Category: Flash Pulp

Flash Pulp 050 – Mulligan Smith and The Old Lady, Part 1 of 1

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Fifty.

Flash PulpTonight we present Mulligan Smith and The Old Lady, Part 1 of 1

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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 join PI Mulligan Smith, as he tells us a tale of foreign nations and local customs.

Flash Pulp 050 – Mulligan Smith and The Old Lady, Part 1 of 1

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

“There’s a certain type of neighbourhood, semi-industrial with low income housing nearby, that, no matter where I’ve been, always looks about the same – and it always has the same type of bar hanging around the scuzzy edges.”

Mulligan took a sip of his water and let the old man take his shot. It was a near thing, but the three refused to find its way into the far corner pocket.

“Always the same folks too.

“I was in this little hole called Nicolette’s, with my arm around a lady maybe ten years older than me. Her breath stank like unfiltered cigarettes and skunky beer.

“The big difference between this place and most of the others, was that this time none of the other patrons seem to speak English. Actually, they probably all could, at least a little, but it was obvious none of them were about to do it around me.”

Mulligan paused to sink the thirteen, then scratch on the eleven.

“It was my first time in Montreal, my first time in Canada, outside of Toronto, really, and I was surrounded by Terminator 2 extras – everyone there seemed to be culturally a decade back or so. Thing was, I was with a friend, Billy Winnipeg. It’d take longer to explain why than it’s gonna take for me to finish cleaning the table on you,” Mulligan’s bravado brought a smile to the old man’s lips, “but I’ve never met anyone who could top Billy’s politeness – or his ability to find himself amongst a fist fight.

“While I’m chatting up the woman, and noticing that her hair has been dyed so many times it’s crispy, Billy is working the room, putting his nose in other people’s business. He was asking after a guy named Jean Marc, the best description of which we’d heard so far was “he has a funny moustache” – to my mind, that was basically everyone in the room.

“Winnipeg was doing most of the talking, in what even I could tell was broken french, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was still the center of attention somehow – or more the opposite of that, I guess, like everyone wanted to make sure they weren’t looking at me, and they also wanted everyone to know they weren’t.

“It was mid-winter, and it was cold. Billy always wore these black gloves; ugly and too big, but he made me buy them for him at a Wal-mart, and I bet they were warm. It wasn’t my first go-round in a bar with him, and I’d noticed something: he had this thing he did, every time he was edging towards a fight, where he’d cock his gloves just as someone was about to say something over the line, and the moment they dropped that one offense too many, he’d shoot them off with a flick of his wrists. He’d do the whole dance with a smile on his face – every time.

“Before we went in, I’d asked Billy to take off the gloves. As I leaned in and whispered something to the woman that would have gotten me slapped in polite company, I noticed they’d somehow slipped back on.

“I was fairly sure the lady on my arm was Mary Josee Babbette, or at least that was my guess based on the “Pink Hair and always wears ripped jeans” description that I’d gotten from another local. The woman had approached when Billy and I had started nosing around, and she was the only patron to show me any interest.

“She kept giving me big sloppy grins, which I think were supposed to be seductive, and she kept gently bumping against me – although it was tough to tell if that was intentional, or she was simply so drunk she couldn’t maintain an upright posture.”

The old man worked the table; his arm was sure, and Mulligan no longer bothered to pause in telling his story.

“I think Mary Josee was only supposed to be pressing me for info but by the time I’d bought her a third drink, a courtesy she seemed unaccustomed to, her fingers were hanging from her lips, and her eyes were batting, in a way that could only be natural to her.

“I told her I was from out of town. I told her I found the French accent irresistible. I told her the backseat of my Beamer was amazingly comfortable.

The old man snorted, then reset his shot. Using the bumper as a guide, the one went down.

“Despite the gloves, Billy had been doing a pretty good job up until then. I gave him a wave and let him know I’d be back in a bit, then headed for the door. Mary Josee was tight on my elbow, and I was at the cusp of the play, so I sold it: I threw my head past her tangled mane and give her a little nibble on the neck.

“It smelled like a rat’s nest full of rotting Marlboros.

“She giggled a ragged smokey giggle, and within a beat, I heard a chair go over backwards.

“”Eh, yew,” I hear from behind me.

“”Wha?” I reply, turning to face the accusing tone.

“”Eh yew, azz-oh.”

“Sorry pal, no time, I’m just about to show the lady my Beamer, you know?” I gave him an idiot’s smile and squeezed Mary Josee’s hip. She was trying to squirm away from me at that point, and her eyes were locked on the guy I was pretty positive was Jean Marc.

“Billy had stopped working the tables.

“Billy was watching us intently.

“”Yeah, huh? Dat’s my o’ lady!” Marc said.

“Winnpeg cocked his hands.

“Jean grabbed Mary Josee’s forearm, and gave it a twist, sending her sideways over a table, and toppling the glasses of a trio of spectators.

“I wouldn’t say Billy is a muscled guy, I mean, you wouldn’t put him in a bodybuilding competition. He’s just one of those guys who’s so towering his arm can’t help but carry a Buick’s worth of momentum. He works with lumber for his day job, and he has hands like the gnarled roots of a two-hundred year old pine.

“Billy said “Hey,” and as he said it, snap went his wrists, and the gloves hit the floor.

“There was a thud, and Jean Marc went down on the table that had broken Mary Josee’s fall. It was all too much for the old hardwood, and one leg collapsed under the weight.

“”Hah,” said Winnipeg, clapping his hands together and eying up the room.

“In the mean time, I was busy getting groggy Jean back on his feet. I figured I had about ten seconds before Billy’s size was no match for the amount of cheap beer flowing through the room, and I was out of there in under two. I put our little rented Honda Civic in gear, having thrown the Quebecois across the backseat, and, finally, Billy came out the front door, looking like a man who’d just been promoted at the factory. He took his time cramming his knees into the tiny passenger side, and only closed the door once he was settled. Somehow, he had the ridiculous gloves back on.

“We found a deserted lot, plenty of those in the area, and it took very little time, with Billy standing over my shoulder, to get everything I needed out of Jean.”

The old man completed his clearing of the table.

“Looks like you’re on today – another game?” Mulligan asked, grinning at his loss.

The old man nodded, grabbing the worn plastic triangle and starting to rack.

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.

Flash Pulp 049 – Ruby Departed: Rolling On, Part 1 of 1

Ruby DepartedWelcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Forty-Nine.

Tonight we present Ruby Departed: Rolling On, Part 1 of 1

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This week’s stories are brought to you by OpopanaxFeathers.wordpress.com

It’s a sketchy place, full of shaded characters.

That’s OpopanaxFeathers.wordpress.com

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 get a glimpse into Ruby’s social life, after the zombie apocalypse.

Flash Pulp 049 – Ruby Departed: Rolling On, Part 1 of 1

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

Ruby Departed Rolling On: 1-1Ruby Departed Rolling On: 1-2Ruby Departed Rolling On: 1-3Ruby Departed Rolling On: 1-4Ruby Departed Rolling On: 1-5Ruby Departed Rolling On: 1-6Ruby Departed Rolling On: 1-7

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.

Flash Pulp 048 – Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Forty-Eight.

Flash PulpTonight: Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 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, in this third and final chapter of our current serialization, we learn the fate of the Eleutherioses, as well as something of the history of our frontiersman hero, Thomas Blackhall.

Flash Pulp 048 – Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

Thomas Blackhall’s calloused fingers set the white teacup against his lips, and he took several short sips of the steaming orange pekoe within, pausing between each. He’d allowed himself a leisurely shave, after a late start, and the hospitality of the morning’s tea had him talkative.

“I’ve some experience with it myself, or at least the root of the thing. My own Mairi now carries a similar fate, despite the burial we gave her.”

“She passed?” Annie asked, raising her own cup. At her feet, Michael neighed about the kitchen floor with a brightly painted wooden horse.

“Yes, in birthing our daughter.”

“I’m so sorry. Did she pass as well?”

“Nay, she awaits me with her grandparents in Aberdeen. As much as it pains my heart to be parted, there are no others who I might entrust to locate and free my dead and wandering beloved.” The tea was cooling now, and he took a long draw of the dark liquid. “Anyhow – it is my belief that it was the same Marama – er, a sorceress, of sorts – who both raised my Mairi to slavery, and provided Wilfred his elixir. Her heart holds much love of mischief, and a sympathy for the darkest of man’s instincts.”

At the mention of his name, Wilfred, who’d been standing at station by the counter, came alongside the table with the teapot in hand. He gave Blackhall a questioning look.

“No, thank you, I’m still doing quite well.”

“I’d like a little more, please.” Annie said, brandishing her still half-full refreshment.

Wilfred poured with grace and precision, then returned to his position by the cutting board. As he moved, he showed care not to entangle his feet in Michael’s imagined frontier.

“Is there any way we might be of assistance?” asked Annie.

The chatter of adults had driven Michael to boredom.

“I wanna play horsey with Papa!”

Annie smiled.

“All right, go play horsey, but be careful, and no longer than a quarter-hour. You need a wash.” She looked to both man and boy as she spoke.

Wilfred scooped the child up, sliding him onto his shoulders. His walk became a cantor, and Michael began to giggle.

“Be gentle with your father,” Annie chided, as the boy took up double handfuls of hair to act as reins.

As they exited outside, the door’s closing cut short Michael’s shouts of “Faster!”

“I appreciate the sentiment, and the bed and roof and tea, but there is little more that can be done beyond my own efforts. When I pass this way again, it would be enough to know I have a friend upon whom I might call.”

“You surely do, Mr Blackhall, but – I take from your tone that you mean your departure to be shortly?”

“Yes, for every hour spent resting is another hour of chase.”

Annie nodded, blowing at the steam rising from her cup.

“As I mentioned yestereve, my crafts are limited. The compound I slipped into Wilfred’s water will leave him listening intently for a year. I know not your heart, nor what you would do after that year, but I might suggest advising your husband to a plea of adultery sometime late in the eleventh month, so that you might be granted a divorce.”

“I cannot thank you enough, even a year will be some solace, and may teach him the weight of his crime.”

“Well, would it be that I was capable of a greater period, I must admit, I would likely still not implement it – and if I did not trust you to understand the gravity of the situation, I would have left well enough alone at your release. I would not like to pass this way again to find that Wilfred had accidentally drowned himself in a pond, or plunged from the rooftop of a public house. Total imprisonment is no easy punishment, and be aware that, unlike your own sentence, his mind has not been altered, it is only his actions that are so malleable.”

Blackhall pushed away from the table, standing.

“I take my leave now, friend Annie, and hope to see you well when I return – hopefully with my Mairi on my arm. In a year, you will have hard decisions to make, but I hope that time will find you in command of your own destiny.”

From the yard came the sounds of a poorly imitated pony, and child’s laughter.

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.

Flash Pulp 047 – Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Forty-Seven.

Flash PulpTonight: Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 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.

In this, the middle chapter of our current serial, a rash of violence breaks out between a man in love and the woman he once charmed.

Flash Pulp 047 – Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

There was a moment in which the only movement on the small porch came from the dancing flame of the dimmed oil lamp that Annie Eleutherios, once Annie Henley, had carried into the sharp breeze.

“I beg your pardon, ma’am, I know you’ve a lot on your mind just at the moment, but I think we would all be best served if you’d allow me to take the light from your hands,” Blackhall said, reaching out to the woman’s white knuckles.

“I appear to owe you many favours, sir, but it will take more than the removal of this torch to spare Wilfred my anger.” She spat out each phrase like cannon shot. Her brow was furrowed over the dark blue of her eyes, and a vein upon her forehead began to visibly twitch.

“While I agree that your husband’s fate is a matter of discussion, it’s your digestion for which my concern currently extends.”

She released the lamp into his grasp.

“My fate?” Wilfred’s eyes moved from his wife to the man he had thought, until recently, would assist him in retaining his marital status.

Annie began to retch noisily. With a look of surprise, she stumbled to the railing and emptied her stomach.

“I apologize. A man of greater knowledge might have made the transition easier for you, but I’ve only the crafts I know.” Blackhall turned to Wilfred, whose face was still puffy from his evening’s ale. “Get her some water.”

Eleutherios moved sluggishly inside.

As he waited, Thomas removed his coat, placing it about the woman’s shoulders, even as she continued to expel her supper into the darkness beyond.

The illness had passed by the time of Wilfred’s return, and Annie was wiping at the last of the spittle on her chin as he once again stepped onto the porch.

Her movements were of such a speed that he had barely time enough to stumble back – as she pounced, her hands locked into raven’s claws. It was only Thomas’ swift left arm snatching her bodily from the air that kept Wilfred’s eyes in place.

“Be calm.” He told her, and yet her limbs flailed wildly, as if she were a cat caught about the belly.

“Do you not recognize me, Annie? Do you not know your love?” Wilfred asked, his back hard against the door.

The woman discontinued her thrashing.

“Know you? KNOW you? Am I not the woman who’s scrubbed your well-marked drawers for these last nine years? Am I not the woman you drunkenly shake to consciousness when the fancy takes you? Have I not made your meals, cut your hair, raised your child – what of little Michael?” The point of her finger was the only source of her attack now, and she used it vigorously.

Setting the woman gently down, Thomas saved the cup, still in Wilfred’s hand, from an untimely end.

“What of Michael? Is he not the light of both our eyes, the fruit of both our seeds?” Even as he spoke, Annie seemed to strain her finger in preparation to plunge it into his chest.

“No – you’ve no idea of what the role of a father is. You’ve spent these years gallivanting. If it were not for my father’s money-sense we’d long have been driven into despair. You spend no time with him, you make no effort to raise him up – the sadness in his eyes is instilled there by the lack of your attentions.”

“Whenever I speak with the boy, his tone is always one of adulation. He was under the power of no elixir, and yet I hear no such brutality.”

“How could you, as I’ve done nothing but fill the boy’s ear with fool’s tales while you’ve been napping off your drunk and living on the dowry you stole. You’ve stolen my family’s land! My innocence! You’ve stolen nine years from my life! You’ve made me a mother while I was forced to drift through your sick dream!”

“I loved you! I love you! I’d do anything!”

In taking off his coat, Blackhall had laid his rifle against the porch’s white-stained rail. Before either man could move to stop her, Annie had lifted it to her shoulder, aimed at Wilfred’s chest.

She set the lock.

Wilfred threw up his arms.

“Annie!”

She pulled hard at the trigger.

Blackhall allowed no pause after the woman’s discovery that the weapon was unloaded – a motion which saved Wilfred some injury, as she immediately set about turning the firearm into a club.

Using his forearm as a shield against the blows, Thomas stepped between the two, wrestling the rifle from the maltreated wife. Disarmed, Annie backed to the far side of the porch – breathing heavily – and Wilfred sat down directly where he’d stood, fear still creasing his brow.

Thomas offered him the cup he’d previously rescued.

Huffing from his panic, the assaulted man drank greedily.

“Further violence will not be necessary,” Blackhall said, turning to Annie, “I have already taken care of the matter.”

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.

Flash Pulp 046 – Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Forty-Six.

Flash PulpTonight: Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

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This evening’s story is brought to you by Flash Pulp on iTunes.

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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 begin a three part serial featuring master frontiersman, and student of the occult, Thomas Blackhall. In this opening chapter, we find our hero already in the process of being accosted with troubles not of his making.

Flash Pulp 046 – Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 3

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

“Nine-years past, I fell in love with a girl named Annie Henley. I was little more than one-and-twenty, and, frankly, I’d barely been off my Da’s parcel. She was like a wisp of silk when she moved, all limbs and grace.” As the speaker paused to re-light his pipe, Thomas Blackhall shifted in his chair, taking the measure of his patience against the volume of ale remaining in his glass.

“I -” Blackhall began, but the man’s victory-cough cut him short.

“As I was saying: in those days, I spent many of my hours in reflection on her composure and complexion. There was little chance for us to interact however, as the only times at which we might congegrate were at Sunday services. I did make many an attempt to woo her in that stifling environment, but her father had little love for me, and he soon hardened her against my approaches.”

The man, who’d briskly introduced himself as Wilfred Eleutherios before landing heavily upon the chair opposite Blackhall, paused to trade positions between pipe and drink.

“One mid-summer night, I had taken as much as my fevered-imagination could bare. Slipping into the still hours, I made my way from the porch, across the field, and into the darkness. As I walked the ditches and cart paths, I gathered wild flowers by moonlight – when I reached her home, my hands were bursting with the evidence of my love.

“After much creeping and peeking, I came upon the window I believed to be her own, and gave a gentle rap. My care in selection proved through, it was indeed her chamber, and after a moment her face swam into view behind the darkened glass. Her beauty was untempered by the shadows. I extended my offering, whispering her name, but I must have startled her, as she immediately took to shrieking.

“With no small amount of panic in my veins, I turned back towards the fields – and just in time, as I heard the stuffing of her Father’s muzzle-loader at my heels. My bouquet left scattered across the lawn, I reached the wheat just as Old Man Sutherland let forth with his musket. I was unscathed, bodily, but my britches did not weather the encounter well.”

Blackhall, who’d nearly found himself at slumber’s door, now gave a thin lipped smirk at the idea of the intruder being threatened with gunfire.

“With my heart broken and my trousers moist, I took the slow route home. Breaking from the road to stumble down to the bank of Granary Creek, I rinsed my laundry in the clear waters. Selecting a wide rock upon which to enumerate my laments, I set about waiting for my pants to dry in the night breeze.”

Wilfred attempted a straighter attitude against his chair.

“I have told few of what followed, it’s my understanding that you’ve some experience with the weird. The barkeep, Sam, is one of the few who’s heard my tale in full, and he’s also the one who suggested I might talk to you – and well he should, considering how much of my drinking coin has built this place.”

He emptied his mug.

“I was not long in my wailing when the old woman and her strange parade happened upon me. They walked in single file, some three or four dozen, but it’s my memory that she was the only one to speak, and as she went, they went behind her: a perfect shadow of her movement through the brush and timber.

“I had not heard her approach, my awareness was lost in tears. I must have appeared quite a portrait, with only the long hems of my shirt to hide my shame and my nose thick with snot.

“She said to me: “What then of you?” and her accent was at first so thick that I could hardly understand the words. Something in the silence that followed drove me to tell my tale, and, as I finished, I once again found myself weeping.”

Blackhall’s heavy eyelids grew taut, his hands pressed flat upon the rough wood of the tavern’s table. His change in attitude went unnoticed by the inebriated storyteller.

“Did you happen to notice a woman of thirty, brown haired, with a scar across her right eye that prevents her eyebrow from fully regrowing?” asked Thomas.

“I must admit, it was dark, and long ago. I have little recollection of any face but the old hag’s, which shall not escape my memory,” the drunk replied. “I waited many evenings by the creek, but I have never again looked upon her.”

With a nod, Blackhall bid the man continue his story.

“As I completed my tale of woe, the woman turned, and without word, a man stepped forward, offering up the bundle he’d been carrying upon his back. From deep within a packing of sawdust that must have made up half the fellow’s burden, she pulled forth a slim vial of red liquid.

“”An elixir of love that will ensure your woman’s affections for ten years – three-thousand, six hundred and fifty-two days of joy,” she said, a dry giggle slipping into her voice. With that, she moved on, her throng trailing behind in their strange mirror-pantomime. It was an encounter of such singular peculiarity that there was no doubt in my mind that the concoction would work in my favour, and I had little time to worry on it, as it was not but three days till the arrival of one of the Church’s summer picnics.

“I was concerned that my presence would bring remembrances of our nocturnal confrontation, but there was no recognition in the eyes of any of the Sutherlands. It was a simple enough matter to happen by her briefly unattended glass at the height of the festivities. Concerned about the rules governing the elixir’s use, I was sure to be the first she spotted upon taking a drink – as they say is a necessary step in the bite of Cupid’s arrow, you understand – whatever the case, after she finished that cider, her heart was mine.”

Wilfred grinned, his eyes clouding with memory.

“Her father was not pleased, but there was little he could do given the strength of her convictions. By harvest we were married, and as a gift, he allowed us a plot at the corner of his land. Her Mother had passed many years previous, and when the old codger finally joined her, we moved into the main house. It’s there that we’ve spent these last seven years in bliss.

“It is nearly a decade now though, and I fear for the life I have built with her.”

Silence settled upon the table, as both men were momentarily distracted by thoughts of loss.

Wilfred gave his throat a long clearing, spitting upon the pinewood floor.

“I ask you now, will you help?”

Blackhall stood, and with a motion to Eleutherios to remain seated, he disappeared up the stairs at the rear of the great room. After a moment he returned, now wearing his heavy coat and carrying his Baker rifle over his shoulder. His attentions seemed to be focused on the leather satchel that hung low under his arm.

“Will that be necessary?” Wilfred asked, eying the weapon.

“Likely no more than this,” he replied, pulling back his coat to reveal his worn cavalry sabre. “I have little in life to call my own however, and what I do have is worth the effort of keeping close at hand.”

Thomas hoped the man might have a cart to carry them to his home, but was happy enough to let his feet lead him along in silence. The lack of conversation was a necessity, as his companion required the full strength of his perception to maintain his balance under the unsure weight of his drink. As their tread shook the morning dew from the grass, Blackhall rummaged about in his satchel, combining powders and slick waxes.

As they entered the Eleutherios’ dooryard, Wilfred finally broke the silence.

“There’s not much there-in that might harm her?” he asked, considering the flecked amber lump that had been formed of pinches from the frontiersman’s unlabeled envelopes.

“The strongest item used is a shaving of mermaid scale, but in truth, the majority of the construct is pine gum.”

The drunkard’s eyes went briefly agog, but Thomas refused to allow himself a smile.

Before they’d topped the porch’s steps, the door swung wide, a dimmed oil lamp revealing the form of the former Miss Henley.

“I was worried,” she said, stepping into the crisp night air, and Wilfred’s arms.

Before proper introductions might be made, Blackhall moved directly into business.

“I have something for you,” he said, extending the wad of sap and exotic reagents.

The woman turned her face from the offering to her husband.

“Make her eat it,” Thomas told the man.

“Chew it up,” the drunk eagerly insisted.

She did.

“Have you restored her condition? Do I have yet another decade of beatitude?”

“Nay,” responded Blackhall, his focus stuck upon the woman. “I’ve shortened her sentence by a year.”

The restive quality that had long dominated Annie’s eyes now evaporated, replaced with something sharper.

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.

Flash Pulp 045 – Ruby Departed: Box Canyon Blues, Part 3 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Forty-Five.

Ruby DepartedTonight: Ruby Departed: Box Canyon Blues, Part 3 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp045.mp3]

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This evening’s story is brought to you in part by Maytunes.com

She knows what Billie Joe MacAllister was throwing off the Tallahatchie bridge.

That’s Maytunes.com

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – 400 to 600 words brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

In this final instalment of our current story arc, Ruby plots an escape from her suburban standoff.

Flash Pulp 045 – Ruby Departed: Box Canyon Blues, Part 3 of 3

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

Ruby Departed 3-1Ruby Departed 3-2Ruby Departed 3-4Ruby Departed 3-5Ruby Departed 3-6Ruby Departed 3-7

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.

Flash Pulp 044 – Ruby Departed: Box Canyon Blues, Part 2 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Forty-Four.

Ruby DepartedTonight: Ruby Departed: Box Canyon Blues, Part 2 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

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This evening’s story is brought to you in part by OpopanaxFeathers.wordpress.com

It’s like the Kingdom of Caring, but without all those patronizing bears.

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Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – 400 to 600 words brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight, our heroine, Ruby, spends some time considering the dead end she’s found herself in, while also making some surprising discoveries.

Flash Pulp 044 – Ruby Departed: Box Canyon Blues, Part 2 of 3

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

Ruby Departed 2-1Ruby Departed 2-2Ruby Departed 2-3Ruby Departed 2-4Ruby Departed 2-5

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.

Flash Pulp 043 – Ruby Departed: Box Canyon Blues, Part 1 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Forty-Three.

Ruby DepartedTonight: Ruby Departed: Box Canyon Blues, Part 1 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

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Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – 400 to 600 words brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight we introduce a new serialization to our line up, a chronological tale of a time after the collapse of civilization – a journal falling under the name of Ruby Departed. In this first entry, our hero, Ruby, weighs some of the decisions she has made.

Flash Pulp 043 – Ruby Departed: Box Canyon Blues, Part 1 of 3

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

Ruby Departed 1-1 Ruby Departed 1-2 Ruby Departed 1-3Ruby Departed 1-4 Ruby Departed 1-5 Ruby Departed 1-6

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.

Flash Pulp 042 – Mulligan Smith and The Casanova Suicide, Part 3 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Forty-Two.

Flash PulpTonight: Mulligan Smith and The Casanova Suicide, Part 3 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

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Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – 400 to 600 words brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

In this third and final chapter of our current tale, Mulligan has a series of unpleasant discussions on the nature of responsibility.

Flash Pulp 042 – Mulligan Smith and The Casanova Suicide, Part 3 of 3

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

Mulligan sat behind the steering wheel of his Tercel. He was picking at a round cigarette burn on the flip-down arm rest.

On his lap rested a Manila envelope.

He cranked the radio up. He flipped through the dials – a few bars of Led Zeppelin from the local classic rock station, a sweeping generic rise of adult contemporary, a blast of talk radio – he flicked it off.

With a sigh, he turned the key and pulled it from the ignition.

Through the windshield he could see phantom outlines moving between the Denny’s window blinds, their proportions distorted by the dual layers of glass.

His eyes came to rest on the sallow white face of Mr. Slug, and he recalled he had more than one task to complete before the Friday lunch rush.

“Picked a bad day to be a sociopathic pervert, pal,” Mulligan said to no one.

Pushing back his seat to its maximum extension, he slid down so that the pot-bellied man was framed by the loop of his steering wheel.

Tossing the envelope onto the passenger’s seat with a grunt of disgust, he reached for his phone.

It rang twice before the man picked up.

“Hello, Mr. Timothy Mustard – Timothy Mustard – ever attach a nickname to someone and then learn their real name later on, only to find it feels wrong on the tongue? You keep hanging out in a supposedly Family Restaurant and I’m going to see if we can’t get Mr. Slug added to your AKAs.”

“Who is this?”

“Just a fellow patron.”

From his sunken position, Mulligan could see Mustard’s thick glasses panning from the dining room, to the parking lot, and back.

“The guy from Wednesday – Rockford Files.” Mr. Slug’s gaze passed over the Tercel as he spoke, but there was no pause in his search, and Mulligan was sure he’d gone unnoticed.

“Realized your mistake, huh? Most college girls know better than to fall for the “I’ve Misplaced My Phone”-gag. Not that you know anything about college girls. Good call on my man Jim Rockford though; they must have something better than basic cable back at the halfway house.”

“How – what do you want?”

“Well, while running your phone number down I had a brief chat with your parole officer. I realize it’s a tough haul for a guy like you, being lead around by your junks, but we all have to make decisions. You can decide to get up and grab the next bus running, and you can decide to never come back. Personally, I have to make some decisions of my own – like what to do with all these security tapes I paid the night manager to copy.”

Mulligan lost sight of Mustard as he stood and headed to the server’s station to pay, but he could still hear the man’s quickened breath on the line.

“You’re in a halfway house for a reason – talk to the people there and get some help. I ever see you around anyone less than half your age again and I’ll know what you’ve decided.”

He ended the call, sliding the phone back into his pocket. Without sitting up, he watched the glass door swing open, and the pasty form of Mr. Slug move rapidly across the lot.

When the bus had finally pulled away, Smith once again reached for the Manila envelope.

With a groan of protest from the driver-side door, he exited the car.

Rhiannon was in the same booth she’d been in when they’d first met. She’d ordered a breakfast platter, but it sat away from her, untouched.

Her hair was down today, and her face was largely hidden behind double swoops of blonde and gray.

“I have to admit, I thought it would take you longer to figure things out. I was with Shamus nearly a decade and I’ve been wrestling with the problem for weeks.”

“I have some advantages. Being too close to a question can make it tough to see the whole problem.”

“Such as?”

There was an edge to her voice he hadn’t heard before.

“Such as, it probably wasn’t much fun for you to dine every second Thursday with your partial replacement, all the while living under the threat of a possible pregnancy pulling him in a direction you couldn’t offer.”

She pulled in a sharp breath, and he immediately regretted his words.

“I’m sorry.” He placed a hand on the envelope, which he’d kept out of sight on his lap. “Were you aware he’d been seeing a Doctor Alvin Paul at the Capital Center on 5th?”

“No?”

The college boy who’d taken the orders during his consultation with Hannah, stepped up to the table. Mulligan waved him off.

Mulligan Smith“Frankly, it seemed like Doc Paul was barely aware of it himself, at least until I showed him Shamus’ picture.” Mulligan, who’d taken to folding the corner of his paper place mat, realized he was fidgeting, and stopped. “It took me a little wrangling to get the truth out of him, but I bluffed my way through the threat of a negligence suit and he gave it up.”

Smith lifted the Manila slab from his lap, pushing it across the table.

“Paul had referred him to a specialist, but it was pretty obviously advanced testicular cancer.”

Her eyes shattered, rivers flowing down her cheeks, a waterfall forming on her chin.

The college boy made another swing by the end of the row, but Mulligan warned him away with a hard glance.

It took several attempts for the client to form her question.

“Why?”

“I think you can guess as well as I can, with a man like that. Maybe he didn’t want to force you through the process again from the other side. Maybe he didn’t think he could live a neutered life.”

One of the woman’s hands went to her mouth to stifle a sob, the other to her stomach, where her womb had once been.

The server made his play.

“Can I get you anything today, sir?” His eagerness to step in had obviously blinded the boy to Rhiannon’s distress. Seeing her soggy napkin, his eyes fixed upon his order-pad.

“Just the total, thanks,” said Smith, motioning towards the congealed sausages and cold eggs.

The youth scurried away.

The pair sat for a moment, anonymous in the morning crowd. As Mrs. Melby did her best to weep unobtrusively, the PI once again took to folding his place mat.

The bill arrived, and Mulligan stood to pay it.

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.

Flash Pulp 041 – Mulligan Smith and The Casanova Suicide, Part 2 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Forty-One.

Flash PulpTonight: Mulligan Smith and The Casanova Suicide, Part 2 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

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This evening’s story is brought to you by OpopanaxFeathers.wordpress.com

It’s like that old show, Win, Lose, or Draw, but without the couches, or the competition.

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Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – 400 to 600 words brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

In this second chapter of our current Mulligan Smith tale, our hero begins to gather a clearer picture of the man whose memory he is chasing.

Flash Pulp 041 – Mulligan Smith and The Casanova Suicide, Part 2 of 3

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

It was two days after his meeting with the client, and Mulligan was sitting on the opposite side of the Denny’s from the booth he’d occupied with Mrs. Melby.

Thumbing his cellphone, he looked at the time.

Across the restaurant, his eyes hidden behind the glare of his thick lenses, sat the pot-bellied man.

Smith looked at the phone again. The clock blinked at a minute’s passing.

Sunlight bounced along the green blinds that kept the heat off the patrons by the windows. Outside, a gray Prius pulled between twin yellow lines. At the sight of the vehicle, Mulligan scooped up his iced tea and slid from the booth. Glass in hand, he maneuvered to the short strip of black carpet that marked the entrance area.

He extended his free hand to the young woman coming through the door.

“Hannah?” Her make and model had come up with her insurance info when he’d asked a friend to ask a computer. The well washed car stood out amongst the Ford Focuses and mini-vans – it wasn’t a Prius kind of parking lot.

She met his handshake. The woman was slightly taller than Mrs. Melby had been, and no older than twenty-five. She dressed professionally and wore her long curls in a taut ponytail.

“Mulligan? Sorry I’m late, I got a few last minute emails at work, and it felt like I hit every red light on the way here.”

“No worries,” Smith replied.

With Hannah in tow, he maneuvered to a booth close enough to the pot-bellied man that he could clearly see the yellowing of age in the man’s glasses’ rims, but far enough that their conversation would remain private under the din of the cutlery and chatter.

A server was close at their heels, asking if they were ready to order, or needed time.

“Can I get you anything?” Mulligan asked.

“Just a bottle of water, please.”

Smith nodded at the college boy with the HB pencil, and added an order of mozzarella sticks.

Once the waiter was out of earshot, the woman cast a long glance over the dinner crowd.

Mulligan had positioned himself to maintain polite conversation, as well as a decent angle of observation. In his end booth, the man he was watching had lifted his phone to arm’s length and was busying himself squinting, as if attempting to better read a fresh text message.

“I can’t eat in places like this, everything tastes like cardboard and comes out cold,” Hannah said, adjusting her skirt on the vinyl.

“At a place like a McDonald’s, you always tell them to hold the pickle – they make a bunch of extra Big Macs, to beat the rush, but they usually sit around getting cold. You ask for no pickle, they have to make the burger fresh. A Denny’s is usually pretty safe though, at least around mealtime.”

Giggling drew Mulligan’s attention to his left. On the far side of the partition that separated the rows of booths, an overwhelmed mother with a shouting two year old boy sat opposite to twin sisters, both in booster seats. The girls had started giggling at the outburst, but were rapidly elevating into their own riot.

Attempting to maintain her inside-voice, the mother took turns asking the boy, then the twins, to lower their tones.

“Well – I’m actually a raw food vegan, so I doubt I could eat anything but the chicken wings’ garnish anyhow,” Hannah replied.

Smith took a long draw of his iced tea, now watery from his vanished cubes.

The man still had his arm in the air.

“Raw food?”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

Mulligan smiled.

“Cooking breaks down the cell walls of your eats – lets your body absorb the nutrients. You’re probably putting yourself through pounds of broccoli a day that your body isn’t even digesting.”

The server returned with her water, and his fried cheese.

“Not that I’m one to talk,” he added, still grinning as he dipped the appetizer in its accompanying ranch sauce. “Was Shamus into raw food too?”

The mother had had enough. The toddling boy was scooped up into one arm; the twins linked hands and were dragged along to the exit in a short chain.

She didn’t need change. She hadn’t managed to order.

“Deeply, and he was a professor, so he should know what he was talking about.”

Mulligan reached into his hoodie, retrieving the black notebook that acted as his memory.

“Right – an English professor. You were in his class?”

“I had him for a technical writing class, yes.”

“Uh, and how did you guys get to know each other?”

“The same as anyone I guess. Our first date was beer and pizza when he helped me move out of my college roommate’s apartment, and into my own place.”

“Oh, so this was after you’d graduated?”

“Yes – Months earlier I’d actually gotten up the courage to ask him out for a drink after class. During his lecture he’d told this story about a fantastic Greek bar he’d been to where women – well, anyhow, he said no. The day after my commencement though, he emailed me asking if I was still interested.”

“Didn’t that strike you as a little creepy?”

“You’ve seen pictures of Shamus, right? He spent longer on his hair in the morning than I did – he wasn’t the type to be hurting for company. Anyhow, I told him I’d love to, but maybe sometime the week after, as I was moving. He just showed up with the beer and pizza. Good thing too, everyone I was depending on disappeared.”

Mulligan bounced his pencil’s eraser on the table top. After a moment, he flipped back a page in his notebook.

“Sorry, just to rewind a bit – I called Shamus’ sister yesterday, and she said his death had come as a real surprise, since he was such a health nut?”

“Well – he worked out. A lot. He also visited his Reiki masseuse, his acupuncturist, his chiropractor, and his nutritionist, regularly.”

“You know, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, if you want someone with actual medical standing you need to visit a dietitian. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but did he ever visit any real doctors?”

“I used to bug him about it actually, he seemed terrified of them. I’d laugh and tease him that a guy who put that much effort into maintaining himself shouldn’t be afraid to have a doctor tell him to turn his head and cough, but he’d still refuse.”

Mulligan nodded, his Bic mechanical pencil working methodically.

“Notice anything different about how he was acting lately?”

“Well, he’d called off one of our dates a couple of weeks ago, and I remember getting a call from the Reiki lady – we use the same woman, and she knows we were together – saying he had missed his appointment.”

“So, you, uh, considered yourself a couple?”

“Yes.”

“What about Rhiannon?”

“Well – it was complicated, but it worked.”

“Do you think he was having an affair? I mean, that there was another other-woman?”

“No.”

“What do you think he was up to during those missed appointments?”

The woman’s brow dropped.

“I don’t know.”

“Any guesses on why he would take his own life?”

“No.”

Smith closed his notebook.

They finished their drinks and Mulligan paid the bill.

As she pushed open the glass door, he murmured a thank you and goodbye, returning to the booth at which they’d been sitting.

Tilting his head to the left and right, he inspected the benches. He ducked low, looking under the table, then hunkered down on one knee for a closer inspection. He set his cell on the rough carpet.

He stood.

The man, whom the PI had come to think of as Mr. Slug, was so focused on reviewing his phone-work that he hadn’t noticed the staging for his benefit.

He started when Mulligan leaned into his field of vision from the far side of the partition.

“Can I get you to call my phone for me? I’ve misplaced it somewhere.”

“Uh, yeah, sure,” replied the man, a bead of sweat standing out on his temple.

Smith watched the grid of thumb-nailed photos disappear from the phone’s display.

Mulligan gave his number, and they both cocked an ear as a ragged index finger hit transmit.

The theme to The Rockford Files began to sound in the distance, and Smith returned to his booth, scooping his phone from the floor.

“Huh, I must have dropped it. Thanks.”

Mulligan paused at the door, straightening his sweater in the reflection of the large fish tank. Over his wavering shoulder, he could make out the shining dual moons of Mr. Slug’s glasses, watching him.

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.