Another short I wanna get up on my site in prep for world fantasy con, soooo, any probs with it let me know.
Title: Elrondy Spode and the Case of the Missing IT
Author: S. J. Smith
Rating: PG -13
Everything Else: A non-serious cross breed of LOTR, The Maltese Falcon and Mickey Spillane, with the intention of serialising a novel length story on my web page just for the hell of it.
Hugs and thanks in advance to y'all.
Cross posted to silverquills, spellweavers and cerulean_snow
Chicago, Otherearth. These dark murky streets, home, for want of a better word, to the low Life's, the otherlings and the things you'd rather not name. This is where I live, and where I work.
Elrondy, Elrondy Spode is the name, most folks 'round here call me Elvey. Private detective, by trade, though if you want a job done I'll do it. For a price.
Take the dame that came in just now. Blonde, always a blonde. No self-respecting brunette comes to this part of town. Not without six ogre bodyguards, all packing a piece. Blondes, they just come with a piece. A piece of the action.
Arweenie, she calls herself. I could tell from the start she lied, but when a dame's got the cutest, pointiest ears you've ever seen this side of an elfwalk you sometimes let little things, like the truth, slide a little. She's got a slight boyfriend problem. Seems her cheating boyfriend paid a final visit to her boudoir. Final because he got a bullet through the brain. Problem because they found her with a smoking gun in her hand.
Dumb broad probably lied about her innocence too, but with ears like that you
gotta listen. Might be something in what she said, though, never yet had a
Colt .45 shoot .38 slugs. But hey, there's always a first time...
Seems she wasn't too concerned about his death. They'd had one of those relationships that spend a lifetime on the skids, until one or the other finally slips from the track and end up wrapped around the nearest Baroakle tree, pending thereafter a hefty bill for damages from Gulladrial's gang and a nasty bunch of trents.
Seems our friend, Puppin Tooke, kind of lost the game first -- which didn't seem to surprise her.
"He was always one for messing with the darker side," she sipped daintily on the end of a two-foot ivory cigarette holder, then blew a stream of mint tobacco smoke to the ceiling. It wouldn't have seemed odd except there wasn't a cigarette there. "He'd become especially strange ever since he took IT from me. And now he's gone I want IT back."
"So why don't you get IT?" I asked.
"I get IT every day," she purred then looking at me remembered herself. "He didn't have IT on him, the thoughtless bas…, er, bad man that he is."
Arweenie carefully knocked non-existent ash from the end of her non-existent cigarette onto the carpet. I didn't flinch. I'd get the non-existent broom to sweep it up later. Puffie, bless her little beard, was one of the best dwarven secretaries a guy could have and she always tidied the office before she left.
"Tell ya what, Weenie," I leant back in the chair, making it creak as I propped my size twelves on the desk in front of me. She winced once, as I gave her a hard stare. "You tell me exactly what IT is and how exactly you want me to help you skip this murder charge and I'll see what I can do."
"Oh, I don't need you to help with the murder Elvey," Arweenie smiled sweetly. "Old Deeny will sort that out for me."
"He's such a sweet man, don't you think Elvey. Coming to the aid of a poor helpless woman in her hour of need."
"Sure." I didn't want to add that the Head of the Roohone Club was noted for his collection of blondes. Nor what those blondes did to earn his attention. Still, she had to be good to get him to cover for a murder. "So you going to pay for wasting my time or tell me what you want?"
She paused to give me that evil eye look. I shrugged, unaffected by it, you don't grow up on the streets of Otherearth by wasting your time and as evil eyes go it was pretty lame. Guess she'll have to deal.
"I want IT back," she purred, a little less warmly. "I want you to get IT for me."
"Weenie," I tipped further back in my chair and thumbed an existent cigarette out of a pack in my pocket. Lighting it with a match I took a long heavy puff before looking at her again. "You gonna tell me what, and where, IT is. Can't help you without those minor details."
"Oh, I guess…"
She shifted uncomfortably and she mulled that thought over. Probably trying to decide which story to tell me, I could see the truth slipping further under the comforter of life.
"It goes back in the family a long, long way." She confided. "A great many great grandmother's Elvey. Each mother passing it down to their daughter for generation after generation. You can see why IT's so important to me. IT's my history. IT's my, my, my cherished."
"And IT's a pile of Crap?" Anything that can outlast a family of elves was probably a storage case of several hundred fake reproductions.
"IT's a ring, dammit, MY wedding ring!"
"Excuse me for doubting Weenie, but you don't look like the marrying type."
"You are a rude and inconsiderate man Elvey," Arweenie dabbed away at the corner of her eyes. The scented lace handkerchief barely moistened by the crocodile tears. "IT was given to me for when I do get married. For when, when Puppy…"
I let her sob for a while. Nothing hits me in the heart more than a dame who sobs for the guy she's lost. Except she probably wasn't crying for Puppin. You remember, the short guy who'd been given a .38 flattop in her room. She was crying, I guess, because she needed to practice. Preparation for impressing the 'soon to be coming' jury. I waited until she started poking her eyes to make them water before I spoke again.
"Sparkles are a dime a dozen on Isengord Way," I told her, "and Deeny sure has enough to buy you anything you want. Why don't you just forget IT and buy another? You'd save a lot of dough."
Weenie actually looked shocked at the suggestion.
"Elvey," she slipped her legs apart a little, teasing me with a glimpse of her gold lamé garters. "You don't understand how important IT is to me." She slid off the chair and floated around the desk towards me. Stroking a silk clad hand across my cheek she smiled, her eyes turned a sultry deep brown. "And I'm offering you something far more valuable than money."
"Sorry Weenie," I dropped the half-smoked cigarette in the trash. "I don't trade in second hand goods."
Using both hands I gently relocated my jaw as Weenie stormed to the door. Then I retrieved the cigarette from the trash. That dame can sure slap a high five and there wasn't any point in wasting good tobacco.
"You're going to regret this," Arweenie growled, her refined lady charms obviously as loose as her morals, "I gave you a chance Elvey, and you blew it."
The frosted glass in the door rattled as it slammed behind her. I knew she was wrong in that last account. She hadn't been standing near enough for me to blow anything.
Moles Bowyer, my not so bright partner, wandered in just after, drool dripping from his chin and staining the 3 dollar fake oriental rug.
"Fancy working overtime with a case like that," Moles grinned. Waving a piece of paper in his hand. "Sorry you lost the case to me, Elvey, seems I have me a ring to find."
I'd propped myself up on the bar at Joe's diner, armed with a Reuben and Coffee when a familiar clomp walked up behind me.
"What can I do for you Dumby?"
"Bejeebers Elvey, how d'you always manage to do that. Tell that it's me when you can't even see."
Lieutenant Dumby threw a quarter at Joe and a cup of black coffee materialized before the policeman. One day I'll find out from Joe how he does that, has to use magic somehow I guess.
Dumby, half orc, half man and half uruk-high and all one and half of him was policeman. You didn't' get to be Lieutenant without kicking some major criminal a$$ in the Otherearth.
"So what brings you to a joint like this Dumbass?" I asked him, might as well keep the tone of the conversation pleasant.
"Very funny Spode," Dumby finished the scolding coffee in one gulp. "So why'd'ya kill him. Got your paws on his wife maybe?"
"Hey, ain't no wife worth killing her husband for, Dumby," I joked back deciding maybe a softer route might be safer. "You know me better than that."
"Yeah, unfortunately I do," Dumby growled. "You're a cold hearted SOB when it comes down to it."
I tipped the brim of my hat to him.
"Thank you for the compliment."
"Hey Joe," Dumby tossed some more quarters Joe's way and another coffee and Joe's special Eat All sandwich appeared. It really was a neat trick.
I let Dumby get halfway through the offal and jelly sandwich before asking the question he knew I was dying to ask.
"So who's the croaker?"
"Just some old lowlife we found blown away In Habbittown. Probably chased one of those halfing trollops up a blind alley. Bet'cha he'd thought he'd found heaven, till that .38 blew him away."
"So why come looking for me, I don't care who goes running after those half-pint whores."
"'Cepting, Spode," Dumby favored me with a nasty grin and a gust of six months halitosis. "the guy's name had a familiar ring."
"Like he played the xylophone, why should that bother me?"
"Bowyer," Dumby grinned again, this time I ducked the halitosis. "Moles Bowyer. Friend of yours?"
"Used to be," I said. "He never was that bright a spark."
It didn't come much as a shock to me, though I was surprised it took so long. Moles always had a thing for the smaller lady and Ulvy, his wife, was always complaining of Moles neglect. That's why Ulvy and me had got it together a few times behind his back. Dumby's first accusation wasn't too far behind the truth.
Even so the scenario stank like a five-month dead halibut in other ways. Today was Friday. Not that it means much to me, but Moles always tried to stay on the good side of his faith. Whoever he'd chased down that alley wasn't either half-dressed or selling. Moles never had meat on a Friday.
"…so maybe you can be doing Ulvy a favor," Dumby finished what he'd been saying. "You ID the doe while we have a little chat."
"Sure Dumbass," I agreed, no need to be polite any more after all. "What you want to chat about, knitting?"
"C'mon Spode, before I throw you in the slammer for insulting an officer of the law."
"Can't take a joke when you hear one can you Dumby?"
"Right," Dumby growled, "And that was a real perl."
Leaving Joe's and a punnish repartee to step out into the muggy Chicago night felt like stepping into a tub of cotton candy. The heat in the breeze stuck to your lungs and hung there like an old friend or jilted lover, both wanting their loan back.
Dumby, immune to all things, walked casually to his car as if it was a stroll on Riverdill beach. He had one of those new fancy Black Ford Riders.
"Whooee," I gave a small appreciative whistle, I think he actually blushed. "Four cylinder?"
I shook my head, unbelieving, as he sat into the driver's seat.
"What did you have to do to get this from the department?" I tapped the bonnet and was rewarded by a frantic scurrying underneath.
"Get in and stop scaring the squirrels," Dumby snarled. He tossed a few acorns into a funnel set where the mascot should have been, I was impressed with his aim. "I haven't got all night."
"Keep your nuts on, Dumbass," I slid onto the patent deerskin leather seat, feeling it squeak as I moved. They didn't even have the decency to kill the thing before making it into a chair. "Just admiring this tin can of yours before I see Moles' pretty face in the morgue."
"Then keep looking," Dumby threw the car into gear. It squealed into the middle of the street leaving burning rubber and singed squirrel fur behind him. "Cos I'm gonna nail you for something soon and you won't be seeing none of these in the hokey."
"That's what I like about you Dumby, you always think big."
"Yeah, big's my middle name."
Wasn't much more to say so I just watched the lowlifes as we passed by. A few muggings, one murder and several misdemeanor's happened on the streets as the Black Rider skimmed along the road. Dumby didn't see a one of them, but hey, nobody's perfect.
I knew, of course, Moles' death had something to do with Weenie and IT - this mystical ring she couldn't live without. All I had to figure out was picking up what Moles had learnt without Dumby and gang stealing the leads. Not that I owed Moles a favor, hell I've been goosing his wife for a year, just that anything worth shooting a private dick for had to be worth something to someone. And I hadn't had a decent job in a while, well a day or so.
Money, my old man used to say, always came in handy.
The city morgue, situated five miles outside of Chicago, looked like morgues everywhere on Otherearth - a square windowless building with as much appeal as a dead seal on a good day. Downcounty morgue was the most efficient in the country, rumor tells. Been that way since a family of orcs bought it and the small crematorium inside had been turned into a tool locker.
It was common knowledge - if you had a relative here you got them out fast, unless you want them buried in a burger bun.
"You gentlemen here to see lunch, er, the stiffs?" Smarty Marty grinned, chewing absently on a finger. Someone else's finger that is.
"I wanna show Spode the latest." Dumby clomped ahead into the cool room. The swing doors clunked into the walls as he slammed through them.
I ducked the rebound and followed through.
"Pretty," I flicked another cigarette out of the pack and lit it. Stubbing the match out in Mole's lower torso. "Twenty five shots from a .38, couple of nice neat clusters."
"It was probably the 24th shot that killed him," Smarty gave a green faced leer. Killer must have reloaded, oooh, six or seven times, and swapped hands from here to here. Probably tired out their finger."
He pointed out the two clusters one on each side of the body.
"Moles never did anything by halves," I agreed, "If he was going to die he'd make sure he'd do it well."
"So what got him killed Spode?" Dumby growled waving a scrap of paper in my face. "You really going over his wife or was it this ring case he was on?"
"Me and Ulvy? Dumby," I laughed, "you've seen her, what do you think?"
That had him stumped. Brain overloaded he kind of stared at me for a moment. With little time to waste before his brain cells switched back on I slipped the paper from his numbed fingers and into my pocket.
"Yeah, I guess you wouldn't," he growled a few moments later. He waved his empty fingers for second or so then, embarrassed, dropped his hand into his pocket. "You got me on that one."
"Now there's a case you need to hunt down," I pointed to the other corpse in the room. Flat top Puppin, with, I noticed, several fingers missing.
"Got him sorted dead to rights already," Dumby grinned. "Been following the lead suspect all day everywhere she's been"
"Oh and where's she been?"
"Nowhere, she's been hanging out at Roohone's since the killing."
Weenie sure knew how to slip a tail.
"Well she certainly had a long reach then," I nodded to Moles, "to shoot old Pretty face from there."
It took Dumby a couple brainsurges to note the similarity in bullet size.
"Hey, I'm the cop around here, I get to make the clever deductions."
"Sure you did Dumby, weren't you telling me about how the bullets were the same size."
"You're dam right I was Spode," Dumby looked ready to dispute it. "Dam right that I'm right."
"Never said other."
"Lieutenant, your office is calling on the phone," Smarty slips me a wink as Dumby dashes out of the cool room taking out several walls and water coolers in his route to the office. "Works every time," Smarty gave a small laugh, and slips something in my hand. "Found it on shorty," he nods his head back to our friend Puppin. "Thought you'd like to get it before Dumbass did."
"Thanks Smarty," I slipped the thing in my pocket, dreading to think what part of Puppins anatomy he'd given me, "I owe you one."
Yeah, I thought, if it was what I thought it was, I'd owe him a real big black eye or three.
Still, for love or money, I figured it was time to find a Weenie. If I was getting involved in this case didn't see a reason not to get paid for it.