Waiting Menu!
  • light
  • dark
  •  A + 
  •  A − 
  •  ¶ − 
  •  ¶ + 
  • clear
  • Rec. 
  • « Scr
Loading Content!

It was terribly hot. Again! There was a wildfire, and the flames were closing in on me, but I wasn’t surprised at all because it seemed like something I had already dreamed of. Only this time, Iowa’s prairies burned. A desperate farmer ran along the dusty road, waving his hands in the air and crying that the fire was coming from Wyoming and had devastated the whole of Nebraska, spreading southward to Wichita and Chanute. Most of the fire squads were blocked in the southern parts of the state—near Beatrice, he said—and nothing stood in the way of the disaster now. If the wind didn’t change direction soon enough, the fire would reach Des Moines and even Davenport, and only Mississippi was going to prevent it from hitting Chicago.

Indeed, such a wildfire the Great Plains had never seen in its entire history—even rocks were burning! There was no night and no day in the area. There was only an endless and heavy twilight filled with smoke, and the farmers who had properties outside of the fire perimeter were working twenty-four hours a day in a desperate attempt to bring in the grain before the flames harvested it instead of them. Everything was being loaded on trucks and trains and carried to silos in Minnesota and Illinois.

Unfortunately, as always happens in situations like these, hundreds of grain profiteers emerged overnight. Out of nowhere, they literally sprung up like mushrooms. Since the supply was so high at the moment and the prices were so low, everyone who owned a truck or even a van was buying with the hope that they could sell on the market later when prices were higher. The only problem was that the silos were already choked full. The frantic buy-up continued for a while longer, but everyone knew the market collapse was inevitable. Very soon, the profiteers had to start selling in an emergency because there were no places to keep the grain, and in a couple of weeks, it would breed mold if it stayed in the open.

And here came the loop! Since demand was already too low due to uncertainty, this additional oversupply made wheat and corn prices plummet disastrously. Suddenly, all the farmers lost everything, and it became economically unsustainable for them to harvest the crops. They had to set their fields on fire to apply for compensations, benefits, and refunds under various indemnity programs, but then rumors of an upcoming grain crisis emerged, and prices skyrocketed again. Sadly, it was already too late. The fields were on fire now, and the president had to declare an emergency in the entire Midwest to save the country from total chaos and a grain shortage.

No matter how disastrous the situation, the logic behind it was quite simple, in fact. In the market economy, everyone wanted to gain something out of this turmoil because every break in the established market routine was, by presumption, also an opportunity. Every chance for profit should be grabbed in time, and every advertising niche should be taken advantage of right away—it was as simple as that! That’s why, after the profiteers were done “helping” the farmers, the entire country rushed to demonstrate “solidarity” with them too.

Hollywood film studios bent over backward to finance movies about various disasters happening in the Midwest and Californians who selflessly saved the day; the citizens of Los Angeles delivered trendy vegan food, surfboards, and treadmills to people in the affected area; and a consortium of San Diego’s biggest water parks presented the small arid town of Oakley in Kansas with a waterslide and a roller coaster. The pious Mormons from Salt Lake City didn’t hang back and sent free Bibles for everyone in Red Oak who believed in the almighty God and his mercy, while Las Vegas promised a free buffet in their top ten casinos for every Midwesterner who played there for at least three hours without a break.

Chicagoans demonstrated more common sense and dispatched three thousand chemical toilets for those in need—probably because they thought on the prairie there weren’t many places where people could relieve themselves—while Texans kept up with others, delivering condoms and various sex-education materials to prevent unwanted conceptions from leading to abortions in these troubled times of nervous waiting. And the state of New York mailed comic books and fashion magazines!

Altogether, the entire nation broke their necks to show their full support!

However, the idea of Rebecca Jones from Bloomington, Indiana, provoked the biggest excitement of all. She proposed that everyone in the United States should buy a handful of wheat or corn and send it as a gift to farmers who lost their crops. This way, she believed, the poor men’s yield would be fully restored, and the gesture would also boost the economy.

All the radio and television networks proclaimed the merits of such an idea and raced to broadcast her appeal in their programs. Thousands of Americans with a patriotic mindset shed a tear for the wretches of the Great Plains and rushed to buy a pack of grain seed. In the height of euphoria, a couple of movie producers expressed intentions to make a documentary about the girl and reveal her extraordinary soul to the audience, while some of the biggest supermarket chains announced Miss Jones as the face of donation campaigns in their stores. Suddenly, everybody was talking about Rebecca, and for a moment, people completely forgot about the Midwest and its stupid wildfire.

Naturally, there were idiots, trying to ruin everything and spoil the patriotic idyll that reigned all over the country. A stockbroker from Chicago—a miserable loser and an alcoholic—said this was the second-worst idea he had ever heard of after the offer the Indian chief Little Red Moose made to white settlers in Colorado in the early nineteenth century. He proposed to them, “I will give a pound of gold to everyone who promises they will never set foot in my land!” His story is a real cautionary tale: thousands of white settlers set foot in his land, and a couple of them took all of his gold, killed him, skinned him, impaled him on a pole, and carried his remains around Colorado Piedmont in a horse wagon for a whole month after that. When his body eventually dried out in the sun and it was mummified, they dumped it in the South Platte River near the future town of Denver.

I was suddenly startled in my dream and asked myself why the hell I was dreaming all this bullshit. It was probably because of the nervousness and stress I had experienced lately. Then, before I even had a chance to wake up, I fell into another crazy dream. I was standing on a riverbank in front of a small bridge, and I tried to cross over to the other side. Unfortunately, a yellow tape blocked the passage. It read, “Police! Do not cross!”, and behind it, a cop stood guard. It was Inspector Greensboro. He explained to me that I was not allowed to enter because it was private property—the residence of President Kurvallo. Since I didn’t want to give up, I walked back and under the bridge, trying to swim across the river, but it was too shallow, and the stones at the bottom scratched my knees and elbows very badly.

I returned to the bank, frustrated and thinking that I should give up now, but then I suddenly hopped further into my dream and found myself in the middle of a small clearing on the other side. I saw a wicker basket with picnic stuff on the grass and an orange blanket where a naked woman lay, smiling at me. She told me she was no longer a tightrope dancer because she was a mom now, which made me realize that the woman was actually Sonya. She took a bottle of white wine and poured some into a glass—there was a disgusting maggot swimming inside—and she reached out her hand to give it to me.

Right at this moment, Greensboro brought Kurvallo to us, who carried supplies of Johnnie Walker to “strengthen the party”, as he put it. He had two bottles in each hand and another balanced on his head. After that, he unexpectedly turned to me and informed me that I had left the sink in my kitchen overflowing with coffee and that I had to return to my place and clean up the mess, but I suspected he was lying to me because he wanted to fuck Lara’s sister behind my back. Then the man suddenly ditched the bottles on the ground, grabbed Sonya’s dildo from the blanket, and ran away, trying to hide it in his ass.

And here, thank God, I finally woke up!

I looked around, disoriented and still sleepy. I was alone in my bed, and Jill was missing. Since I didn’t hear any noise in the apartment, I guessed she had gone to work because she promised me Greensboro wouldn’t know about our little adventure here. To be honest, I was glad she wasn’t there. She turned out to be quite a character, and I was always on tenterhooks around her.

I stayed in bed for a couple of minutes more and then got up, but interestingly enough, I didn’t feel sick at all. I had no headache, dizziness, or hangover despite all the booze I had the previous night, so I thought the phrase “the more, the better” was fully applicable to drinking Absolut. When I went to the bathroom to take a piss, though, I noticed the typical sign of alcohol dehydration—a chain of bubbles clustering in the water near the wall of the drain hole—and I knew I had pushed my limits a bit after all.

Then I suddenly remembered my very weird dream. Thoughtful, I returned to the bedroom to take the picture I found among Lara’s stuff and wondered how she had actually laid her hands on it. It had to have happened in Larry and Bob’s den; there was simply no other way! When we were back in the hotel after the raid, my assistant told me she had found something in the shack without bothering to elaborate. If she had meant this piece of paper, I could totally understand now why she minced her words.

There were two people in the photo—Sonya and John Kurvallo. The latter had to have been stoned to the bone or at least very drunk to let someone catch him on camera in a scene like this because if he really intended to run for president in the next election, this photography—or rather, pornography—would surely be an insurmountable obstacle. The problem was that no matter how tolerant and liberal America was going to be after Jefferson’s loose amendment, I simply couldn’t believe people would let someone into the White House, knowing that an unknown Cheyenne whore had banged his stupid ass with such an enormously huge, blue dildo!

The future candidate and his anal girlfriend were in the middle of a dimly lit room—it was probably in his mansion because a casual shirt and slippers lay thrown on the floor beside him—and the guy seemed very happy and clearly enjoyed the intimate session. As I watched the photo with him all sweaty and blushing, I was almost sure why the photo negatives that Sandra stole from Tanaka were so important to everybody. Given Kurvallo’s political aspirations, even the murders I had witnessed lately seemed fairly reasonable and predictable. The only thing that didn’t make much sense was how scumbags like Larry and Bob managed to catch the DEA’s chief in such a huge misstep.

Still thoughtful and wondering, I put the picture in my shirt pocket and decided it was time to dig deeper into the dirt of this unpleasant story. There was no point in sitting on my hands and passively watching the events until the major figures in the affair killed each other because the longer I waited, the lesser the chances of finding Sonya alive were. Unfortunately, though, I didn’t know exactly what to do to achieve my goal. After all, I had to act carefully without putting myself in danger.

Something else worried me very much too. Now that Lara was missing, I had to accept the idea that she might have been kidnapped too. Maybe I had rightly reported her as a victim when I talked to Greensboro, and I had to pray that she wasn’t killed! It was interesting that I missed the blonde-haired nuisance now and felt a bit lonely when I wandered throughout the city without her. It was also interesting how quickly a man got used to the trouble someone else was giving him!

Since it did no good to whine about all this and do nothing, I briskly went back to the bathroom to brush my teeth, dump my morning “load”, and wash my butt. Then I returned to the living room and put some clothes on, stepping out onto the balcony to check the weather. It was still early morning, and the day was not yet in its prime. Many glorious moments close to the one-hundred-and-tenth thermometer mark still lay ahead, so I decided to grab the chance and break a sweat. It was just the right time to lose a couple of pounds, and in the process, I could fix myself up with an improvised and refreshing vacation in nature.

A few minutes later, I was already on the street, stepping into my Ford, ready for adventures. I enthusiastically reached out to turn the ignition key… and it didn’t work. As it turned out, the car had run out of gas without me noticing it, and it was just a “wonderful” start to my day! I puffed heavily because I had to step out, grab a five-gallon can out of the trunk, jog to the gas station and back in the terrible heat, empty the can into the tank, drive back to the gas station to top it up, and only then was I free to go on a vacation. Still annoyed, I headed toward the ring road, and for almost an hour, I kept driving, absorbed in my thoughts. When I reached the roundabout interchange, I took the off-ramp for the interstate and then moved deep into the countryside ahead. My idea was to test my limits.

I definitely passed the test! I kept driving south for a couple of hours, then a couple of days through a couple of states, and the scenery gradually transformed outside my window. First, the vegetation changed into subtropical woods, then it merged into wetlands and marshes, and in the end, the shore started retreating to give way to the ocean. Eventually, I left mainland Florida behind and drove along the Overseas Highway all the way to Key West, where I ditched my car on the beach and took off my clothes. I dashed into the gulf and swam further south for many nights, fighting sharks and other deadly sea creatures, until I finally reached Saint Lucia. There, I stopped, exhausted, and considered my trip a success. It was the ideal place to spend the rest of my life, surrounded by beautiful women, pleasant seafood, and refreshing tropical cocktails.

However, being a very reasonable and highly responsible private cop who never leaves unfinished business behind, I decided to take a small detour from my plans—right after crossing the interchange. I swerved to the right, following the dirt road westbound, intending to take care of a few things that lagged behind. After driving about four miles, I slowed down and stopped a couple of yards before the familiar road sign Villa Nueva. There, I observed my old routine and parked the car under the shadow of the willow tree, stepping outside to explore the marvels of nature.

It was a really great idea that I decided to take this walk, I should admit! It was truly wonderful, and everything was perfect: the birds sang soothingly in the scrubs, the foliage of the trees rustled gently above my head, the flowers filled the air with sweet fragrance, the bees hummed busily around them, and the wind… well, the wind was just blowing. The only thing that actually failed to fit into this summer idyll was the sun, which didn’t find anything more appropriate to do than mercilessly burn everything on the ground that dared to move.

A few minutes later, still wandering aimlessly in the area—carefree as a ladybug—I unexpectedly came across a peculiar ass, which lazily swayed in the middle of the pastoral scenery right in front of the mansion’s fence. Since I had never seen an ass without an owner, I decided to approach it and say hello, but when I took a couple of steps out of the trees, the sunlight hit my crown so hard that I instinctively raised my left hand to shield it. Then I took a couple of steps more.

Following my gesture, my shadow swiftly moved forward and noiselessly lay on the ass just at the moment when my right-hand fingers tried to wipe the sweat from my wet forehead, agilely performing in the dust a loose reconstruction of the battle between Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra. The ass suddenly realized it wasn’t alone anymore and jumped up, frightened, and after a second, it took the form of a man before my surprised eyes. While doing so, the man nearly decapitated himself on the wire fence, under which he had put his head for God knows what reason.

“Hey, you! What are you sniffing at down there?” I barked harshly at the newly-appeared ass owner.

The guy turned around in a panic to look at me, but when he recognized me a moment later, he relaxed and just frowned, annoyed.

“Oh, it’s you again!” He grunted.

“Of course it’s me! Who else do you expect to see here?” I scolded him.

“Besides, you’re not a cop. I looked you up!” My old friend, the paparazzo, snapped at me after dusting his clothes off. He looked really terrible. His face was still bloated, and there wasn’t an inch of his flesh that didn’t seem heavily bruised. He also had a brand-new camera.

“Well, it means you’re smart. I didn’t expect that!” I decided to pay him a compliment.

“Are you messing with me?”

“Definitely not! I admire you!”

“I think you’re messing with me,” the black belt-decorated man said, clenching his fists.

I shrugged, smiling disarmingly. Since I wanted to avoid getting off on the wrong foot again, I quickly pulled the picture of Sonya and Kurvallo out of my pocket and waved it in front of his nose. His eyes bulged in surprise, and he agitatedly followed the photo with them. I kept teasing him for a couple of seconds more to stress its significance, but then I stopped because I was afraid I would hypnotize the guy.

“Where did you get it?” the paparazzo asked me with respect after he swallowed a ton of saliva and eventually shook off his daydreaming.

“I took it!” I stuck my chest out, putting on airs. “It’s my work.”

He glanced at me—with distrust at first—but then thought that maybe I wasn’t kidding him after all. He literally drooled while looking at the photo.

“Yeah, I can tell.” He nodded after a while. “It’s not a professional job, but that’s why it’s so good. It’d work perfectly as a compromising material!”

“Why does it have to work as a compromising material? It’s the truth!” I disagreed. “Do you want it?”

The paparazzo didn’t answer and kept looking at me. His eyes switched a couple of times between the photo and my eyes; he swallowed nervously; and his body squirmed as if he badly needed to take a shit or something. Overall, he gave me the impression that he would do anything to have this picture. I smiled and shook my head, satisfied because it was exactly the reaction I was hoping for.

“And what’s in it for you?” After his euphoria passed away, the bastard suddenly realized there might be a catch.

I casually scratched my head because I hadn’t actually thought about that yet.

“What do you say about jumping over that fence and distracting the security guys until I sneak into the house? Is that okay?” I improvised a bargain.

He looked at me weirdly and then turned his head around to glance at the mansion. It was only now that I noticed a couple of frighteningly big Rottweilers wandering aimlessly around the front lawn. They looked exactly like life-sentenced criminals taking their daily walk in the prison yard while waiting for some dumbass to hop inside and make their life less boring. Clearly, the security guys had learned from the last incident outside the fence!

“Are you nuts?” The paparazzo turned back to me. “Do I look like an idiot to you?”

“Well, only a second ago, you were bouncing off the walls about this picture!”

“A second ago, I didn’t know you had bounced your head against the wall in the process of obtaining this picture!”

“Okay! If you say so,” I shrugged and casually put the photo back in my shirt pocket. “In this case, I have other materials whose price is cheaper. For them, you’ll just have to make a fuss from here. I hope it might work too!”

And I reached again to extract another picture of Sonya. I was just like a cheap jack, carrying all sort of junk in his pockets and trying to sell it to strangers for loose change. My next material was a tuned-down version, though. I had removed the two scumbags and the whore with the white pants from the photo for fear that someone might accidentally recognize them when I showed it to people.

At first, the guy jumped at my offer enthusiastically, but after scrutinizing the piece of paper, he wasn’t so excited anymore. “What is this tiny little thing? Is it from your prom picture?” he asked, disappointed.

I looked at the cutout. It was only one by three inches in size, and it really didn’t seem like a very big deal. Despite that, I frowned, annoyed.

“Suit yourself!” I grunted without retracting my arm back. “If you don’t take risks, you’ll stay here forever, kicking your heels and watching your colleagues grab Pulitzer after Pulitzer!”

He cast another glance at my hand.

“Was she butchered?” he asked suspiciously, not too concerned about it.

“No. The picture’s just smeared with ketchup!”

“Nevertheless, it won’t work,” he said, shaking his head. “It just proves nothing; it’s simply a girl. It’d be like showing you a photo of me and telling you I was the first man on the moon, but unfortunately, the moon can’t be seen!”

“As you wish!” I slowly put the thing back in my pocket. Clearly, today wasn’t my day for doing business!

Then I turned around because the heat was already wearing on me and I was all sweaty, and my eyes accidentally fell on the spot where I found my friend sticking his head in when I first came here. It was a segment of the wire fence near the ground that was broken—approximately one and a half by two feet in size. The opening looked like a gang of Tasmanian devils had gnawed at it, and I also noticed that a few electric cables were cut off and hanging down.

“I discovered it a couple of minutes ago,” the paparazzo remarked after following my eyes with his. “I was just wondering how it could be useful. I never thought of your idea, though—not for a moment!”

“That’s because you don’t think big!” I accused him.

He sulked. “If you’re such a tough cookie,” he grunted, “why didn’t you help me when the thugs came out of the house to smash me two days ago, but instead, you just stayed over there, watching like a frightened little pussy?”

“Because we weren’t that close back then!” I answered jokingly and grinned impishly. “I didn’t know you were such a lovely guy!”

And after that, to avoid another stupid argument and the possibility that the thugs might come out again, which would make me clear off without achieving anything, I decided to cut the guy some slack. I extracted the picture of Sonya and Kurvallo a second time and looked at him. I literally sensed how its proximity charged him! His hair stood on end, and his teeth ground together.

“Listen,” I explained casually. “I would do something for you after all, so you can see I’m a really nice guy. I’d let you take a picture of this picture in exchange for a little info. What do you say about that? Huh? As I look at this killer gadget hanging around your neck, you may even make your photo look better than mine!”

He started squirming nervously again.

“What exactly is the information you need?”

“I’m not quite sure. I need something about Kurvallo. What do you know about him?”

“If I give you mine, will you then give me yours?” the paparazzo asked suspiciously.

“Sure! Why not?”

“Okay!” my karate friend agreed at last. “I think the bastard does nasty business with girls here. He’s a total pervert! I’ve been hanging around for some time now, trying to catch something in the window frames, but they keep the shades down. They’re too careful!”

“What do you mean, ‘business with girls’? You think he has arranged a whorehouse here?”

The man clicked his tongue.

“Ugh, whorehouse! He’s too sick for such a thing. People like him have to be institutionalized!”

“So?” I still couldn’t get his point.

“I believe that after going in, the whores never get out!”

I looked at him, suddenly alarmed. It would be so natural for Kurvallo to do something like this since he was a business partner of Tanaka, who was the owner of a strip joint and a drug distributor. Maybe they were in the game together. However, the worst thing was that Kurvallo was also Sandra’s boyfriend!

“How do you know they never get out?” I expressed my doubts after all because it seemed a bit farfetched to me. “The guy’s running for president. I don’t really believe he would go that far to hold women in his basement against their will!”

The paparazzo didn’t reply, but he reached his hand into his workbag to retrieve something. It was a bunch of photos. He chose some and showed them to me without allowing me to touch them. He was a suspicious bastard!

I bent over to see well. It was a series of night pictures taken with a zoom lens, and the photos were actually surprisingly good and clear because the figures on them stood in the headlights of two cars. I distinguished seven girls and three thugs who took the “merchandise” through the same yard, outside of which we stood right now. Interestingly enough, some of the people seemed familiar to me.

I quickly took out the missing parts of my picture of Sonya and the scumbags and put the little puzzle closer to the photo in the paparazzo’s hand. The common element was the Butterfly! She was present in both shots, but unlike the other girls, she didn’t seem like a victim. It kind of seemed like she was in charge. It made me remember what the bellhop told me when I interrogated him: the Butterfly had been recently promoted to deliver whores for Tanaka. I also noticed that she didn’t wear her ubiquitous white pants but just plain jeans.

“When did you shoot this one?” I tapped my finger on the guy’s picture.

“About a week ago,” he replied. “I had to spend a whole night here lurking. I’ve told you, they’re too careful!”

I tapped my finger on it again, but this time I indicated a particular figure. “I know this chick. Until recently, she worked as a stripper at Midnight Ride but then switched to Eternity, I now hear.”

I was talking about Dirty Vag. At the same time, I felt really awful when I saw the poor girl among the other victims because it was my fault. If it wasn’t for me, she would have probably never left Midnight Ride and moved to work at Tanaka’s club, and therefore, she would have never ended up in Kurvallo’s sex-labor camp. Unfortunately, that was not everything that I saw! I also recognized a third girl in the group, and it was Marilyn—the love of my blond-haired bouncer friend. It surprised me a lot because I thought she meant something to Eternity’s boss too.

“Eternity? Is this the strip joint near the overpass, about forty minutes drive from here? That Eternity?” My new pal suddenly came alive when he realized I also knew things.

“That’s the place! I think the big shot over there, beyond that fence, does business with the club’s owner. That’s where the girls actually come from. What do you think happens to them after their arrival here?”

The paparazzo pursed his lips.

“There are two options,” he described the situation to me. “Option one: the pervert and his cohort in the house have some fun and then get rid of them. Option two is that they still have fun but also exploit some business opportunities in the process—like shooting bizarre movies and selling them to fans. After that, they get rid of them!”

“Bizarre movies? You mean porn or something?”

“No, I don’t mean porn! I mean that the ‘stars’ perform for the last time in their lives, man. I’m talking about snuff films here!”

“No way!” I desperately tried not to believe him. If he was right and Sonya had been in the house, it meant that she might not be alive anymore. What was worse, there was a pretty good chance now that Lara was in there too!

The guy looked at me patronizingly and blew a raspberry. “Well, what can I tell you? If lots of girls go into a place and none come out, what do you think happens there? As you already said, he’s unlikely to collect whores in his basement. More like in his freezer, maybe!”

I shuddered. “How long exactly have you been hanging around?” I asked him.

“About two weeks.”

“Every day?”

“Ugh, every day! I have to eat and stuff. Let’s say every other day.”

Every other day meant that the bastard would have known if some of the girls came out. He would have caught at least one of them! I quickly took the pieces of my photo back into my pocket and took out the one of Sonya and Kurvallo, pushing it into his hands. At the same time, I was nervously looking around. If seen from the house, we probably looked pretty much like horny teenagers who exchanged photographs of naked women from our personal collections. For such a thing, the guys inside had the habit of beating people to a pulp!

“Come on! Snap it a couple of times!” I urged him. “I would give it to you, but I just don’t know what the future holds for me. I may need it as a bargaining chip.”

He grabbed his camera and unhooked it from his neck. The device was so powerful that it could definitely unveil every little secret happening in a fox’s ass deep in its hole under the ground! Then he adjusted the flash, put the photo on the grass, and snapped a few shots, scaring the shit out of a pair of woodcocks in the nearby tree, which thought a thunderstorm was coming. Eventually, he grabbed the picture, still looking at it, puzzled.

“And what on earth is this?” he asked me, surprised, after turning the photo over.

I looked there, and my eyes literally popped out of my sockets in disbelief. There was something written on the back, reading, “In case something happens to me.” I hadn’t noticed it so far. I stared at it for a while, but unfortunately, I had never seen Lara’s handwriting, so I couldn’t know if it was her message, her sister’s, or someone else’s. Although common sense did say it was hers.

“Never mind,” I mumbled, confused when I pulled myself together. “It’s something I wrote to my girlfriend by mistake.”

“You should be more careful with these things!” The paparazzo scolded me after giving me my photograph back. “This is the original, I presume. If push comes to shove, it’ll be valuable evidence!”

“Okay, I will be careful!” I promised.

After that, we hurriedly moved away from the fence because we noticed suspicious movement in the house. It seemed that security personnel changed shifts. Quite expectantly, the scene revived painful memories in my friend’s mind since he remembered very well how unreliable a partner I was when it came to fighting an army of enraged thugs. We quickly exchanged phone numbers and names, and each took his materials and hopped into his car.

Just before we parted, though, it occurred to me that he might know something about the albino guys who had been giving me so much trouble lately. The bastard was a snooper, just like me, and it was worth a shot. To my pleasant surprise, he made out what I was talking about as soon as I opened the door to ask him.

“Yeah, I’ve seen them,” he shouted through the open window of his beaten Oldsmobile. “They’re screwballs—FBI agents, actually! They’re sniffing around Kurvallo too, but I don’t know if they do it for the same reason I do it!”

“FBI, really?” I was truly surprised. “They look more like fat canary birds to me, which have lost their entire plumage except for their underwear!”

“No, they’re just agents! As far as I know, their names are Mully and Sculder, but I suspect they aren’t real. I guess they’ve changed them somehow to confuse people and be less recognizable.”

Then he waved his hand at me and revved his car engine, peeling out in a dust cloud. I drove off after him, but after a mile, I lost him. Clearly, he was hurrying too much because he wanted to cash in my photograph as soon as possible and turn it into compromising material. I really hoped something good would come out of it eventually.

After driving for twenty-five minutes, I crossed the interchange and slowly headed toward the city. The entire time, I thought about the weird message the paparazzo had found on the backside of my picture. It was unbelievable that it never occurred to me to look there. It wouldn’t have made much difference, actually, but still, I should have looked. I was such a great detective; there was simply no doubt!

I shook my head, frustrated, and then stepped on the gas, trying to think of something more positive. There was no point in beating myself up about it. I was what I was. I was well past the age of changing things in me.

©2022 S.T. Fargo


Damn you, Detective!—Chapter 24 | a Crime Story by S.T. Fargo

Read this online detective novel for free!

Tags: science-fiction book, SF books, sci-fi novels, detective sci-fi, crime fiction, crime novel, PI stories, criminal investigation, private eye, murder case, mafia, gangsters, thugs, fantasy, mystery, ebook, writing, literature, free-read, online reading, S. T. Fargo, S.T. Fargo, Murphy, Mellrow