Thursday, 6 October 2016

Failed Openings To Mystery Novels I Will Never Finish Writing

Requiem For A Pogo Stick

Imagine that one of the greatest crime bosses in the city sat up at 3 in the morning, crying as he watched freshly hatched baby sea turtles scurrying for the water getting snatched up by marauding seagulls on TV. Even though he had ordered the hit on his wife’s brother only minutes earlier (because he woke up with indigestion and felt he had to kill somebody he didn’t like), it was the sea turtles and not the fact that he had just okayed the murder of his brother-in-law (because he couldn’t find the Pepto-Bismal), that caused his tear ducts to well up. In Sicily when your well was dry legend said that you were to bring ten virgins to cry into it and soon the well and the cisterns would again flood with water but as the big crime boss’s mother used to tell him, “Fluppo, it makes no difference how many virgins you march to that well. Stuff dries up ‘cause the gods are angry and eventually they’ll defecate in your gutters and you won’t be able to enjoy your roast suckling pig and potatoes and soon you’ll have to wear boots in your very own home because of the amount of god shit covering the floor. So keep your nose clean. And anyway, who th’hell can find ten virgins anymore. Not with your father loose in the village.”
Now, at 3:30 in the morning watching baby sea turtles scampering for freedom from the pesky beaks of predators on the Nature channel, Fluppo Kapolski, who had never been to Sicily, nor had his parents since they were Polish dissidents who had settled in Hungary years earlier but began passing their son off as Italian early on as a joke but then the joke stuck like when you make a face too much and someone tells you if you do it too long it’ll stay that way, confronted his mortality for the very first time when the patio door slid open and a man on a pogo stick bounced into the room.
“Holy shit,” Fluppo yelled, “it’s like some kind’a half-man half-kangaroo fuckin’ mutant.”
“Relax,” the guy on the pogo stick huffed. “I ain’t no mutant. My name’s Pup Toranado and I’m here to avenge the murder of my cousin who you sawed in half two years ago in a lumber mill and then mailed one half to each side of the family, which really upset everybody. We’re still in therapy y’know.”
“What, I never sawed no guy in half. I’m in dry cleaning.”
“Cut the crap, Fluppo. We both know the truth.”
“How th’hell did you get past my security.”
“Good old pogo stick, Fluppo. Hopped over the laser beams, the attack dogs, the piranha-filled moat, right across the lawn, over the swimming pool and right into your room. And all in under two minutes flat. Never underestimate spring-loaded technology.”
“Hey, I know what you mean. I launder a bunch of money through a spring and ball-bearing manufacturing company and they gave me some of their heavy-duty springs as a gift. Well, I’ll tell you, I can catapault a dead body off’a a coupl’a those things a good twenty feet into the air and into the middle of the river. I’m not kidding. And that’s where I’m gonna catapault you in a minute if you don’t get off that fuckin’ pogo stick and show me a bit of respect. My neck’s starting to hurt watching you bounce up and down.”
“Respect, that’s a laugh. You didn’t show my cousin any respect when you ran him through that band saw. Eh, Fluppo.”
“He was a two-bit numbers runner who was skimming from my take. Believe you me, guy like that steals from me, I run him through the band saw crotch-first so he lives a little longer and can watch his dick get torn apart in the blade. I got movies if you want’a see’em?”
A sudden rage thrummed through Pogo-Stick man’s body, a rage so pure, so crystalline it was as if both he and his pogo-stick were one entity, not unlike Bruce Lee and his nunchucks in Fists of Fury, and Pogo-Stick man felt himself fused in some unholy alliance with his main mode of transportation, flesh and metal combining so as to mete out justice for those who couldn’t mete it out themselves or most likely didn’t have at their disposal spring-loaded weaponry and in a frenzy of pogo-stick activity Pogo-Stick man attacked the biggest crime boss in the city, springing up and down and then going almost horizontal to pogo-stick drop-kick Fluppo Kapolski to the ground. That’s when things really got ugly.
Lt. Bilcher of homicide stood scratching his head and wondering what and who could do this to a body. A human body he might add. He’d seen worse done to a sawhorse used as a decoy during a heist, the sawhorse paying the price as a group of hobos carried it off to their hobo camp to battle it out for the sawhorse’s hand in marriage and the lucky winner getting to consummate the wedding under a bridge in the honeymoon suite refrigerator box. It’s said the lucky hobo had the splinters to prove it.
“Whaddya think, Lt?” one of his detectives asked.
“The markings are unusual and yet somehow seem familiar. It’s almost like something out of my childhood and yet I just can’t seem to recall it.”
The coroner piped in, “The whole body is covered by these strange circular indents but there’s truly nothing in my years of experience that help me to recognize what the origin of these markings are. Obviously, whatever they were, they were no doubt the murder weapon. I’ll have to assemble every round object known in the world and then test them all out on my own flesh if I run out of lab subjects. By the way, let your friends and family know I pay fifty bucks for test subjects. Little extra money never hurt for the frozen beef fund or bus fare to the Buttonhole Museum.”
“You know,” Lt. Bilcher said, “being he’s a big-shot crime boss with a lot of pull in local politics we’re going to want to tread easy on this one boys so I’m issuing special homicide slippers that I designed to be both durable and incognito, whether you’re sloshing through blood, Bloody Mary’s or the blowholes of exploded Cetaceans.”
“Hear, hear,” Detective Vinblot called out but he was faced down by a crowd of angry police eyes, some of which were glass but nevertheless, full of police-like emotion and menace and forlorn thoughts like empty bullet casings lying beneath some ferns, a lush counterpoint to the decaying body that lay just ten feet away speckled with pine needles, fungus beetles and cigarette butts. Exploded cetaceans was still a sore point around the precinct, even though it had been over a year since the Great Exploding Cetacean Catastrophe that had claimed ten lives but claimed so much more in increasing the growing rift of distrust between humans and their marine mammal friends. No one could forget the day that the Trojan Whale was delivered to the doorstep of the precinct house, it’s blowhole secretly loaded with dynamite and the ensuing bloody aftermath, some people actually crushed beneath thousands of pounds of exploded whale meat and others hit by whale bone shrapnel that tore through their bodies and pinned them to the linoleum.
All this was of no concern to Pogo-Stick man as he calmly bounced from the crime scene, unnoticed by the police. That’s the thing about a pogo stick. Everyone just takes you for another exercise nut and not the scheming murderous maniac that you really are, seeking revenge not just for yourself but even for say the woman you just met at the grocery store who told you about how a shoe salesman sold her the wrong insoles and now she has corns. Pup Toronado had heard it all and then some and he was out to remedy the situation even if he had to pogo-stick half the city to death to finally get justice for the misled, the dispossessed, the downtrodden, the pork rind addicted and any stigmata aficionados working the blood donor clinics in their burlap sweat pants.
Late at night you might hear a strange squeaking, an “er-er, er-er, er-er” and think it’s the sound of your neighbour making love to a ceramic pagoda he stole out of a goldfish bowl in a bailiff’s office, something he’s expressed an interest in previously over glasses of pruno in the boiler room with the words, “Man, I’m so horny I could fuck a ceramic pagoda like you see in those goldfish bowls,” but were you to get up from your soiled sheets to gaze out the window you might see a figure silhouetted against the moonlight, bouncing up and down on a pogo stick and think, I bet that guy’s here to save the world. And you just might be right.
But you can only save the world one filthy, despicable scab-encrusted criminal at a time so when Pogo-Stick man got back to his rooming house and listened to his police scanner while wolfing down some Chef Boyardee Beefaroni to maintain both his stamina and his crime-fighting physique, he nearly shot a Beefaroni noodle out his nose when he heard this:
“Calling all units. We’ve got a 345 in progress, 2786 Plubber Blvd., suspect appears to be holding a prize-winning pumpkin hostage and threatening to blow its pumpkin innards from here to kingdom come. Requesting backup.”
Without further notice, Pup Toranado bounced his way out the door, down the stairs, through the lobby and then pogoed for twenty-seven blocks to get to the hostage taking. He loved pumpkin judging contests and goddamn anyone who got in the path of this glorious autumn event where only the largest of gourds had a shot at winning the whole shebang.
Somehow though, in the back of his mind, as he bounced down the sidewalk, his brain whapping against the sides of his cranial cavity like gelatin in a preschooler’s lunch bag, it all seemed too picture perfect, as if someone were playing on his nostalgic pumpkin memories and his penchant for exotic gourds artfully arranged on staircases. He wondered if perhaps there might be a more devious mind at work behind this, setting him up for something so diabolical, so evil even his pogo stick wouldn’t be enough to protect him and destroy the enemy.  
That’s when his pogo stick slipped on a worm and then everything went dark.
You know how they say you’re not in Kansas anymore. Well, when he awoke not only was he not in Kansas, it didn’t appear he was even on the planet as far as he could tell. Instead, gazing out the windows in a chair that felt both surgical and sofa-like simultaneously, he saw what he could only describe as outer space. The windows wrapped around a semi-circular enclosure that featured all manner of confusing technological matter and through the huge windows all he could see was blackness and stars.
He shifted about in the chair and that’s when he discovered his hands and legs were strapped down. Then, as he waggled around some more he realized that he wasn’t actually feeling anything in his legs. They were numb and when he managed to move them a bit they had a metallic creaky sound. My god, he thought, what’s going on? He bent forward and peered down to the most unspeakable horror. Or was it?
From the hipbone down, his legs were gone. Instead, in their place, were two pogo sticks, seemingly grafted to his flesh judging by what he saw for his pants were gone. Perhaps his legs were still wearing them, wherever they might be.
A figure hove into view in front of him. He must be groggier than he thought because he’d never seen anything hove into view before, much less a human. Maybe a cruise ship but that was still pushing it. The man spoke.
“Mr.Toranado, I trust you had a good sleep. Nice to see you awake and hopefully fully recovered and refreshed. Oh, by the way, while you were napping we performed a bit of surgery. All for your benefit of course. That worm you hit with your pogo stick did a great deal of damage. Who would think from something so small such disastrous injuries would result but isn’t that really just the way of the world.”
“Where am I? What have you done with my legs?” Pup Toranado croaked.
“One question at a time. First you are on the Hybris 6, a top-secret government Black Ops space station orbiting earth at 17,000 miles an hour and 320 miles above the planet..  And yes, we have replaced your legs with pogo sticks. An apparatus you are no stranger to, as we have observed during your crime-fighting escapades. I think you’ll find these new, top-of-the-line gas-hydraulic fed spring mechanisms to your liking. With these you could wipe out a hundred despots, if they were lined up end to end in less than five minutes without breaking a sweat. So, Mr. Toranado, or may I call you Pup, what do you think about joining our little Black Ops team.”
“Hot damn,” Pup said, “where do I sign up?”
“You already have, Pup, you already have. Now, are you ready to put those pogo stick legs to good use, wiping out evil around the world, one country, one city, one village, one anthill at a time?”
“You bet, uh…?”
“Glubon. Agent Glubon.”
“You bet, Agent Glubon. Now unstrap me and let’s put the ‘go’ back in pogo stick.”
“That’s what I like to hear. Agent Kugle, ready the departure-capsule. Mr. Toranado is going home. Your first mission, Pup, is in London, England. We’ve had a report of a fish and chip shop that’s been over-breading their fish. Think you can handle it?”
“Just watch me,” Pup said. “Now where’s my pants?”

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