Tonight’s episode is brought to you by opopanaxfeathers.wordpress.com – if you don’t know how to spell that, you’re probably listening to the audio version.
Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – 400 to 600 words brought to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Tonight’s episode is another in the storied tales of P.I. Mulligan Smith, but be forewarned: this episode contains strong language and is not intended for the under-aged or weak of heart.
Mulligan Smith and The Well Dressed Man, Part One of One
“Hell, running with the bulls is relatively easy – really no harder than dodging traffic. If you want a challenge try running naked down the streets of Barcelona with a pack of semi-feral dogs snapping at your tantalizingly exposed backside.”
Mulligan Smith leaned against the bar while speaking to a man in a decent Armani knockoff with an extremely sweaty collar. Beside the moist man stood a blonde woman in a simple white t-shirt, crisp jeans and weekend cowboy boots. The woman was perpetually craning her head, scanning the smattering of afternoon patrons.
“Not that it happens to me often or anything, but dogs are agile and they know how to hunt, unlike a barn yard animal. Bulls are huge maybe, but no one ever brings them duck hunting, you don’t see prim british lords and ladies in red jackets trumpeting the fox hunt with Mr. Elsie leading the pack.”
The topic had come up when the suited man had run low on methods to spark a conversation with the woman, and his patience with Mulligan began to run short as he watched the last of his chances slip away.
“Whatever, I’m kind of talking over here.” He hadn’t bothered to turn to look at Smith until then, and he was momentarily taken aback by the P.I.’s black hoodie and rumpled jeans.
“Actually, I think the other half of your conversation left,” Mulligan said, raising his glass to the blonde as she hastily pushed away from the bar and waved to her freshly entered friends.
The establishment wasn’t large, the single long bar dominated the north wall, which faced onto a series of booths. The rest of the space was loudly dominated by an empty, shabby, dance floor. The paint was black and the booths were a dark fake-leather vinyl – the only well lit portions of the room were the over-sized shelves crammed with cheap liquor.
A string of harsh language, as spoken by the damp man, arced from the direction of the recently departed woman and her newly joined friends, all the way through 180 degrees and back to Mulligan.
Taking a breath, the man dropped his hand over the mouth of his tumbler and squinted at Smith.
He raised the glass and took a long haul of whatever he’d cut his cola with.
“A married man shouldn’t have to try so hard just to get a little action – shouldn’t you be back at home?” Mulligan smiled invitingly and motioned towards the man’s ring hand, a thick tan leaving the obvious white line of his missing band.
The sweating man paused a moment, running his hand along the damp interior of his collar self-consciously, his face transforming from surprise to indignation and finally stopping on rage.
“Who are you, you ill dressed punk, to start talking crap about me?”
“No need to be upset, name’s Mulligan Smith.”
Smith extended a hand to shake – but retracted it after a moment of being met with nothing but a stare.
The man seemed to finally fully take Mulligan.
“Go sit on it sideways, Mulligan Smith,” the man said, pushing off from the bar and sidling out the door.
Mulligan shrugged and, wiping the rim of the man’s cup with his sleeve, finished both of their drinks.
It was the following Thursday, in a different bar, when the P.I. next let himself be seen.
“Hey again, funny always running into you mid-day in a low rent gin-bar.”
The man was wearing a charcoal gray suit this time, but his lack of sobriety had found him just as moist. The man’s luck hadn’t changed either, Mulligan had stepped up to his elbow just as a tall brunette, in a tiny baby blue shirt and black pencil skirt, strode away.
At turning to the sight of the private dick, the well dressed man let out a low moan.
“Yeah, I wondered how long it’d take you to figure it out,” replied Mulligan.
“How much is he paying you?” the man asked, animal hope entering his eyes as he reached for his wallet.
“Probably more than you’ve got.”
“Damn,” the man’s head seemed to collapse into his chest.
“The look on your husband’s face when he asked me to check if you were having an affair was tough, but I figured I’d let you buy me a few drinks, get a naughty word or two on my trusty recorder, and everyone could come clean – mostly in that I’m straight, your husband’s a hopeless romantic and you’re a money-grubbin’ jerk. Neither of us suspected you were actually just a poseur until I saw you trying to buy that Blonde a drink at O’Neils.”
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.