Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Twenty-Seven.
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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.
This evening we bring you another glimpse into the case files of Mulligan Smith, as he relates a late evening incident at a local greasy spoon.
Flash Pulp 027 – Mulligan Smith and The Pregnant Pause, Part 1 of 1
Mulligan and the old man were sharing a park bench and a bag of sunflower seeds.
“There’s a short hallway at the top of O’Doyle’s stairs, and the walls are filled with framed newspaper clippings – all starring the same starchy old lady, Mrs. O’Doyle. In the majority of them she’s holding the diner’s pride, a burger larger than your head.”
Pausing, the PI spat seed husks into the bench’s adjoining trash barrel.
“Really, the frames are all bolted to the walls, and the clippings are just there to act as landing lights for the drunks trying to find the washroom. As one of the few 24-hour eateries in a college-town’s sea of bars, it’s a popular place around closing time.
“It was supposed to have been just another stop, but I’d had to use the facilities. I’d been in and out of meat market dance clubs all night looking for a guy last seen in the company of a client’s missing party-boy son, and I’d had my share of virgin Bloody Marys. I knew two things about the jabberwocky I was chasing: he seemed to have quite a few friends hanging out downtown, and he had a head like a rubber ball, round and bald.
“I’d found out about his spherical noggin from the missing’s last confirmed contact, his hysterical girlfriend. Given her level of conversation, I was glad to get that much out of her.
“On the other hand, his plentiful friends were actually more of a suspicion – I was fairly sure I’d spotted more than one of the people I’d been talking to snapping cellphone pictures as I was walking away.
“Not a great situation: not only was I not getting any info, but he probably knew what I looked like.
“Anyhow, the problem with the hallway is that it has a blind turn onto the staircase at the end of its run, and we’re talking a hall that’s already barely wide enough to steer down once you’ve had a couple of wobbly pops.
“I hadn’t been drinking, but I can only assume collisions like mine are pretty common, at least at that hour.”
Mulligan cleared his throat.
“So I knocked a pregnant lady down a staircase. What was she doing out that late anyhow?”
He scooped another handful of seeds.
“In the end we were both lucky.
“Before she’d finished her backbone-slide down the stairs, I’d noticed something funny: a man with a hat and a very round face was watching me instead of the expectant tumbler. I mean, the conversation and cutlery rattling had ceased entirely, and from the top of the banister I could see everyone taking in the lady wobbling and going over, their heads slowly turning like it was a lopsided tennis serve.
“That is, everyone except that single face, seated beneath a drink cola sign, staring at me.
“Well, Mom-to-be hadn’t even touched down at the bottom, and I knew. Not only that, he knew I knew.
“After apparently watching me toss a pregnant woman down a flight of stairs to get at him, I guess he was pretty scared – when I finally tackled him half a block later, he started babbling everything I could ever ask of him.
“Oh, the lady was fine, actually pretty happy to have the story to tell once I’d talked her husband out of a round of fisticuffs and a lawsuit.”
Smith shook his hand, emptying his palm of husks.
“Found the party-boy in a dumpster though. Too bad about that.”
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.