I'll come up with something in a minute.


Rabbit punch







December 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Three Conclusions

Conclusion #1
Bernard Madoff has given anyone who wants to tax the rich a perfect attack point. When someone says, “Oh, I suppose doing well is going to be a crime now. Are we going to be punished for earning money?” The answer to that is going to be a simple one step process… “Earning money? Earning? Madoff STOLE his money! They’ve all stolen money. Enron, Worldcom, Tyco, Madoff, is there anyone who has a lot of money who got it honestly? Or even legally? NO! They’re all thieves!”

And then you start seeing people with beards waving little red books, wearing black turtlenecks and saying “actually” 47 times a sentence. At that point, our only option is genocide. Communism would be bad enough, dealing with smug college socialists would send me into a murderous rage. I’d rather eat tree back than deal with smug socialists, and since I eat a good deal of cinnamon, I already do.

I honestly don’t like the phrase “capitalism has failed us” because I keep thinking that a few corrupt officials helping a few corrupt executives failed us. People who stole things and people who helped them steal (even if it was just by being asleep at the wheel) does not, in my mind, equal a failure of capitalism.

Conclusion #2
I was reading this story the other day, about all the mistakes McCain made during the election, and I was getting annoyed. About half way through it occurred to me that the reason was that the republican writing the piece kept saying, “McCain lost because he did this” and I sort of realized that it was bugging me because McCain didn’t really loose. No one says Jimmy Carter lost in ’84, they say Regan won. They don’t say Douglas or Breckinridge lost in 1860. They say Lincoln won. John McCain didn’t loose so much as Barack Obama won that bitch.

Saying McCain lost is to insinuate that he or any other Republican could have won against Obama this year. You’d have to bring Regan back from the dead, or get him to come forward in time from 1981 or something for me to think of a Republican who could have gone up against Obama with a chance this year. The last 8 years have damaged the Republican brand name too much.

Obama became a political Aslan, a point I’ve complained about an awful lot here at home if not online. Everyone was pinning their hopes and dreams to him, because they had to believe in something. The power of belief is very strong, and he actually managed to explain his plans instead of throwing out a constant stream of conflicting accusations and insults. He did the right things, at the right time and remained unflappable in the face of everything. After 8 years of Ye-Haw Cowboyism, he was the Kambei looking candidate people wanted.

Kambei… Kambei Shimada. The guy who shaved his head in Seven Samurai. The cool, unflappable leader type in that movie. Yeah, that’s why I mentioned him.

Conclusion #3
Four people have mentioned the Kindle or other ebook readers today, so I’m going to weigh in real quick. They’ll be great for magazines, particularly fiction mags could have new life as a result of these things. You could make a subscription fee of $5 a year and earn enough to keep everyone afloat. They’ll be awesome for newspapers, you don’t have to worry about throwing them away. They’ll be gnarly for textbooks that you are required to buy every semester and are virtually worthless when you try to sell them back. Any of the more disposable versions of print media could call these things a godsend.

Pleasure reading… maybe not so much. I don’t know because I’ve never tried to read one of these for pleasure. Holly really wants one but the price tag still intimidates me. I can see kindles becoming a kin to the paperback though as far as cheap carry in your pocket stuff goes.

However, the chief reason I bought an ipod was because I wanted to listen to audiobooks without swapping tapes. Even on my old 40 gig ipod I can carry my entire collection of Terry Pratchett, Rex Stout, and pretty much everything I’ve got from recording radio shows off the BBC. 40 gigs more or less equals 40 days of material the way I record thing by the way.

December 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hard Boiled Christmas (Part Seventeen)

Hard Boiled Christmas

A Jack Collier Mystery

By Brett N. Lashuay


Day 17: Dinner and a Show


            I can never remember the name of any one Chinese restaurant, and I have no idea why. The names simply go through one ear and flutter out the other without ever so much as landing in my memory. I can tell them apart by seeing them, so it’s not like they all look alike to me, it’s just their names all sound alike to me. It is for this reason that I cannot tell you the name of the restaurant that I was in, besides the very basic fact that they serve Chinese cuisine, and do it more or less for the local Asian population. This being only the second restaurant I’ve seen in my life that actually serves frog, I must assume they do not have the pallets of the honkey population in mind. They are, however, wonderful cooks of magnificent food.


            Noonan sat across from me and we passed a few words of greeting before the waitress took our order. When she had gone we began to actually talk about things that mattered.


            “So what have you found?” He asked as he sipped his water.


            “Well, it’s only partially what I’ve found.” I said. “And partly it’s what I didn’t find.”


            “Okay.” He said shrugging his shoulders. “I’ll bite, what didn’t you find?”

            “I didn’t find Christmas’s ring.” I said.


            “Which ring?” He asked as the soup came.


            “The gold ring she wore on her right hand.” I said, watching his movements. “Gold, two emeralds and a ruby.”


            “I’m sure it was just left off a record or something.” He said taking a spoon full of the soup.

            “No.” I said shaking my head. “Smith said the ring wasn’t in property, and it wasn’t on her finger in the hospital.”


            “Someone stole it?”


            “Only if they could cut it off or manage to carry a lot of lubricant with them. That ring never came off. Maybe it got stuck one day, or she just never took it off and her skin grew around it, but that ring just wouldn’t come off that finger.” I leaned back in my chair and looked at the worried face he made for a slight moment.


            Maybe he didn’t know he’d made it, or maybe I extended a tiny micro-expression out several seconds, but something in him knew he was caught. I wasn’t sure of what he thought he’d been caught at, but he thought he’d been caught at something alright. I decided to see how much of it I could get him to admit to by just being quiet for a while.


            “You think Smith might be mistaken?” He asked.


            “Do you?”


            “No, probably not.” He just sat there and looked at his soup for a while, finishing it as the waitress brought our meals.


            I decided that if he was going to suddenly go nuts and shoot me, he probably would wait until I’d finished my meal. It is for this reason that I decided to spoon out some of the white rice and a healthy portion of the pepper steak over it. If I was going to be shot to death, let me at least waste a lot of food while dying. It might seem noble to let a man die on a full stomach, but I can’t help but feel that you’re just wasting good food.


            “So if the ring is missing.” I said, “Where is it?”


            That guilty look crossed Noonan’s face again, and I knew we were going to come to it pretty soon. He set his fork down and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand before taking a drink again.


            “I don’t suppose she took it off a day or two before, maybe to get it cleaned or something?” He asked.


            It was beyond pathetic. He wasn’t even really trying. He was just trying to stall me now. I let my face show my reaction to his suggestion. It was clear from his look that he had expected me to react in that way, if not more negatively than I actually had. I think he was relieved that I didn’t stab him in the hand with my fork or anything.


            “No.” I said shaking my head.


            “No,” He said with a smile. “I didn’t think you’d allow that.”


            “You were right.”


            “I don’t know.” He said.


            “Did you find the wallet on her?” I asked.


            “No.” He said, looking down at the plate of food. “One of the patrol guys who got there first found it.”


            “I see.” I said, training my gaze on him like a laser, or as close to one as I could come without actually shooting anything from my eyes, which gather light instead of transmitting it.


            “They must have made a mistake or something, maybe it was a card case or something.”


            “You sure it wasn’t a second wallet or anything?” I asked sliding my hand into my pocket.


            “Huh?” He asked too quickly.


            “Nothing, just trying to figure things out.” I said tossing the subject aside with my right hand while slipping an object up my sleeve with my left. “Do we have any leads at all? Even a single suspect worth talking about?”


            “Church.” He said with a shrug. “We’ve got a whole bunch of stuff we want to talk to him about.”


            “Yeah.” I nodded, realizing for the first time that there was a railroad with Church’s name on it. “I’ll bet.”


            “You done then?” He asked, and I knew he was talking about more than food.


            “Yeah.” I said, deciding that if I was going to go down I didn’t want to waste any more food than this.


            He pulled a hundred dollar bill out of his wallet and stuck it under the little soy sauce carafe that sat on the table. That was a nice little incentive for anyone to make sure that they didn’t see anything. I got up from the table slowly, and I knew that he wasn’t going to let me get behind him. We walked out of the restaurant nodding to the wait staff as we walked out into the newly snow covered parking lot. The tracks my car had made driving in here were gone, covered by the new fallen snow.


            Everything was so very quiet, as it always is during fresh snow fall. I’ve heard that new snow absorbs sound, and I wondered how much sound it could absorb. How far would the shot that Noonan was getting ready to put in my back travel. I heard the sound of a hammer being pulled back and I stopped in my tracks. I knew that it was just about time. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get to use the fancy trick up my sleeve or not.


            “Turn around.” Noonan’s voice was as cold as the snow that was currently building a tiny drift around my shoes. “C’mon. I don’t want to shoot you in the back.”


            “Should I put my hands above my head?” I asked as I turned slowly to face him. “Or would that make it look more like you’re shooting a man in the act of surrendering?”


            “I don’t want to shoot you at all.” His voice was nervous, which meant that he was terrified. “I just want you to lay off the ring. Just help me pin it on Church.”


            “Church didn’t do it though.” I said placing my hands on top of my head anyway and taking a few steps toward him.


            “Does that matter?” He shrugged as if to say that it would just be another naughty deed done to a naughty man in a naughty world. “He’s done plenty.”


            “How do you intend to make half of this stick in court?” I asked and then realized that was a very dumb question. “You’re not going to let him get that far.”


            “Come on Jack.” Noonan said looking slightly embarrassed. “Put your hands down.”


            My right hand took the end of the strap poking out of my left sleeve as left hand pulled away from my head. There is a way of looking like you’re not moving very fast while moving very fast indeed. Mostly it’s all about keeping your face completely calm and not looking at your target. I had to trust that his gun hand was where it was when I last glanced at it.


            Fortunately the gun was where I thought and as my left hand slapped it away my right hand swung down with all the speed I could muster to bring the sap across the side of Noonan’s head. The leather covered lead weight connected and Noonan spun in a circle as he fell to the snow covered ground. He collapsed flat out on his face, splayed in such a way as if he was expecting to make a snow angel face down. I grabbed his gun and slipped it into my coat pocket. I decided that any persuasion I was going to do would be done with the sap, which is of course part and partial to how the device got its street name.


            It only took him a moment to come back from the depths of unconsciousness, and he started to get up with a groan. I let him stand up, which he did by leaning against an old Chevy’s bumper and pushing himself up. He was standing after a moment and looked around for his gun, figuring out where it must be after he saw that I was still there. He looked confused for a long moment, trying to figure out why I didn’t just flee after assaulting a police officer. I must admit I wasn’t completely clear on this point myself, but I figured the best way to figure it out was to stick around a while.


            “What’d you hit me for?” He asked gingerly touching the growing bruise on the side of his head. “I wasn’t gonna hurt you.”


            “Yeah.” I said, trying not to swing the sap again. “I of course know that I am in no danger every time someone points a gun at me. Sure sign of a balanced mind, aiming firearms at people.”


            “I was just making sure that we understood each other.” He said swaying slightly.


            “I think we understand each other.” I told him, pulling his gun out of my pocket and wiping it off with my handkerchief. I wasn’t sure why exactly, but I didn’t want my prints on the gun. You can call it paranoia if you want, my sister does, but caution often brings its own rewards.


            “Yeah, well.” He said panting heavily as he tried to stand straight.


            “Yeah.” I tossed the gun back to him. “Now let’s talk about why rings and wallets get you to pull guns.”


            He looked at the gun in his hand and then the shots started to ring out. At first I thought it was Noonan shooting at me, which explains why I dove to one side and lay down between two cars. It wasn’t cowardice, just a mistake in who was shooting. Five shots cracked across the parking lot, proving that you could hear shots even in fresh snow. Noonan fell to his knees and then collapsed in a heap on the ground, face down on the ground again. I pulled the Marley out of its holster, but I when I tried to figure out where the shots came from I was sort of at a loss. I looked at Noonan, decided on a direction and then looked that way, but there was no one there.


            It’s fairly likely that whoever had shot Noonan had done what they’d come to do and faded away into the night. I got up and ran towards the back of the building, five small, spent shells sat in the snow near the curb and there was a smell of gunpowder, but no shooter. The snow showed some large boot tracks, but the prints looked like someone shuffling, as if they were wearing boots too large for them and were trying hard not to let them fall off.


            I looked around the ground, and saw the place where a car had driven away, but tire tracks are meaningless to me. All I saw was that a car had driven the shooter away while the cracks of the gunshots still hung in the air. I pulled out my cell phone and dialed a number, holding the phone up to my ear.


            “Smith?” I asked and waited for a confirming voice. “Noonan’s been shot, I think we need to talk. I do believe I have found a clue.”


This is part seventeen of twenty-five, come back tomorrow for part eighteen and every day this month until we’re done to see what happens next. If you get lost, one of the tags here should help you. The HBC tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.

December 17, 2008 Posted by | Fiction | | Leave a comment