Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cash On Deliverance

[A brand-new Murphy story -- Read it for free -- Then buy some of the items on offer]

Cash On Deliverance

Getting late-on in the morning; sunlight slanting through the blinds.  Murphy’s hands tremble as he lights his first Camel of the day, cupping the match in his hand.  They often do that until he’s had a couple of smokes, a cuppa java, and maybe a beer, and a prayer.
He freezes as he hears a light knock at the door -- the one that says “Murphy Brothers -- Private Investigators -- Discretion Assured”.  Still says that even though Joey died a while ago.  He hasn’t the heart to take it down.
He pauses and listens, the cigarette still in his mouth but unlit, and mouths around it, gruffly (needing that smoke)  “C’mon in”;  then finishes lighting up and breathes in a deep and soothing plume.

Standing on the threshold, in bobby sox and Mary Janes, is an unaccompanied young girl.  Murphy raises an eyebrow.

“I have come to you,” she says, gravely, with hornbook correction of articulation, “about an important case.”

Murphy nods:  Go on.

“I need you to find a missing person.”

Murphy shrugs.  Him & Joey, only kinda case they used to get.  “And that missing person would be … ?”

She stood up a little straighter, her voice precise and clear:  “Me !”


Murphy took another drag and cast his eyes Lordward.  “Why do you keep sending me cases like this?” 

“Unfortunately I can’t pay you,” the little girl went on.  “I don’t have a dime to my name.”  Illustratively, she turned out the large patch-pockets on her pretty gingham dress:  they were empty but for some tissues and a tiny teddy-bear.

Murphy mumbled, “I know, I know,” and waved her narrative on.

“But I am fully prepared,” a bit primly, “to write you an I.O.U.”

“Hm, right; backed by your full faith and credit. -- Okay, so you’re a missing person.  Tell me about it.”
“Well as you can see for yourself, I am all alone, and of tender age --“
“How tender?”
“Twelve. -- … of tender age, and left entirely to my own devices, thrown upon the mercy of an unfeeling world.  Free to roam the streets at will, to take up with bad companions, exposed to all the vices of a modern metropolis, to the rude stares of men who are no gentlemen --“
“Yeh, yeh, write a novel,” Murphy cut her off.  Sheesh, everybody wants to be a writer these days.   “Do your parents know where you are?”
“They do not; nor do they seem to care.  But more to the point -- “ here becoming rather pert-- “I don’t know where they are; and it rather seems I ought to.”
Now Murphy was perplexed.  “So -- in what sense are you missing?”
“I am missing from my parents’ lives.”


They sat down together at the kitchen table -- Murphy reluctantly snubbing out his smoke, after taking one long final drag -- and discussed particulars.  Lisa -- for that was the young girl’s name -- had brought with her one photograph each of her mother and her father, a bit grainy  but sufficient for identification.  She knew their names including their middle names, what brand of car both of them drove, and a few of their favorite haunts -- though these, only by hearsay.  Murphy said he’d get right on it, and Lisa said to meet her back, so soon as he should have new developments, at the soda shoppe in the next street over.

And then -- well, why bore you with the details.  All of these missing-persons deals are sort of the same.  You do some looking-up in the files, and some legwork, and pretty soon -- unless your quarry is both trying to hide and very skilled at doing so -- not the case in either of the present instances -- you find your man.  Heck, most of you reading this are probably private eyes yourselves, just like me  -- done your share of chases down alleyways, and dodging the slugs from a .45 as they ricochet off the bricks -- you all know the drill.

And so, after a bit of nosing around and calling-in a couple of markers, Murphy found the address he wanted:  Jezebel’s Pinkynails, between the hairdresser’s and the boutique for ladies’ shoes.
He recognized her immediately from the photograph, despite the mudpack and the curlers.  She was being fawned-over by creatures neither woman nor man as she held out her hand like Cleopatra, asp and all;  it was enough to make any normal man sick.
He walked up to her without preamble.  “I am here on behalf of your daughter.”
She scowled and glared over at him.  “What -- you gonna ask for her hand? Prevert!  She’s only eleven.  I’m calling the cops.”
“Twelve,” murmured Murphy, to no-one in particular.  This did not look promising, and he started to leave;  then turned at the door.  “Can you tell me where I might find your husband?”
“How the hell should I know -- am I my husband’s keeper?  Probably out drinking somewhere.”
Hmm, thought Murphy;  I would be too.


Discouraged, Murphy nonetheless kept his date with his client, whom he found at the shoppe, sipping a chocolate malted.
“I thought you didn’t have a dime.”
“I didn’t, and don’t.”
“So who bought that for you?”
“Michael.”  No further information being volunteered, Murphy plowed on.
“I… found your Mom.  She’s -- all right.   She didn’t ask about you;  I’ll tell you about it later.  Right now I’ve got a lead on your dad.”
“Good luck.”


He finally found the guy at one of those bricked-in saloons where it looks like four in the morning any time of the night or day, lit mostly by illuminated beer-signs.   The man was sitting alone at one end of the bar, boring a bartender with his maudlin stories.
Murphy came right out with it.  “Your daughter --“
“Daughter?  I have no daughter.  How sharper than a serpent’s tooth! -- Barkeep, another one.”  And he stared into his glass, looking very sorry for himself.


Grimly, Murphy went back to the shoppe  and did what had to be done.
“Sister, I’m gonna lay it on you straight.  Your parents have both drowned -- in vats of their own narcissism.  There’s nobody there for you, kid.”

She nodded, with a little frown, that only involved the space between the eyes, and briefly pursed her lips.  “I know.”

“I wish I knew what to do, I really do,” he went on, helplessly.  “Anybody you need me to shoot for you?  I’m better at that.  Some gangster type, extorting your lunch money, I could scare him off?  Or -- some love somebody left in a dumpster somewhere:   I could find that dumpster, I could seek it out.  I could dive in and swim and dive deep till I found the buried love, and bring it up, wrapped in a blue blanket, and bring it to you, and lay it at your feet …”

Lisa was silent.

Just then an angel walked into the room.
Lisa did not seem surprised.
“Oh, hi Michael.  This is Murphy, by the way, the man I mentioned.  Murphy, meet Michael;  Michael, meet Murphy.  I have him working for me on a little case.”
Murphy stared at the newcomer.  “You’re not…the Michael?”
A modest nod.  “In the flesh -- so to speak.”
Murphy could not believe the evidence of his senses.  “The angel ? ! ?”
“Archangel, actually, but let’s not stand on ceremony.  You may call me Mike.”
Not quite knowing what to say, Murphy just stammered.  “I guess I’m just .. a Michael, myself. Michael’s my name too.”
“I know; you’re my namesake. -- Parents should be aware, by the way, that it actually helps to give their children good Christian names.   We can’t help being influenced -- we’re only angelic.  I intervened in this case when I heard you were involved.  Been watching your work, some, there, over the years.”
Murphy just did not know what to say.
“You know,” the angel continued, on a more serious note, “this case, and a million others like it in this country today, is among the toughest you have ever had or ever will.  In fact, it’s time to break it to you:  This one is utterly beyond your powers.  This one can’t be settled by a gat, or a sockdolager to the midsection.   The moral desertification that has parched this land, has spread so far, not even all your tears could water it back to life.   Nothing, in fact, short of divine intervention, can avail at this point.  So, as the FBI says when they move in on a scene:  Thanks for your help;  we’ll handle this case from here on out.”

Murphy knew not what to think.   Without knowing what to say, still he said it, spluttering:  “This is nuts !  No but -- how’m I s’poseta -- What self-respecting P.I. winds up a case this way?!  This is worse than those trick endings out of Agatha Christie.  It’s a freakin’ deus ex machina!”
Angelus ex paradiso,” Michael corrected.

Then he and the girl left together, forever out of Murphy’s life.


Back at his walkup -- dim and undusted  ever since his brother had died -- he found waiting for him, in the center of the kitchen table, an envelope stamped SPECIAL DELIVERY, though without postage.  Inside it were a pair of twenty-dollar bills, in appreciation for his time and shoeleather.  Which, Murphy reflected, understanding it all at last, made it one of the most profitable cases he had ever had.

Monday, October 17, 2011


9-9-9 ?  -- For reactionaries.
6-6-6 ? -- For Satanists.

8-8-8 ? -- Check *this* out:

You rock, doc !

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Murphy on Hitler and Huey Long

Bums, both of ‘em, but in a lot of ways  with similar styles.
Heard the Kingfish orate once, and it was plain how a fellow might be taken in -- specially if he had mush for brains.  Hitler he just sounded like a maniac to me, but if you grew up German -- probably sounded a lot like Huey Long.

… Now take Bob LaFollette.  Now, there was a man …

[workingclass hero]