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

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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.

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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.”

“Asshole.”

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

THEDWARF6CROP

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.

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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. ”

“Understood.”

“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

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

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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

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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

The Dwarf Making Sweet, Sweet Love To The Skeleton Part 15

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

THEDWARF6CROPSalvation has arrived in the form of Chinese food! That’s the only kind of salvation I’m interested in. It’s not the best Chinese food around, nor is it really even Chinese, if you want to get technical about it, but it is the fastest. Macky eats most of it and even steals my egg roll. I find Macky annoying, but he does have one benefit: he works for food.

I ask, “Don’t you have any parents?”

“Sure,” he says while munching on my fortune cookie. I wait for him to say more, but he doesn’t. My phone startles me by ringing. I forgot that it accepts incoming calls, too. I hate the phone. I take a page from Detective Parsons and answer with “Drake.”

“Mr. Walker Drake?” comes a female voice on the other end.

“Yes?” Suddenly, I’m not so sure.

“My name is Victoria Drucker. I’m a lawyer in Clovis, California.”

Clovis, California rings a bell. “What can I do for you?”

“Mr. Drake, you may have had recent dealings with a client–well, a former client of mine–Mr. Henry Duarte.”

“That may be true.”

“Well, as attorney-client privilege survives the death of the client, I can’t tell you the exact nature of Mr. Duarte’s business, but I am the one who sent him to you based on the recommendation of Ms. Nancy Klein, a friend of mine whom you may remember helping several years ago.”

I find it hard to picture Ms. Professionalism here having any friends, but then I remember the woman she’s talking about who’s a professional at spending her daddy’s money. “Klein? …Oh, yes. I remember her. Something to do with murder or vegetables or murdered vegetables. So, she’s up in farm country now?”

“Yes, she’s quite well and speaks highly of you, which is why I thought to refer Mr. Duarte to you.”

“Tell her I said ‘Bob’s your uncle,’” I still have no idea what that phrase actually means, but I like the sound of it. “Thanks for sending business my way, but I’m still unclear as to why you’re calling. Do you want a finder’s fee?”

“Oh, nothing like that, Mr. Drake. It’s just that Mr. Duarte’s business in Los Angeles was not concluded before his death and I’d like to hire you to help in concluding it on behalf of his estate.”

“Swell. What’s the business?”

“Well, due to attorney-client privilege, which as I said, is still in effect, at the very least through the resolution of his estate, I find myself a little hamstrung in relating the details… Let’s just say that Mr. Duarte was in Los Angeles to find something which belonged to his family. I have the documentation here to prove ownership of the item.”

“Okay, so you want me to find something without actually knowing what it is that I’m looking for?”

“Well, in a way… really what I’d like you to do is follow the trail that Mr. Duarte was following before he died, which may lead to the item, and I’d also like you to discover the true circumstances of his death.”

Ah, now we’re getting somewhere I think. “Ah, now we’re getting somewhere,” I say.

She continues, “The detective in charge of Mr. Duarte’s case called me since I was one of the last numbers Mr. Duarte called. This detective Parsons seems to believe there was no foul play in Mr. Duarte’s death. I do not believe that Mr. Duarte killed himself.” Even through her business-like veneer, I can hear sadness in her voice that’s just a tinge more sad than most lawyers would be for their clients, which is usually not at all. This sounds personal.

“On that, we agree. I don’t believe he offed himself either. Alright, send me a retainer and I’ll figure out who killed him, but as to the other thing, the thing I’m supposed to find, you’re going to have to give me more to go on than ‘I can’t tell you.’”

Part 16

The Dwarf Making Sweet, Sweet Love To The Skeleton Part 14

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

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The fact that farm boy was found at Gower and Lexington puts his demise squarely within the city limits of Hollywood proper where I happen to have a homicide detective friend who owes me several universe-sized favors.

“Detective Parsons, please…. Walker Drake.”

Dum de dum de dum. One potato, two potato…

“Parsons.” If he knew it was me calling, he wouldn’t have answered that way. I’ve never understood why receptionists bother to ask who is calling if they’re not going to pass the information along.

“Hello, Billy! It’s Walker.”

“Well, if it isn’t my favorite dick,” his voice is dripping with what passes for humor amongst Hollywood homicide detectives. You have to be a little off to take up such a humorless profession in the entertainment capital. “What do you need now? And the name’s Bill or Detective Parsons is fine, too, thanks.”

“You’re welcome! I heard you caught a fresh one on Gower today. I know you don’t work anywhere approaching fast, but you got any bright ideas yet?”

“Now, why would I tell you what we’ve got, Drake?”

“You might want to tell me, because there’s a quote unquote girl named Candy who would be very interested in telling your superiors all about the night of September 27th of last year.” Yeah, so, I may have exaggerated a bit when I called him a friend.

“You son of a bitch! How long are you going to lord that over me?”

I have no intention of cashing in that hot little piece of blackmail now–I’m saving it for something really disastrous, like my inevitable arrest–but it never hurts to remind people what you have on them. I learned that from Oren. “Alright, Billy. Scratch Candy. How’s this? You might want to tell me, because if your pile of meat is the pile of meat I think he was, he was in my office the other day.”

“Really, now, that is interesting. How’d you like to come down to the station this afternoon and swap love stories?”

“I’d like that just fine, William. Unfortunately, I desperately need to reorganize my sock drawer this afternoon. The blues have infiltrated the grays! It’s total chaos!! My feet are very sensitive…”

“Smart guy.”

“Look, I’m not coming down there unless absolutely necessary–police stations make me itchy–but tell you what, as an act of glowing good faith on my gracious part, I will tell you what I know, after which, you are greatly encouraged to respond to in kind. I am now accepting tips.”

“Spill.” That’s his way of provisionally agreeing to my bargain.

And spill I do… well, partly. I tell Parsons about how farm boy came in with some song and dance about a girl, how I tracked her to the mountains, and well, that’s just about where the truth telling with my detective friend ends. I forget to tell him that I found the girl, that the goons found me, and pretty much everything else that has happened since farm boy walked into my office. Sometimes, I forget to tell things to the cops. I’m kind of dumb.

Parsons, being an honest sort of crooked detective, keeps his word to share information. He tells me that farm boy was actually Henry Duarte, 23, of Clovis, California, where he was, in all seriousness, a farm boy. I am so good it hurts.

Of course, when farm boy came to see me, he used a fake name, and of course, being a first-class private investigator, I knew it was fake, but it didn’t matter then. The obvious fakery of his fake name is why I mostly just referred to him as farm boy. You want to know what his fake name was? Hold on… wait for it… Henry Clovis. What a clever fellow! I’m so terribly surprised he’s dead.

Farm boy stayed at The Ventura Hotel for the past five days. He was last seen by the hotel staff sometime between twelve-thirty and one this morning. Cause of death is still undetermined, but it looks as though he beat the crap out of himself, bashed his own face in, then threw himself off a building–not jumped, but threw, based on the trajectory of the fall. At least, that’s probably how the cops will wrap it up with a pretty bow, since they’re likely to write off anything they can as either accidental death or suicide, because that’s what they do.

On the other hand, I have no need of keeping crime statistics low to win elections nor am I beholden to the slobbery uncleaned masses, so I will not write it off as accidental death or suicide. I will find out who killed him, because I care. There will be justice for Henry Farm Boy Clovis Duarte!

Alright, so, maybe I don’t care, but I am curious as to what a legitimate farm boy has to do with any of this and why his involvement would end him up dead.

Part 15.

The Dwarf Making Sweet, Sweet Love To The Skeleton Part 13

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

THEDWARF6CROPI find it odd that Dixon didn’t press for more information as to why his precious package worth a minimum of five large wasn’t delivered. He hardly reacted when I told him McGinty was out of the picture and he didn’t seem to care who I am as long as I have the package. I find that odd, but I find a lot of things odd, including clowns, commemorative plates and Dixon himself. If I paid money for a delivery that wasn’t made, you can bet I’d be on the horn tout suite with some rather pointed questions in a somewhat stern tone of voice, perhaps with some pounding of fists for effect. Odd.

So, the question–well, one of many–is, where is McGinty and where is the package? That’s about enough puzzlement for one day. Time to head back to the office. I’m hungry. I take another expensive cab ride. I’ve got to figure out alternate transportation soon, since I have a feeling my car won’t be fixed for a while.

A slight boy with shaggy black hair wearing Converse and a Ramones t-shirt removes his posterior from the corner of Bets’ desk when I walk in. “Hey, old man. I was just filling Betsy in on your farm boy.” A skateboard clatters to the floor as he rides it over to the couch and flops down.

Bets looks at me and shrugs her shoulders, which is her half-assed way of apologizing for Macky’s full-assed presence in my office, a practice normally frowned upon by the owner of this establishment, me. Slacky Macky drives me drunky.

Bets holds up two menus. I choose the Chinese one. She picks up the phone. I jerk my thumb at Slacky, “I’m not paying for his.” She simply says, “Lies,” and I know I’ve lost another fight. That makes our record something like a gajillion-zillion to one. I cherish that one though.

Macky is to Bets as Bets is to me; an assistant, protegé and general hanger-on. Macky attached himself to Bets like a pilot fish, and for some reason, she let him. He would do anything for her. I try not to be jealous; I don’t find it fair that in this master/grasshopper triangle we’ve got going on that she doesn’t get nearly as much attitude from him as I get from her. She wouldn’t do anything for me, at least not without grumbling about it and calling me many terrible names first.

“Well?” I sit at my desk and stare at Slacky in my best adult pose. All I really have over him is that I’m technically an adult and he technically isn’t, even though Bets insists that we’re the same age. But, I can legally drink and everything. Also, chest hair.

“Well, farm boy was up to no good, that’s what.”

“Shocking.” I say in my completely un-shocked voice, “How so?” I’m trying to make Macky’s head explode with my mind. I always fail at making heads explode with my mind, but one of these days, I’ll get it right.

“The story goes that farm boy’s squatting outside McGinty’s, keepin’ an eye out for… whatever, when he sees your thugs go in the bookstore…”

“Wait, why are they my thugs?”

He ignores me and continues, ”…He sees your thugs take your girl out and stuff her in the trunk. He grabs a cab and follows ’em, but they shake him. So, that’s when he gets the bright idea to come to us with some bullcrap story about ‘lerve’ and how she done run oft.”

I just love the way kids speak these days. Such mastery of lexicon… such je ne sais quoi.

“Oh, and he’s dead. Ba-boom!” Macky flaps his arms in a vaguely birdish way, but it’s more like a robot’s idea of how a bird would flap without ever having seen a bird. I hate this kid.

“You might have led with that news. Well, now, that is interesting. How do you know?”

“I heard they found a body. So, I go on over to Gower and see the pork tapin’ up their crime scene. Go up to the roof, snap a pic, zoom and boom. Your farm boy ain’t a-gonna farm no mo’. Wanna see?”

He pulls out his phone and rides it over to me on his skateboard before I can respond. It’s a picture of an alley from above. I zoom in and see that it’s farm boy alright, but he has definitely looked better. His body is all contorted in a way that looks very uncomfortable unless you’re dead and his face is bashed in, but those proportions are unmistakable. “So, not natural causes then. Where’d you get the story about the stake out?”

“Word on the street.”

“You can do better than that. Document your sources.”

“Psychic told me.”

“C’mon, Macky. Fists of business.” I do my best kung fu master impersonation to impress upon the youth that I will not take his nonsense for an answer.

“Fine. The cabbie’s a friend. He dropped him here hisself when the dude asked if he knew anyone who could maybe find the girl.” I am wholly impressed at my kung fu intimidation skills for getting Macky to produce an answer until I notice Bets giving him the knock-off-your-crap look she normally reserves for me. It’s nice to see it directed at someone else for a change.

“When did you see the crime scene?”

“Dunno. An hour or two.”

“Gower and what?”

“Lex.”

“Good.” I pick up the phone.

Part 14.

The Dwarf Making Sweet, Sweet Love To The Skeleton Part 12

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

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A small man with small glasses and short brown hair on his head only from the ears down walks around a desk to come shake my hand. I consider myself of average height for a Homo sapiens, but I feel like a giant when I shake his hand. I practically have to bend over to reach the little thing.

He’s wearing a three-piece suit and I wonder if he bought it in the boy’s department. Do they even have three-piece suits for boys? It seems like an odd thing for boys to wear. When I was a boy, I didn’t even have a suit; just a suit coat and non-matching fancy pants.

A voice asking, “Mr….?” shakes me out of my menswear reverie. Focus, dummy. Have we been holding hands this whole time?

“Walker Drake. And you are?”

“Mr. Dixon.” I knew that, but I was hoping he’d solve the mystery of whether Elbert Dixon is one or two people when he introduced himself. He left me hanging.

Dixon gestures for me to take a seat in one of two chairs in front of his desk. I choose the one that gives me a sidelong view of the door, because I’ve become wary of sneak attacks. I rub the site on the back of my head from the last one.

“Ms. Adler said that you are from McGinty’s Books?” Ms.? So, I guess everyone around here is ambiguous.

“Something like that, yes.” I guess I’m ambiguous, too. At least I’m not tiny.

“I was to have dealt with Mr. McGinty personally.” The pluperfection of that sentence throws me for a second, but I navigate back to the present tense.

“Mr. McGinty is indisposed due to a family emergency. I have license to act on his behalf.” Alright, so that’s a lie. I do have a license, just not to act on McGinty’s behalf since I’ve never actually met him.

He looks skeptical, “Well, did you bring it?”

“Pardon?” In the detective game, answering a question with a question is a way to get more information and lead a conversation where you want it. I can’t help that this is a stupid question leading nowhere since I have no information.

“The package that Mr. McGinty was to have brought me yesterday,” his verb forms are making my brain hurt, ”did you bring it?” He sat forward in his chair and practically licked his lips with anticipation.

“I didn’t bring it. McGinty has the paperwork, and without that, I can’t make a delivery. Do you have a copy of it?”

“Now look here, sir. Do you have the package or not? If not, I’ll have to ask that you leave now.”

“I do have it, but I don’t have it on me. As I said, I cannot deliver it without the paperwork.” I feel strange using the indefinite it so much, but seeing as I don’t actually know what it is, it it is.

While my brain is occupied, my mouth carries on flapping out words as if it knows what it’s talking about. “Without paperwork, I have no way to tell if you have paid in full, partially or haven’t paid at all. I cannot verify that you are, in fact, the proper recipient and we wouldn’t want to make a mistake like giving the package to the wrong person, would we? So, please, if you have a copy of the paperwork, bring it forth and then we’ll talk about delivery.”

I have just channeled my inner accountant. I sound so much like someone I’d hate that I’m going to have to punch myself in the face later.

With a tsk, Dixon reaches into a desk drawer and pulls out a folder, opens it, retrieves one flimsy piece of yellow paper, and hands it to me. It’s an invoice from McGinty’s alright, but that’s nearly as much sense as I can make of it.

In the bill to and ship to fields, it says ELBERT DIXON & ASSOCIATES along with the address of the chair in which I currently sit. The item description says something in what might possibly be Latin or Pig Latin along with REMAINDER DUE ON DELIVERY: $5,000.

Aha! So, he was trying to skate out of his debt after all! I’m on to your game, Mr. Verb Tense. “Can you make a copy of this for me?” Without being summoned or even noticed, the bespectacled receptionist slinks up next to me and holds out her hand. I cower and give her the paper; she disappears. So much for evading sneak attacks. “I’ll expect payment of the remaining $5,000 you owe before I make delivery. When would that be convenient for you?” Please, say next month some time.

“As soon as possible, Mr. Drake. The delivery was to have been made yesterday.” The way this guy talks makes me want to smash something.

The receptionist returns with two pieces of paper. She gives one to me and one to Dixon. “Thank you.” I grab a business card from the little stand on his desk and hold it up, “I’ll be in touch.”

I still have no idea what it is, where Mac is or whether Elbert Dixon is one person or two. Waiting for the elevator, I look at the business card for clues, but disappointingly, all it says the obstinately obscure ELBERT DIXON & ASSOCIATES with a phone number and address.

Part 13.

The Dwarf Making Sweet, Sweet Love To The Skeleton Part 11

THEDWARF6CROP

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

THEDWARF6CROP

I stand on the street outside for a while, wondering how it is that I came to be standing in front of a nightclub in the relative morning without a clue as to what’s happening in practically every area of my life. Then I remember that this is actually the second time today that I’ve wondered about my life on a sidewalk, but at least this time, I’m vertical and not covered in pee. Moving on.

Since I am a detective, I suppose it’s about time I detected something. I need to get ahead of this thing instead of wondering on sidewalks like a dolt. I’m tired of tumbling down and breaking my crown. I put my serious hat on signifying that I am, in fact, quite serious. I make a mental note to buy a hat since my serious hat is, sadly, metaphorical.

I pull out the page I tore out of McGinty’s datebook and look up the address for the delivery he may or may not have made yesterday. It’s as good a place to start detecting as any. The office in question is only a few massive city blocks away. I decide to walk, partly to stretch my legs and partly because my car is still a crushed pile of metal possibly being fixed by an overalled man in the mountains, because goons have no respect. Also, Bets’ wouldn’t loan me her car. Also, goons suck so very, very much.

McGinty’s datebook says he delivered something to Elbert Dixon & Associates. I’m not sure if Elbert Dixon is one name or two. Since there isn’t a comma, I’m going to assume that there’s a person running around with the first name of Elbert. Coincidentally, the mental image of a running Elbert is quite humorous to me since it somehow involves frilly sleeves and squealing. Do you see? This is exactly why I need a serious hat.

Well, I suppose the mystery of Elbert and/or Dixon shall be solved post haste as I’m about to enter the building. I am such an awesome detective.

To the twelfth floor we go. This is one of those weird buildings downtown that has been here since the dawn of time, or at least since the dawn of downtown, that no one without any business here pays any attention to at all. A million people probably pass this building in a day and don’t care.

The building is old, but well looked after. The elevator isn’t as scary as some. The doors open with a slight odor of ammonia and even fainter cigar smoke. Someone without my olfactory prowess would probably miss the latter altogether.

There’s something about old buildings. They make me wonder about all the things that have happened on this exact spot over the years. Strange that I never do that outside. It’s not like I walk through a park and wonder if Sacajawea or dinosaurs ever pooped on that spot, which they probably did (the dinosaurs, not Sacajawea; she was a lady). Hopefully none of the things that happened in this building are dinosaur poop or murder.

The elevator deposits me in the middle of the dozenth floor’s creaky parquet flooring. Even though it’s sunny afternoon, the hallway is dimly lit by one small window at each end and wall sconces every so often that absent-mindedly light an area of approximately five inches around them.  Wall sconces in the best of circumstances, aren’t very bright, but these in particular are rather dim.

I make my way down to 1213 and see that there is no comma on the door title either. ELBERT DIXON & ASSOCIATES still gives me no clue as to what goes on in here. Well, there’s one way to find out.

I’m blind! So this is where all the sunlight from the hallway went. I hear, “May I help you?” before I see it.

It takes about ten seconds for my eyes to adjust enough to see the diminutive woman sitting at a reception desk. She’s got her hair pulled back in a rather severe bun and glasses attached to a a chain around her neck like small children do with mittens so they don’t lose them.

I stammer quite elegantly, “Is Dixon in? Or Elbert? Or Elbert Dixon?”

She peers over her chained glasses at me like she’s a librarian and I am holding a stack of rather overdue books. “To what is this in reference?” Clearly, she has a strict list of things to accomplish today and I am nowhere on it.

“It’s in reference to a delivery from McGinty’s Bookstore yesterday.”

“Please, wait a moment.” She gets up, straightens herself, walks over to a door marked PRIVATE, knocks so softly that I can’t even hear it and disappears inside.

Obviously, I use her absence to snoop around. On her desk is a stack of papers. Not one of them gives me any sort of clue as to what this office is all about. Sadly, the papers are mainly purchase orders for various items made of boring and payments for bills like yawn. It’s as if she specifically left uninteresting things out for nosy people like me. I return to my former place just as she soundlessly returns.

“Mr. Dixon will see you now.” She brusquely beckons me towards the PRIVATE door and ushers me inside. Apparently, I’m not in as quite as much of a rush as my bespectacled tour guide since the door nearly closes on my behind.

Part 12.


This episode of The Dwarf was brought to you by the most kind and benevolent Alex of Excerpts From Nonexistent Books who most graciously donated a copy of Storymill to yours truly. This is the first time I’ve used it to write, and at first blush, it has helped immensely in collecting my thoughts, which are scattered even at the best of times. Thanks, Alex

Creative Writing Software

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The limitations of my memory become blatant when trying to write serial fiction with gaping gobs of time in-between. This week, I finally worked on my The Dwarf Making Sweet, Sweet Love To The Skeleton story again.

I should really come up with a better name for it than the throwaway title I gave it when it was just a little piece of flash fiction, but hey, at least the title’s original. It’s not likely to be confused with another: “Did you read The Dwarf Making Sweet, Sweet Love To The Skeleton?” “Which one?”

I like this story. I like my characters and I have a lot of fun writing it. Most importantly, it’s funny. I can write fiction and I can write funny, but until this story, I’ve never been able to combine the two, so I’m very pleased with myself. Pat on the back. I’m not saying you should go back and read the whole thing (even though you should), but seriously, it’s funny. It’s not Douglas Adams level of funny yet; it’s more Terry Pratchet.

Not many of you care about it, and that’s okay. It is over 6000 words now and no one wants to read part 10 if they missed the first 9 parts. I understand. I have a hard time finding the time to do that with other people’s stories. I keep saying to myself, “I should go back and read the rest before I read the new part,” but then, I don’t. Blogs aren’t really an appropriate forum for novels anyway.

And, yes, it is a novel. I decided it will be one. I don’t want to get too big for my britches here, since it is still only a baby 6000 words, but perhaps, it could be more than just a novel. Maybe someday, it could be a series, like Chandler’s Marlowe or Hammett’s Spade… Goldfish’s Drake.

In order to write part 10, I had to skim through parts 1-9, and even then I stumbled a bit. There’s a line in part 10 where Walker says, “It’s noon!” Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to figure out what time it was in the story world? Here’s a hint: hard. I couldn’t remember how much time had elapsed in the story since a lot of time had passed in the real world since I visited.

I really just wanted Walker to visit Fifty to drop the stuff off, but then I remembered the part about the goons. However, I forgot that Walker had called Fifty that very morning since that was happened somewhere around part 4. I had to add the “Not bad for a couple of hours sleuthing” bit.

So, you can see where this will be a problem moving forward. Since my memory is crap, I started investigating writing applications to help. I checked out the highly rated Scriverner, which while it has a very nice interface, is missing a crucial element for me–the timeline. I need to be able to tell easily how much time has elapsed and what has happened in the meantime.

Ultimately, I found a little app called Story Mill, which seems to have everything I could ever possibly need to write a story, including a timeline.

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StoryMill 4
(creativewritingsoftware101.com)

I’ve plugged all of my data in there, but I haven’t actually used it to write, so I can’t tell how effective it will be yet.

Since it’s not free and I will need to pay for it once my trial is done, I thought I’d ask your opinion. Do you have any experience with writing applications? Do you like them? Which do you prefer and why?