Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Fifty-Five.
Tonight, we present Mulligan Smith and A Little Luc, Part 1 of 3
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Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.
Tonight we present the first in a week’s worth of stories involving Mulligan Smith, PI. In this opening entry, we find Smith, with a friend in tow, attempting to locate some low-cost entertainment.
Flash Pulp 055 – Mulligan Smith and A Little Luc, Part 1 of 3
“This sucks,” said Billy.
“Look,” replied Mulligan, “this is cheap. I doubt I’m going to get expenses paid on any of the gas I’ve burned through, or any of the food you keep tossing down your maw, so you can stow the complaints and expand your mind a little.”
Billy Winnipeg was holding a copy of Ken Dryden’s The Game, in large print, and, as he waited, he continuously tapped the hardback against his coat zipper.
Gently resting a hand over the painted goaltender on the cover, Mulligan brought the motion to a stop.
“You spent three hours hovering over every book in this place: you can have some patience until this lady gets my card sorted.”
Ten minutes earlier, the woman, who Mulligan guessed to be twenty-eight, and likely fresh out of school, had taken the PI’s driver’s license and begun hammering at the Library computer’s ancient keyboard. Failing to make headway, she’d given the pair a quick apology and disappeared into a rear area, calling after a “Nolan”.
“The old woman in front of us was out of here in like twenty seconds,” said Winnipeg.
“Yeah, and she probably comes by and picks up a half-dozen Harlequins every week, where as you -” pausing, Smith dropped his voice, “- you are a foreigner on the run from the law in two nations, and, I might remind you, we wouldn’t be stuck at the library if you hadn’t Godzilla’d your way through the most popular cop beer-joint in town. You owe me for dragging you out before they found their nightsticks, and I’d appreciate it if you’d just give me a few minutes of observing the building’s primary rule.”
Winnipeg raised a questioning eyebrow, and the PI pointed at a sign instructing “Quiet, Please.”
“I’m just saying this sucks, is all,” Billy muttered, pretending to re-read the teaser text on the book’s jacket.
Mulligan’s attention was no longer focused on his client’s son however. There was an argument brewing in the children’s reading room, which lay up a short flight of stairs at the north end of the building, and although it sounded like a three-way debate, Smith could only make out two-thirds of it.
The librarian reappeared, her triumphant smile cut short by the noise of the squabble.
Her brow furrowing, her eyes darted between her long waiting customers, and the quarrel emanating from down the hallway.
A look of decision took her face, and she grabbed the Graham Greene novel from Mulligan’s fingers. The PI took little notice as, with tilted head, he was concentrating on deciphering the alien portion of the conversation.
Noting his interest, the librarian – whose training had taught her to grope for small talk – asked if the unknown language might be French.
“I think so,” Smith replied.
“Man, that ain’t Français, that’s Quebecois,” Billy said, his eyes still locked on his book.
“There’s a difference?” the librarian asked.
“Yeah, I’ll tell ya all about it after I take the lift back to your flat so I can use the loo.”
“Ah, I see,” replied the librarian.
Noting the woman was mildly impressed, he added: “Aluminium.”
“Yeah, I get it,” she said.
Mulligan had left the conversation, and was now standing by the stairs. His new position allowed him a clear view down the hall, and into the room full of Children’s books.
“Hey! Put that kid down!” he shouted, moving up the first step.
A tall man in a white bucket hat came charging down. He held a denim-jumpered child in an awkward bear-hug, and the risk of injuring the boy prevented Mulligan from properly leveraging the pair to a stop. As the PI set out an arm to block the staircase, the man threw a shoulder into his ribs, sending him over backwards.
The escapee hit the landing at a run, and bolted through the front door.
The last of the raised voices had lagged behind, his ill-fitting pants tripping him up as he ran, and he now entered the scene at a sloppy trot.
“Kiddy fiddlers!” Billy said, his face sliding from comprehension to rage.
The man cleared Mulligan like a hurdle, both hands at his sagging waist. From his position on the floor, Smith managed to grab a snatch of pant leg, but it did little to slow the man’s rush.
The runner had just cracked the door when Billy’s massive right hand lay heavily upon his shoulder, spinning him around with the ease of a greased gas station sunglasses rack.
The first fist set the man’s jaw askew, and, as his forgotten pants slid to his knees, the second fist forced all of the air, and a little of his salmon lunch, up and out his windpipe.
The PI had regained his feet, and winced at the Canadian’s handiwork – there was little doubt that bones were broken, and if it weren’t for the man’s ragged, unconscious breathing, Mulligan would have thought it even worse.
Picking Winnipeg’s reading selection off the floor, he set it down on the desk.
“Never mind, thanks,” he said, turning to hustle his outlaw obligation over the crumpled form, and through the exit.
Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm. The audio and text formats of Flash Pulp are released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.