Tag: Mulligan Smith and The Casanova Suicide

Flash Pulp 042 – Mulligan Smith and The Casanova Suicide, Part 3 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Forty-Two.

Flash PulpTonight: Mulligan Smith and The Casanova Suicide, Part 3 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

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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.

In this third and final chapter of our current tale, Mulligan has a series of unpleasant discussions on the nature of responsibility.

Flash Pulp 042 – Mulligan Smith and The Casanova Suicide, Part 3 of 3

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

Mulligan sat behind the steering wheel of his Tercel. He was picking at a round cigarette burn on the flip-down arm rest.

On his lap rested a Manila envelope.

He cranked the radio up. He flipped through the dials – a few bars of Led Zeppelin from the local classic rock station, a sweeping generic rise of adult contemporary, a blast of talk radio – he flicked it off.

With a sigh, he turned the key and pulled it from the ignition.

Through the windshield he could see phantom outlines moving between the Denny’s window blinds, their proportions distorted by the dual layers of glass.

His eyes came to rest on the sallow white face of Mr. Slug, and he recalled he had more than one task to complete before the Friday lunch rush.

“Picked a bad day to be a sociopathic pervert, pal,” Mulligan said to no one.

Pushing back his seat to its maximum extension, he slid down so that the pot-bellied man was framed by the loop of his steering wheel.

Tossing the envelope onto the passenger’s seat with a grunt of disgust, he reached for his phone.

It rang twice before the man picked up.

“Hello, Mr. Timothy Mustard – Timothy Mustard – ever attach a nickname to someone and then learn their real name later on, only to find it feels wrong on the tongue? You keep hanging out in a supposedly Family Restaurant and I’m going to see if we can’t get Mr. Slug added to your AKAs.”

“Who is this?”

“Just a fellow patron.”

From his sunken position, Mulligan could see Mustard’s thick glasses panning from the dining room, to the parking lot, and back.

“The guy from Wednesday – Rockford Files.” Mr. Slug’s gaze passed over the Tercel as he spoke, but there was no pause in his search, and Mulligan was sure he’d gone unnoticed.

“Realized your mistake, huh? Most college girls know better than to fall for the “I’ve Misplaced My Phone”-gag. Not that you know anything about college girls. Good call on my man Jim Rockford though; they must have something better than basic cable back at the halfway house.”

“How – what do you want?”

“Well, while running your phone number down I had a brief chat with your parole officer. I realize it’s a tough haul for a guy like you, being lead around by your junks, but we all have to make decisions. You can decide to get up and grab the next bus running, and you can decide to never come back. Personally, I have to make some decisions of my own – like what to do with all these security tapes I paid the night manager to copy.”

Mulligan lost sight of Mustard as he stood and headed to the server’s station to pay, but he could still hear the man’s quickened breath on the line.

“You’re in a halfway house for a reason – talk to the people there and get some help. I ever see you around anyone less than half your age again and I’ll know what you’ve decided.”

He ended the call, sliding the phone back into his pocket. Without sitting up, he watched the glass door swing open, and the pasty form of Mr. Slug move rapidly across the lot.

When the bus had finally pulled away, Smith once again reached for the Manila envelope.

With a groan of protest from the driver-side door, he exited the car.

Rhiannon was in the same booth she’d been in when they’d first met. She’d ordered a breakfast platter, but it sat away from her, untouched.

Her hair was down today, and her face was largely hidden behind double swoops of blonde and gray.

“I have to admit, I thought it would take you longer to figure things out. I was with Shamus nearly a decade and I’ve been wrestling with the problem for weeks.”

“I have some advantages. Being too close to a question can make it tough to see the whole problem.”

“Such as?”

There was an edge to her voice he hadn’t heard before.

“Such as, it probably wasn’t much fun for you to dine every second Thursday with your partial replacement, all the while living under the threat of a possible pregnancy pulling him in a direction you couldn’t offer.”

She pulled in a sharp breath, and he immediately regretted his words.

“I’m sorry.” He placed a hand on the envelope, which he’d kept out of sight on his lap. “Were you aware he’d been seeing a Doctor Alvin Paul at the Capital Center on 5th?”


The college boy who’d taken the orders during his consultation with Hannah, stepped up to the table. Mulligan waved him off.

Mulligan Smith“Frankly, it seemed like Doc Paul was barely aware of it himself, at least until I showed him Shamus’ picture.” Mulligan, who’d taken to folding the corner of his paper place mat, realized he was fidgeting, and stopped. “It took me a little wrangling to get the truth out of him, but I bluffed my way through the threat of a negligence suit and he gave it up.”

Smith lifted the Manila slab from his lap, pushing it across the table.

“Paul had referred him to a specialist, but it was pretty obviously advanced testicular cancer.”

Her eyes shattered, rivers flowing down her cheeks, a waterfall forming on her chin.

The college boy made another swing by the end of the row, but Mulligan warned him away with a hard glance.

It took several attempts for the client to form her question.


“I think you can guess as well as I can, with a man like that. Maybe he didn’t want to force you through the process again from the other side. Maybe he didn’t think he could live a neutered life.”

One of the woman’s hands went to her mouth to stifle a sob, the other to her stomach, where her womb had once been.

The server made his play.

“Can I get you anything today, sir?” His eagerness to step in had obviously blinded the boy to Rhiannon’s distress. Seeing her soggy napkin, his eyes fixed upon his order-pad.

“Just the total, thanks,” said Smith, motioning towards the congealed sausages and cold eggs.

The youth scurried away.

The pair sat for a moment, anonymous in the morning crowd. As Mrs. Melby did her best to weep unobtrusively, the PI once again took to folding his place mat.

The bill arrived, and Mulligan stood to pay it.

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.

Flash Pulp 041 – Mulligan Smith and The Casanova Suicide, Part 2 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Forty-One.

Flash PulpTonight: Mulligan Smith and The Casanova Suicide, Part 2 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)


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(RSS / iTunes)

This evening’s story is brought to you by OpopanaxFeathers.wordpress.com

It’s like that old show, Win, Lose, or Draw, but without the couches, or the competition.

That’s OpopanaxFeathers.wordpress.com

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.

In this second chapter of our current Mulligan Smith tale, our hero begins to gather a clearer picture of the man whose memory he is chasing.

Flash Pulp 041 – Mulligan Smith and The Casanova Suicide, Part 2 of 3

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

It was two days after his meeting with the client, and Mulligan was sitting on the opposite side of the Denny’s from the booth he’d occupied with Mrs. Melby.

Thumbing his cellphone, he looked at the time.

Across the restaurant, his eyes hidden behind the glare of his thick lenses, sat the pot-bellied man.

Smith looked at the phone again. The clock blinked at a minute’s passing.

Sunlight bounced along the green blinds that kept the heat off the patrons by the windows. Outside, a gray Prius pulled between twin yellow lines. At the sight of the vehicle, Mulligan scooped up his iced tea and slid from the booth. Glass in hand, he maneuvered to the short strip of black carpet that marked the entrance area.

He extended his free hand to the young woman coming through the door.

“Hannah?” Her make and model had come up with her insurance info when he’d asked a friend to ask a computer. The well washed car stood out amongst the Ford Focuses and mini-vans – it wasn’t a Prius kind of parking lot.

She met his handshake. The woman was slightly taller than Mrs. Melby had been, and no older than twenty-five. She dressed professionally and wore her long curls in a taut ponytail.

“Mulligan? Sorry I’m late, I got a few last minute emails at work, and it felt like I hit every red light on the way here.”

“No worries,” Smith replied.

With Hannah in tow, he maneuvered to a booth close enough to the pot-bellied man that he could clearly see the yellowing of age in the man’s glasses’ rims, but far enough that their conversation would remain private under the din of the cutlery and chatter.

A server was close at their heels, asking if they were ready to order, or needed time.

“Can I get you anything?” Mulligan asked.

“Just a bottle of water, please.”

Smith nodded at the college boy with the HB pencil, and added an order of mozzarella sticks.

Once the waiter was out of earshot, the woman cast a long glance over the dinner crowd.

Mulligan had positioned himself to maintain polite conversation, as well as a decent angle of observation. In his end booth, the man he was watching had lifted his phone to arm’s length and was busying himself squinting, as if attempting to better read a fresh text message.

“I can’t eat in places like this, everything tastes like cardboard and comes out cold,” Hannah said, adjusting her skirt on the vinyl.

“At a place like a McDonald’s, you always tell them to hold the pickle – they make a bunch of extra Big Macs, to beat the rush, but they usually sit around getting cold. You ask for no pickle, they have to make the burger fresh. A Denny’s is usually pretty safe though, at least around mealtime.”

Giggling drew Mulligan’s attention to his left. On the far side of the partition that separated the rows of booths, an overwhelmed mother with a shouting two year old boy sat opposite to twin sisters, both in booster seats. The girls had started giggling at the outburst, but were rapidly elevating into their own riot.

Attempting to maintain her inside-voice, the mother took turns asking the boy, then the twins, to lower their tones.

“Well – I’m actually a raw food vegan, so I doubt I could eat anything but the chicken wings’ garnish anyhow,” Hannah replied.

Smith took a long draw of his iced tea, now watery from his vanished cubes.

The man still had his arm in the air.

“Raw food?”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

Mulligan smiled.

“Cooking breaks down the cell walls of your eats – lets your body absorb the nutrients. You’re probably putting yourself through pounds of broccoli a day that your body isn’t even digesting.”

The server returned with her water, and his fried cheese.

“Not that I’m one to talk,” he added, still grinning as he dipped the appetizer in its accompanying ranch sauce. “Was Shamus into raw food too?”

The mother had had enough. The toddling boy was scooped up into one arm; the twins linked hands and were dragged along to the exit in a short chain.

She didn’t need change. She hadn’t managed to order.

“Deeply, and he was a professor, so he should know what he was talking about.”

Mulligan reached into his hoodie, retrieving the black notebook that acted as his memory.

“Right – an English professor. You were in his class?”

“I had him for a technical writing class, yes.”

“Uh, and how did you guys get to know each other?”

“The same as anyone I guess. Our first date was beer and pizza when he helped me move out of my college roommate’s apartment, and into my own place.”

“Oh, so this was after you’d graduated?”

“Yes – Months earlier I’d actually gotten up the courage to ask him out for a drink after class. During his lecture he’d told this story about a fantastic Greek bar he’d been to where women – well, anyhow, he said no. The day after my commencement though, he emailed me asking if I was still interested.”

“Didn’t that strike you as a little creepy?”

“You’ve seen pictures of Shamus, right? He spent longer on his hair in the morning than I did – he wasn’t the type to be hurting for company. Anyhow, I told him I’d love to, but maybe sometime the week after, as I was moving. He just showed up with the beer and pizza. Good thing too, everyone I was depending on disappeared.”

Mulligan bounced his pencil’s eraser on the table top. After a moment, he flipped back a page in his notebook.

“Sorry, just to rewind a bit – I called Shamus’ sister yesterday, and she said his death had come as a real surprise, since he was such a health nut?”

“Well – he worked out. A lot. He also visited his Reiki masseuse, his acupuncturist, his chiropractor, and his nutritionist, regularly.”

“You know, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, if you want someone with actual medical standing you need to visit a dietitian. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but did he ever visit any real doctors?”

“I used to bug him about it actually, he seemed terrified of them. I’d laugh and tease him that a guy who put that much effort into maintaining himself shouldn’t be afraid to have a doctor tell him to turn his head and cough, but he’d still refuse.”

Mulligan nodded, his Bic mechanical pencil working methodically.

“Notice anything different about how he was acting lately?”

“Well, he’d called off one of our dates a couple of weeks ago, and I remember getting a call from the Reiki lady – we use the same woman, and she knows we were together – saying he had missed his appointment.”

“So, you, uh, considered yourself a couple?”


“What about Rhiannon?”

“Well – it was complicated, but it worked.”

“Do you think he was having an affair? I mean, that there was another other-woman?”


“What do you think he was up to during those missed appointments?”

The woman’s brow dropped.

“I don’t know.”

“Any guesses on why he would take his own life?”


Smith closed his notebook.

They finished their drinks and Mulligan paid the bill.

As she pushed open the glass door, he murmured a thank you and goodbye, returning to the booth at which they’d been sitting.

Tilting his head to the left and right, he inspected the benches. He ducked low, looking under the table, then hunkered down on one knee for a closer inspection. He set his cell on the rough carpet.

He stood.

The man, whom the PI had come to think of as Mr. Slug, was so focused on reviewing his phone-work that he hadn’t noticed the staging for his benefit.

He started when Mulligan leaned into his field of vision from the far side of the partition.

“Can I get you to call my phone for me? I’ve misplaced it somewhere.”

“Uh, yeah, sure,” replied the man, a bead of sweat standing out on his temple.

Smith watched the grid of thumb-nailed photos disappear from the phone’s display.

Mulligan gave his number, and they both cocked an ear as a ragged index finger hit transmit.

The theme to The Rockford Files began to sound in the distance, and Smith returned to his booth, scooping his phone from the floor.

“Huh, I must have dropped it. Thanks.”

Mulligan paused at the door, straightening his sweater in the reflection of the large fish tank. Over his wavering shoulder, he could make out the shining dual moons of Mr. Slug’s glasses, watching him.

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.

Flash Pulp 040 – Mulligan Smith and The Casanova Suicide, Part 1 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Forty.

Flash PulpTonight: Mulligan Smith and The Casanova Suicide, Part 1 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)


Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

This evening’s story is brought to you by MayTunes.com

A quest to dream of a journey that begins the pursuit of inquiring into an adventure.

That’s Maytunes.com

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.

Tonight we present the opening chapter in a new on-going three-part serialization, ripped from the case files of Mulligan Smith, PI. In this episode, our hero is tasked with investigating the motives of a dead man.

Flash Pulp 040 – Mulligan Smith and The Casanova Suicide, Part 1 of 3

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

“I came home and there was a note on the table. It said: “I’m in the pool. Don’t come out. Call the police. It’s been great. Love you. Goodbye.””

Rhiannon Melby was 43, and wore her mix of blond and gray in a loose braid. She sat across the vinyl-lined booth from Mulligan, and as she told her story, she thoroughly inspected the rim of her glass of iced tea.

“I walked into the backyard, and there he was. When I read the note my first thought was that he’d drowned himself, but when I got back there it was almost as if he’d dozed off in the inflatable lounger after a skinny dip. It would have been a Kodak moment if it wasn’t for the pill bottle floating beside him.”

As she talked, the PI watched an untended three year old spin circles on the stained carpet. Her father was deep into an extended speech about the quality of the wings at that specific Denny’s, and was paying little attention to the layer of dirt accumulating on her white unicorn t-shirt and pink shorts.

“So he was nude?” Mulligan asked, an onion ring dangling from his fingers.

The child on the carpet had taken to playing peekaboo with the other customers, her father still busy punctuating his sentences with a greasy drumstick. In the booth at the end of the row, Smith noted a pot-bellied man with thick glasses attempting to appear as if he was staring at the menu, and not the girl.

“Yes.” She glanced out the window. “He used plenty of sunscreen though.”

Crunching down on the fried ring, Smith gave the mourning woman a moment to distance herself from the memory.

“I’ll be back in a sec.”

He stood.

Moseying past the server’s station, he grabbed a plastic cup full of cheap markers.

He returned to his seat.

“You’re sure he had no reason to be depressed.”

“No. The house is paid for, our salaries were good, and he didn’t have any addictions.”

“- that you know of.”

She raised an eyebrow at Mulligan.

“Sorry, just thinking aloud – what about your marriage?”

The man at the end of the row was leaning forward now, suckling at his top lip. His eyes were locked on the child’s scabby knees.

“Well – that’s a little more complicated. Ten years ago I went through a fight with uterine cancer. Shamus was fantastic. He paid the bills when I didn’t think we could, and he was there for me every moment I needed him. When it was over though, I had to be realistic,” she paused briefly as the wildling in the aisle threw herself bodily into a jet imitation, traveling the length of the row with extended arms and a mighty rumble. “We’d both been waiting for tenure before starting a family, and by the time I was done being saved, there wasn’t enough of me left to make that happen. Worse still – well, we loved each other, in an honest way, but we also used to spend a lot of time loving each other in a much more primal fashion. After the surgery, that part of me was just gone – I had the same brain, but I was living in a different body, and I needed to be fair to the person who’d carried me during the scariest thing I’ll ever live through. He wasn’t a swinger, but – he’d had friends since then. I’ve met them all; we used to dine pretty regularly with some of them, although less so with the last, Hannah.”

Mulligan busied himself picking at a crumb between his teeth that wasn’t there. Miss Unicorn had worn out her welcome with the group of college students loudly awaiting their order, and had begun to chat at a sympathetic young mother as the woman fed her baby.

“Have you talked to Hannah since?”

“Briefly, at the funeral. She seems just as distraught and confused as I am.”

“Do you know where they met?”

“She was a student of his.”

“Yikes – student-faculty relationships can get messy, have you considered that it’s a possibility she was blackmailing him?”


Mulligan sighed.

“I don’t mean to be rude, but you may want to. I think all I’ll need to start is her number, if you have it.”

The young performer’s selection of spectators was running short, and Mulligan knew it wouldn’t be long before she’d completed her floor show for the old couple finishing their Moons Over My Hammy, three booths away. It would be Smith’s turn next, and after the PI, there was only the man with the probing glasses.

The widow retrieved a pen from her purse, jotting the digits along the edge of her paper place mat before sliding it to him. The two shook hands, and, wiping at the corner of her eye with a napkin, Mrs. Melby departed.

The little girl crept to the edge of his table, peering over the faux wood grain.
Plucking a thick brown from amongst the collection of markers, he smiled at the intruder. Using the laminated plastic of the desert menu as a rough mirror, he gave himself a curling villain’s moustache. The girl clapped her hands, her eyes igniting.

He offered her the cup.

By the end of it, he had come away with a navy blue goatee and bright pink devil-horns. Princess Jessica, as she’d introduced herself, had had more of an abstract artistic view, but she’d worked enthusiastically.

Her masterwork complete, she slammed the double handful of felt-tips back into the cup.

“You look like a clown vomited on your face,” Mulligan said, waggling the horns on his brow and smirking.

She gave him a sparkling double thumbs up, her smile buried beneath a hundred sweeping rainbows.

“Why don’t you go show your Papa?” Smith encouraged.

Princess Jessica screeched in delight as she shot back down the aisle.

Mulligan glanced at the disappointed face of the bespectacled man, then slipped a pair of twenties under the corner of his plate.

Pulling on his sweater’s hood, he made for the door.

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.