Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Fourteen.
Tonight’s story: Mulligan Smith and The Retired Man
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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 Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
In this episode, we present another tale of Mulligan Smith. Tonight, the PI searches for a certain Mr. Johnson, at a busy eatery.
Mulligan Smith and The Retired Man – Part 1 of 1
It was a public place, but a private booth. The old man had visited this McDonald’s every day for nearly three years. His heart was bad, so he rarely ate any of the grease that came over the counter, but he’d mostly acclimatised himself to the coffee, and he enjoyed the occasional muffin.
Well – in truth he hated the cheap food, the cheap coffee and the cheap seating, but in the mornings it was relatively quiet and he missed being around people.
The newspaper lay dead on the table, split open and abandoned, a few rogue caffeine drops causing inky blots amongst the paragraphs.
The day’s news had been forgotten when the lanky man in the black hoodie dropped himself onto the booth’s opposite bench, interrupting the old man’s two-sugar-two-milk dessert.
“Mr Johnson?” the interloper said, unzipping his sweater.
“Who are you?” Johnson replied, giving his thick gray moustache a quick rub to shake loose any bran crumbs that might remain.
“It’s funny, if you ask enough people if they are who they are, you start to notice patterns. People only respond with a question of their own if they are in fact the party being inquired about – so – it’s nice to meet you Mr. Johnson, my name is Mulligan Smith.”
“Mulligan?” The old man panned his eyes around the room while he talked. “Is that your actual name? Isn’t a mulligan a do-over in golf?”
“My Dad’s name was John Smith, and he hated the generic sound of it. He also happened to love the PGA tour.”
“I see, I see.” The old man’s search came up empty, and he sank into the vinyl cushion. “How can I help you?”
“Well, first you can stop looking for a guy to hit me with a wrench. Most of the folks look like they’re in here just trying to grab Saturday breakfast, not to watch a man being beaten bloody. Second – I thought you were supposed to be a clean man since your stroke?”
The old man coughed.
“Yes… well, I’ve heard many stories of the man I was supposed to be before my episode – usually from people who drop in on me unexpectedly, without invitation, and without the best of intentions.”
“Ahh, well, there’s where you’ve got me wrong. It’s my job to show up unexpectedly and without invitation, but I never have anything but the best of intentions.” Mulligan reached into his sweater, pulled a thick envelope from an interior pocket.
“Just what is your job?”
“Private investigator mostly, although at the moment I’m moonlighting as a pediatrician.”
He slid the package across the table.
“Congratulations! It’s a boy! Hope you can remember the number for a decent lawyer.”
Mulligan stood, re-zipping his hoodie.
“Your memory of the last couple of decades may be shot, but there’s a lady in Miami named Candy Millions who sure recalls your time together.”
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.