Saturday, September 19, 2009

An Excerpt from Jimmy Plush, Teddy Bear Detective coming soon from Eraserhead Press

Mr. Plush and the Dead Horse

Being a gumshoe is stressful. Being a gumshoe in the body of a three foot teddy bear is a hell of a lot more stressful than that. So I decided to take the day off for once. Since trading my body to that bastard teddy bear to pay off my gambling debts, the closest thing I’d gotten to time off was time spent face down in an alley unconscious. And unlike some people, I wasn’t there for leisure. I knew this day would start off with a couple of annoyances, but I thought it would end at that. The first one, I’d figured on. Having no private residence, I had a tendency to sleep in my office. I also had a lapdog of a Chinese chauffeur that had a habit of waiting outside with my limo ready to go and a tragic attempt at coffee in his hand. I stepped outside, and I was right. There was Chan with coffee staler than politics and pictures. I sighed.
“Chan, where do they grow the coffee in China?”
Even for a Chinaman, Chan went stiff.
“They do not grow coffee in China, Mot Honored Mister Plush.”
I took the coffee from him. This was an important part of my morning ritual lately.
“Do you wanna know why they don’t grow coffee in China, Chan?”
He sighed. There was anger behind his slanty subhuman eyes.
“Yes, Mister Plush. I would like to know why.”
I tossed the coffee in his face as I did every morning. The coffee was piping hot. Good old Chan. Even confronted with certain scalding he wouldn’t serve me lukewarm coffee.
“That is the worst damn coffee I’ve ever had. You run somebody’s laundry through the pot?”
Chan folded his hands and bowed.
“Humblest apologies. Does Most Honored Mister Plush require breakfast? Or to be driven somewhere?”
“Does sycophantic Chan want to lose his job and have to make noodles for a living?” It’s important to be firm with one’s chauffeur.
“Chan is very sorry.” He bowed again. Chan bowed pretty often. Unavoidable when a kid hears Confucius in the nursery.
“I’m taking the day off, Chan.”
Chan looked at me as if I were the one that talked goofy all the time.
“Are you certain Mister Plush, there is a lot to be done, there is especially the matter of…”
I didn’t even wanna think about it.
“It can wait. He’ll wait.”
Chan laughed. “I do not think I would take getting shot as lightly as you have.”
“I don’t take it lightly, Chan. I got no leads, and I’m burnt out, so scram!”
Chan shrugged, got in the limo and drove off.
This left me alone. I called Jean and invited her to dinner. She said seven. I said not to wear the fox suit. She said I could go to Hell. I asked if she had any messages for her mother. She asked about the mess in her kitchen. I said I’d see her at seven and hung up, taking my phone off the hook afterwards. Within five minutes, I started pouring myself drinks. I was bored to tears. I shouldn't have been.
There was a knock on the door. Chan was starting to make me real angry. How could people with so much opium in their country be so utterly against relaxation? I opened my door, wishing the chinaman had made me two cups of coffee. I wouldn’t drink the second one either. But it wasn’t Chan at the door. It was a pony wearing a police cap. There was a whistle and a badge around his neck. It seemed like the sort of thing that would be a bad omen. What did my granny from the old country say about a pony on your doorstep? Made me wish I hadn’t given up my memories during the transfer so I’d know things like that, like if I had a granny or where the hell the old country was.
“Sorry, pal,” I said to the pony, “this ain’t a stable and I’m closed for the day.”
“Listen, Plush,” the pony shot back in a voice that reminded me a little of Gary Cooper, “you don’t like me and I don’t like you, but I’ve got a problem. I’m gonna set aside my prejudices so we can make this town a little less awful.”
“Not interested. Go find yourself some oats and leave me alone, Seabiscuit.”
The pony got in my face.
“I don’t think you understand. I’ve got three dead city councilmen and a dead socialite. Think about it, four prospective kidnap victims. If they keep bumping off these people, there will be nobody to kidnap and murder’s one per customer, Plush. How long do you think a shameless shamus like yourself’s gonna last in a city where all the victims are already dead?”
He had a point. If I was going to maintain this lifestyle, I couldn’t have somebody icing every client that could pay me. Maybe I didn’t want to maintain this lifestyle, but when you’re a teddy bear with a bad reputation and nothing going for you but a chauffeur an office with “Jimmy Plush, Detective” on the door and a custom teddy bear handgun there usually ain’t many career paths open for you.
“Okay, horsey, you’ve got my attention. Now give me the details. Come on in.”
But before he could, three shots rang out and he was good as glue. If a pony on my doorstep was a bad omen (and I couldn’t really tell if it was), then a dead pony on my doorstep was an awful one and a dead pony on my doorstep that had a badge was a disaster. I had to sort this out and I needed to do it fast.
Lucky for me, Chan had not really taken off, but had instead parked the limo in an alley nearby and waited for me to change my mind. He pulled up to the curb, got out and gave me a bow. Even though I needed him now, I was not happy about this.
“I guess they don’t have days off in China either, huh?”
Chan smiled.
“And yet, I’m not the one with a dead policeman on my doorstep.”
“Who is he? He knew the real Plush and hated him. Must have been a pretty good egg. For a pony.”
Chan’s smile turned into a frown.
“He was. His name was Horskowitz. He was an honest cop, not into the same things the others are. He tried to put some of them away for corruption, so they beat him up, transferred him into the body of a pony. He didn’t quit. He felt that only showed how much he was needed. In my opinion, he was right.”
I could only think of one man that could be behind this.
“Chan, take me to J.L Wong’s.”
The scenery on the way to J.L Wong’s was pretty much the same tableau of heartbreak I was used to; Furries in species drag ranging from strap-on sporting mice to Murray the Monogram Unicorn waiting for clients against every lamppost, ugly hoods carrying violin cases, businessmen looking for a den where they could chase the dragon, a Chinatown that the Orientals were afraid to even go near. Same hell-on-earth where most of my cases ended up leading. Or was it? There was a giant black cloth covering the side of the street. Something huge was underneath, something the size of a few buildings or a gigantic warehouse. I hadn’t seen any construction or demolition going on last time I was here, and last time I was here was two days ago. Identical obese quintuplets in pink pinstripe suits stood outside guarding it. They were trying too hard to act natural.
“Chan, stop!” By the time I’d said it, he’d already stopped.
I got out since I had a sneaking suspicion that these five gentlemen might have had something to do with my case.
“Nice weather we’re havin’, huh?”
“Yes,” they said in unison.
“So…gentlemen, what’s under the cloth?”
“A carnival,” they replied, again in unison.
“It’ll never work,” I told them as I walked back to the car,“this town’s already too much fun.”

You can preorder Jimmy Plush, Detective right here. Remember that the limited edition gives you a chance to win your very own Jimmy Plush! Members of my funclub automatically get a preorder, but are not entered into the teddy bear raffle.

No comments: