Sunday, April 09, 2006

Chapter 36 - Hardboiled

I flew to a pen later this afternoon, grabbed a few sheets of my novel that the agents keep rejecting as a "coming of age" novel...as if that were the worst kind of deathfart, obviously having barely glanced at it, and I began writing on the other side of the typed pages...almost angrily...the beginnings of a detective story. Why? I hate detective stories. But there I was on the cement steps of our house writing one...

My name is Jimmy Tool. Bastardized Irish. It was O'Toole when my people got off the boat but for some reason immigration thought Tool sounded better. Funnier for sure. I don't mind it. Kind of fits what I do. I'm a private detective.

Forget about all those detective stories you've read or seen. Being a real one is nothing, absolutely nothing like that. It's mostly mundane bullshit, downright boring, sometimes really depressing, and the low life cockroaches you meet are enough to make you puke. That's why I always keep a wastebasket near me. It's my best friend, besides my 411 S&W .40, and my flask.

I've had the 411 since my days on the force. A trustworthy piece. Can't be fired if you accidentally leave a round in the chamber. And when I have a few too many, like anyone else, I tend to get a little accident prone. The flask was a gift from my dad before he chased his last whiskey with a bullet. His was an old fashioned cop pistol, a snub .38. He could actually hit better with six than most shooters nowadays with their 15 and 17 round Sigs and Glocks. He was a real cop. Tempered in the blast furnace that was Hell's Kitchen...The garbage can is a Wal-Mart special. It's got little ducks flying over some marshland. A place I'd like to be, I often think, while I'm hugging it. It calms me down.

So all that said, here's a real life case for all you "dead mind babies of the television war". Oh, you know who that is? It's appropriate as you'll see.

This happened back in '86. I was sitting in my office. Pat's bar. He was sitting across from me having a beer. It was a typical runaway case. He wanted me to find his son. He was worried about him and I really felt for the guy. He didn't strike me as the type who was beating the kid or molesting him, or molesting his mind, just as bad. He just made a mistake. He turned the screws a little too hard when he found young Tommy had a sack of marijuana in his dresser. He said he tried to use "tough love" on the kid. Dad was a little square and I wondered if he could smell the joint I had just smoked before our appointment. He wanted to know if I knew about tough love. I just smiled and nodded.

"Let me tell you about 'tough love'," I wanted to say -- And if he'd been and asshole I would have --"Tough love has turned so many kids into prostitutes that you'd think the whole physchiatric community is moonlighting as pimps." At least it seemed to be a fashionable approach back in the 80's, everyone was touting and no one seemed to be questioning. They should've asked me. Or just about any other kind of person who sees the results of these kinds of things, and whose feelings haven't been sandpapered off by too much of it. Yes, I would've told him that but he seemed really worried about his kid and, like I said, he was kind of square, in a nice way. So I told him a lie. I told him that his kid was probably having a ball away from home, just hanging out with other kids his age, maybe getting a little buzzed up now and then, but after all weren't we all kids once? I told him not to worry, that I'd find his kid and they'd patch things up and things would go back to normal. Ball games and hot dogs. Fishing, even. Sure. I took his retainer and got good and drunk. I didn't want to think about what sensed I would find.

I didn't want to think about it because it was a good possibility that the kid was dead. It didn't seem right that he wouldn't have contacted this kind of a father when the shit got gritty. So, after I was good and high I had Bill the bartender fill my flask and I headed over to the morgue. I had all the info I needed with me in a manila envelope the kid's father had given me. All I would need at the morgue was his picture.

Now here's where most detective stories begin, right. The strange maneuvering in and out of shadows, sub-plots and twists, layers of bullshit piled on layers of bullshit. The truth is usually stark and simple. Just like what I found. The kid, dolled up for hustling, had overdosed on H. Who knew if it was accidental or not. The only mystery was why he didn't contact his father, only a few hours away upstate, when the panhandling didn't make it anymore. Maybe he thought it would be kind of like an adventure or maybe there was something I didn't know about the father. Whatever the case, there he was, in cold storage waiting for an I.D. I know the guy who was on duty so he let me look through the boy's stuff. In his coat pocket was a Germs CD. I opened it up and that's where I read the quote about the "dead mind babies". A good line. A true line. No wallet on him obviously, nothing else.

I probably should not have taken the guys money until I had him contact such an obvious source, but then what was I supposed to say to this worried, hopeful, father, who told me he had already called the hospitals and jails in a hundred mile radius -- "Have you checked the morgue yet?"

I headed back to my office office, a cramped little apartment in the Lower East Side that was also my home. I called Tom Sr. and told him what I had found. It was a bad thing to hear, on both ends. After awhile he asked how much he owed me and I told him nothing.

When he hung up I sat staring at the blistering drywall, listening to the strange sounds this city makes at night. Then I visited my ducks.

-end-

Good to get that out of my system. Don't think I will be writing any more of those soon. I hope not. Not sure where the obsession came from. It certainly isn't what I would call a good story. But it had to be written. I pulled it down after posting it because I think it's lousy. But I put it back up thinking I should keep the lousy stuff up too if it is a significant event of the day, just to be fair to the "As it Happens" process.

So now, as it happens, I'm sitting here in my homemade car seat chair waiting to upload some pics to the Lollipop (Ruby Lane) jewelry site. Two people have flaked out with orders so I have to email them about it. They have little consideration it seems that the stuff is still sitting up on the web listed as sale pending so nobody else can buy it. It's been there for a month. I must be tactful but slightly forceful, still more tactful so they reply. It is hard to be since we are living on peanut butter most of the time and these orders are our bread and ...peanut butter...

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