The AOTF Murder Mystery Complete *Final chapter added*

TheOriginalHappyGoat

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Yes, I can finally claim to be better than George R. R. Martin in one respect: my magnum opus is complete. I will be posting the entire story in this thread, chapter by chapter, but I'll put chapter links in this first post, for people who want to skip ahead to the new parts.

Chapter 1: "Call Me Goat"
Chapter 2: "Aruss' Girl"
Chapter 3: "A String of Perverts"
Chapter 4: "A Girl, a Guy, and Something in Between"
Chapter 5: "The Conspiracy in the Diner"
Chapter 6: "Crossing the Border"
Chapter 7: "Trouble with an Old Geezer"
Chapter 8: "Special Delivery"
Chapter 9: "The Conspiracy Revealed"
Chapter 10: "It All Goes Tits Up"

That's it for the old stuff. New chapter coming in a few minutes.

And here it is:
Chapter 11: "Deus ex Machina" and Epilogue

Fin.
 
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TheOriginalHappyGoat

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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.

Next: "Aruss' Girl"
 

TheOriginalHappyGoat

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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.

Next: "A String of Perverts"
 

TheOriginalHappyGoat

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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.”

Next: "A Guy, a Girl, and Something in Between"
 

TheOriginalHappyGoat

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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.

Next: "The Conspiracy in the Diner"
 

TheOriginalHappyGoat

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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: "Crossing the Border"
 
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TheOriginalHappyGoat

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Chapter 6
Crossing the Border”

The next morning, I got to the office early, carrying my purchase from Ziz the previous night in a brown box. I walked in to find Peachy making coffee.

“What the hell are you doing here?” she asked. She sounded irritable.

“Could be a busy day. Didn't want to miss anything. What got sand in your vajayjay?”

“Oh, I'm sorry. It's the girls. I think I went too far too fast this time, and they're awfully sore. Price you gotta pay for an awesome rack, though, I keep reminding myself.”

“Everything in life requires sacrifice.”

“What's in the box?”

“Porn. I'll be in my office.”

“No disturbances for three minutes, then?”

“Make it five.”

I entered my office and sat down at my desk. I opened the large locking drawer at the bottom and placed the package safely inside.

The day was relatively uneventful. Peachy came in a few times with messages from old clients. Most of them were excuses for why they hadn't paid me yet. One was actually the wife of a former client, who I had captured on camera in a compromising position for her husband. No, I'm not going to tell you her name, but you probably know her. Anyway, apparently it was burning when she peed, and she swore she wasn't the one who cheated this time, so could I follow her husband around and catch him in the act. I set that aside as a pretty easy way to make a few bucks when this was all over.

Mid-afternoon I got sick of hearing Peachy whine about her breasts, so I let her have the rest of the day off. Funny, she didn't seem sore at all as she bounced out of there fast as she could. It was shortly after she left that Uber showed up.

“Well, Goat,” he said. “We're on.”

“Great.”

“Just one thing. I gotta tell you, Aruss was acting strange when we talked about what you found out. I know he doesn't always tell me everything, but I've never known him to actually purposefully keep something from me, either.”

“So what are you saying?”

“Something about him, I just wasn't sure I could trust.” I knew that must have been hard for Uber to say. Aruss was like a god to him. And I mean god. Like man-crush-squared.

“But he gave you the go-ahead anyway.”

“Yep.”

“I guess we'll just have to be extra careful. Here, I got you something.” I pulled the package from Ziz out and put it on top the desk. I opened it up to reveal two strange looking handguns.

“These are two of those Soviet plastic guns they swear don't actually exist. Undetectable with a wand. You can bet we're going to get swept at some point. They're no good if we get patted down, but they give us the best chance of staying armed as long as possible.”

“And the bullets?”

“Carbon fiber. Also undetectable.” I showed him the rounds. “Well, I think we should wait for dark before we head over. Whiskey?”

“Got any rye?”

“Rye? Uber, you surprise me. You always struck me as a Southern Comfort kind of man. Or maybe cough syrup. Sure, I got some Old Overholt around here somewhere.”

I found the bottle, poured a couple of stiff ones and we had a silent toast. In my head, I was toasting my own continued long life. I didn't ask what he toasted.

Just after sundown, we headed out.

“I just don't get it,” he said as we walked. “When is a sex scandal worth murder? Everyone knows the Premies are just as big of perverts as we are here. If it got out, it would all blow over eventually.”

“Well, there are two things to consider. First, there is the possibility that this isn't some ordinary sex party. I mean, maybe there were things supposed to go on that would actually shock people. Why else would they get tail from the OTF? They've got their own, you know that.”

“And the second thing?”

“The only people who had to die are OTF scum. That's not murder to those Premie bastards. It's just cleanup.”

Uber just nodded. From the look in his eyes, I wondered if he might have actually been lost in deep thought for the first time in his life.

“Ah,” I said. “We're here.”

A wrought-iron fence stood before us, marking the end of the OTF District and the beginning of Premieland. Worked into the rails were thousands of depictions of the official seal of the Premie District – Lady Justice lifting her blindfold to peek out with one eye.

“Ready? Let's go.”

Next time: Trouble with an Old Geezer

Note: This is actually a rewrite of Chapter 6. I don't think I ever posted the original version, but if I did, it is no longer considered canon, and is being removed from the OTF Murder Mystery Wiki.

Next: “Trouble with an Old Geezer”
 

TheOriginalHappyGoat

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Chatper 7
"Trouble with an Old Geezer"


From a distance, Premietown looked lush and green, landscaped for the very best the city had to offer. Up close, the last few glimmers of twilight mingled with the opening rays of streetlamps to bounce a saccharin glow off rows upon rows of plastic plants. I'm not sure metaphors get much heavier than that, but there it is. Like a giant outdoor waiting room at a dentist's office.

Uber and I stayed along the side streets. We headed for the Premium Country Club, since Bloom's house was on the other side of that, and we could cover a lot of ground without being under the streetlamps. When we got there, we were met with honest to goodness trees. We dove in.

After a few moments we reached a fairway. Looking down to the left, we could see a small shack in the distance. A light was on inside. Probably the groundskeeper. I signaled to Uber to turn right and stay in the trees. Better to go around than risk being caught out in the middle of the fairway. After ducking from tree to tree for about a hundred yards, I heard wood splinter above my head, followed by the tell-tale crack of a gunshot behind us. I turned and saw a man standing next to a golf cart in the fairway, holding a rifle.

“Stop right there, you sumbitches!” the man yelled.

“Screw that,” I said, turning to Uber. “Run.”

We bolted through the trees, but we could hear the whine of the electric motor out on the open grass getting closer. When we got to the tee area, I hit Uber on the shoulder and pointed. Across the tee, over a green, was another wooded area. It was thick and wide, and would offer cover from the crazy man in the golf cart. And it would put us in the right direction toward Bloom's. He nodded, and we took off.

“I'll get you, you hippies,” we could hear the man scream.

After flying over the tee and green area, we could just about see the trees when it happened. Maybe it was a trick of the (very dim) light. Maybe it was adrenaline. Maybe I hadn't had enough whiskey, and my brain wasn't working right. But somehow, we both missed the steep dropoff at the edge of the green that signaled a greenside bunker. We tumbled off the edge and slid down into the sand. I spit the sand out of my mouth and pushed myself up onto my hands and knees. I turned my head to the right. No Uber. I turned my head to the left.

No Uber.

“Alright,” a voice behind me said. “Turn around. No sudden moves.”

I did as I was told and saw an old man holding a rifle. Wafts of white hair stuck out from under his baseball cap. Crazy poured out from his black eyes.

“Walk slowly to the edge of the bunker.” I did as I was told.

“Good. Now,” he said, gesturing the rifle down at my feet. “Rake it.”

“What?”

“I said, rake it, you bastard!”

I'd heard of people being forced to dig their own graves, but rake them? This was surreal. But, I reached down to pick up the rake. As I did, I heard a thud and the sound of something heavy hitting the grass. I looked up to see Uber standing over the old man, holding a large rock. The old man didn't move.

“Thanks, Uber. I owe you one.”

“What do we do with him?”

"Any rope or anything in the cart?” Uber rifled through the contents of the electric buggy.

“Just a bunch of golf towels and some really strange porn.”

“That will work.”

We used the towels to bind the old man's feet and hands. We laid him on his back in the bunker. He'd have a killer headache when he woke up, but hopefully he'd be comfortable, and someone would find him in the morning. I turned to Uber.

“Grab the porn.”

“The porn? What for?”

“I have an idea.”

Next: “Special Delivery”
 

TheOriginalHappyGoat

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Chatper 8
“Special Delivery”


I knocked on the door. Uber stood behind me. I knew he was worried, but we had to get in this house, and I didn't have a better idea. I stood there for a while, looked back at Uber, saw the blank slate that was his face, and was just about to give up, when the door finally opened.

“May I help you?” A man who was obviously a butler and even more obviously constantly regretting every decision in made in his life that led him to this end appeared in the doorway.

“Yessir,” I began, my sales pitch at the ready. “I'm from the NAPS – North American Porn Specialists. We're currently running a great deal on some very rare magazines, and thought the owner of the manor might be interested.”

The dead-eyed gentleman's gentleman stared at me for a moment. I was worried he wasn't buying it. But even money said Bloom was a pornhound, and his butler would know about it. Or, perhaps this butler would himself be interested.

“What are you offering?”

Jackpot.

“Well, we've got everything from lesbians to trannies. You got the kink, we got it in ink. Just to give you an example, we're currently offering a special on this,” I said, pulling out an issue from the stack we took from the golf nut. “Schoolgirls, Aardvarks and Pudding. First issue. And it's not just one, or even two of them. Each pictorial makes use of all three fetishes. Great stuff.”

The butler stared some more. He had yet to show any human expression.

“Please come in. I'll get the master of the house.”

We waited in the, what do you call them in fancy houses, foyer? Yes, I think that's right. We waited in the foyer until the man himself came out.

“I'm Mr. Bloom,” he said, not offering a hand. “I understand you are selling something I might be interested in.”

“Only the kinkiest, craziest porn, delivered right to your house in the most discreet way possible.”

“Interesting. Why don't you come into my waiting room, while I have my servant bring us something to drink, so I can, ahem, peruse your wares.” He gestured to the next room. “Schrock! Bring some brandy to the sitting room, please! Thank you!”

The butler brought the brandy, and we sat for a while, going over the porn we had brought. Bloom seemed genuinely interested in a few issues that focused heavily on very muscular women. I honestly felt like I was about to make a big sale, which would have been great, if that had been my actual intention.

“This look great,” he said at one point. “I'd like to order, let's see, this one, this one, and, oh, definitely this one. These products all look great, ah, I'm sorry, what did you say your name was?”

“Tommy,” I said, without skipping a beat.

“Tommy? Hmmm,” He said. I didn't like this. “You look more like a Goat, to me.”

Before I could react, multiple doors opened, and other people began pouring into the room, some of them holding guns. Too many of them holding guns, actually.

One of them was Aruss. Son of a bitch. Uber also noticed.

“Boss? What's going on?”

“Uber, my friend. Sorry for the deception, but it was important you bring Goat here, and he couldn't know anything. I trust you, I really do, but we couldn't let you slip up. Stakes were too high.”

Aruss gestured to Uber, directing him to join him over with the large group of well-armed goons.

“I still don't get it,” Uber said. “It's not like Goat was hiding. We didn't need to go through all this, get shot at by some loon at the golf course, just to bring him here.”

“I know, I know. It's all very complicated, Uber. Forgive me for not confiding in you, but we were working on a short schedule. You've been a wonderful right-hand man all these years, really. I want you to know that.”

Uber looked at his employer, as one of the goons silently positioned himself behind the poor dunce. I didn't have time to react, although I could feel the next few moments in my gut before they even happened. I even think I saw a very brief moment of what might be called “understanding” pass ever so faintly across Uber's face, just before his brains flew out of his forehead, and his dead body slumped coldly to the carpet.

“Goddammit, Aruss!” screamed Bloom. “That's Persian, you ass. Not knockoff. The real deal.”

“Shut it, you old blowhard. We're in this together, now.”

“Fine. What about him?” Bloom pointed at me.

“Pat him down. Take him in the kitchen. Tie him to a chair. We're going to have a conversation.”

A few minutes later, I was strapped in to what I have to admit was a very comfortable dining chair, with Aruss staring at me.

“Sorry this had to work out this way, Goat.”

“If you're going to put a bullet in my brain like Uber, just get it over with.”

“Oh, you'll be going to the great whorehouse in the sky, no doubt about that, but we need you first. For a couple of things. First of all, we need to know who else knows anything at all about this case. Anything.”

“Kiss off, fatass.”

“I thought you'd say that. Honestly, I was kind of hoping for it. We'll see how you feel after a little motivation.” He stood up. Actually looked a little sad for a moment. Or at least, that's what I would have thought, if I'd honestly believed he was capable of anything passing for human emotion. He raised his voice. “Come in.”

A door opened. I man walked in. He was wearing perfectly pressed khakis and a polo shirt with collar popped all the way to his earlobes. He sported perfect white teeth and frosted tips. And he was wearing two sets of brass knuckles.

“Money,” Aruss said. “Go to it.”

Next: "The Conspiracy Revealed"
 

TheOriginalHappyGoat

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Chapter 9
“The Conspiracy Revealed”


I honestly don't remember how long I was in Bloom's kitchen, sitting tied to a chair, while this over-muscled and yet still somehow effeminate douchebag named “Money” wailed at me best he could with those manicured hands of his. The only thing this pansy knew how to beat was himself, that I was sure of. But it did wear on a bit. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't going to cave in. If I did, and still somehow survived, my reputation would be ruined permanently. And, as I figured I was going to end up face down in some OTF alley, anyway, I saw no reason to speed up my own death by being cooperative.

Still, I'll admit I was at least a little relieved when Bloom came into the room and told his minion to stop.

“I hope you're enjoying the hospitality, Mr. Goat,” he said, pulling up a chair and sitting directly in front of me.

“Honestly, I've had better.”

“Hospitality? Or beatings?”

“Both,” I said, sneering at this Money and watching his nostrils flare. “Your boy here might as well have given me a handy as effective as that was.”

“Ha! Well, the night's still young. But no, I think we have a better use for you. If you're not going to give up the details of your investigation, we'll just have to trust that you didn't open your fat mouth around town. In fact, knowing about you as I do, I always trusted you kept things close to your vest.”

“Then why the beating?”

“Fun.” The fat greaseball let his lips curl into what I imagine was some sort of grin. “Oh, we'll still cover our bases. I think we'll be removing from the equation some more dancers from the Manhole, just to be safe. And, of course, your lovely secretary will have to go. I'm truly sorry for that. She has an exquisite rack.”

“Good luck. I already told her to skip town. You'll never see her again.” I quietly prayed that Peachie's breasts would be too sore in the morning and she'd call in sick.

“Oh, Goat. Such a terrible liar. Well, I think it's time to get you ready. We have big plans.” He turned to Money. “Bring him into the den.”

As I was dragged into the room, I actually experienced some shock to find myself greeted with a veritable Who's Who of OTF life. Bloom, and Aruss, of course. There was Little Lebowski. I guess he was more trustworthy than Uber, after all. A man with a large scar on his face I'd never met, but immediately recognized as one of the local crime lords, a real sadist named Ralphie. He'd once burned down an entire elementary school because the PE teacher owed him on a gambling debt. Several others I didn't recognize.

“I see you're hanging with quite the crowd of OTF scum, Bloom.”

“Yes, well, enjoy your time here in the inner sanctum. It will be your last.” He turned to another man in the room, sporting a tie-dye shirt and a wiry Van Dyke. “What did you find?”

“It's perfect. These carbon slugs aren't marked like normal bullets when firing.” The hippie held up the Soviet gun and rounds they'd confiscated from me. “We can fire them from any firearm of equal caliber, and it will be untraceable.”

“The gun will still show signs of firing, though?”

“Yes.”

“Excellent.” Bloom held out his hand, and the Deadhead handed my gun over. Bloom inserted the clip, looked at the weapon thoughtfully, then abruptly pointed it into his fireplace and let off four rounds. “And now it's been fired.”

He removed the clip, emptied the chamber, and handed everything back to Mr. Bojangles.

“In your own way, Mr. Goat, you've actually saved our little operation, here. You see, as I'm sure you've figured out, it was no sex party we were planning on holding. It was an assassination. When Allie got greedy, we thought we'd have to give it all up, but then you came along. Now, we have an alternative. We have the bullets that can carry out the shooting, and we have, with you and your untraceable gun, our fallguy, as well.”

“It will never work.”

“Oh, won't it? I think it will. It's simple, you see. We'll be firing some of your bullets at our target. Then we'll be dropping you off in the middle of an intersection full of Aruss' loyal OTF security folks. Seeing as you'll be armed, they'll be taking you down pretty quickly. They won't know the gun is empty, of course. And when testing matches the slugs to the victim, and shows that your gun has been fired recently, they'll just figure it was because you unloaded all of your rounds.”

“And who is it I'm supposed to take the blame for killing?”

“Oh, just a man who's become a bit unpopular among some of the higher ups around here.”

A slick chuckle cascaded around the room. I caught a few men stealing glances at the large television screen on the wall. I looked at it to see news coverage of large crowds of people in the street. They appeared to be celebrating something.

No, wait.

They were celebrating someone.

Then I saw him. In the middle of the crowd. The leader of the largest religion in the City. His tanned skin, wire-rimmed glasses and ill-fitting robes were unmistakable.

The Orange Bishop.

“No,” I said. “You can't be serious.”

“Oh, we're quite serious,” Bloom said. “It's time for Mr. Tangerine to go. And you've so kindly provided us with the method.”

Next: “It All Goes Tits Up”
 

TheOriginalHappyGoat

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Chapter 10
“It All Goes Tits Up”


I was standing in the entrance of the Comeandgoandcome. I couldn't remember how I'd gotten there. My confusion must have shown on my face, because Basil looked worried as he walked up to me.

“My friend, what is the trouble? Please, come in, I have new arrivals for you.” He led me into the store.

“Some very good stuff from Southeast Asia this month. I think you will enjoy. In fact, my rep is still here delivering the goods. Why don't you meet her. Hey, Mee! I'd like you to meet my best customer, Goat. Goat, this is Mee Luv Yu. She gets me the very best Asian smut I know you enjoy so much. Mee, show him the new arrivals for me, would you?”

Mee was, I swear to all the gods, the hottest Asian chick I have ever set eyes on. And she was wearing a tight leather mini with a spaghetti-strap tank. She was, I swear, my perfect woman. She started showing me through all the new porn she'd brought Basil. Thai, Vietnamese, Laotian, some other ethnicities I didn't even know existed.

“I can tell, you are a true connoisseur of the Asian form, no?”

“I sure am.”

“Perhaps, instead of these paper dolls, you'd be interested in the real thing, no?” She moved closer to me, and, right there in the middle of Basil's shop (although I'm sure it's seen worse), reached down and grabbed my shotgun.

“Or, perhaps, yes?”

Something wasn't right about this. But I was entranced. She moved her face toward mine, and I closed my eyes just in time to experience the most painful kiss imaginable.

The stars faded from my eyes and I found myself on a tile floor with a large black boot right in front of my eyes. My nose felt like it had lost a round with a bowling ball.

“Wake up, asshole,” a voice growled. “Time to go.”

Shit.

Bloom's men stuffed me in the back of a van, and we were off. The Orange One was holding some kind of public ceremony in Premieland. The plan, they figured, was simple. Take him out using my bullets, then drop me off in the middle of a crazed crowd of armed guards. Because of the importance of the event, the Mayor had asked for security help from all the districts, and they were going to make sure I ended up surrounded by a bunch of Aruss' trigger-happy goons. My nose still smarting, my brain was working double-time to figure out some way, any way at all, to make it out of this alive. It was coming up blank.

“Did you sleep well?” one of the apes asked me.

“Almost. Your girlfriend here woke me up before I got to the good part,” I said, gesturing to the lamebrain next to me who'd woken me up with his toe.

Most of the guys in the van laughed, but stars filled my eyes again briefly as the jackass objected to my comment with a fist across the side of my head. I have to learn to keep my mouth shut.

We finally got to our intended location, and the driver parked the van. I watched out the front window as the Bishop came down the street toward us. Any minute now, all hell was going to break loose, and I'd be a dead man.

Now, I should say right now, I'm not a big fan of the religious leadership in this City. I mean, I'm not really religious, anyway. I go to services on the big holidays, you know. Opening Day. March. On those rare occasions we actually have March services. But, still, I can understand why some people would want this guy dead. He's a greasy weirdo, for one. Always forces priests to retire or transfer to other religions before they are ready, so he can bring up the next hot thing from seminary. And the Church can't fire him, because he got them to sign a contract that guarantees him everyone's first born son if they part ways. Don't know how he managed that one. Anyway, point is, someone was bound to take a shot at him sooner or later. I just didn't like the idea of taking the blame for it, is all.

Well, at this point, he was getting kind of close, and then I heard it, off in the distance. The faint crack of a gunshot. A few heads in the crowd heard it, too, and looked around. I kept my eyes fixed on the Bishop.

Nothing. He kept smiling and waving.

I smirked. The shooter must have missed.

Then more shots in the distance.

Smiling and waving.

Frantic voices cracked across the radio in the van.

“Lebowski's down-”

“Betrayal-”

“Shooter on the roof-”

“Kill Goat-”

That was my cue. As the goons turned to me, I grabbed the rifle from the one nearest me and cracked the butt across his face. Then I calmly turned to each of the others and put a single bullet in each of their faces before they could react. Then I dropped the rifle, opened the door, and ran like hell.

At this point, people were screaming, and running around like crazy. If they weren't sure where the distant gunshots were coming from, they sure as hell knew what had happened in that van. I had to get out of there before they started looking at me.

I ran across the street, looking for a good alley to duck in. Just then, someone grabbed me by the shoulder, and pulled me toward a shop door.

“In here, quick,” a familiar voice said. I followed.

The door shut, and we listened to the chaos outside. I turned to my savior.

“Thanks, Peachie. I owe you a raise.”

Someone else came out from around the corner. It was Ziz. He was holding a scoped rifle of some kind. Some foreign job.

"And if you worked for me, I'd owe you one, too."

"Give mine to Peachie. I'm just helping protect my best customer."

The shop turned out to be owned by one of Peachie's friends, who was out of town. She had a key, for reasons that were probably none of my business, so she figured we could lay low there for a while. We holed up in the office, she pulled a bottle of whiskey and a couple of glasses out of the desk, and I turned on the television to see what the news outlets were saying. It wasn't good.

“City officials have already issued a warrant for one Mr. Goat,” a pretty blonde with big hair was saying. “A known figure in the criminal underground of the OTF District, it's unclear what his role today was, but anonymous sources say he is somehow involved with the dead bodies found in the van. The same sources confirm that at least some bullets were fired at the procession itself, although thankfully no one was hit. This Goat is the prime suspect for those shots, as well.”

“Well, this is just great,” I said, and downed a double-shot of amber medicine.

“With me now is a local scientist, who claims he has proof this is all an elaborate setup.”

My ears perked up, and I saw a short goblin-looking man standing next to the pretty lady.

“Yes, I've done some quick calculations on the back of my old Super Bowl XXXIX program, which I always carry with me, and there is no way any of the bullets fired at the procession could have come from that van. There was no clear line of sight. They would have to be magic bullets that break all the laws of physics. It reminds me of that time Tom Brady was accused of deflating balls, which science clearly proves he didn't.”

“Okay,” the blonde said, “what do you mean by that?”

“Well, whoever shot those men in the van did so at about the same time those other shots rang out. This Goat would have had to shoot the men in the van, and then run over to that short plaza over there, and climb onto that wall to get a good look at the procession. By then, it was too late. Not even Superman could have done it. Maybe Tom Brady could have, like that one time we all thought he broke his knee, but he came back out and drove down the field for the winning touchdown. But a normal human? No way.”

“I see.”

“Who is this weirdo?” I asked. Peachie shrugged.

“So what you're saying,” the blonde continued, “is that the man who shot up this van couldn't have been the man who shot at the procession.”

“Exactly. There's no way. Again, unless he was a super human, like Tom Brady. Did you know that he's won over 60% of all the games in which he's thrown 50 passes or more? That's unheard of in the NFL.”

“I take it you're a Tom Brady fan.”

“Not particularly, no.”

I shut the television off. This was getting absurd. At least there was one conspiracy theorist out there who believed in me, though.

“Any idea what you're going to do to get out of this?” Zizkov asked.

“Not a clue.”

I downed another double.

Next: “Deus ex Machina”
 

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Chapter 11
"Deus ex Machina"


We waited for things to calm down, and for the crowds to disperse. And then we waited some more. Finally, at about three in the morning, we decided to work our way back to the OTF. Zizkov had a windowless van – again, best not to ask why – and we all piled in the back, while he drove. I wanted to go back to the office, but Ziz had smartly pointed out it was probably being watched. My apartment was likewise probably out of the question. So we decided to head back to the Czech Inn to plan our next move. At least there, we'd have access to plenty of food, plenty of booze, and, most importantly, plenty of ammunition.

The trip was uneventful. We saw security forces moving about here and there, but none of them seemed to give our van a second look. Once we got to the Czech Inn, Ziz parked in the back, so we could all sneak in through the kitchen door.

Zizkov turned on the hoods and fryers, so we could have a snack while we worked out our plan. Then, we headed to the bar for some alcoholic fortification.

“Well, this isn't going to go away easily,” Ziz said. “I took down one of Aruss' goons, that Lebowski fellow, I think. He was the one aiming at the Bishop.”

“And I clipped a few of Bloom's men in the van. No, we're not going to be able to pretend this will just go away.”

“What about Peach? She might not need to be in this.”

“Actually, I'm sorry, Peachie,” I said as I turned to her. “But Bloom made it clear he thought of you as a loose end that needed to be tied up, regardless of your involvement tonight. So you're stuck with us.”

“That's okay,” she said. “I wouldn't want to leave you boys to deal with this alone.”

“Thanks, Peachie. I knew there was a reason I keep deciding not to fire you.”

“Besides the boobs.”

“Yes, besides those.”

“How very touching,” a voice from the door to the kitchen said. We all turned. It was Bloom, walking into the bar holding a handgun. Behind him walked Aruss and Money, both also armed. “A shame to see such loyalty go unrewarded. Alas, such is life.”

“You son of a bitch,” Ziz said. “How did you find us?”

“You're not as smart as you think you are,” said Money. “This had your commie stench all over it.”

“Go to hell.”

“Ride a bike.”

“Eat a mortgage.”

“Enough!” yelled Aruss. “I don't know if this is the lamest posturing in the world, or you two are flirting, but I say enough. Bloom, kill them, and let's get out of here.”

“Actually, Bloom, don't do that, please,” yet another new voice said. “I'd rather like to keep them alive.”

We all turned back to the kitchen door to see the mayor himself walk in, flanked by two very well-armed official security guards.

“Aruss, I'm disappointed in you,” he said. “Using violence against your own citizens? Not the mark of a good director. I'll have to remember this slip up.”

“Mr. Mayor, these people were part of a plot to assassinate the Orange Bishop while he was under your protection. Surely you don't mean for them to go unpunished.”

“Actually, that is exactly what I mean to happen. As far as I can tell, there is no evidence they were actually involved. And as no one consequential was hurt, I think we can let this blow over.”

“No one consequential?” roared Bloom. “What about my men in the van? What about Lebowski?”

“Lebowski? You mean the man who was apparently shooting at the Bishop himself? Well known as Aruss' loyal man? Surely you are not implicating your friend Aruss in the assassination attempt. Or yourself?”

“No, that's not what I meant. It's just-”

“Bloom, shut up,” said Aruss. “Mr. Mayor, what do you suggest?”

“Considering Lebowski's long and loyal service, I don't think we need the city to know his role here – or yours. We'll have him buried with full honors. Say he was actually defending the Bishop. As for Bloom's men, do what you want. No one will care about them. But as for these three,” he gestured toward us, “I want them left alone. Consider them under my protection.”

“Thank you, Mr. Mayor,” I said.

“For the moment,” he glared at me. “Truth is, I could care if you bite it. But some crazy Tom Brady fan nut was on TV asking questions, and we don't need to give the conspiracy theorists legs. So you're getting lucky. The next time you find yourselves involved in something like this, you're on your own. Got it?”

“Got it.”

“Good.” The Mayor turned glared at us for a moment, and then turned back to Aruss and Bloom. “Well, gentlemen, why don't we all retire back to my mansion for a nightcap, so we can go over the details, make sure all our stories are straight? I have pretty good bourbon, as you know. No hookers tonight; my kids are there this weekend.”

And with that, they all walked out the door, and our lives were apparently our own again.

“Snap,” said Ziz.

Epilogue

I sat in the office, drinking an Irish coffee – very Irish, in fact – and going over my messages, trying to get back toward some semblance of a normal life. It had been a few weeks since my run-in with Bloom, and I was eager to focus on the more mundane matters that usually crossed my desk, like finding out which spouse was cheating, which son was secretly a dancer at the Manhole, and which bartender was feeling lonely because she recently broke up with her boyfriend.

Despite the way things had worked out, the Mayor had insisted that Aruss pay me, and had even convinced Bloom to throw in a bonus for my troubles – and my silence. As both checks had recently cleared, I was in a pretty good mood.

As usual, that didn't last long.

“Boss,” Peachie said as she opened my door. “You have a visitor. And you're not going to like it.”

“Tell him I'm busy.”

“I don't think that's going to work.”

I ran my hands through my hair, and sighed. “Fine. Who is it?”

Peachie backed away from the doorway, and Aruss himself walked in. I immediately reached for my desk drawer, to grab my gun.

“Hold on, Mr. Goat. I'm not here for trouble. I need help.”

“Get bent.”

“I'll pay well.”

“Last time you hired me, you almost killed me. Why do I want to work for you again?”

“Not for me. For the District. Official work. Benefits and everything.”

“Really? OTF cops can't take care of it?”

“Since the recent, ahem, events, the Mayor has been insistent that we clean things up a bit, do some actual investigative police work. You know, solve crimes, rather than just take bribes. Turns out our guys aren't very good at it. What do you say?”

“How much?”

“Triple your normal fee, plus dental.”

“Throw in a whiskey stipend.”

“Done.”

And, a few minutes later, I found myself following Aruss and a few of his uniformed neanderthals down a fairway on a local golf course. As we approached the green, I saw a body sprawled out in a sand trap. Something was sticking out his throat.

“What is that?” I asked, pointing.

“The handle from a rake.”

“Someone shoved a rake handle down his throat?”

“Not exactly.” Aruss motioned to one of the blue shirts. “Turn him over.”

And there, on the other side, was the other end of the rake. Someone had gotten so mad at this poor guy, he'd shoved a rake clear up his ass so hard, it had come out his mouth.

“What do you say, Goat? Does this case interest you?” Aruss asked, a twinkle in his eye.

Back to work.

To follow more of the adventures of Goat, look for the next novella in the series, due out in early 2017, “Anal Murder.”
 

T.M.P.

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Everyone's a critic.
Phish writing a story. "Once upon a time, breh. I bought beer, and drank it".

M.T.I.O.T.F. "Once in a pon of time, the pubs found dem a seesaw and swung em sum truffs".

Scott the flaccid racist. "Once upon a time, back when men were men, and sheep were nervous, I could get a hard on."

Or something ...

Largemouth ?
 
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PhishPhan682

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Phish writing a story. "Once upon a time, breh. I bought beer, and drank it".

M.T.I.O.T.F. "Once in a pon of time, the pubs found dem a seesaw and swung em sum truffs".

Scott the flaccid racist. "Once upon a time, back when men were men, and sheep were nervous, I could get a hard on."

Or something ...

Largemouth ?
You trying to look like a failure on the closing of the AOTF? What kind of shit is this?
 

MyTeamIsOnTheFloor

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Phish writing a story. "Once upon a time, breh. I bought beer, and drank it".

M.T.I.O.T.F. "Once in a pon of time, the pubs found dem a seesaw and swung em sum truffs".

Scott the flaccid racist. "Once upon a time, back when men were men, and sheep were nervous, I could get a hard on."

Or something ...

Largemouth ?
Swung a truff?
Is that legal?
 

T.M.P.

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I find it much more likely that she's just being polite, or has nothing to compare it to.
Women laugh at how fragile men's sexual egos are and hardly ever tell the truth, they'll leave your ass before actually critisizing. Unless they know you can handle it. I would guess that to be ten fold truth with C-$.
You painted a fking doll? Is that better than I bought beer?

Please tell me how applying fking Van Dyke Brown to a piece of plastic that was injection molded in China is any way shape or form better than I bought a fking beer?
If I were to paint a plastic doll from china, it would take dexterity, coordination, an understand of light, an understanding of shadow, and an understanding of perspective.

These are terms used by artists and probably beyond the understanding of your pea brain. Drinking beer requires you to open a fking beer and drink it. An inbred retarded fking child could do that.

fwiw - injection molded doll made of plastic from china? WTF are you prattling on about because you sound like an idiot. I paint on canvas. I sculpt. I don't sculpt in plastic. I generally use clay. Sometimes soft stone. Sometimes in epoxy. I don't paint my sculpts. I have gotten a few bronzed. I collect pewter miniatures. I don't paint them either.

Jesus .. are you drunk again?

I get that someone that lacks imagination would probably lack any talent and skill at anything that actually requires talent and skill but that's no reason to hate on people are are gifted and only because you're not.

Can you do anything besides going into a store picking up a six pack, paying for it, drinking it, burping and then bragging to your idiot beer phag friends that you bought an overpriced overhyped liquid fad just to impress other fad infatuated dumbasses?
 
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TheOriginalHappyGoat

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Women laugh at how fragile men's sexual egos are and hardly ever tell the truth, they'll leave your ass before actually critisizing. Unless they know you can handle it. I would guess that to be ten fold truth with C-$.


If I were to paint a plastic doll from china, it would take dexterity, coordination, an understand of light, an understanding of shadow, and an understanding of perspective.

These are terms used by artists and probably beyond the understanding of your pea brain. Drinking beer requires you to open a fking beer and drink it. An inbred retarded fking child could do that.

fwiw - injection molded doll made of plastic from china? WTF are you prattling on about because you sound like a an idiot. I paint. I sculpt. I don't sculpt in plastic. I generally use clay. Sometimes soft stone. I don't paint my sculpts. I have gotten a few bronzed. I collect pewter miniatures. I don't paint them either.

Jesus .. are you drunk again?

I get that someone that lacks imagination would probably lack any talent and skill at anything that actually requires talent and skill but that's no reason to hate people are are gifted and only because you're not.

Can you do anything besides going into a store picking up a six pack, paying for it, drink it, burp and then brag to your beer phag friends that you bought an overpriced overhyped liquid fad just to impress other fad infatuated dumbasses?
Oh, snap.
 

PhishPhan682

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Women laugh at how fragile men's sexual egos are and hardly ever tell the truth, they'll leave your ass before actually critisizing. Unless they know you can handle it. I would guess that to be ten fold truth with C-$.


If I were to paint a plastic doll from china, it would take dexterity, coordination, an understand of light, an understanding of shadow, and an understanding of perspective.

These are terms used by artists and probably beyond the understanding of your pea brain. Drinking beer requires you to open a fking beer and drink it. An inbred retarded fking child could do that.

fwiw - injection molded doll made of plastic from china? WTF are you prattling on about because you sound like an idiot. I paint on canvas. I sculpt. I don't sculpt in plastic. I generally use clay. Sometimes soft stone. I don't paint my sculpts. I have gotten a few bronzed. I collect pewter miniatures. I don't paint them either.

Jesus .. are you drunk again?

I get that someone that lacks imagination would probably lack any talent and skill at anything that actually requires talent and skill but that's no reason to hate people are are gifted and only because you're not.

Can you do anything besides going into a store picking up a six pack, paying for it, drinking it, burping and then brag to your beer phag friends that you bought an overpriced overhyped liquid fad just to impress other fad infatuated dumbasses?
I am the new Ovaltine. I haven't been drunk in quite a while. The fact that an opinion you make based upon a collection of thoughts about a piece of art is any different than myself gaining an opinion upon a collection of thoughts about a fermented liquid is ignorant at best.
 
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Bloom.

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And no gag reflex to speak of, at all. I mean, just a top-notch girl, the kind her parents could be proud of.”
LOL

Note: This is actually a rewrite of Chapter 6. I don't think I ever posted the original version, but if I did, it is no longer considered canon, and is being removed from the OTF Murder Mystery Wiki.
Stories like this and Game of Thrones need a wiki to help us keep up.