The Mad Detective

It is Monday.

I am awake. My wife, the crazed harridan, kicks me out of bed. I must search for the bathroom on my own. That’s all right. I’m a detective. I find the bathroom wrapped around the toilet. Flush with success, I reach for the shower door.

It opens and out steps a woman in a veil.

“Shouldn’t you wear more clothes?” I ask her.

“Don’t be silly. I was in the shower.” Her breasts are enormous, each easily large enough to fill the trunk of a Kia Rio. I am intrigued. She continues. “Are you Price Pfister, Private Eye?”

“You’re confusing me with my pfaucet.” I reach inside my briefs. The woman gasps, and raises her hand to her face. Her color rises, then blushes as it realizes the rest of her has been up for hours. “Take it easy, doll. It’s strictly business.” I whip out my card and hand it to her. She reads it aloud—sharing—apparently unaware that I’ve already seen it.

“Muley Cain, Private Eye.” I love the way she says my name. She makes it sound like an ointment for livestock. She looks up from the card. “I need your help. Can you find my husband?”

“If I can find anyone, and you’re okay with plus or minus four degrees of separation, then I can virtually guarantee it.  That could work out well or you could end up with Val Kilmer.”

“I’ll take that risk.”

“What’s he look like?”

“Here,” she says, and opens her purse. I think, Hell if he’s in there what’s the problem? Turns out she’s only looking for his picture. I give it a gander. That’s right: a gander.

“You’re married to Gig Young?”

“No, that picture came with the wallet. My husband’s on the back.” I turn the picture over thinking that for a couple of near naked people we sure waste a lot of time looking at cards. On the back is a pencil drawing of a pirate in profile. “I learned to do that at the Famous Artists’ School. My husband looks exactly like that only without the hat and the eye patch and the moustache and the scar.”

She stands close as she speaks. I can smell her lust. It smells a little like pork. I can tell she is hot for me, and for a moment I play with the notion of dunking her in cold water to cool her down. In my business it doesn’t pay to sleep with clients, even if they’re women.

“This isn’t much to go on, lady,” I say as I slip his picture in my shorts. “Does he have a name?”

“Yes.”

“Good. That way you have something to call him when I bring him back.” The lady vanishes in a puff of smoke and I am left to myself.

I return to my routine. I do fifteen minutes every morning on fecal sculpture. It’s my only hobby. My sphinctre control is such that despite the distraction of the mysterious case of the missing pirate I manage a very nice Robert E. Lee on horseback—rampant, three marbles and a Tootsie Roll.

I stop at a nursery.

A man comes out from the back. “May I help you?” He looks like Ozzie Nelson only taller, bald, and Asian. Snakes wave from his nostrils as he speaks. I don’t trust him. I move smoothly into my cover story.

“Any truffle seed today?”

“No, I’m afraid not.” He grabs some planting tip cards from a spinner rack. “Perhaps we could look at cards together.”

I whip the picture out of my shorts. “Brought my own, Smilin’ Jack. Have you seen this man?”

He peers carefully and leans back. “Of course. He’s dead now.”

My breath freezes in my chest and the thermostat in my liver lights the heater in my stomach. “Dead you say?”

“Sure. That’s Gig Young, the old actor. He died years ago.”

“Mysteriously?”

“How’d you know my name was Smilin’ Jack?”

I rush from the nursery, my brain reeling. It’s what a detective’s brain does after casting for clues. I spend the rest of the day poring over old newspapers. By nightfall I’ve only worked my way up to the 1890’s.

Everyone is gone when I get home. I search the house three hours trying to figure out where my wife, that hateful, dragon-queen, bitch-goddess, left my penis. It is not until I wet myself that I remember I still have it on me.

It is Tuesday.

Madonna is on my porch. She reclines in a chaise lounge. She looks like the Tin Man’s mate with her conical breasts and her lack of heart. I can tell she is slavering with desire for me so I put a bucket by her in case she drips. In my business, it doesn’t pay to get too wet.

She leans back and gestures toward her crotch. “Let it serve you, “ she whispers huskily, chokes, coughs, then spits out a bit of corn silk. I go back inside then return with a jar of Vlasic pickles.

“I can’t get these open.”

She snatches the jar with ease. We munch garlic dills as my neighbor breathes air freshener through a toilet roll to get high. A pirate drives by in his fringed surrey. The words “Wise Blood” are painted on its side.

Something stirs in the back of my mind, takes a little taste, then adds more salt. I pull a flask of whiskey from my shorts and pour two fingers in a glass. One of them is wearing a wedding ring. What have I gotten myself into?

I dust the fingers for prints and find two very good ones.

It is Wednesday.

I go to my office. In an effort to improve morale, I declare there will be three tattoo breaks every day. My employees walk out leaving me with a surfeit of ink and needles.

The missing man sends me a letter, but he doesn’t sign it and he forgets to put my address on it. Now I’ll never know what he was trying so desperately to tell me.

I go to Hooters for lunch. There is a man dying in the parking lot. As I step over him he grabs me by the shorts and says, “Rosebud.” I look inside his mouth. It is snowing in there. I steal his wallet. The poor man expires and I waste precious minutes watching him go out before entering the restaurant.

I complain bitterly that my waitress has breasts of two different sizes. The manager brings me a complimentary dessert but I am inconsolable. I see the ladies who lunch. On the way out I accuse the cashier of fostering an atmosphere of elitist, white, male, Eurocentric intellectualism. She stares at me and snaps her gum. Her breasts seem to pretty much match.

She hands me a box. It says, “Clue.”

“What kind of game is this?” I shout angrily. Before she can respond I am sapped from behind. I sink to my knees, eyes blurring as the sticky treacle of resin runs down my face. I stagger up to pursue my assailant. There is no sign of him in the parking lot, just a thirty foot Douglas Fir pursued by a three-legged dog.

While my attention is thus diverted, three men cover me with salt which hardens over the sap. I cannot move. In my business it doesn’t pay to let your attention wander.

It is hours before enough deer have come by to lick me free.

It is Thursday.

30 Rock.

It is Friday.

My wife, the wretched, deluded gorgon is acting strangely as is my son. They share knowing looks, and she has taken to calling him by his first name instead of “Mr. Earl” as I have instructed. I accuse her of sleeping with him. She, the pitiful, tortured termagant, denies it with some flimsy nonsense about his being an infant. He says nothing, only peers at me with incestuous, pig eyes as he sucks his bottle.

Everyone is out to get me. I am unsure, however, who everyone is. I go to the library for research. They say that they don’t have any, that I have to conduct my own, but refuse to let me borrow their baton.

I chew over this data for a while, then decide gum would be better. I drive to every store in town, but it is no use. Some fool has bought all the Clark’s Teaberry Gum everywhere. In the hobby store I grab a balsa airplane kit and eat it at the counter. Could this be a fugue state?

It is Saturday.

I am no closer to finding the pirate. I decide to tackle chores around the house.

I take nail clippers to the lawn. The grass blades scream as I clip them, and each sounds like a cross between Porter Wagoner and David Byrne. Fire ants entice me to join them in conquering the world, but I’m saving my allegiance for the killer bees.

The mailman comes and leaves me a tunic of silver chain. I put it on and become invulnerable. On the neighbor’s lawn Cher screams “10, 2, and 4” as she pleasures herself with a Dr. Pepper bottle, the two liter size.  At first I think she’s predicting the respective ages of her next three boyfriends, but then I realize it is a clue.

I drive to 1024 Dill Dr. The sign outside says “Sonny’s Place.” Inside I find the pirate, minus his hat, eye patch, moustache, and scar.

“I can’t go back to her,” he says, crying in his beer. He’s a very small guy and it’s a very big glass. I take him out of there and wring him dry. He screams a little, but he comes willingly enough. I return him to his wife.

“Oh, it’s you,” she says. She’s so crazy about me that she can hardly keep her hands off me. She feeds her husband to a giant blue crab she keeps around to change CD’s. She turns to me. “Jesus Christ, aren’t you gone yet?” she snarls suggestively.

“There’s a little matter of payment,” I say.

“Here’s a quarter,” she barks in a  voice heavy with desire.

I slap it away. The quarter, not her voice.

“Not so fast, sister. I’m not some two-bit gumshoe you can just buy off with your glamour and poofy lips, then throw over like nothing’s happened between us. It won’t work, see. You owe me, and you owe me big. That’s a quarter plus expenses, doll face, so just hand over the rest of that change. Then you can try to forget me.”

It shocks her. She bites her lip, trying not to cry. That doesn’t work very well because of all the pain, so she bites her knuckles, instead.  Still hurts, and you’d think she would figure this out but she carries on, biting herself all over, anything to keep from showing me the tender little girl she keeps hidden from the world. But I’m not here about a kidnapping.

Soon she is frantic, trying to turn her head around to get a nip at her shoulder blades. She is a twisted, tormented woman. What are you gonna do? I am disgusted with the whole affair. I take the quarter and another dollar thirty-five from her purse and just leave her there with her broken dreams and her big crab. In my business it doesn’t pay to linger.

Tomorrow is Sunday. I’ll go to church with God and try to forget the broken lives, the scum, the miserable wrecks I run into in this line of work, but I know I’ll still remember. They’ll haunt my dreams, both dry and wet ones, joining all those other scary bastards in my skull. Oh sure, they’ll all look different, and I won’t know their names or anything about them, but they’ll be there, sort of at my mind’s horizon, standing, waiting in the distance. In my business, it doesn’t pay to get too close to people.

Some of them are aliens.

—Don Whittington

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