Excerpt from a short story

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From a short story I am almost done with.  It might be ready to send out now.  At this point, an eccentric artist/street person is explaining a painting to a friend.

“Yeah”  Was all Chris could manage.  He looked through a few canvases and although he was no art critic, he knew they were good.  He picked up a large one that stood out and propped it on the bookshelf.  There was something about this one that drew the eye in.  It was like no painting he had ever encountered.

Red spoke from behind him and he startled a little.  “Like that one, huh?”  Red said.  “Me too.  Best thing I’ve done.  Did it in one night a few years ago.  Stone, cold sober if you can believe it.”

“It’s so …” Words failed Chris.

“Speaks to you.”  Red answered “I know.  It’s called The Silent Aspirations of Bastard Amber.  Bastard Amber is a color gel used in theater lighting.  It can also be a paint color, and that’s the beautiful thing about it.  It’s a color open to interpretation.”

“Yeah?”  Chris managed, not taking his eyes off the painting.

Red pointed to a place on the picture.  “Here’s the Bastard Amber.  And here and here and back here.  And you step back and look at this painting as a whole and it’s us.  It’s me and you and, like the people, man.  And we’re back there like the Bastard Amber and we are open to interpretation man because that’s what life is.  And see all of this up here, the big stuff?  It’s all moving around and swirling and huge and dominating and it’s in control.”  Chris glanced at Red.  And in saw the old Red of intellect and passion, of drive and wonder.

Red continued staring at the painting and talking like Chris wasn’t there.  “All this up here, it’s like the government, the corporations, the organizations and all the crap they pile on us the Bastard Amber.  It’s the news and the booze and the dope and the politics and the war and the useless garbage they try to sell us.  They’re pushing us behind and keeping us back.  But look at the Bastard Amber.  Here and here and here.  See what it’s doing?  It’s on the outside and moving up.  The Bastard Amber is saying to all that crap, that garbage; you might be on top now but we are on our way.  And one day.  One day, man.  You’re gonna see us and we won’t be silent no more.  Maybe not in this life.  Maybe in the heaven or nirvana or paradise or whatever you want to call it.  The Bastard Amber is gonna rise and be right up where it belongs.  And all the pain you caused us, it won’t mean nothin no more.  You look, man, you look long enough and you will see.  Here’s your coffee.”

Chris took the cup from Red and the coffee, as promised, was good.

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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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.

More additions – Bob, P. I.

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Bob tossed his empty coffee cup at Rick and almost sprinted to the door.  “Let’s go champ!”  He called over his shoulder to Nick as he went.

 

Nick picked up his pace and followed Bob out. 

 

“Hey” Bob called  “haven’t forgotten about T. J. have you?”  He moved quickly toward his BMW.

 

“Who?” Then is occurred to Nick  “Don’t do it Bob!  T. J. Hooker was the 80’s too!”

 

He was too late.  Bob left his feet in a leap and landed squarely on the hood of the black car.  However unlike T. J, Bob did not slide.  He scrambled around on the hood of the car until he caught hold of a windshield wiper and held steady, then looked back at Nick helplessly through his dark glasses.

 

Nick approached slowly, smiling as he went.  “Nice T. J.   Isn’t the idea to slide off the other side then jump in the car and fire it up?”

 

“Shut up and give me a hand.”  Bob said.

 

“You talkin to me T. J.?”  Nick did his best Robert DeNiro.  “You talkin to me?”

 

“Yeah, yeah.  This is real funny for you isn’t it?”  Bob held out a hand for help. 

Nick couldn’t let it go.  “I’m the only one here.  You talkin to me?  Hey Bob, who’s that, huh?”

 

“You being an idiot.”  Bob slid awkwardly over the fender and safely to the ground. 

 

“Taxi Driver!  DeNiro!  Come on, that’s 70’s.”  Nick laughed.  “How about this one?”  Nick curled his lip and struck a pose.  “Go ahead, make my day.”  They both got in the car and Bob ignored him as he searched for his keys.  “Hey, that hood slide made my day, that’s for sure.”

 

Bob shot Nick a dirty look as he started the car, but the banter continued.  “Or this one.”  Nick continued.  “The horror!  The horror!”  He slapped Bob on the arm.  “No?  Brando, Apocalypse Now.  The horror, that’s what I was thinking when I saw your big butt go airborne.”

 

Bob sighed disgustedly.  “Having fun?”

 

“OK, this one then:  “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”  Nick said.  “No again?  Jaws, 1975 I think.  Only in your case it’s you’re gonna need a bigger car, because your rear almost didn’t fit on the hood of the BMW.”

 

“Nonstop funny, that’s life with you.”  Bob growled.  “Can I drive now without all of the hilarious side notes?”

 

Nick looked forward and smiled after a moment. “Sure, go on, if you can see past the wrecked hood of your new car.

 

Bob looked  “Oh, crappage!”  He stared forlornly at the enormous dent in the hood of the BMW.

 

“You need to lay off the coffee and doughnuts there Lukey Duke.”  Nick mused.

 

“This isn’t funny.  Look at my car.”  Bob lamented.

 

“Oh, you mean that big butt print there on the hood?” 

 

“Cute.  That could cost me a grand easy.  Good thing I have insurance.”  Bob said.

 

“Does State Farm cover butt marks in their policy?”  Nick asked as they pulled out of the lot and headed for downtown.  “I’ll tell you Bob, I was feeling a little out of it this morning.  But after watching you do your butt slide, I have to say, I was cured alright.”  He looked out of the corner of his eye at his partner.  “No.?  Really Bob, and here you are the 70’s expert.  A Clockwork Orange!”

 

“Always with the funny, aren’t you?”  Bob mumbled.

From somewhere in the middle of the book …

Managed 250 words today to add to a chapter of Bob, P.I.  It’s just banter, but it is typical of the characters.  They are talking about a crime family that they sort of cross paths with.

“They are a long established family in Chicago.  Considered minor players in the whole organized crime scene.”  Nick explained.

“They’re like a Boutique crime family.”  Bob remarked.

Nick looked at him and hesitated.  “Yeah, sure.  They carved out a niche and basically stayed there.  They perform some services for other, more powerful families.”

“They’re like the Tonto of crime families.”  Bob balanced a cig in his mouth.

“OK.” Nick was getting annoyed.  “They keep a low profile and stay out of skirmishes with the other families.  They never seem to overplay their hand and get the authorities too concerned about them.”

“So, they’re like the choirboys of the crime families.”  Bob said.

“Yeah, whatever.  They’re far from choirboys.”  Nick growled.  “Are you going to keep up the running dumb commentary?”

“I got my rights, man.  Just doin’ my thing, baby.  What else about them?”

“They’ve been in everything, drugs, stolen goods, women, you name it.”  Nick continued.

“So, they’re the Dabney Coleman of crime families.”  Rick chimed in.

Nick turned to him. “What does that even mean?”

“Dabney Coleman, you see him in all kinds of TV and movies.  He’s been in everything.”  Rick smiled.

“He was in that movie 9 to 5 with Dolly.”  Bob added.

“Dolly, yeah buddy.”  Rick smiled.

“So, you too with the lousy comments?”  Nick asked Rick.  “Like the genius over here isn’t enough?”

Rick shrugged.

“Hang loose, baby!”  Bob cautioned.

“Sorry, man” Nick said  “It’s not my bag.”

“That’s the spirit.”  Bob pointed at him and lit his cig.