Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and one.
Tonight we present, Mulligan Smith and The Golfer, Part 1 of 1.
This week’s episodes are brought to you by Scott Roche.
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, Mulligan Smith encounters a caddy-less man with a grievance.
Flash Pulp 201 – Mulligan Smith and The Golfer, Part 1 of 1
“Don’t,” said Mulligan.
The golfer, a man of fifty, lowered his club. Running a gloved hand along his black-dyed comb-over, he considered the lanky intruder in the zipped hoodie.
“Why?” he asked.
The ball-flogger was wiggling his driver subtly, and Smith wondered if he was guessing at what the thick ebony head might do to a skull. Rather than become part of an impromptu experiment, the private investigator opted to speak quickly.
“I understand how you feel,” he said. “Folks I work for often have a tough time dealing with the emotional loss of a loved one.”
“‘Loss of a loved one’? She’s not dead, she’s ####ing the UPS guy.”
“True,” replied Mulligan.
“I know it’s ####ing true, I paid you a quarter of a year’s wages to find it out.”
Smith noted that, beneath his green polo’s collar, his ex-client’s neck had turned an alarming shade of red.
“OK, fine, but do you still love her?” asked Mulligan. He pulled deeply from his slurpee as he awaited the answer, his free hand idling in his sweater’s right pocket.
“Yes. No. I want to, but I can’t.”
The highly engineered graphite club shook under the cuckold’s mid-shaft grasp, and the detective turned slightly to give the sportsman an awkward sort of privacy.
“So leave her, and move on,” said Smith, “I’m not saying it’s any fun, but I’ve had plenty of customers do it before.”
“Give her half of the business? Sell the house we spent a decade designing and building? What kind of crap does she tell the kids? Would I ever even see them again?” The man wiped away the line of spittle which had drifted from his lip to his chin, and rolled his shoulders. He returned his grip to the handle, and took on a stance any professional would be proud of.
“My life is over,” he said, taking a few gentle practice swings.
As he formulated his response, Mulligan’s gaze wandered across the theoretical field of play. The overpass provided a clear view to the distant horizon, and he could only guess at the number of grid-locked civilians trapped in their gas guzzling four-wheeled capsules. The rush hour traffic was awash with the afternoon sun, and matters had been made more agonizing by the stalled hatchback the PI had seen to be blocking the left-most lane, five-miles further along the highway’s concrete ribbon.
For a moment, Smith considered the results of one of the dimpled balls taking flight. In his imagination it cruised, like a kamikaze pigeon, over the glassy sea of windshields, to finally explode into some unexpecting middle-manager’s cellphone conversation with his grocery list dispensing wife. Would the round missile still be moving quickly enough to kill the fellow on impact, or would it come to an oozy halt in an eye socket?
His fingers tightened around his hidden Tazer.
“Listen, I know a homeless paraplegic drunk who lives on rotting pizza scraps dumped from a Chuck E. Cheese. He’s a crack addict who spends the majority of his waking periods inspecting his useless legs for maggots, both real and imagined, but he’s also the most upbeat guy I’ve met. Why don’t we take a stroll and find him? Give you some perspective, and a chance to clear your brain a bit. This too shall pass, and all that.”
Smith’s former employer ignored the invitation.
“Thought about this for a while – always figured it would be almost like skee ball,” he said instead. “Me and Sharon used to head this way to escape the city. She’d pick me up after my shift at the Gas’N’Go, and we’d sneak down the back roads to this hillbilly driving field she’d found. There was never anyone else around, so we’d meander over in her mom’s chugging jalopy, smoking joints the whole way, then spend the night hitting balls. A quarter and this clanging beast of a machine would spit you out a bucket’s worth. It’s a bit of a ride, and it’d just as often be dusk by the time we got there. Didn’t matter that we couldn’t see where the hits were landing, we were just happy to share a bottle of wild turkey and each other’s company.”
Smith nodded, but, before he could answer, the wronged husband continued.
“It’s been years since we were on the green together. Now everything dribbling from her mouth seems so moronic. I don’t know why it hurts so much if I can’t stand her anymore.”
The married man considered the line of six spheres he’d set at the curb’s edge, and cocked his ear to better hear the drone of the cars below.
He raised the club to his shoulder.
Tazer drawn, Mulligan made a last attempt to reach the mourner.
“Fine, then consider this: If I don’t fire a few thousands volts into you, and you do kill someone, it’ll be prison. You aren’t going to manage cop-assisted suicide wielding only a rich-man’s toothpick.”
“I’m not afraid of jail.”
“You were so concerned that Sharon would get half of everything, how are you going to feel when she has it all? You won’t have to worry about dividing up your dream home, the whole thing will be hers. I wonder if the UPS guy likes leather couches and chrome kitchen fixtures?”
There was a roar of rage, then the golfer kicked his column of plastic eggs into the gutter and shattered the driver over his knee. With a gurgle, and upraised arms, he fell to the pavement, weeping.
Realizing that the danger had passed, Smith decided it would be prudent to wait another day before delivering the reminder regarding his outstanding bill.
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