Monday, September 30, 2013

Mamie Barlowe, Episode 6

Something drives me awake. And it isn’t pain. You get used to pain when it’s non-stop. It’s like being at an opera. The decibel level varies. Only pray for a quick death when the soprano breaks crystal, see.
           “Hey Mabel, wake up. It’s me, Chill.” A couple of pats on my cheeks doesn’t help the pain.
           “Whaaa? Wait a minute.” Another couple of pats. In the wrong places. I think about revenge, see. “Stop that, Chill. I’m not a scottish pancake.”
            “Sorry. Just makin’ sure it’s really you. Your grandma said you were dead.”
            “Feel free to call me Mamie, Detective.” I sit up. Still in my car. That’s nice. If I gotta die, I want it to be in my car, see. Chill’s looking at me with a crooked grin on his face. He’s got a thin scar that extends from the right side of his mouth, diagonally up the cheek, and ending near the corner of his eye. He got sliced up in a bar fight when he was nineteen. Plastic surgery didn't go so well. Hasn’t hurt his dating prowess. Dames love the scar. All he’s gotta do is flash that beaut, and baseballs sail out of the ballpark. Most of the time. I’m hard to please, see.     
           “I’ll call you Mamie when you quit leaving dead bodies in your wake. What have I told you about that?”
            I sit up and take a shallow breath. I’m learning, see. “Need a drink. Take me back to my apartment.”
            “Sure, doll. I’ll send a man to pick up your . . . automobile.” When Chill wrinkles his nose, it’s like looking at a mugshot in a funhouse mirror. He doesn’t like my car, see. He likes the big boaters. You know the kind: a fender bender, and one car winds up in Casablanca. It isn’t the boater. Anyway, Chill says only real men drive those monsters. He should oughta know. He tools around in a 1940 Black Cadillac, Series 75 Limousine Sedan. 
            “Your man? . . . Is he good looking?”
            Chill shakes his head, but his hair doesn’t move one iota. It’s black with a tint of midnight blue running through it, and lacquered up like some dame in a Broadway chorus. Could break a finger just touching it, see. 
            I get in his car, holding my ribs together. Feels like they’re gonna fall right out of my chest. Even with the brace. “Listen, Chill, I got questions that need answers.”
           He stares at me like I have three eyes and one of them is black and blue. “Oh yeah? Funny thing is, Mabel, I got questions that need answers too. And you’re gonna answer mine before I answer yours. Know why? One, ‘cos I carry a real shiny badge. Two, ‘cos I found you unconscious. Three, ‘cos I found two dead bodies, one of them lying underneath a very alive, very voluptuous body. Four, ‘cos I found Luigi crawling down the stairs at that dirt bag of a motel he called from. So talk fast. A five-minute history lesson will do.”
          When Chill brings out the badge, either talk, or sit in the hoosegow playing “Sentimental Journey” on the bars with a tuning fork. Or, in special cases, say hello to the sadistic doc in the ER. Chill knows better than to put me there. And I know better than not to talk. It’s all about respect, see. Me and him. Even if we swing for the fences missing each other by a hair.
          One thing about Chill’s car; it gets alotta looks of the admiring kind, but everybody stays the heaven away from it. He glides into a parking slot at my apartment building. Only took two spaces this time. “Alright. Come on up. But just for five minutes. And don’t try any funny stuff, Chill, or I’ll part your hair with a razor, see. And I’m not talking about the hair on your head.”
         “Sounds . . . frisky.” He looks at me with hungry puppy eyes.
         Good thing I prefer cats. Otherwise, I might be tempted to break an inviolate rule of mine: yeah, that one. A few minutes later, I’m laid out flat on a white leather sofa sipping a pain reducer, and listening to the bridal chorus of “Lohengrin” on my 1918 Victor Victrola; a stereo that seduces all great artists into your apartment to sing their guts out before your ear drum shatters. But it’s worth it, see.
          Chill’s been relegated to a box chair made out of vinyl, you know the kind, leaves a sweat stain a mile wide on your tookus. He looks at his watch. “Ok, I’m listening.”
         “What’s your question?”
           When Chill’s sighs, it’s like a cold draft, only not the good kind, see. “What? We gonna play twenty questions now, Mabel? Why don’t you start with the dead bodies of Mick the Creep and his lovely girlfriend, and go back from there. But word of warning, I’m especially interested in the whodunnit question.”
          “All I know is, Billy the Chimp shot me.”
           Chill laughs. “That’s a good one, Mabel. But I’m not in the mood for jokes. You can do better than that.”
          “I’m not joking. And don’t you spread it around the station, see. I got a reputation to protect.”
          “Well, then, you’ll be glad to know we picked Billy the Chimp up. He’s currently incarcerated at the zoo. They had to put him in isolation. Thing is . . . he’s not talking.” Chill can’t do sarcasm, see. He always snickers before the punchline. I’d like to punch him! 
           “I would’ve started the investigation somewhere’s else, Chump. Look, that hairy piece of monkey dong shot me point blank. Caught me off my guard, see. You ever know anybody to do that?”
          “Mabel, he was naked when we found him.”
          “When was that?”
          “Going through some trash by that shi--I mean hooker motel. He was hungry.”
           I sit up quick on that one. I bite my lip in pain. “Sable abandoned him, Chill. It’s her m.o. That, and killing all the lugs she hires to do a job for her, see.”
          “So . . . let me get this straight. You’re trying to tell me that Sable Mink trained a chimpanzee to shoot you, her loverboy, and his girlfriend?”
          “No . . . I’m telling you Billy shot me. With an antique gun, see. Find it. Test all the bullets. I’ll bet you balls on a ballerina, I’m the only one he shot.”
         “Yeah? Why would you think that?”
         “Listen, wiseguy, I wouldn’t shoot my own mother even if she begged me, capische?”
         “Then what was he doing in the motel room?”
         “I don't know. I'll figure it out.”
         “Ok, so then who hired you to put the lens on Mick? I saw the hole in the wall. Very original. And very Luigi.”
         I don’t answer right away. The death of Elsa is playing havoc with my heart. Finally, the last notes die out. “A Mrs. Robinson.  She was strange, I admit. Wore a thick black veil, and a hat the size of a cannibal’s pot. Claimed to be the victim of an acid thrower. Thought her husband hired muscle. Wanted to prove he had motive to do it."
         “Hmm . . . Mrs. Robinson, huh?" He shakes his head. That's not a good sign, especially when one hair gets jacked out of place. "Mabel, do you know how many women use Mrs. Robinson as a fake name when they get arrested? A ton. Ever heard of the movie, "The Graduate?" I stare at him blankly. "Geez, Louise, let me guess. You only watch black and white movies." I nod slowly. My knees go weak. I screwed up. "Ok, well, here’s what I think: your Mrs. Robinson was actually Sable Mink in disguise! And you totally missed that. Ironic, huh? I mean with you being a psychic private investigator and all.” 
           When Chill chuckles it’s like hearing a clown cry. I’m not in the mood to hear it. I throw my wine glass at him. It lands right in his lap. He jumps up and dabs at the spilled wine with my nice lace doily. Ha! Red wine. Blue jean crotch. Visualize it.  "That's for being sarcastic. Why would Sable hire me, genius?"
         First, he stares at me like he can see the inside of my head and finds it empty. Then he stares at the spreading stain in his jeans. "Dammit, Mabel, these were expensive jeans. I'm charging you up your fine ass—OW!" He rubs a knee and hops a couple of steps.
         I rub a sore fist. Apparently, I'd hit bone. "I'm waiting for your answer, genius cop."
        "To set you up. Think about it, Mabel." He flinches like I'm going to hit him again. When I don't, he flops back down on the couch. “Look, the woman told you exactly where to spy on her husband, right?”
“Uh huh. So?”
“Well, most women know their husbands are cheating, but most don't know the location of hubby's love nest. One reason why they hire dicks like you. So, what did you do with that information after the woman left the office?”
“Called Luigi to set up surveillance.”
“Exactly. By the time that lazy bum got around to it, Mick was most likely already dead.”
“Look, Chill, Sable’s too dumb to pull something off like this.”
“Well, I never said it was completely successful, did I? You’re still alive. Although, I gotta admit, you got lucky there." I think I hear a snicker. "Hard to believe you got duped, Mabel. So, what happened? The ol' psychic powers take a night off?" Another snicker, another flinch, another hit.
  "OW! What was that for?" He rubs the other knee.
          "Practice." Actually, it was personal.
"I swear you hit me again, Mabel, and I'm gonna arrest you for assaulting a police officer. Sometimes, you are one nasty bi—OW!” He jumps up and limps around. Then pulls out a pair of handcuffs. "Ok, I’ve had it, Barlowe! Get up and put your hands behind your back."
         "Fine. But how will you explain it to your cop friends? Oh, this big bad woman with broken ribs hit me in the knees and made me cry! Should go over real well."
         "Son of a bit—gun!" His tookus falls back down on the vinyl. "Sometimes I really hate you, Barlowe."
         This would be a good time to smile. So I do. "Feelings mutual, cutie pie. Now leave. I’m in some serious pain here."
         He grits his teeth. “One more question. You think Sable shot her own boyfriend and his girl?”
“No. Dame’s so blind she couldn’t shoot the front door of a bordello without ringing the bell first. She also has an eye phobia. Doesn’t wear glasses or contacts.”
“That’s screwy. It doesn’t stop her from driving, or from shooting at you, doll.”
“She thinks she’s torturing me, see. She’s not. Although, I gotta admit when she moves objects with her mind it can get dicey. And messy.”
Chill’s sculpted to perfection chin drops a mile. “She’s psychic too? You’re kidding me, right?”
         At least the strands of my hair move when I shake my head. “I’ve seen her in action.”
          Chill snorts like an ostrich in heat. “No way, you musta been drunk on your butt!” Good thing he jumps off the chair and lands a full ten feet away from me. Changes the subject fast. "So, Sable probably put a contract out on the boyfriend then.” He suddenly snaps his fingers. “And I bet it was that looney tunes brother of hers, KIrk.”
         “In England, according to Vera. Psychiatric hospital.”
         “Hmm . . . what about the father, Irk? He’s a real piece of work, that one.”
         “In England, trying to get his son out of the hospital. According to Vera.”
         “What the he—heck is Vera doing keeping tabs on the Minks?”
         “She has to. Remember?” 
         “Oh, that’s right. Boy, your secretary’s rack, I mean your secretary racks up a lot of restraining orders, Mabel.”
         “I blame her rack, too, Chill.” I heave myself off the couch and head to the door. I open it with a flourish. Wait until you see the finish. “Now, get out of here before I glock you.” He approaches me with a light in his eyes, you know, the kind that rolls out the red carpet. What’s that about? When he gets close enough, I say, “Oh right. I don’t have my glock. Somebody confiscated it.” A booted foot solidly connects to his shin. He looks good hopping around. But he doesn’t sound so good. 
         “OW! OW! Oh Holy mother of go-dog!! OW! Shoot! OW! Dammit, Barlowe, one of these days I am really going to throw you into jail.” He limps around trying to shake off the pain. "Until then, I’m keeping a close eye on you . . . from a distance.” He steps out the door.
        “Speaking of eyes, did you pick Roxy Binghorton up for assault?”
        “Can’t find the broad. Which reminds me, anymore bodies show up, you and I are gonna have a come to the Copacabana meeting.”
        “A meeting you should have had with that doozy dame Sable by now. She’s dumped more bodies than a knight in the Crusades. And now her lover’s dead. But you chumps do nothing, see.” 
        “Apparently, Barlowe, the woman is a Mistress of Disguise, she don’t leave witnesses, and she has more hideouts than I have under-drawers. Believe me, we’ve been looking for her.” He groans as he reaches down to rub his shin.
        “She drives a car a maltese could find.” 
         He straightens up quick, and his gorgeous eyes light up. I think I need a cold shower.
        “Wait. I’ve seen that movie, Mabel. Two words, overrated.”
        Then he opens his mouth, see!
        I slam the door shut. The doorbell rings again. I open it. Mistake. A crooked pair of lips lock on mine like a drone on a terrorist compound. When it fires a heat-seeking missile, I push him away. “No.” Simple but effective. Like throwing a glass of red wine at a blue jean crotch.
        He smiles. “Had you there for a sec. Ya gotta admit.”
        “Yeah, like a wounded animal caught by a predator.” I glare at him.
        “Your grandma told me you were dead. I’m expressing my joy that you're not.”
        “Nobody with brains believes anything my grandma says.” I slam the door shut. Again.
Irritated, I totter off to the bedroom. My cell phone goes off. Martin Cooper is the father of the cell phone. I’d like to sew his ears shut, see. I find the thing buried in my empty holster. “Mamie Barlowe, ace psychic detective speaking.” I can bark like a great dane going nuts over a burglar. “This better be good! I am holding a remote device powered by sonar that will melt your phone in less than two seconds.”
        “Ms. B-B-Barlowe? . . . Uh . . . you’re joking, right?”
        “Who is this?”
        “Clarence B-B-Binghorton III. I—”
        “Why are you stuttering Mr. COB III? You didn’t in my office.”
        “What are you t-t-talking about, Ms. B-B-Barlowe? I’ve never b-b-been to your office. I got your name from a receipt I just found in my wife’s wasteb-b-basket. I’d like to know why she hired you!”
        Will someone on Mars please catch my eyeballs! What the devil is going on here? “Mr. COB III, it’s late. I was shot two days ago. An old lady tried to exorcise me this morning. Tonight, I was shot at twice. I think you will understand why I’m going to hang up in approximately one-half second. Be in my office tomorrow at 2:00. Bring a birth certificate and a genealogical chart, capische?” 
        “What? I d-d-don’t—hello? . . . Hello? . . . Ms. B-B-Barlowe?”
       Guess cell phones weren’t made to fly, see. Mine shatters on its maiden flight to the nearest wall!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bath Follies, Episode 4


It would only be much later, after the veritable circus had died down, that Lady Angela could take the time to reflect upon the meaningful, but shattering events of the day, as all execrable affairs leading up to that unparalleled point could be likened unto a blur such as one might find on a canvas of a colorful painting without form or quality of substance, as if paint had been most carelessly dropped from some height, either purposefully, or accidentally by a bump from a careless bystander! For, it was only shortly after her mouth did drop—and to be sure this indelicate action manifested itself right before she had the sincere, but impulsive desire to pummel a certain Lady Lucretia Whetstone into the ground, who did, through no fault of her own, sweep away our heroine’s most sacred fantasy—that Roger broke free of her grasp just at the very instant Lord Devilyn did tip his hat to her; and, shortly thereafter did his lady friend—and with some nerve!—flitter a little wave of a white-laced gloved hand, accompanied forthwith by a Grand nod, though it being rather of a stiff nature, such as one might observe from a marionette; and that particular gesture most unfortunately an untimely one, as it materialized almost to the very moment our Lady Angela did stare at her nemesis with much bile! But little time did our heroine have to mull over these Dreadful matters as her attention was forcefully drawn to the whereabouts of Roger, who, when last seen, was darting off in pursuit of the Infamous cutpurse! 
          In the by and by, the still robustly howling Lady of Quality, who, incensed at the inaction and gross incivility(by the very nature of their lack of assistance) of passerby's, was actively calling for a constable amidst all her howls, whilst Lady Angela—having a good sense of the heroic as well as the theatric—absconded after her brother—leaving behind—and this, after not one word of greeting, not even the slightest apology to acquit herself, or as to the why, which showed a particularly egregious lack of good breeding on her part—a decidedly handsome couple, the male of whom, Lord Devilyn, was left wondering if he should do the manly thing and lend a helping hand; and the female of whom, Lady Lucretia, was left wondering just how fast the barouche could fly. She wondered naught for long. With great cunning, she produced a rather peremptory order for the whipster to move forward speedily, and on the instant! if not, she implored, they would be late to church!     
          Now, Lady Lucretia Whetstone was a singularly popular, first-rate Beauty of the day, being courted by beaus that numbered in the hundreds, some do say! She was the only child of Lord John St. Gerald Whetstone, the 7th Duke of Mayberry, and his wife, Duchess Judicia Whetstone—she, herself, being a famous Beauty of the day such that she was known throughout the whole of England as the Golden Pheasant; and, surprisingly a lady of somewhat mysterious origins, for it has long been rumored that her Grace is the illegitimate offspring of a titled personage who does yet retain considerable land holdings in Bath! Her lovely daughter, Lady Lucretia, had not only born in almost the exact image of the Duchess, but also with great intelligence, having been taught forth with out of the womb to be an ambitious, forward-thinking woman. Therefore, Lucretia, in her youth, had devoted much of her time to the study of the Greek classics—though perhaps, being more (unnaturally?) fascinated by the particulars of the Myths, and the Tragedies of the Greek Gods—with the readings of the Elect philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle coming in a poor second to her level of interest.                 
         Things of a politic nature also did not much interest Lady Lucretia, as it did her father, in whose residence—as pertains to the especial soiree’s he hosted—squabbles broke out between members of parliament over divisive issues such as corruption and parliamentary reform, Catholic Emancipation, the Walcheren Campaign, the Regency Bill, an attack on the Orders in Council, which had caused a crisis in relations with America, and widely blamed for an economic depression and unemployment in England, the assassination of the Right Honourable, Spencer Perceval, PM, and the profligacy of the Prince Regent, and would oft became so heated as to drive Lady Lucretia to distraction, and in some instances straight into the arms of any unmarried male admirer who happened to be standing nearby, though it must be said, that in the main, she was mostly attracted to those types of males who were heirs to distinguished titles, who owned considerable land, and had inherited great wealth thereof; and, to those types of males of whom can be said to possess exquisite manners, who could converse in the language of the Fancy; and, to those types of males who have, in addition to the already stated desirables, these most exceedingly fine physical characteristics: an aristocratic profile, full thick, curly darkish locks, giving the male the somewhat rakish look of the he lion, blue/green eyes the color of the purest feather of a peacock, lips and cheeks sculpted in the style of Michangelo’s “David”, and a forehead prominent in the style of the great Corinthians, as well as the intellectual giants of the day—looks, mind you, that were also of great popularity amongst the Dandies, and to which the Lord Devilyn did fit all these criteria to the very core! 
         Indeed, oh! how the Lady Lucretia was most enamored of his Lordship; so much so, that any perceived threat to her supreme efforts to stake a permanent claim on this charming rake—particular to the fact that Lady Lucretia had come lately to fervently desire an attachment of the marital kind—would most certainly be dealt with harshly, or, quite possibly, like in the manner of a Greek Tragedy!
         Perhaps it was just as well then, that our Lady Angela had not one whit of an idea that Lady Lucretia’s aspirations, and avidity for Lord Devilyn ran deeper than the healing waters of the Lake at Abbotsford; nor, that Lady Lucretia would do most anything to secure Lord Devilyn’s affections, including, but not limited to: gross deceit, manipulation of situations such as would be favorable to Lady Lucretia, spreading malicious gossip of the kind as might be believed, gross outlandish exaggerations as pertains to the order of the vanities; like, perhaps she would say, Lady Angela was at the advanced age of thirty and a most decided bluestocking with a mole on her neck resembling that of a troll, or, Lady Angela was of a certainty preparing to join a nunnery as her aunt and uncle could not keep her adventurous spirit under control, or, Lady Angela was engaged to her first cousin, the mildly amusing, the Hon. Winston Brumbly, or, Lady Angela was consumptive not only in the lungs, but also in personality! It was these types of slanderous speakings, and evil doings which had long been laid to Lady Lucretia’s charge in the past—with her not in the least caring that these lies would indubitably importune great suffering, (and oh! how reprehensible and utterly without moral conceit that is)!—for those misguided enough to unseat her as Queen of the May Day. 
         However, all is not lost! There is still one exceedingly important fact, or astute observation, if you will, that could yet work in Lady Angela’s favor: the Villainous Lady Lucretia has yet to secure the permanent affections of any one male despite all of her Opprobrious machinations! But sadly must it also be pointed out—and this at the risk of the author contradicting herself—that Lady Angela is on the whole unable to think with such a high degree of common sense, or  with the kind of sensibility normally acquired by her advanced age, and so vital to the application of one’s character and spiritual growth—only to react; and this, of course, is the result of her being exceedingly immature. Therefore, it is with woeful and virtual certainty—now that our heroine is most decidedly aware that her Foul rival has secured the attentions of Lord Devilyn—that Lady Angela will call out Lady Lucretia much as an oyster toadfish calls out to its mate in a most decidedly unpleasant and hideous fashion, like as to the sound of a swamp horn from the colonies! which will undoubtedly enkindle a bloodbath not seen since the Napoleonic Wars!
         Whilst Lord Devilyn weighed the circumspectness of his irresolute desire to render aid to Lady Angela; whilst Lady Lucretia made certain he could not embark upon any such noble effort without first jumping out of a fast-moving barouche; whilst the Lady of Quality continued to bellow until a constable appeared; whilst Aunt Joan and Uncle Peter were crossing the street to help in the search to find Roger, and whilst Lady Angela ran as if the wind was in pursuit of her, like as not to toss her on her head for mischief’s sake, or, perhaps not, since in the spirit of reciprocity of good will, with our heroine showing a most considerable heroic side, the wind might be inclined to be more generous, and aid the celerity of her feet in order that Lady Angela may capture her brother in a more timely manner, so as not to allow him to come to harm’s way; for everyone knows that to pursue a cutpurse is to risk life and limb!—that is to say, everyone but Roger Rosecroft—Lord and heir to the 11th Earl of Slappingham, nephew of Lord Peter Brumbly, Earl of Craplehaste, grandson of Lord Cavanaugh Brumbly, 7th Marquess of Craplehaste—whose impetuous, excitable nature along with a distinct lack of an organized way of thinking, and whose imaginings do sail far beyond the galaxy, and whose precipitance and headstrong ways may very well lead to the sort of life that does not bode well for it to be a lengthy one!
         Be that as it may, our heroine turned the very same corner as Roger, though he was far beyond her in giving chase to the dipper; and, as eluded to before, our Lady Angela did run in a manner that could be likened to a greyhound chasing a hare, but, oh! how much faster she would have run if she had but known that dear Roger had—in the course of his own pursuit—stumbled across the silk purse emptied of all its contents near the entrance of an Illustrious park; and, that he did pick it up with the intent to continue his present course of action as he eyed a trail of mud which further led the brave lad to the fluted hornbeam tree—a tree of great height, and with a Magnificent crown canopy of dark green leaves with which to give shade on the hottest day, and a tree with so thickness of trunk that even a Grand horse and rider could hide behind—where, in his unseemly haste to follow the trail to its end, he spotted a youthful urchin peeking about to see if it were being followed—which of course it was, whereupon the justice-minded boy hastened behind the tree only to discover to his shocking dismay! that the lone cutpurse, the criminal mastermind behind the pinching, the object of our plump Lady of Quality’s distress and considerable ire, was but a mere slip of a girl who was most certainly in age not less than nine, nor more than twelve, and wearing the rottenness of mud cake all over her face, with her clothes in rags, and in shoes far better suited for the gung pile! Even more shockingly, laid out before her on the ground like as to an evening gown on a bed awaiting its wearer, was the prodigious sum of 10 guinea, 12 shillings, and 6 pence. 
         “‘Ere now, yer ain’t gon spout off on me, eh? Dis’ll feed me muvver an’ meself fer a year.”
          Roger stared at the child in dismay. “You’re so little. And so very filthy. What is your name, then? Mine’s Lord Roger Rosecroft. I am an Earl.”
         “Uh . . . Charity . . . that’s roight, Charity Offett at yer service, milord.” The cheeky rogue grinned as she picked up the coins, thrusting them one by one into a smallish silk coin purse that had at one time been a fashionable, and exceedingly expensive accessory on the slender figger of one Lady Florinton. Charity abruptly stood with seemly grace and exquisite flair for a poor urchin off the streets. And a cutpurse at that! She winked and curtsied. “And most regretfully do I take my leave, your Lordship.”  Giggling like as to a mischievous child who does wreak all kinds of tomfoolery upon its teachers, Charity Offett turned, and with blond ringlets bouncing about her head in a severely chaotic manner, ran as if the Wookey Hole Witch had come flying out of a cavern to nip at her heels!
         Most astonished, and most decidedly enthralled was Roger by the ragamuffin—though a bit puzzled by the change in her manner of speaking, that he did impulsively yell after her, “Wait! Wait! Where do you live, Charity? I won’t tell. I promise!”
        There was ought a reply as the girl dashed away and became as an ant disappearing into a hole. Roger was exceedingly chapfallen, for the most exciting adventure in his life was of a surety over!— and, he had always allowed as to how it would be nice to have a friend like Charity Offett, despite the proclivity for thievery such a friend might have; for, there was nothing more exciting to Roger than to be around intrigue of all sorts and of whatever nature. 
         “You won’t tell who . . . what? you naughty, naughty boy,” Lady Angela said, drawing up beside Roger, her breathing heavy, and her temper most significantly out-of-sorts with the little nipper, a not uncommon occurrence as we have come to know. 
        “I just met an angel, Angie. A veritable angel.” Roger’s perfectly round eyes were as two heath snails strolling up a blade of grass in the moonlight, their shells glowing incandescently. A lonely sigh escaped from the boy’s mouth as his imagination did take flight, soaring on wings of the future, and where love’s first tender sprig begins to take root in fertile soil.
         Lady Angela wasted no time in bringing the irrepressible boy back to earth. “What am I to do with you, Roger? You have no thought of me, nor of your aunt, nor of your uncle. No thought whatsoever. You are a decidedly ungrateful, thoughtless boy, and you will spend the rest of the day in the cupboard without food nor water.” 
        “Gladly will I do that, Angie, for . . . her.” 
        “For who you wicked boy? . . . Bah, I am singularly unimpressed with your remarks. Come, we must be off to church where you will do penance as well.” 
         With nary a reply, Roger, in possession of a grin to light an entire sovereignty of angels, followed his sister willingly down the street where they, in turn, were met by Lord Brumbly and his wife, Joan, who did rapture over the return of her prodigal—her very brave nephew, and to whom Joan thought with great resolve embued all the qualities of a courageous lion; and, she did remark as such whilst they strolled into the churchyard.
        There would be no cupboard-sitting for the young lad on this particular day!

Author note: You will notice the mud is getting deeper and deeper. In fact, I'm up to my knees in it. But, I couldn't help myself! I just had to throw a Charles Dickens character in there somewhere. Then, I just had to spout off English history as if I'm smarter than the average bear. Then, if that wasn't enough, I just had to throw a phrase in from one of my all-time favorite movie scripts in recent years! Can you fine it? Well, I'd be very surprised, because that's in the next chapter. Gives you something to look forward to, tho, doesn't it?  Oh, and by the by, just so you know, there is no healing waters at the Lake of Abbotsford. I made that up. Hee, hee, hee.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Hercule Poirot, The Letter! Episode 1

"It is the little grey cells, Hastings. Without the little grey cells, the brain, it will not work properly, n'est-ce pas? . . . Ah, yes, so many cases to be solved, and so little time to solve them. That is why, without the little grey cells, my work cannot be completed. And then what happens, Hastings?"

"I-I'm not quite sure what you are getting at, Poirot."

"Come, come, Hastings, the answer, it is right there in front of you . . . so very obvious, no?"

"Hmm . . . well . . . I suppose it means more murderers and thieves will be on the loose?"

"Exactly, mon ami. So, it is very important I do my work in a timely manner. Do you not agree?"

"Er, yes, you are quite right about that, Poirot. And speaking of work—"

"Yes, I know what it is you are going to say."

"You do? These grey cells . . . they read minds now, do they?"

"Mon Dieu,  Hastings, it is a joke you are making now? I am about to embark on perhaps the most important case of my life and you make the joke?"

"Oh, I didn't realize we were on another case, Poirot. Miss Lemon failed to tell me that."

"That is because Miss Lemon does not say what I do not wish her to say, my friend."

"It's a big secret then, is it? Curiouser, and curiouser."

"Non. Not curiouser and curiouser, Hastings. That is a grammatical, how you say,  faux pas? But I will tell you now what it is I did not wish Miss Lemon to tell you."

"Right. I'm all ears, Poirot . . . Ahem . . . that's just an expression."

"Your expressions are meaningless to me, mon ami. They do not exist in the order and method of my world. You would be wise to remember that. Now, I received in the mail an anonymous letter while you were in the Argentine. It has caused me great alarm. Such alarm, that I must be careful when I talk about it. That is why I instructed Miss Lemon not to say to you anything."

"I see. I think I'm beginning to understand the gravity of the situation, Poirot! Quite frankly, it sounds as if I arrived home just in time."

"Yes, Hastings. Always you are . . . perspicacious in your observations. Now, you must listen very—"

"Poirot, I've been thinking. Perhaps it would be better if I read the letter?"

"Non, non. The letter, it was for my eyes only. And Hastings? It is vitally important you do not interrupt me any further. Time is of the essence to solve this case."

"Quite right. My apologies."

"Si. Si . . . In this letter, there was made an appointment to meet me."

"An appointment? With you? Oh my dear fellow, this is indeed an unusual occurrence, is it not?"

"Hastings! I do not think I like your tone. Another joke at my expense? You have come back from the Argentine with an unusually sharp wit. But the charm, it is gone, mon ami."

"Oh terribly sorry, Poirot. It just seemed—"

"I accept your apology, Hastings. Let us speak no further on this. Now, it was stated in the letter that if I do not make this appointment, a life will be taken. You can see why with your silly jokes, I cannot laugh!?"

"Yes. I'm very sorry old chap. When, and where does this anonymous person wish to meet?". . . . . . . . I say Poirot, did you hear me? . . . . . . . Poirot?"

"Excuse me, Hastings. I was grooming the one side of my mustache that, how you say, droops when I am most in distress. The when, it is tonight at midnight. The place, it is the gardens of the parish church, St. Mary Metfelon, in Whitechapel."

"Whitechapel? At midnight? This case is beginning to sound dreadfully dangerous, Poirot. I don't think you should go."

"What choice do I have, Captain Hastings?"

"What choice do you have? I'll tell you what choice you have. You don't have to go. Simple enough, isn't it?"

"Ah, mon ami, your naïveté, sometimes it amuses me."

"I'm very glad you find me so amusing, Poirot. Perhaps it won't be so amusing when they find your little round body in Whitechapel with a hole in your forehead, and . . . and your mustache shaved off!"

"Eh bien, but I see I have upset you greatly, Hastings. My dear fellow, sometimes when Fate dangles a finger fickle in front of you, it would be wise not to ignore, n'est-ce pas?"

"That's fickle finger of Fate, Poirot. And don't you think it would be wiser not to walk straight into what is so obviously a trap?"

"Ah, but my dear Hastings, what is obvious to one person, is certainement not obvious to another. So, I will cast the die with Fate. Then, we shall see, what we shall see."

"Well, if you are going to do something foolish like that, Poirot, I'm coming with you."

"Ah, mon ami, you are loyal to a fault. But I shall reward your loyalty. You may certainement accompany me to St. Mary Metfelon in Whitechapel."

"Why thank you, Poirot. That is jolly kind of you, I must say. But . . . I do have a suggestion."

"Chief Inspector Japp has already been informed. You see, it is always about the little grey cells, Hastings. Always." . . .  "C'est bien! Let us begin our preparations, mon ami!"

Author note:  Alors, you see, mes amis? I could not resist, how you say, this feeble attempt at fan fiction. Dame Agatha Christie, she would no doubt strike me down at midnight, (if she could, and mostly 'cos of my very bad French) and I would become just another victim of a murder mystery for my readers to solve! I can see it now, "The Case of the Cheeky Author!"

On Monday, she will return in all her glory, the beautiful, but very very vain, Lady Angela Rosecroft. Until then, my fine readers, au revoir.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Funzy Friday + Practice = Mamie Barlowe, Screenplay, First Tough Draft!



Lisa Carthy as Mamie Barlowe, PPI, Psychic Private Investigator
Ardnas Ullock as Sable Mink, GPP, Genuine Psychic Psychopath
Jony Pped as Chill Tornado
Billy the Chimp played by himself
Bert Dihero as Sable's father, Irk Mink
Neb Filler as KIrk Mink, Sable's bro
Ette Fidler as Mother Barlowe
Boldy Spawn as Auntie Flo Barlowe
Arol Cornett as Grandma Barlowe
Famy Madams as Roxy Clumper, aka Roxy Binghorton III
Glad Sitt as Bertie Clumper, aka Clarence Oberon Binghorton III

Sidenote: due to actor's salaries, and its alternate world status, this move will never get off the ground. 



The camera pans an extremely utilitarian office, except for two cheap chairs, and a tres expensive desk and leather chair. Private investigator, MAMIE BARLOWE, sits in the leather chair, eyeing her prospective client, ROXY CLUMPER, who's also sitting, but in a rickety wooden chair which cost $2.00 at a rummage sale. MAMIE doesn't want prospective clients distracted or comfortable. Roxy is talking to Mamie, but we don't hear any word of it.

Roxy's face.

                                                            MAMIE (V.O.)

Roxy Clumper is her name. She has short satiny blonde hair, the kind of hair you see on a mannequin before it slides right off; the kind of hair I could shoot a bullet at, and it would boomerang. Her cheekbones are angled so sharply, a mountain climber would stake her. Take the eyes. They are spaced far apart. It's a wonder she can look at me straight. Her nose and mouth practically kiss each other. With harlot red lipstick that's a no no. Makes me to want to reach for my Glock 22 .40 caliber pistol. Click the safety off.

Roxy's clothes.

                                                         MAMIE (V.O.) (CONT'D)

In short, Roxy resembles a dime-store hooker holding up a lamppost after a rainstorm.  But her clothes scream designer with a capital D. How do I know?  You don't have to be Holmes, see.  Take the rain coat: silk-lined pockets, with lapel flaps that stand at attention like two stiffs hanging from a meat hook.  A single price tag dangles from her arm pit; the kind of tag I see on Modeo drive. I shouldn't be looking at it. There's a belt, loosely tied around her waist, but wider than a leather strap used to beat the snot out of people. A white-lace bodice peeps out at me between buttons lined up like soldiers in a drill. I think she's wearing a dress. I don't know. I'm getting bored.

                                                                                                            CUT TO:

Mamie nodding her head at something Roxy has just said. Mamie's ennui is evident to the audience, but not to Roxy.

Photo of a man Roxy has just placed on the desk.

                                                         MAMIE  (V.O.)

My wannabe client misplaced her husband. Those are her words. These are my thoughts. I lose things: a car on occasion, a cellphone, a wallet, a coffee machine, just to name a few. I don't misplace them. Particularly a man.

                                                                                                           CUT TO:

Roxy, who we can now hear speak.  Although we wish we couldn't, given how whiny it is.

                                So, will you be able to find my Bertie, or not?

                               Wrong question.  Try again.

                               I mean, will you take my case?
                              A simple yes or no would be appreciated.
                              There are other Private Investigators, you know.

                              They're dicks.  I'm a psychic, see.

Mamie shifts comfortably in her chair.  But she now has a vision of steaming toward Niagara Falls, a barrel in tow.  The barrel has Roxy's name on it.

                                                     MAMIE (CONT'D)
                              Be $10,000 cash.  Upfront.

                             B-but that's ridiculous!
                             I don't carry that kind of cash.

Roxy's furious expression.

                                                     MAMIE (V.O.)
Her black eyes spawn twin tornadoes. Lethal. I'm sensing she's trouble. Trouble with a capital T!

Mamie takes a credit card machine from a drawer.

                           Or credit.  A 3% surcharge will be tacked on.

Roxy looks unsure.

                                                    MAMIE (CONT'D)
                          Look lady, this isn't Value Mart.
                         Are you telling me your husband's life isn't worth
                         a plugged corpse with gold teeth
                         and diamond-studded eyelids?

                         Of course, not. I love my Bertie.
                          I'll do anything . . . pay anything . . .
                          I just want to see him again.

Roxy takes out a black Diva card, surprising Mamie.

Black Diva card.

                                                MAMIE (V.O.)
Whoa!  Exclusive club; the kind where people jet to the moon and back for dinner. If they could.

Mamie swipes the card, taking extra time to feel the card up.

                     OK, so when's the last time you saw Bertie?

                    Yesterday. We went parachuting.
                     Bertie likes to live on the edge, you know?
                     Anyway, I landed, but he didn't.
                     I mean, I never saw him land.

                                       (Visibly bored)
                    And yesterday, birds were chirping.
                    Today, it's raining.
                    I would've gone bird-watching yesterday, capiche?

                   Well . . . Bertie does really odd things at times.
                    I wasn't too worried. Until this morning,
                   when he didn't return my frantic calls.
                   That's not like Bertie.

                   So, quick question, who let go of who first?

                  I-I'm not quite sure what you're asking.
                  I mean, at some point
                  we might've been together, but--

                 Together, you mean as in jumping
                 out the plane together, or rolling
                 out the plane together,
                 or accidentally falling out the plane together?

                Is that question really relevant, Ms. Barlowe?

               I wasn't conceived in a parachute accident, Mrs. Clumper.
               My mom and pop did it right.
               You two, on the other hand, did it wrong.

               How dare you suggest
               what it is I think you're suggesting!
               I don't have to sit here and--

               No you don't,
               but here's what you're gonna do.
               You're gonna leave now.
               On your way out, you're gonna
               talk to my secretary,
               and sell her the whole salami sandwich.
               Don't lie. Don't leave anything out.
               She'll give you a receipt for the ten grand,
               plus the 3% surcharge.
               Oh, and leave her something that Bertie touched recently.

Roxy glances down at her chest.

                                     MAMIE (CONT'D)
                                              (rolls eyes)
               Those don't count.
                                              (She stands)
               I'll be in touch.

Roxy quickly leaves, knocking over the chair she was sitting on.  Mamie shakes her head in disgust.

                                    MAMIE (V.O.)
People.  Gotta love 'em.  Or shoot 'em.  I'm good at both.

End note: FYI, this is NOT the screenplay I'm working on. I know, thank gosh, huh?

Friday, September 06, 2013

"Sucks, Doesn't It?" A Memoir, Entry 30


The couple of days before my next session are rugged.  There’s an increasingly loud buzz of anger lurking about in my subconscious. One morning, I completely lose my temper and yell at the kids to get moving before I shove their ass out the door. My oldest daughter, eleven, yells back and tells me to quit cursing. I tell her to shut the hell up about it.
She runs to her bedroom and slams the door. I go to her door and kick it viciously. But thankfully, I manage to regain control and retreat to the foyer. My son cowers there as he waits for the school bus. Noticing the fear in his eyes, I snap right out of my mad, and hasten over to reassure him. Once that’s done, I go back to my eldest and apologize to her, explaining that I don’t know what came over me. She relaxes a bit, but I know she’s wondering what’s wrong with her mother.
This is the first time I've ever lost my temper with so little provocation. What really shocks me though, and it’s a point I will emphasize to Pen, is the feeling I had when I nearly kicked my daughter’s door in. Basically it was, I could kill you this instant and not feel one iota of regret. That heavy duty reality shakes me up badly. So, after the kids leave for school, I go into my bedroom and ponder this new development.
My eye catches sight of the new tape recorder lying next to my journal on the desk. I pick it up, and examine it closely. Then I smile. Feelings of anger and guilt miraculously disappear. In fact, I pretty much feel a big fat nothing now. A baby could cry and I wouldn’t pay one bit of attention to it. Well, I might get a little irritated, and drop a blanket over its whiny face. To muffle the sound, of course.
I unwrap a blank cassette, load it into the little black box, and start to record. “Testing, testing, 1,2,3, testing.” Playing it back, I cringe. Is my voice really that screechy high? I rewind the tape and start recording. On a lark, I practice my swearing. Naughty me! I usually have a quite a sanitary mouth, unless I’m out of orbit angry. When I play the tape back, I double over with hysterics. God, I sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks drunk on their ass.
Eventually, I stop clowning around, and stare thoughtfully at the devilish device. Hmmm, maybe in the future, it’d be easier just to record my thoughts rather than write them down in a journal. I decide I like that idea a lot, and depress the record button for the third time.
“Captain’s log, star date June 1996. These are the Tapes of the FruitCake Enterprise. My name is ET, and I have absolutely no idea what to say next." I stop the recording, then, "Oh wait, yes I do.” I head for my bedside recliner carrying the little hand size recorder. With all the majesty of the Queen of England, I ease myself onto my royal throne, gracefully lean back, and cross my legs, finger style. Lastly, I primp the bangs out of my eyes and paste a phony smile on my face. Trip the record button again, and off I go. This time, I speak with studied formality. “Tell me Liz, what’s been happening this week?”
I hop out of the recliner, sit primly on the end of the bed and lower my voice five notches. “Oh, not much, Pen. But paint me a briar patch here, would ya? It’s been a few weeks. Shouldn’t we have a diagnosis by now?”
I hastily switch to the recliner, wiggle into therapist pose this time, and purse my lips. “Not quite yet, Liz. But we’re getting there.”
I fly to the bed. My rubber lips flex muscle downward. “That bad, huh?”
Back to the recliner. This time I smooth out my hair, and stick my nose in the air. “There are some rather interesting aspects to your case, Liz. That makes it more difficult to assess where we are at this point.”
I’m getting wayyy breathless as I hit the bed again. This time, I revert back to my southern roots. “But Pen, why don’t you just have little ol’ me take one of those itty bitty tests psychiatrists pass out like prescriptions. Or even bettah, hon, bring on those verah interestin’ inkblot cards. I do declare, Pen, I used to drive mah psychiatrist at the Children’s Home simply crazy with mah interpretations of them. I guess it’s because all I evah saw was well, you know, stuff of which I cain not speak. It got so bad mah—” Oops. Stop the recording, Liz.
I’d forgotten about the psychiatrist from the Children's Home, Dr. Waddlebutt. Odd that. In height, he could have been the twin brother of the giant in Jack in the Beanstalk; in looks, he resembled one of those god-awful looking cysts that come with a full compliment of teeth and black coarse hair. Grossed me out totally. He seemed nice, though, if a bit prissy.
Part of Dr. Waddlebutt’s job was to administer annual psychological testing on all the foster children: written, inkblot, IQ, you name it. Those tests sunk my boat. My caseworker took an active dislike to me following the first go round of tests. I guess she thought all kids should see Jesus on the inkblots, and score 140 on the IQ. I saw blood-soaked, mutilated butterflies, and scored between 95 and 70 on the IQ; the higher score occurring at the age of five, the lower score occurring as soon as I became smart enough to dick around on them. 
At some point, my caseworker, who I fondly named, Mrs. Stick Upherass, told me I was a very “disturbed” child and borderline “retarded”, so God would have to take care of me because I’d never be able to take care of myself.
Maybe she had good reason to think I was “disturbed.” Kids in the early sixties weren’t saturated with bloody violence. Comic books were pretty tame. So Dr. Waddlebutt’s two-cent analysis, combined with my poor test results, might’ve shocked Mrs. Stick Upherass right out of her chastity belt. If she wore one. I, personally, think she did. Most church-going, God-fearing women did back then.
“Lizzie, remember when you said the S E X word. She nearly shit twenty bricks! Then, after she snorted all the coke outta her nose like some mad bull, she said, “ET, you will not ever say that word out loud again, or I will march you into the bathroom and wash your mouth out with soap. Do you understand me?” And you said, “But Miz U’ass, I am six. I had my birday las’ week.”