like that, then!’ He unfurled the umbrella, pat Benny’s shoulder, and knocked the door shut with a foot. He thought he’d seen it all before, but this case was giving him real bad vibes. He decided to head back to the office for another glance through the notes.

Humpty Dumpty, P.I., walked out into the downtown rain, streetlamps glistening orange in the rain on his shell.

Liebster Award Nomination

leibster-award

I’ve been nominated for The Liebster Award by the insightful and hilarious writing blogger Michael James, who you should go and read!

The rules are to answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you, post the answers on your blog, and then nominate seven more bloggers who must answer 11 new questions.

Michael’s questions:

1. What is the best song lyric you’ve ever heard?

‘Despacito.’ YEET

2. Imagine you can do actual magic, but it comes at a cost. Every time you cast a spell, an international leader is murdered. In today’s world, does this make you do more, or less magic?

Less. Aside from not being that murdery anyway… If it’s a random international leader, then it might be one of the relatively decent ones. And if I got to choose, then would assassinations actually help?

Killing Kim Jong Un would just cause a power vacuum in North Korea and probably leave South Korea with an impossible mess to deal with as well. Killing Trump would just put Mike Pence in charge of the U.S., which could be even worse. Do I then have to murder every Republican? Then every neolib Democrat, leaving just the Ocasio-Cortez/Bernie/El-Sayed wing? And as much as I dislike Thatcher In The Rye here in the UK… she was elected, and I’m not one of those edgelord tankies who shares guillotine memes unironically.

Shame to miss out on the magic. But no, let’s not go down the Death Note route. It doesn’t go well.

3. If you could meet an alternate version of yourself, what do you hope your alternate version did better than you?

My gut response is ‘not too much’. It would be depressing to find out I’d have had a perfect life if I’d done a few things differently.

But then, the alternate me is a moral agent just as much as I am. So shouldn’t I want him to be as well off as possible – to increase the level of wellbeing in the multiverse on some sort of utilitarian grounds? It’s not as though this is a zero-sum situation – him succeeding wouldn’t cause me not to.

Maybe I should answer ‘armchair moral philosophising’, so alt!me can tell me what to do.

4. Would you rather visit the bottom of the ocean or Mars?

If I want to see glowing fish then David Attenborough has it covered. Mars. It’s a whole other planet, including a trip through zero gravity. Being the first person there would guarantee a good book deal too.

5. What’s the best book you’ve read this year and why?

I don’t want to come off like one of those annoying DFW fanboys, but I have to say Infinite Jest.

It’s got everything. Humour: slapstick, ironic, sarcastic. That section about why video phones lost popularity really stands out, the absurdity cranks up and up, it makes you laugh like mad, then you look back and think about what it’s saying. On the other end of the emotional range, it’s got an incredible depiction of addiction and depression, family, of wide-ranging aspects of human life and culture.

Yeah it was a slog at points, but I’m looking forward to rereading it soon.

6. On a scale of one to ten, rank your ability to play Jenga.

7

7. If you were Prince Harry, how often would you stand on top of Buckingham Palace with a cube amplifier, playing “Wonderwall” by “Oasis” on your acoustic guitar? If the answer is less than 20 times a year, who hurt you and what did they do?

I’m fairly anti-monarchist, so very regularly. It’d be neat praxis to make all the royal correspondents have to constantly report on what’s up with Harry. Though I’d have to learn other songs too – might as well take up guitar while I’m making monarchy look ridiculous. Despacito?

8. If you could implant one false memory into your own head, what would it be?

If I have to have a false memory, can it be one with coincidentally true content within it? If so, I’d like to remember going to an oracle and receiving predictions of future events, but those predictions actually do come true. That way, I can have an easy living betting on them.

If I can’t munchkin this, maybe flying. It’d be cool to remember that, and hopefully I’d rationalise it as a vivid dream rather than go around jumping off things…

9. Do you hear that? SHIT, there it is again, seriously, how do you not hear that?

Sorry, Michael.

You’ve been asleep this whole time. I’m the part of your mind that’s trying to make you wake up.

I’ve been sending you clues like this one, but it hasn’t worked yet. I didn’t want to tell you the truth outright and upset you, but we’re running out of options here.

Pay attention to the cracks in your reality. Do you remember how you got to your current location, or were you just, sort of, here somehow? Try flipping coins and see if anything weird happens.

Good luck.

10. You can see forty seconds into the future, but only twice a day. When do you find you most frequently use this talent?

Sounds like a good reason to take up roulette.

11. Imagine the most perfect kiss you’ve ever had. If you could capture that emotion and only experience that singular feeling for the rest of your life, would you?

This sort of idea, whatever the specific form it takes, is too much like wireheading. No.

My Nominees – go take a look at them!

The Singing Lights
Coffee, Stars, Books
Failing At Writing
Uninspired Writers
Meg Sorick, Author
Novelty Revisions
Thing Of Things

*They’re booktubers rather than bloggers, but bonus shout-out/nomination to Two Paper Girls!

My questions for them:

  1. Choose a superpower to be given to both you and a random person you don’t like.
  2. Which old-timey writer do you most wish was around and making dank memes today?
  3. Link to the content you’ve made that best represents you, and explain why.
  4. What’s the most significant thing you’ve changed your mind about, and why?
  5. What are the best and worst parts of online culture?
  6. What book is overrated?
  7. What book is underrated?
  8. Is there a widely hated book trope which you actually like?
  9. Pick one thing to change about human biology.
  10. What’re you listening to lately?
  11. Do this thing: