Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and seventy-three.
This week’s episodes are brought to you by Geek Out! with Mainframe.
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, Sgt. Smith relates some of his history with Capital City’s red-light district.
Flash Pulp 173 – Sgt. Smith and The Family Legend, Part 1 of 2
My Dearest Mulligan,
Do you remember, when you were twelve, setting up that “exhibit” in your backyard pup-tent? I still can’t believe you managed to sucker so many of the neighbourhood kids out of their dimes, just to see the upper portion of a nudie picture you’d badly taped on top of the rear portion of a National Geographic photo of a salmon.
Honestly, I swear Munchie Watkins only said he believed it so he could keep coming back for another look at poor bisected-Bettie Page.
Anyhow, I guess it comes to mind because of that story I was promising to tell you. Let’s see – it was 1983, and I was downtown, keeping an eye on a lady-rental joint. There came a tap on my window.
Frankly, it was cold outside, so I wasn’t terribly excited about having to roll it down.
“Hello, sir,” said the burly looking lamp-jaw, in a tweed jacket, who’d done the knocking.
With gaping mouth, I indicated my lack of tongue.
“Well, sir,” he said – politest man in Capital City, so far as I could tell – “I have good news, and I have bad news.”
I raised an eyebrow.
“The bad news is that I’m an undercover policeman – and that’s a cathouse over there.” He pointed at my establishment of interest. “I’m afraid you’ve fallen under suspicion, and I’m going to have to take you in.”
An unsettled frown came to my face.
As you know, it’s tough to make an impersonation charge stick when they aren’t all gussied up in a uniform for their mugshot.
“Well, now,” he continued, “you seem like a nice enough fellow, and I’m sure you’ve learned your lesson about hanging around a place of such ill-repute. For a hundred bucks I’ll let it slide and, so long as I don’t catch you in these parts again, we’ll keep your proximity to such a nasty site off your record.”
Shrugging, I reached into my back-pocket.
Now, I should mention, at this point, that, although he didn’t recognize me, I was well aware of the whole Sweet family. Grandpa was actually a bit of a legend – he’d spent most of the ‘20s running the hydrophobia scam: essentially he would tell people their dog had bitten him, and given him rabies. Don’t know if its true, but I heard that sometimes he’d even go so far as to run a little extra froth down his chin, to sell the idea. It sounds a bit ridiculous, but most people would pony up when he’d threaten a lawsuit, then demand compensation.
One of the reasons he was so remembered, though, was that he was caught out when an old woman, deeply in love with her poodle, gave his plums a taste of her Mary Janes for implying that little Coco was anything less than perfect. He confessed to a passing patrolman, begging to get her off of him.
Papa Sweet, his son, stuck mostly to parking cons. He’d charge folks for entrance into formerly-free lots, claiming management had changed and that he’d been instructed to collect fees. Then he’d book it. If he was really lucky, he’d do so in some poor fools car, after they’d mistaken him as a valet.
It was that last part that was his downfall – he got pulled in when a member of the local thuggery, looking to drop a hot car, gave him the keys. Little did Papa know the recently wiped-down borrowed-buggy was hauling the remains of another goon in the trunk.
He’d made it three blocks in his twice-stolen Buick before a broken tail light, and a persistent traffic cop, tripped him up.
Anyhow, there I was, ignoring the badge in my pocket. I fumbled around, then flashed Papa’s son, Bobby Sweet, (part-time grifter, and full-time jackass,) the universal sign for “uh oh, I’ve misplaced something important.”
Popping open the glove compartment, I shuffled through the sandwich wrappers within – then I turned my attention to the floor, scooting my hands under the seat.
Finally, I gave a long look at the battered den of iniquity. My eyes widened.
Digging up a pencil, I jotted a note out on some of the trash-paper.
“Officer, I have to confess, I must have accidentally left my cash inside. Can you retrieve it for me, please? I don’t want any further trouble.”
The tempting allure of my misplaced pocketbook was obviously dancing in his head, but he was professional enough to give me a hard look for suggesting such a thing.
Indicating that I had something more, he returned the note, and I added, “I’ll make it worth the extra effort.”
That was all it took: off he went, trotting across the street.
I was waiting at the door as he exited, his face red and his mouth scowling – then I busted him for frequenting a brothel.
See you Sunday,
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