The Dwarf Making Sweet, Sweet Love To The Skeleton Part 19


This is the continuation of a story. You can read the rest here.

Since it’s already written, I see no point in keeping you in suspense. This is the chapter I talk about here.


I can’t move my arm. Why can’t I move my arm? I can move my hand though. Let’s see. What’s this? Something fuzzy and wet. I am in my bed, right? Neither fuzzy nor wet belong in my bed. What’s this over here? Something squishy, but not fuzzy nor wet. Warm. What is going on here? I can’t see anything. It’s dark.

I investigate with the arm that isn’t pinned under fuzzy and wet only to find fuzzy and wet again with my other hand. What’s up here? This feels like… like an arm? Yes, that’s definitely an arm. Who’s arm? It’s not mine. Mine are right here. Oh, there’s my other hand. What is it holding? Squishy. Warm.

“Walker! What the hell?!”

The warm and squishy has moved. I know that voice. It’s Bets’ voice. Why is her voice here? What’s it doing connected to squishy and warm?

I’m blind! Someone has turned on the sun or maybe just a lamp. I take the arm that isn’t pinned under fuzzy and wet, and immediately cover my eyes. “What?”

“Why the hell are you feeling me up?” comes the voice again.

I open one eye to discover that I’m spooning a rather large dog who is drooling on my pillow. On the other side of that, Bets is sitting up and defensively choking the life out of my sheet. Squishy. Warm. I open the other one. “Bets? What are you doing in my bed?”

“Why are you feeling me up?”

“Why are you in my bed? I distinctly remember you not in my bed when I went to sleep. That also applies to the dog. Why is the dog also in my bed?” Fuzzy. Wet.

“Nora’s on the couch in the living room. I didn’t want to leave her here in the apartment alone just in case anything happened. I slept in the chair, but I must have wandered in here at some point.”

“She’s not alone. I’m here.”

“Yeah, but you can’t be trusted.” The look on her face screams that she immediately regrets saying those words, but her mouth says nothing.

“Gee, thanks. It’s nice to know how you really feel.”

“You know what I mean.”

“No, actually, I don’t. You never tell me anything going on in your head and you give me nothing but attitude and eye rolls. I put up with it, because… well, honestly, I don’t know why.”

She says nothing, so I go on digging my hole, “I can’t be held responsible for feeling you up when A) I was asleep and B) I didn’t even know you were there, so 3) it’s your fault that I felt your warm and squishies, and 4) I’m apparently not to be trusted.”


She looks defeated, and suddenly very feminine and small like a little girl. I have a flash of an impulse to reach out to her, but it passes just as quickly. I’m angry. “That’s right. I’m the asshole and it’s all my fault. Out!” I point my finger in the direction of the living room.

She says, “Come on, Shamus, let’s leave the asshole to sleep in his big comfortable bed alone,” but she doesn’t move. Shamus continues drooling on my pillow.

“Fine. You stay. I leave.” And with that, I find myself sleeping on the couch in my office without so much as a blanket. Damn her. We’ll call this a draw.

To be continued…

The Dwarf Making Sweet, Sweet Love To The Skeleton Part 18


This is the continuation of a story. You can read the rest here.

After all the fuss I made in the post about hating romance here, I realized that I had to post another chapter before we get to the one I talk about in that post. Apparently, I’m a chapter behind in posting. Sorry about that.

This is the chapter entitled “The Love Duck,” which has little to no romantical tension, also, very few ducks.


When I walk into the office, Bets is on the phone. She covers the receiver with her hand and mouths the word Macky at me, which produces an autonomic eye roll. When she hangs up, she tells me, “He says that there were a couple of big dudes messing up the bookstore. He didn’t stick around to find out who they were.”

“I assume he’s going home to do his homework now? Spulling is herd.” Another eye roll, but not mine. I’m looking at McGinty’s invoice that I got from Dixon, but it’s all Greek to me, or rather, Latin. “Bets, can you get Nora over here at some point? I have a Grandpa and or Latin related question.”

“Sure,” she says and starts walking towards my apartment.

For the ninetieth time today, I’m confused. “Where are you going?”

“She’s in your living room.”

What the ever-lovin’ spacegoat is she doing in my living room? I told you to take care of her, not put her in my living room!”

“What did you think I’d do with her? Put her in some seedy no-tell motel on Hollywood all by herself? No way. She’s safer here. Besides, Shamus loves her.”

“Oh. Well, if Shamus loves her, by all means, go ahead and give her my bank account details and my car keys, too! I also have a respectable record collection and half a sandwich in the fridge…”

“You’re being unreasonable.”

“Yes, because it’s entirely unreasonable to think that when I tell you to take care of someone–someone who isn’t even our client, by the way; our actual clients are dead and a lawyer respectively–I don’t expect you to take care of them in my living room!” By the time I’m done with my tirade, Bets has already gone into my apartment.

She returns a minute later with Shamus and a sleepy looking Nora who’s wearing my clothes no less. Now she really looks like a little girl playing dress up in my grown up man clothes. And by grown up man clothes, I mean my Damned t-shirt that I purposely hid in the bottom drawer, because Macky’s been trying to steal it from me ever since he saw it. I shoot Bets a look that she normally gives to me.

“Really? My clothes, too?” Bets just shrugs her shoulders. I’ve already lost the battle. I ignore her and turn to Nora. “Nora, you’re a smart girl. Do you know Latin at all?”

“Not fluently, but enough to get by. Why?”

What’s aurum anatis mean?

“Aurum means gold.” Oooh, gold! Now we’re getting somewhere! “And what was the second word? Anatis? A-N-A?” I check the paperwork again and nod. “Well, I’m not so good with biology, but I’m pretty sure that the root ‘anas’ is duck.”

“Duck as in quack quack? Or duck as in there’s an object on a trajectory to your head so you might want to adjust your course in a downward manner with great haste?”

“Quack quack.”

“That can’t be right.”

“May I see it, please?” I hand her the invoice. “Oh, this is my grandfather’s writing. I see the problem. I think that’s an M, not an N, so it’s amatis, not anatis.”

“Oh, well, that certainly clears things up then. Of course, it’s amatis. What’s an amatis?”

“I think amatis is from the root ‘amor,’ which means love, affection or infatuation, depending on how it’s used.”

“Uh huh. So, gold infatuation or gold love? That doesn’t make much more sense than a duck. Any idea what that means, you know, in a larger sense, or hell, even in a small one?”

“Not really.”

“Well, there you have it. A clue! Any idea what the love duck has to do with your grandpa’s book business?”

“No, I’ve never seen that title before. He didn’t mention it to me.”

“Did he mention anything to you about anything ever?”

“Sorry?” Fortunately, she didn’t seem to entirely hear my snippy remark.

“Never mind, you can go back to bed now. Thanks.” I watch as Nora totters off back to my apartment. When she’s gone, “Really, Bets? Really? I’m a bed and breakfast now?”

“I can’t have her out there all on her own. She’s really safer here. That’s my only concern.”

“Your only concern is her safety, not my rights to privacy and half a sandwich? What about my right not to be looted or have my damned Damned t-shirt stolen right under my nose without my permission? Has Parliament passed the Quartering Act of 1765 again? You didn’t even tell me, let alone ask first.”

She puts her head down, “Sorry.” Ha! I got a sorry out of her! “It’s just for a day or two until we figure this out.”

Bets knows she’s wrong, so I decide not to rub her nose in the carpet anymore. Besides, our record is now one million, three hundred fifty-eight thousand, five hundred twenty-five to two. I am gruntled with my victory and decide not to gloat about it. “I take no responsibility for her even if she is wearing my shirt and sleeping on my sofa. She’s all yours. ”


“Oh, and see if you can get some money out of her. She hasn’t even paid for our regular services, let alone my gracious bed and breakfast hospitality. At least get a retainer or something if she’s going to be hanging around.”

“Honestly, Cump. You’re an ass.”

“Thank you!”

Part 19

The Dwarf Making Sweet, Sweet Love To The Skeleton Part 17


This is the continuation of a story. You can read the rest here.


The Ventura is one of those hotels that used to be quite something during the golden age of Hollywood, but it isn’t something at all anymore except old. Still, under all the wear and tear, you can see that it’s got good bones. It was built before styrofoam and plastic were considered perfectly good building materials. It’s solid. I like solid.

The lobby is ridiculously garish. It seems to have taken “the golden age” literally, since nearly every square inch of it is littered with gilded something or other. Light fixtures drip with fat, naked, cherubs and crystals. It hurts my eyes.

Behind the front desk is no one. I ring the little bell. Nothing happens. I catch my reflection in one of the floor-length gilded mirrors and notice that I’m covered in a fine patina of dog fur I must have picked up from Bets’ car. Damn Shamus. I’m busy trying to brush myself off, looking all the world like a person freaking out because he’s covered in ants would look, when a voice asks, “Want a lint roller?”

My senses failed me. Overcome by dog fur and cherubs, I hadn’t noticed the medium-sized older man appear behind the desk. “God, yes. Thanks.” He’s got a kindly face; the kind of face you could spill your whole life story to without even noticing. He reaches down below the desk and hands me a lint roller, the kind specifically made for picking up pet fur. “Thank you.” I proceed to roll myself, still looking like someone covered with ants, but now with a proper tool to remove them.

“May I help you with something else?” I immediately love this man. He reminds me of my grandfather, if my grandfather hadn’t been a consummate ass in the tradition of slave-trading pirate Francis after whom we’re all named.

“Actually, yes. You may have heard there was a fella staying here who met with an untimely end.”

“Oh, yes. Room 21. Such a shame. He was such a nice young man… with manners, you know?”

“I’m a private detective and he was my client. I’d like to take a look at his room if that’s alright.” For once, I’m not lying, but since I’ve spun so many of them lately, I feel somehow like I am.

“Well, the police gave me strict orders not to let anyone in there.” It looks like I’ll have to revert to plan B–the not-actually-a-plan plan where I find some other more difficult way to get in. “But, I’ve never liked the police.” He gives me a mischievous smile and the key to room 21. “Just make sure they don’t know you were in there. I’ll ring the room phone if they come back.” Will you be my grandpa?

I duck under crime scene tape to find a perfectly ordinary hotel room sans cherubs that looks like a tornado or a rock star happened inside. It’s obvious that someone stayed here for a while and it’s even more obvious that the police have ransacked the room. They never put anything back when they’re done searching. Cops have no respect.

There are clothes and various personal belongings all over the floor. It looks like they checked the bed since the sheets are torn off and the mattress is cattywampus on the box springs. There’s a broken bottle of cologne on the bathroom floor. Now, why would they feel it necessary to smash a perfectly innocent bottle of cologne? What did that cologne ever do to them? I feel badly for the person who will ultimately have to clean this up, probably my new grandpa. What a mess.

I’m not hopeful that I’ll find anything to go on, but since the cops’ idea of a thorough search is to just tear everything apart as quickly as possible, one never knows. They have no finesse.

I spend at least twenty minutes going through things with no luck, but as I’m picking clothes up off the floor, more out of habit than investigative prowess, I check the pockets. In a pair of jeans wadded up and thrown in the corner is a bit of paper torn from a restaurant place-mat. It’s the address for McGinty’s bookstore. Interesting.

I remember Macky’s account of how farm boy was staking out the bookstore. That tidbit got overshadowed by the news of his violent suicide, but I’m thinking about it now and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Why would farm boy be trailing McGinty, unless he knew something that I don’t? Well, obviously, he knew something I don’t, since I don’t know much of anything, but the gears are slowly turning in my head and I don’t like where they’re taking me.

I frantically check the rest of the pockets. I turn up another bit of paper with a series of numbers written on it–longer than a phone number, but shorter than a credit card–and “50K” written below it.

Part 18

The Dwarf Making Sweet, Sweet Love To The Skeleton Part 16


This is the continuation of a story. You can read the rest here.

THEDWARF6CROP “As I said, Mr. Drake, I can’t give you specifics, but I can tell you what I know of Mr. Duarte’s movements in Los Angeles.” The lawyer’s annoyingly businesslike tone makes me want to make fart noises into the phone. If there’s one thing I can’t stand from professionals, it’s professionalism.

“Several days ago, Mr. Duarte received a call from a Mr. Garity, he called himself, who said that if Mr. Duarte wanted the item in question, he would have to pay a ransom for it. Mr. Duarte was to wire money into an account, after which time, he would receive information as to the item’s whereabouts.

“After he arrived in Los Angeles, I received a call from Mr. Duarte saying that he had followed the instructions and paid the ransom, but he had not heard anything from Mr. Garity. He said that he had found a lead on Mr. Garity, but he thought he might need some professional help. That’s when I referred him to you. I did not hear from Mr. Duarte after that phone call, and then the police called me this morning notifying me of his probable suicide.”

Those cops are so predictable. “Alright then. I’ll check it out. I’m not promising anything and your retainer is non-refundable if I don’t.”

“I understand. Thank you, Mr. Drake. We’re counting on you. Goodbye.” I find this “we” business intriguing, but I leave that for now.

I put the phone back in it’s cradle. “We have a new client and this one isn’t dead… yet!” I explain the gist of the phone call to Bets, and by proximity, Macky. “Macky, go check on the bookstore. I want to make sure nothing has happened there since I visited this morning. If there is something happening, don’t do anything stupid about it. I’m going to see what’s what where farm boy was staying on our new client’s dime. Bets, you… well, you just go on being you.”

“Check,” Macky leaves in a din of skateboard and I secretly hope he tries to ride it down the stairs, but he doesn’t. I’m overcome with a sense of peace at his absence, the kind of peace you find in a large cathedral when it’s empty. It makes me want to cry.

Bets calls after him, “Be careful.”

“You never say that to me.”

“You’re not Macky.”

“Thankfully, that is true. Why do you mama bear that kid anyway?”

“He has no one else.”

“Well, neither do I, but you don’t hear me crying about it.”

“You’re not seventeen either.”

“Thankfully, that is also true.” I remember being seventeen and shudder. “Actually, can you figure out some transportation for me? This cab business is getting expensive.”

“Sure.” She throws me her keys. Since I’m not expecting them, I stupidly let them hit me in the chest like a man with no arms. I was never very ninja. Ouch. “For now, take mine.”

“You expect me to drive around town in your roller skate? What will the neighbors think?” but I pocket the keys. “Thanks.”

“Bring it back in one piece.”

“I think you’d be better off if I didn’t bring it back at all. One of these days, I’ll buy you a real car without training wheels.”

Part 17