From my newest short fiction

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New story still in the works.  I originally wanted it to be around 1500 words but think it will end up about 2200 after all.  This is a piece from the end.

 

Red was gone when Chris arrived.  He showed his city credentials and talked with Police officers.  There was little to be done.  He ventured into the apartment and looked around.  It was essentially the same. 

“Friend of yours?”  He heard a man’s voice behind him.

“Yeah.  And I am a city inspector.  Landlord?”  Chris turned around.

“Uh huh.  Gary Pace, Pace Enterprises.”  The man was a slumlord and looked the part and now he was wary of Chris.

“This place is a real shit hole, you know?”  Chris said.

“Yeah.  I’m having it taken down.  I wasn’t hardly charging the guy anything, he watched the place for me.  He begged me to stay while I was figuring out what to do with the building.  He could have got all of this junk out of here.”

“So could you.  Could have fixed the gas before it killed someone.”  Chris turned back to the room.

“You don’t need to break my balls, pal.  Don’t no one know what happened here.  I’m letting my lawyer handle it.”  The man said. 

“You should.”  Chris gestured to the bookshelves.  “What about his stuff?  You have a family contact for him?”

“Nah man.  He didn’t sign anything.  I got his name and cash for the rent.  He drops it at my office every month.  I pay utilities.”

“Taking it down?  When?”  Chris asked.

“Soon, brother, soon.”  The man said.

Chris turned back to the room, put his hands on hips, and sighed.  “I’ll come back with my truck and load what I can.  The junk stays.  You want any of this?”

“Maybe a painting.  I like his paintings.  He gave me one once.”  The landlord said.  “Look, I’m sorry about your friend.  I liked the guy.  I was doing him a favor letting him stay here for almost nothing, he was living in his truck.”

Chris thought a moment, then spotted La Bohème on the shelves and picked it up.  “Bohemian.”  He chuckled to himself.

“What’s that?”  The landlord asked.

“Bohemian.  It’s what he called himself when I saw him last.” Chris started making his way through the refuse of the narrow passageway and back to his car.

“Sure.”  The man answered behind him.

Chris tossed La Bohème on the next seat, then drove home to get his pickup truck.

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More for Bob, P. I.

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“You are the decade expert.”  Nick said.

“Not just the 70’s”  Bob insisted “There was some good stuff in the 80’s, even the 90’s, but not as much.”

“I see, Professor Cultural Historian.  And pray tell, what are some of those?”  Nick asked.

“I’ll tell you one that always caught my eye.”  Bob said.  “That show in the 80’s with McLean Stevenson, Condo.”

“Never heard of it.”

“I’m not surprised about that.  It was one of the casualties of greedy corporate executives.  It got cancelled after one season.”  Bob said.

“And it’s an iconic classic, is it?”

“I can tell you this, it had an iconic classic actor in McLean Stevenson.  You watch that show, his talent shines.  They simply didn’t know what to do with all that comedic genius.” Bob said.

“He was in MASH for a while right?”  Nick asked.

“Yeah, hate that show.”  Bob said.

“Really?”  Nick said “That’s a surprise.  It panders to the far left.  Think you would love it.”

“Bad TV.”  Bob insisted “If it wasn’t for McLean Stevenson and maybe Larry Linville, it would have flopped long before it did.  They carried that show from a pure comedy standpoint.”

“Not Alan Alda, the star?” Nick shook his head in disbelief.

“Heck no, over-rated hack.”  Bob said.

“How about the one that wore dresses?”  Nick asked.

“Jamie Farr?  Forgot about him.  I’m on the floor every time he comes on camera.”  Bob smiled.

“You know, if Jamie Farr, McLean Stevenson and Polly Holliday had ever appeared on screen together, they would have just stopped making movies.  The camera couldn’t hold all of that astounding talent.”  Nick said.

“Go on, laugh it up.”  Bob said “It’s you who doesn’t understand the sophisticated mind of the master actor and comedian.”

“Bob, you are one jive turkey.”  Nick said.

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One more addition to Bob, P. I.

Mel's (1 of 1)

“This is how we should start every day.  Meet up at a common place and plan out the day.  Sort of relax and kick back for a while before the action starts.”

“You like saying ‘kick back and relax’ don’t you?  Most people meet up and plan their work day at a common place called the office.  But we can meet here if you want.”  Nick said.

“Kiss my grits.”  Bob mumbled.

“What does that even mean?”  Nick asked.

“What do you mean, what does that mean?  It’s a famous saying by a very famous actress, Polly Holliday.”  Bob said.

“Never heard of her.”

“Sure you have, from the Alice show.  I have all of them on DVD.”  Bob insisted.

“No doubt you do.”  Nick said.  “Still never heard of her.”

“Oh, come on she’s one terrific actress, multi-talented and a great natural star.”

“Uh, huh.” Nick said “And she says kiss my grits?”

“What? Yeah, on the Alice show.  Everyone knows that.”Bob said.

Nick turned to Rick. “Did you?”  Rick shrugged his shoulders and Nick turned back to Bob. “See?”

“He’s too young.  I’m surprised you don’t know her.  A mega-star like Polly Holliday.”  Bob looked over his dark glasses.

“Mega huh?”  Nick smiled “What else has she starred in?”

“Lots of major motions pictures.”  Bob insisted.

“Right, you don’t know.”  Nick said.  “What next?  Are you going to start quoting Buffy and Jodie from Family Affair?”

“I don’t know.  What did they say?” Bob asked.

“Kiss my butt.” Nick answered.

“Really?  Going to have to look that show up on DVD.”

“If you guys don’t mind”  Rick interrupted.  “Here’s where we are.  …

More new dialog for Bob, P. I.

I know I sent it out to publishers.  But I keep adding details and dialog as it occurs to me.

________________

Downtown Franklin street

They ordered and Bob returned without Vickie in a few minutes.

“You just missed Dick Sickle.”  Bob said sitting down.

“The Mayor?”  Nick asked. “Good, glad I did.”

“Not my fav either, but the wise local businessman befriends both sides of the equation.  Know what I mean?”  Bob said.

“I’m friendly.” Nick insisted “I say hi when I see him.  But he’s a blow hard and I don’t like him.”

“This must be the morning for meeting the rich, powerful and famous.”  Bob said “The TV news reporter guy was in here too, Jimmy Fitch.  And when I popped out to pick up some cigs at Budak’s Market the Big Time Wrestling champ, Mad Dog Kenny Lepscomb was in there buying cigs too.”

“And I suppose you are on a first name basis with all of these people.”  Nick asked.

“You know what they say, brotha”  Bob said “Everybody who’s anybody knows everybody.”

“Never heard that one.  You make it up?”  Nick asked.

“And if I say yes, you won’t like it.”

“No I like it.  Put it on one of your little get rich quick Bob Sez signs.  You’ll make a fortune.”

“Go on, laugh it up now.”  Bob said “Wait until I’m rolling in the dough.  This is how we should start every day.  Meet up at a common place and plan out the day.  Sort of relax and kick back for a while before the action starts.”

“You like saying ‘kick back and relax’ don’t you?  Most people meet up and plan their work day at a common place called the office.  But we can meet here if you want.”  Nick said.

“Always the joke.  Jokey boy, that’s you.”  Bob mumbled.

More from Bob, P. I.

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About the picture:  It has nothing to do with the story.

An excerpt from Bob, P. I.   It is still under submission at three publishers.


Nick talked to Jan a while longer with Rick taking notes.  Bob busied himself flipping through paperwork, drinking coffee, and looking at things on a computer.  He seemed disinterested in their new client.

Nick showed Jan to the door with a promise to start on the case in the next few days.  He marched back into the workroom steaming.  “What the hell was that all about?”  He asked Bob.

Bob waved him off.  “What you talkin bout Nick?”

“We don’t squeeze people for money.”

“But we aren’t a charity either.  We get paid.  We are a for profit business.”

“I thought you liberals were all bleeding hearts.  Not concerned about money.”  Nick added.

“Liberal got nothing to do with it.”  Bob said.  “Business is business, partner.  She pays or we don’t play.  I ain’t just a woofin here.”

Rick cleared his throat and broke in.  “I’ll do it.  If you guys don’t want to.  I’ll do it no charge.”

Nick jerked a thumb in Ricks direction.  “See that?  That’s called heart.  We are taking this case and we will work out the money later.  I’ll pay.”  Nick turned his back on Bob.  “Woofin.  I’ll show you woofin.”

Bob shrugged.  “Groovy.  We can fit in another snoop case.”

Nick looked at his partner for a moment.  “I need some fresh air.”  He said and went for the door.

“Keep on truckin'”  Bob said to his retreating back.

“Shut up.” Nick called from the door.

Shadowed Solitude republished by Literally Stories today

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https://literallystories2014.com/2016/04/22/shadowed-solitude-by-donald-baker/

Literally Stories republished the story Shadowed Solitude which originally came out in 2013 with The Huffington Post.  This isn’t what I consider one of my strongest pieces and one day, when I get ready to compile a short story collection, I will rewrite it.

Literally Stories is a great group of people to deal with.  This is the second of my pieces they picked up.  They are very encouraging and complementary, I can’t thank them enough.