Goat's OTF Murder Mystery. Parts 1-5.

Not Fade Away

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Chapter 1
“Call Me Goat”


I woke up Tuesday morning to find myself in the same state in which I find myself every other Tuesday morning - namely, hungover and smelling of a combination of whisky, tobacco, and that blonde from the diner. Shaking the dust from what remained of my brain, I looked to my right to find half a bottle still on the nightstand - which was welcome - and to my left to find that my guest from the previous night had already let herself out - which was also welcome. I try to keep my nightlife separate from my waking life. All the same, I took a swig of amber nectar from the bottle before dragging my sorry ass out of bed.

You can call me Goat. Everyone else does. It's not that I don't have a real name, it's just that most people don't know it. I like keeping it that way, too. In my line of work, anonymity is a virtue.

I climbed in the shower. The beating of the water on my scalp sounded like someone playing a snare drum with a ball peen hammer, and felt the same, except replace the drum with my skull. That's fine, though. A few more shots of rotgut, and I would be back to normal.

After my ritual cleansing, I got dressed, strapped my Browning Mark II nine-millimeter - that's my walking around gun - under my jacket, and stepped into my city.

Ah, the city. The entire range of human experience, from its highs to its lows, from its noblest to its most depraved, from the bottommost rungs of human existence to the most decadent lavishness of the high life, can be found in this city, most of it right here in my neighborhood.

You see, the city is large and varied, divided into several districts, which might be considered separate cities in their own right. You've got the Premium District, where the cream of society reside and the mayor himself holds court, you've got the Free District, where everyone else belongs, and you've got the WC, a sort of enclave for the artsy intellectual types. But I make my home in district known simply as the OTF. It's sort of Hedonism Central for the whole city, where depravity is king and the queen changes on a nightly basis.

I know we sometimes get a bad rap in other parts of the city, but that's not really fair. Some people think of us as just another Free District, but with less morals. Whatever we lack in moral fiber, however, we more than make up for in brains and ingenuity, both of which are conspicuously absent among most of the Freebies. Hell, you have to be smart to survive in a neighborhood like this. Without a good head on your shoulders, you won't last more than five minutes.

I passed a cute redhead on the street walking to my office, and she smiled at me. I couldn't recall her name, but I was pretty sure I'd seen her naked somewhere, so I gave her a nod, just to let her know I was still thinking about her.

Like I said, up until this point, it was just like any other Tuesday morning. I stepped into my office at eleven-thirty sharp, offered a “Good morning” to my secretary, Miss Peach, and slumped into the chair behind my desk. I opened the top drawer to check on my Beretta 92G Elite 1A - that's my office pistol - and, seeing it was in good working order, started sorting through the messages Peachy had taken that morning.

It took all of seven minutes for my day to be ruined. Not a record, exactly, but certainly in the top ten.

As my door burst open, I could hear Peachy protesting from the front room, “You can't go in there.” I looked up to find myself staring at a face I'd seen too many times before. His name was Uber, and his title was Sycophant Extraordinaire.

“Mr. Goat, the Director would like a meeting with you,” he said, and I swear he drooled a little when he mentioned that aborted attempt at a human being around whom his entire world revolved. It took me three seconds to craft my response.

“Kiss off,” I said. For a few moments, we had a silent contest to see whose eyes could get the narrowest.

“We need your expertise, Mr. Goat. Something's happened, and it's too important to relegate to the regular security forces. We need someone we can trust.”

“And you know you can trust me, but can I trust you? The last time you had a job for me, I was shot at, stabbed, and nearly drowned.”
“We'll double your usual fee.”

Now, I'd like to think I'm normally above such petty worries as money, but a double fee is hard to turn down. I could pay off some bills, and drink brand name whisky for a change. And maybe attract a higher quality of blonde. “Alright, what's the job?” I asked.

“Come with me; I'll show you.”

And, against my better judgment, I followed him out the door.

Every district in the city is nominally controlled by a District Director, who is supposed to be sort of a Mayor's aide. In truth, most Directors are mere puppets, since the Mayor himself keeps a pretty firm grip on things, but the OTF Director, a vile concoction of evil and greed named Aruss, is different. The Mayor doesn't really want anything to do with the OTF; none of the Premies do. And why should they? Everything we offer here - booze, drugs, gambling, hookers - they have in their little gated community, but of a much higher quality.

As a result, Aruss had been able to carve his own little kingdom out of the neighborhood, operating almost independently of the rest of the city. And he ran it well. He had his grubby little fingers in just about every little enterprise that went on. There was no doubt in my mind that, of the hundred bucks I slipped in that stripper's g-string in the VIP room two nights previous, at least ten of it had already found its way into his pocket. I guess the offer of a double fee had me thinking I might be able to get some of that money back.

I climbed in Uber's car, and he drove me to one of those little motels with dusty windows that rents rooms by the hour - this one actually rented them in thirty-minute increments - and pulled into the parking lot.

“Look, Uber,” I said. “I know you think I'm pretty hot stuff, but you're not really my type.”

“Suck it,” he said simply, which I felt spoke to his ever-improving vocabulary.

He led me to one of the rooms, and I followed him in. Three people were already in the room. Standing near the door was another of the Director's henchman, a big Slavic-looking guy, ironically named Little Lebowski. Believe me, if you saw him, you would not want to cross him, and you'd certainly never want to meet Big Lebowski, whoever he was.

Sitting in a chair near the nightstand was Director Aruss himself, full of that smugness which had so endeared him to the citizens of the OTF.

And, lying on the bed was a skinny brunette, very attractive, very naked, and very, very dead.

“Well, Mr. Director,” I said. “Looks like you're in a bit of a pickle.” Yeah, I still got it.

He gave me one of those grins that usually signals my life is about to get a lot more complicated, and turned to Uber.

“Close the door,” he said.



Chapter 2
“Aruss' Girl”


“I don't do disposal,” I said. “You've got people for that.”

Aruss smiled. “Believe it or not, I did not kill this girl. I am, however, interested in finding out who did. That's what I'd like your help with. That's right up your alley, isn't it? Protecting the poor, innocent women of the OTF?”

“And what's it to you who did her?”

“That's my business. All you need to know is this: her name was Allie, she grew up here in the OTF, and she worked at a sex shop owned by a crazy guy named Basil Fawlty. See what you can find out.”

“You've got regular cops for this sort of thing.”

“This case needs a more subtle touch, which I think you can give it.”

I nodded. “Where do I find you when I have information?”

“You don't. I'll send Uber here to check up on you every few days.” I glanced at Uber, and could tell he was as excited about this prospect as I was.

“Fine, but I'll need half up front, as an advance for expenses.”

Aruss turned to Lebowski, who had been silent the entire time. “Pay the man, LL.”

Money in hand, I was unceremoniously shown the door. As soon as I was outside, I heard the lock click, with all three men still inside, making it pretty clear I was on my own for finding a ride back to the office. Shuddering at what despicable acts might that very moment be happening in the hotel room, I set off down the road.

My first stop was the Comeandgoandcome Sex Emporium, Basil Fawlty, Proprietor. I didn't need to ask for an address from Aruss, because, well, I was one of Basil's best customers. He always seemed to get the new issue of Oddity a week before anyone else.

“Goat, my man!” he said, as I walked into the shop. “Glad to see you again. I got a great new video for you: Big-breasted Skanks of Suburban Wauskegan #54. They say it blows Big-breasted Skanks of Suburban Wauskegan #53 clean out of the water.”

“No thanks, Basil. I'm not here for videos today. You got a girl named Allie workin' for you?”

“I do. Not sure what you want with her, though. She's a little out of your price range.”

“That's not what I mean. The thing is Basil, she was killed this morning.”

“Oh, snap.”

“Indeed,” I said, noting Basil's expression, looking for signs of surprise, or otherwise. “I was wondering if you could tell me a little about her.”

“Well, she was a good worker. Had her little side business, like most of the girls that work for me, but she catered to the upper class of the OTF. Heard she even got hired for a few parties over there in Premie-land too, although I never asked her about it.”

“I see. What about friends? Hobbies? What did she do when she wasn't here?”

Basil shook his head. “I don't know much about that, but I got someone who might.” He turned his head toward the back of the store, where doors lined the wall, each leading to a private viewing booth, some of which contained televisions, and some of which contained large glass windows that offered clients views of all sorts of disturbing activities. “Oy! Cramer! Get your ass out here!”

A gangly looking fellow walked out of one of the rooms, holding a mop. “What?” he asked, simply. His expression suggested that he did everything simply.

“Cramer, this is my friend Goat. You hang out with Allie, right? He needs some information about her.”

“What about?” Cramer asked, a genuine look of concern on his face.

“Sorry to tell you this, son, but Allie was murdered this morning. I'm sort of the unofficial detective in charge of the case.”

Cramer was silent for several moments. It was difficult to tell if he was legitimately shocked by what I'd told him, or if it simply took that long for the wheels in his head to start grinding.

“Cramer, I'm truly sorry,” I took a chance. “I'm sure this is tough for you to hear, but I really need to know everything you can tell me about her.”

“Well, she was a great gal,” he began. “Really acrobatic. Flexible, too. The kind of girl who could touch her toes without really trying. And no gag reflex to speak of, at all. I mean, just a top-notch girl, the kind her parents could be proud of.”

“Sounds like someone special. What kind of people did she hang around?”

“Well, lately she's been spending time with a gang that hangs out in an old strip club on Tumbleweed Street. Guy named CJ runs it.”

“Thanks.”

A few minutes later, I stepped out of Basil's establishment, with a solid lead in one hand, a the girls of Wauskegan in the other.

Tumbleweed was several blocks away, so this time, I waited for a cab. When I arrived, I saw a run-down building of a dark gray color, with boarded up windows, and a neon sign that read “Club Jockey,” although at night, it only said, “lub Jock.” To many passing by, it might look like the place was out of business, but I knew better. Many of the better homes and businesses in the OTF were constructed in that architectural style known as “Post-Dilapidated.”

I entered the establishment to find three half-naked broads dancing on various stages, and about a half dozen drunken sots throwing dollar bills at them. I walked over to the bar.

“What'll it be, mac?” the bartender asked me.

“Not drinking today,” I said. “I'm here to see CJ.”

“Two drink minimum, bud.”

“Alright, give me a double Dewar's on the rocks, and then get CJ for me.”

“You got an appointment?” he asked, pouring my drink.

“No, but I need to talk to him about a girl named Allie.” The bartender looked up involuntarily at the mention of the name. “I'm pretty sure it would be in his best interest to see me.”

The bartender handed me the Scotch. “That only counts as one,” he said, and pulled out his cell phone. After a brief conversation with someone, he turned to me, and said, “Black door, behind the left stage. Go through it.”

“Thanks,” I said, and throwing some of Director Aruss' cash on the bar, headed for the door.

I stepped through, to find a dark, quiet hallway. I've seen this movie before. Lived it a few times. I didn't like this at all. Suddenly, there was a shuffling to my right, and before I could turn to see what it was, I felt something heavy crack into the back of my skull. I dropped my drink as stars floated in front of my eyes. As my knees hit the floor, everything went black, and I knew no more.



Chapter 3
“A String of Perverts”


When I awoke, I quickly checked the essentials. Fingers. Still there. Toes. Still there. Balls. Still there. Thank God. Gun. Missing. Nice.

The fog cleared from my eyes, and I looked around the room. A slimy looking fellow with greasy hair and a greasier smile was staring at me from across a desk. I had no doubt this was the infamous CJ.

“I understand you're asking after a friend of mine.”

I found I wasn't tied up, which gave me some confidence. “Yeah. Her name's Allie. I was hoping you might be able to shed some light into the question of how she was found dead and naked face down in a seedy motel room.”

CJ shook his head. “Manners. They just don't exist today. Whoa, slow down,” he added to his lap, which confused me for a moment, until I noticed the small bit of red hair peeking above the top of his desk. The up-and-down motion of the red hair slowed noticeably. “That's better. Now, Mr. Goat,” he added, addressing me again, “yes, I know who you are. Mr. Goat, I want to encourage you to call off this investigation of yours.”

“Why? Afraid you offed the wrong girl? I know you fancy yourself a big shot, but no one messes with Aruss' skanks. Even you know that.”

“I didn't kill her. Allie was important to me. We had a very nice, shall we say, working arrangement. We both profited from it. But I'm afraid she may have bitten off more than she could chew. And if that's the case, if I'm right, it might be in your best interest to forget about the whole thing. It might be in the Director's best interest to do the same.”

“Why? What do you know? What aren't you telling me?”

“Sorry, that's all you get from me. If you intend on finishing this investigation, you better watch your back. You are about to dig under some pretty big stones, and you might not like what you find.”

“So you didn't kill her, you're not going to kill me. What was this, just a friendly warning?”

“Something like that.”

“So what's with knocking me over the friggin' skull?”

“That's just how we do things here. Okay, now speed up,” he sad to his lap again. “That's right.” He turned to one of his henchmen, and said as his face turned pink, “Give this man his gun back and show him the door.”

A giant of a man tossed my pistol into my lap and dragged me from the chair.

“Remember what I said,” CJ offered me between grunts as I was led out the door, before tilting his head back and letting out a groan that almost made me vomit.

Happy to get out of there, I decided to head back to the office. When I entered, Miss Peach was sitting at her desk, filing her fingernails. I hadn't really had a good look at her when I arrived in the morning, since I still had whisky on my brain, but now that I looked at her, something seemed different.

“Peachy, did your breasts get bigger?” I asked.

“Why yes! Thank you for noticing,” she said. “I had it done over the weekend. What do you think?”

“They look great, but isn't that like three times this year?”

“You can never have too much cleavage.”

“Ain't that the truth.”

Seeing as it was barely two in the afternoon, and I felt like I'd already had a full day, it's not difficult to understand why I was already regretting this new job, double fee or not. So, when the door opened again, I was relieved to think that someone might be bringing me an opportunity to work on something different, but at the same time, I was dreading anything that might require even more work. A man can only get so far on one bottle of scotch.

“Oh. My. God.” As the man sauntered into my office, he stared at me as though I was some kind of god. “Goat. The real Goat. It is a pleasure to meet you.” The flamboyant walk, the lisp in his voice, and the pink shirt tied around his midriff all made me wonder just what kind of pleasure he was talking about. He stuck out his hand, but not straight forward, as though offering a firm man's handshake. Rather, it was turned slightly palm down, as a woman might have done in 19th Century England.

I took his hand, and firmly turning it sideways into a more standard position, shook it with all the strength I could muster, just to let him know where my allegiances lay.

“It's an honor,” he continued.

“And who the hell are you?” I asked.

“Cap's the name, boys are the game.”

“Cap. Cap. I've heard that before. You're the guy who runs the Manhole, aren't you?”

“That's right! You've heard of me! Oh, how exciting.”

“So what can I do for you?”

“Well, I've got a bit of a problem, and the cops aren't really helping me out. I was hoping you could.”

“And what would your problem be?”

“Two of my, ahem, 'dancers' were murdered last night.” Lots of that going around, apparently.

“I see. That seems like official police business, though.”

“I know, that's what I said! But, after they started interviewing me, they told me, 'You know, you'd probably better just drop it,' and left! I couldn't believe it.”

“Strange. Before you go any further, let me tell you about my fee.” Business first, especially with the 'mos.

“Whatever it is, I can pay it. No problem.” That's what I like to hear. Sounds like another double-fee case to me.

“Well then, tell me about what happened.”

“Well, I found them dead on the stage. The stage! Took an hour to clean it off. Anyway, they were naked, in all their rock hard glory. A couple of real granite specimens, if you know what I mean.”

“I don't, and I don't care. Go on.”

“Anyway, I called the cops, and they asked me a few questions, and then blew me off.”

“What did you say to them.”

“Well, I was just telling them that these two dancers had stayed behind because they had an important business meeting, something that was going to bring the club a lot of money. I didn't know the details. They said they wanted to get it straightened out before they shared it with me. But it involved someone in Premie-land, so you know it was worth big bucks. Anyway, they were supposed to meet this girl named Allie. And, well, actually, after I said that, that's when the cops up and left.”

“Really.” If I had recently painted my ceiling, my eyebrows would have been white.

“Yeah. Why, does that mean something to you?”

“It means my day just got a whole lot more interesting.”

Chapter 4: “A Guy, a Girl, and Something in Between”

I had to hand it to Cap, one thing the Manhole wasn't was seedy. Bright, clean, shiny. This place was taken care of in a way that most OTF establishments were not. The old knob polisher sure cared about his business, that was for sure.

In fact, it was a little too bright for my tastes. Too much light, for one thing. I usually prefer the lights to be reserved for the naked bodies on stage, and keep my face in the shadows, thank you very much. And the whole place was purple, too. Violently purple.

At any rate, it was still early, so there were very few patrons in the bar. A lone dancer gyrated on stage in a g-string. I thought he looked familiar from the start, but it took me a moment to recognize him as the son of one of the local preachers - did I mention we have churches in the OTF too? - and, in a former life, the scene might have presented me with blackmail opportunities, but that day, it was just worth a chuckle and some good gossip to tell Peachy.

“This is where we found them when we opened up,” Cap told me, waving at one of the empty stages. “Naked, with bruises on their necks.”

“Most of your employees here yet?”

“Most of them. Setting up for the Tuesday night drag strip show.”

“Of course. Mind if I ask around, see if I can find anything out?”

“Not at all. Want me to show you around?”

“I'd prefer to do it alone, if you don't mind. Your staff might be more open with me, if they don't have their boss looking over their shoulder, if you understand.”

“Oh. Of course. Well then, I have work to do. Ta-ta!”

Cap sauntered off, and I started working around the bar. Most everyone gave me the same story. They started showing up for work, and found the two dead bodies on the stage. No one knew about any connection between the dancers and Allie, or how they might be related to the Premies.

Just when I was about to give up, a pair of eyes standing in a doorway caught mine, and a barely perceptible jerk of a head beckoned me. I followed the eyes to find myself in a stairwell.

“You're asking about Armando and Phillipe.”

“Yes, I am.”

“And you know about Allie, too, I heard.”

“You knew Allie?”

“I know everything. I was in on the job they were planning, although Cap doesn't realize. He'd be horribly upset if he knew. Cap doesn't like me doing outside jobs. Likes to keep me to himself, but I gotta make money, you know?”

“I understand. I won't spread it around. What's your name?”

“They call me Bio.”

“Good enough. Tell me what you know.”

“Well, the four of us, and a few girls Allie knew, I never met them, but there were about eight of us total. We were going to work a really big party in Premie-land, with lots of big names there. It was supposed to be hush-hush, but...”

Just then, Bio looked over my shoulder, and I turned to see Cap walking around the bar as if looking for someone.

“There is a rundown old diner on Ricky Williams Avenue, called the Both Ways Diner. Run by an old transvestite friend of mine. Meet me there tonight at ten, and I'll tell you the rest. Gotta go.”

With the speed of a cheetah, Bio was gone, and only moments later, Cap was standing next to me in the stairwell.

“Something in here?”

“No, just getting a feel for the entrances and exits. You know, trying to figure out how the killers might have gotten in and out.”

“Oh, brilliant!” Cap clapped his hands.

“Well, Cap, I think I have enough to be getting on for know. Let me do some looking around for a few days, and I'll get back to you.”

Happy to get out of there, and with a good six hours to kill before I needed to head over to my meeting with Bio, I decided to stop in at my favorite watering hole, the Czech Inn. The proprietor, Zizkov, had a shady past that he kept mostly to himself, but he shared enough with me that I knew he could get me everything from women to drugs to guns in the blink of an eye. For that reason alone, he was worth having as a friend.

Zizkov wasn't there; he was off doing business in Europe, but a busty barmaid gave me a double shot of Gentleman Jack (more of Aruss' money), and a PBR chaser (my money). I drained the almond-colored elixir, and sat on the stool nursing my beer, thinking about my next move.

Most of the pieces fit together well. A few OTFers, trying to make some extra money, had taken an opportunity to work a big-money party in the Premium District. The Premies would not need an OTF connection for drugs or booze, but they would for sex, at least, if it was the kind of sex they wanted to keep quiet within their own little community. So, these three dead folks and their friends were peddling flesh. And, somehow, the secret got out. Although Bio was cut off, what happened next isn't difficult to figure. Someone wanted to keep the secret, and decided the only way to do so would be to get rid of the witnesses. The question was, who? That was what I expected to find out at my meeting that night.

And I wasn't entirely sure I was prepared for the answer.

Coming next time: Chapter 5, “The Conspiracy in the Diner.”
Chapter 5: “The Conspiracy in the Diner”



The Both Ways Diner looked like your standard, run-down eatery offering grease-laden cheeseburgers and French fries drenched in chili sauce. A busty woman in a pink checkered dress and white apron showed me to a table and brought me a coffee. I wasn't sure if she was the transvestite Bio told me about, or just an employee, but if she was the proprietor, I had to admit, it was a heck of a costume.

Bio showed up a few minutes after me, baseball cap pull down almost over his eyes, and head pointed to the ground. He saw me, and slinked over to the booth at which I was sitting, parking himself right next to me.

“Other side,” I said.

“Sorry.” He quickly shifted onto the bench opposite me. “Okay, here's what I didn't get to tell you. This was going to be a huge party, top names only. We were supposed to keep it very quiet, but Allie started thinking, considering the people who were going to be there, we weren't getting paid enough. For those folks to find, ah, 'talent' in the OTF would mean that they really wanted to keep things from being public, and Allie changed the terms on them, asking for a triple fee. She figured, they all had enough money, no big deal.”

“I'm guessing they didn't view it that way.”

“Exactly. When they refused, she threatened to pull out, and make the whole thing public.”

“And they decided to keep her from doing that. And then they hit your two buddies simply to tie up loose ends.”

“I think so.”

“Why didn't they come after you?”

“Allie, Phillipe, Armando, they were the only ones that ever met with any of the Premies involved. The rest of us were more like independent contractors, and we only met with Allie.”

“So, the question I have, then, is this: who was going to be at the party?”

Bio shook his head. “That, I don't know. Allie never told me any names.”

“Do you know where the party was supposed to be?”

“There, I can help you. Allie took me to a meeting once. She made me wait in the car, but I remember where we went. Later, she told me that house was where the party was going to be. I didn't recognize it at first, but I did some asking around, and found out who owned it.”

“Well, who would that be?”

Bio hesitated, looked down at the table. I knew I wasn't going to like what he had to say.

“Bloom,” he said, finally.

My heart sank. Names didn't get much bigger than Bloom. If he was offering his home as a venue for this type of party, you could bet other powerful Premies would be there. The kinds of people who would have the means to wipe some insignificant OTF types right off the map with no consequences, myself included. Only an idiot or one hell of a stubborn son of a bitch would pursue this investigation, and, well, I'm not an idiot. But, if I was going to do this, I'd need help.

I left the diner and walked back to the office. Peachy was long gone for the day, but the light was on in my office, so I pulled my Browning from my shoulder holster before sliding up to the door.

In one quick motion, I opened the door, jumped into the room, and swept it, left to right, gun steady. I lowered my firearm when I saw that my visitor was a large, smelly ape, sitting quietly in one of the lounge chairs.

For the first time in my life, I was happy to see Uber.

“The Director would like an update,” he said, calmly.

Setting the safety and putting my gun back in its holster, I said, “Uber, Aruss seems to have bitten off a bit more than he could chew. Listen up.”

And I told him the whole story, as I knew it up to that point. Uber's not exactly known for his intellect, but as the story involved a good deal of sex and intrigue, he was able to follow along reasonably well. I didn't care about smarts tonight, though. I had enough of those to deal with some inbred Premies. What I was short on was muscle and firepower, and Uber had those in abundance.

“So, what now?” Uber asked when I finished.

“You go see your boss. If he wants to pursue this, you come back here tomorrow. I'll see this out, but not alone. If I make a trip into Premie-land, you're coming with me.”

When Uber left, I picked up my phone, and called the Czech Inn. A female picked up on the other end.

“I was wondering if you could tell me when you expect Zizkov to get back into town,” I said. If he wasn't coming back in time, I'd need to make other arrangements for equipment.

“Oh, he is back now,” she said. “Let me get him.”

I was shocked. That was a hell of a short trip from Europe.

“Zizkov here,” he said over the phone.

“It's Goat. I thought you were in Europe.”

“Goat! Nice to hear from you,” he said, laughing. “No, I was not in Europe, although she was from Hungary. But she has a husband with big arms and a short fuse, so I didn't want people to know what I was up to. How can I help you?”

“I need some guns.”

“Of course, happy to help. When do you need them?”

“Now.”

“Well, then, come on over.”

Next time: Chapter 6: “Crossing the Border”
This post was edited on 3/19 12:59 PM by Not Fade Away