Daily Archives: June 24, 2015

Pop Culture Mysteries – Mr. Devil Man – Sneak Peak of Chapter One

Help me out, 3.5 Readers.

In a previous post, I proposed “crowdsourcing a novel.”  Jake is thinking about writing a novel about a serial killer case that followed him from 1949 into 2015.  He’d write it, post the chapters as on ongoing series, give you all the chance to provide feedback, and then if it seems like a good idea, I’d obtain the help of an editor and a cover designer and self-publish it.  I’m pretty sure Jake wouldn’t mind if I kept the profits.  (Don’t tell him, just in case.)

Here’s a rough draft of the first chapter.  Is this worthy of being self-published or is it just a bunch of inside jokes that only this blog’s 3.5 readers would understand?

Be honest, be critical, let me know whether it’s worth it to keep going.

Mr. Devil Man

By:  Jake Hatcher, Official Bookshelf Battle Blog Private Eye

August 1, 2015 – 1 p.m.

It was hot.  Hotter than the griddle at the Starlight Diner.  Hotter than the surface of the sun.  Hotter than Greta Garbo in the all together.  Hell, it was so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk and still have enough room for a stack of flapjacks and a side of hash browns.

I adjusted my collar and dabbed a handkerchief on my brow, catching the beads of sweat so like many reckless raindrops falling from the sky. 

Suddenly, I felt a soft hand on my shoulder.  The scent of perfume wafted up my schnozola.  It was a welcome smell for a man who was hungry for affection and prepared to devour any sign of it that came his way.

“Mr. Hatcher?” 

I turned around to find myself staring at my coworker, Ms. Donnelly, attorney for my employer, Mr. Bookshelf Q. Battler.  She

Delilah K. Donnelly, BQB's Attorney/Hatcher's Unrequited Love Interest

Delilah K. Donnelly, BQB’s Attorney/Hatcher’s Unrequited Love Interest

was dressed to the nines – a white, wide brimmed hat, a white dress with smatterings of black throughout and a pair of black gloves. 

She made it look good but then again, she was the kind of dame that could look fetching in a potato sack.

“Ms. Donnelly.”

“Are you all right?”  Delilah asked.  “You were monologuing.”

“I’m fine,”  I replied.  “Just something we detectives like to do from time to time.”

We craned our necks skyward and read the titles on the movie theater’s marquee:

Another Super Hero Flick

Group of Super Heroes in Spandex Working Together

People Who Look Better Than You Do and Have Better Lives Too

Reboot of a Movie that Came Out Two Years Ago

Melissa McCarthy Tries to Scooch Over a Counter and Doesn’t Quite Make It

Chris Pratt “Aw Shucks” His Way Through Another One

Fast Car Criminals Part 75

“What shall we see?”  Delilah asked.

“I haven’t the foggiest,”  I replied.  “Don’t suppose they have a Bogie and Bacall reel they could put on for us do you?”

Delilah’s rare smile made a fleeting appearance.  For a man, there’s no better feeling than making a woman smile, especially when she’s working overtime in an attempt not to.

“Doubtful.”

“Not sure I want to watch another fella mince around in tights while saving the day,”  I said.

“That’s understandable,”  Delilah said.  “And I must say I’ve neglected to see Fast Car Criminals Parts 1-74 so I’m certain I’d be irretrievably lost were I to take in Part 75.”

“What’s a reboot?”  I asked.  “Whatever it is, they have one of a movie that came out two years ago.”

“It’s not so much a sequel as it is Hollywood getting a do-over,”  Delilah explained.  “They’re sorry they fouled up their first attempt at bringing a beloved piece of popular culture to the silver screen and they’re asking the public to give them a second chance.”

“Well,”  I said.  “I’m a sucker when it comes to giving folks a second chance.  Where would we be without them?”

Jake Hatcher, Film Noir Style Detective/Trench Coat Enthusiast

Jake Hatcher, Film Noir Style Detective/Trench Coat Enthusiast

“Speak for yourself, Mr. Hatcher,”  Delilah said.  “I always do everything right the first time.”

Delilah’s face was as stoic as the Sphinx when she said that.  I couldn’t tell if she was joking or on the up and up.  It was always so hard to tell with that dame.  With her precise diction, she never fumbled a word and rarely allowed emotion to bubble over to the surface. 

Of all the mysteries in my life I was itching to crack, she was the most beautiful one.

“Shall we see if Mr. Pratt can ‘Aw Shucks’ his way through another one?” 

“I suppose we shall.”

I offered the lady my arm but she was taken aback by the gesture.

“Mr. Hatcher!”  Delilah said, clutching her pearls.  “Must I remind you that this is a mere social outing between work colleagues?  I’m not sure what delusions you’re harboring vis a vis the potential of amor but…”

God Sakes Alive.  I was aching for love from a gal who was locked up tighter than Fort Knox.

“You need not remind me, Ms. Donnelly,” I interrupted.  “Ma Hatcher taught me a gentleman must always offer his arm to a lady when walking next to one.  Why, you could stumble, fall, bruise your angelic visage and then I’d kick myself with the force of an angry mule over why I did nothing to prevent it.”

Another smile.  Two in one day.  It was a record.

“I see,”  Delilah said as she took my arm.  “Well, let it never be said I stood in the way of good manners.”

We strolled into the theater lobby and a cold air conditioning blast took us over, delivering us straight into Antarctica.  Hot one minute, cold the next.  It was a welcome feeling.

“I could stay in here all day,”  I said.  “It’s stifling outside.”

“It is,”  Delilah said.  “Perhaps you’d be more comfortable if you didn’t wear that trench coat everywhere?  It is August, after all.”

It was odd.  She made sense but then again, she didn’t.  Remove my beloved trench coat?  Ridiculous.  I only did that when I was back in the office.

We took a look at the refreshment stand menu:

Popcorn – An Arm and a Leg

Soda – It’ll Cost Ya’

Candy – You’ll Need to Refinance Your Home

Nachos – Fahgeddaboutit

“I’m trying my best to not sound like an old fuddy duddy, but in my day a fella could travel around the world for less than what these con artists are asking for a box of candy,” I said.

“Oh, that’s quite all right, Mr. Hatcher,”  Delilah said.  “I never partake in sweets anyway.”

I was about to make an off handed comment about how Delilah was one sweet I’d like to partake in when a horrific scream pierced through the air.

It was coming from the ladies’ room across the lobby. 

“NOOO!  NOO!!! PLEASE!  NOOOOOOO!!!!”

Heads turned and shocked faces were in abundance, but no one knew what to do.

Luckily, there was a man of action in the joint.

“Stay here,”  I said to a visibly shaken Delilah as I retrieved Betsy from her holster and made my way to the bathroom.

There was a sign that clearly marked the room as “LADIES ONLY” and Ma Hatcher had always taught me it was improper etiquette for a man to poke his head into such a place but given the circumstances, I’m sure this was an exception to the rule.

I kicked in the door, which in retrospect was unnecessary, seeing as how it wasn’t locked in the first place.  At least it made for good dramatic effect.

I walked in and there she was – a raven haired beauty in a pair of blue jeans and a pink shirt, covered in blood, her eyes displaying a sense of fear I’d seen too many times before.

It was over for her.  She knew it.  I knew it.  Neither of us wanted to say it.

I kneeled down and grabbed her hand.  She squeezed mine tightly and gasped for breath.

“It’s all right,”  I said.

The woman choked and gasped for breath.

“Shh,” I said.  “It’s going to be ok.”

Even after all of the death and dismemberment I’ve seen in my day, mankind’s desire to fool itself into thinking things will be ok in the face of doom is uncanny to me.  The multiple stab wounds in this woman’s chest meant she had moments to live and all I could think to say to her was, “It’s going to be ok.”

It really wasn’t, but what else was I supposed to tell her?

She reached out a shaky hand and pointed to a small beep boop machine on the floor.  I wasn’t sure what it was but assumed it was a cell phone or something.  I grabbed it.

“Do you want this?”  I asked.

“It’s…”

She winced through the pain and gritted her teeth, then struggled to take in some air.  Blood gurgled out of her mouth.

“It’s not…mine.”

And with those last words, she died.  I’d seen more people die in the war than I could count.  I’d seen men and women die in the streets.  Some people grow used to it.  Me?  It tore my heart out every time.

Gently, I brushed my hand over the poor gal’s face, bringing her eyelids closed.  I always did that whenever I happened upon a a corpse at a crime scene.  I hated the idea of leaving a human being lying there with nothing to do but stare off into space for all eternity.

Poor thing.  Couldn’t have been more than twenty-one or twenty-two.  Yet another new life cut short by one of LA’s numerous psychopaths.

A slight breeze rolled over my face.  I looked up.  A small window was open.  I’d barged in while the girl was still screaming and I hadn’t see the killer.  He got away.  The idea to give chase crossed my mind but the degenerate had a head start and was probably half-way to Cucamonga.

Besides, I didn’t want to leave the victim alone.  I’d been the person on the floor with mortal wounds before.  I’d been luckier than this dame, but I wasn’t about to leave until the cops arrived.

I noticed the beep boop machine again.  The victim had seemed awfully concerned by it.

I picked it up and examined it.  The screen was dark but I could hear the faint sound of a woman singing coming through the tiny ear doo dads attached to the device.  “Earbuds” I believe they’re called but who can keep up with all this fancy technology?

I put the buds in my ears and was instantly shocked.  It was the kind of shock you feel when you look up to see a piano is about to fall on your head and there’s nothing you can do but stand there with your mouth wide open and and watch it happen.

All of a sudden I found myself listening to the first girlfriend I ever had belting out a tune:

Frustration.

In my body it grows.

Temptation.

It’s the life that I know.

Sometimes I think you’ll never realize…

You’re the one that I despise.

The man I wish that I never knew…

Whoa-oh-oh Mr. Devil Man…

Don’t you know that it’s you?

I tapped my finger on the screen and there it was, a picture of Peaches LeMay.  What a knock-out.  She had the kind of body that could make a man lose his mind and a voice that could keep it lost forever. 

Peaches LeMay - Hatcher's First Girlfriend.  Damn our resident gumshoe really got around.

Peaches LeMay – Hatcher’s First Girlfriend. Damn our resident gumshoe really got around.

Underneath her picture were the words, “JAZZ CLASSIC OF THE 1940’s – Peaches LeMay – Mr. Devil Man.”  It was her signature hit.  It started out slow before Peaches hit the high notes.  I’d seen her perform in person multiple times and the gal had a set of wind pipes that could fill a concert hall yet trick you into thinking you were the only one she was singing to.

Mr. Devil Man!

Mr. Liar Man!

Mr. Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em and Cheat ‘Em Man!

The man I wish that I never knew!

If hating’s you wrong I don’t want to be right.

Get out of my way

Get out of my sight!

Oh Mr. Devil Man…

Oh how I hate you….

The memories poured into my mind like a waterfall hitting a pile of rocks.  And they weren’t just the good ones, like the time when Peaches and I made our way to Tinseltown together, a couple of kids with big dreams in our empty heads and little more than a few bucks in our pockets to back them up.

There were also the bad memories.  Specifically, it dawned on me that I’d investigated six separate crime scenes just like this

one before.

The bathroom door opened.

“Mr. Hatcher?”  Delilah asked from outside, afraid to come in.  “Is everything all right?”

“No,”  I said as I pulled the buds out of my ears.  “No Ms. Donnelly, I’m afraid things are very far from all right.”

What say you, 3.5 readers?  Yay or nay?

Images courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

Copyright (C) 2015 Bookshelf Q. Battler.  All Rights Reserved.

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Bookshelf Q. Battler and the Meaning of Life – Part 19 – Is VGRF for Real?

PREVIOUSLY ON BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER AND THE MEANING OF LIFE…

READ

AND NOW BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER AND THE MEANING OF LIFE CONTINUES…

“She’s insane,” I said to the world’s greatest detective as he stepped out of my carry on bag and onto my tray table.

“Poppycock!” Holmes said. “She is a Video Game Rack Fighter! You are a Bookshelf Battler! You two were meant to be!”

Holmes suspects Vicky's on the level, that she is, in fact, a Video Game Rack Fighter...

Holmes suspects Vicky’s on the level, that she is, in fact, a Video Game Rack Fighter…

“I KNOW I am a Bookshelf Battler, but I only have her word that she’s a Video Game Rack Fighter,” I replied. “Carrying around beloved video game characters Carmine and Giuseppe in her purse? Please.”

“Might I remind you that you are carrying two of the fiction world’s foremost investigators in your carry on bag?” Holmes asked.

Watson popped out of my bag and started in on me.

“Mr. Bookshelf,” Watson said. “Your magical bookshelf is truly an awe inspiring mystery. But it never once occurred to you that there may be other enchanted media storage spaces out there?”

“Never crossed my mind,” I said.

“There’s only one way to solve this,” Holmes said as he leaped across the divide between my table and Vicky’s, then climbed into her open purse.

I looked over at Vicky. She was fast asleep. Her mouth was wide open, a little drop of drool pouring out the side. She was a light snorer. It was adorable. I had it bad.

“What are you doing?!” I asked.

“I shall simply locate the Sterotypical Italian Contractors and if they are real then Ms. Stratenhaus is telling the truth!”

“You can’t just go through her purse!” I said.

“Don’t worry!” Holmes said. “I am a detective!”

Holmes rumbled around inside the bag, then huffed and puffed as he struggled to pull out a very small, stiff and silent Carmine, only to drop him on the table in a haphazard manner.

“Careful Holmes!” Watson said. “You’ll give him a concussion!”

“You there!” Holmes said as he poked the tiny Carmine in the shoulder. “Borderline racist stereotype of an Italian contractor! Wake up, sir! You are among friends and no harm shall come of you!”

Carmine just laid there silently with a blank look on his face and a big smile.  He wore his trademark overalls and ball cap.  His face was mostly obscured by a big bushy beard.

“Are you deaf, man?” Holmes asked. “Wake up, I say!”

Watson jumped over to Vicky’s table, produced a tiny rubber mallet from his pocket, and lightly tapped Carmine’s knee with it. The most beloved video game character of all time refused to budge.

“Curious,” Watson said. “Either he’s quite adept at playing dead or he has terrible reflexes.”

“Put him back before she wakes up!” I said.

Holmes and Watson heaved Carmine back into Vicky’s bag, then returned to my tray table.

...BQB, on the other hand, opines that Vicky is one cart short of a full deck.  If he's the only one with a magic media storage space, then Vicky must just be some kook who thinks her action figures are real...

…BQB, on the other hand, opines that Vicky is one card short of a full deck. If he’s the only one with a magic media storage space, then Vicky must just be some kook who thinks her action figures are real…

“See?” I asked. “She talks to toys. She’s nuts.”

“Inconclusive!” Holmes said.

“How is that inconclusive?” I asked. “You whipped out Carmine and he didn’t move at all.  He’s clearly just a toy.”

“We’ve all been examined by your Aunt hundreds of times,” Holmes said. “We remain perfectly still. You are the only human we’ve ever revealed our true natures to, and I’d imagine that Ms. Stratenhaus’ video game friends feel the same way towards her.”

“This is going to be a long flight,” I said.

“Precisely the reason why we should be watching Pootie Tang!

 Will BQB ever learn the meaning of life?  Is Vicky really a video game rack fighter or is she nutsy cuckoo?  

And will Holmes ever get to watch Pootie Tang?

Find out as BQB and the Meaning of Life continues…

Copyright (C) Bookshelf Q. Battler and the Meaning of Life 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

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Pop Culture Mysteries Promo – “The Interrogation”

By:  Jake Hatcher, Official Bookshelf Battle Blog Private Eye

Timeline: Set at some undetermined point in the future.  (Or, maybe this never happens at all.)

Chauncey was a wily one alright.  A real shifty character.  Not a person to be trusted.

Still, he was the biggest stool pigeon in Hollywood, the guy who knew everything, even what you had for breakfast last Tuesday.

He had a reputation for spilling his guts upon the slightest application of pressure.

More importantly, this unsavory character had an answer to a question that my partner Mickey and I needed to know.

Chauncey the Stool Pigeon, Hatcher's go-to squealer when he hits a dead end in a case.

Chauncey the Stool Pigeon, Hatcher’s go-to squealer when he hits a dead end in a case.

It was time to play a rousing game of bad cop, worse cop.

I grabbed the hot light and shined it directly at the mug’s face.

“Why don’t you make it easy on yourself and sing like a canary, Chauncey?”  I asked.  “Cooperate and we’ll go easy on you, see?”

“Go take a long walk off a short pier, copper!”  Chauncey said.  “I don’t know nothin’!”

It was Mickey’s turn.  Old Mick paced back and forth all quiet like, lulling our mark into a false sense of security until finally he pounced.

“You think this is some kind of game?”  Mickey said as he slapped Chauncey across the face.  “This is serious business and you’re way over your head!!!”

“Hey!”  Chauncey said as he rubbed a fresh bruise on his cheek.  “You can’t do that!  I want my lawyer!”

I grabbed a chair, turned it around backwards, and sat down on the other end of the table.

“You want a lawyer?”  I asked.

I looked over at Mickey.

“You hear that Mick?  This lowlife wants a lawyer.”

“Of course he wants a lawyer,”  Mick said as he blew cigarette smoke into Chauncey’s face.  “Only scumbags with something to hide ask to see a lawyer!”

Chauncey lowered his head.  A few tear drops poured from his eyes.

Mick and I laughed.

“Oh sure!”  Mick said.  “Mr. Big Man!  Thinks he knows it all but turns into a cry baby when the shit hits the fan!”

“I…”  Chauncey said.  “I never wanted to get involved in this but… I can’t help it.  I hear things.  People tell me things, things I wish I’d never heard and then you flat foots always haul my ass in here like I’m some kind of degenerate when I swear on my mother’s grave this time I don’t know anything, see?”

Time for good cop to make an appearance.

I poured Chauncey a glass of water.  He grabbed it and slurped away.  We’d been sweating the galoot under the hot lights for three hours without offering him any sustenance whatsoever, so he was thirstier than a Gila monster in the middle of the desert.

“There there, fella,”  I said.  “Look, we get it.  Shit happens to innocent bystanders all the time.”

Mickey Finn - Hatcher's ex-partner from the late 1940's, who actually isn't around in 2015 (or is he?) but the idea for this post seemed too funny to pass up.  Ignore it as the story progresses.

Mickey Finn – Hatcher’s ex-partner from the late 1940’s, who actually isn’t around in 2015 (or is he?) but the idea for this post seemed too funny to pass up. Ignore it as the story progresses.

“See it all the time in our line of work,”  Mickey said.

“That’s why you need to help us help you get ahead of this thing,”  I said.

“Something bad happened,”  Mickey added.  “And we know you know who did it so you better flap those gums and tell us what we want to hear.”

“Can I have another one?”  Chauncey asked.

I nodded and poured him another glass.  He downed it in one gulp.

“Look fellas,”  Chauncey said.  “When I know somethin’, you’ll know somethin’, ok?  I ‘aint done you coppers wrong before, have I?  I’m tellin’ ya, the streets are silent on this one, quieter than a nun on Easter, see?  I ‘aint holdin’ out on youse guys, you gotta believe me!”

I looked at Mick.  He shook his head.

“I was really hoping I wouldn’t need this,”  Mickey said as he produced a large phone book from a drawer.

“Aw come on!”  Chauncey said.  “Hatcher!  Come on, you can’t let him do this!”

“You’re on your own, Chaunce,”  I said.  “I tried to help you.”

WACK!  Mickey knocked Chauncey right in the kisser.

“WHO DID IT?!”  Mickey shouted.

“I DON’T KNOW!”

WACK!

“WHO?!”

“Your butt ugly mothers!”

An insult to Ma Hatcher?  I couldn’t let it stand.  I grabbed the phone book and went to town on the weasel’s face.

Then I grabbed him by his stupid necktie, pulled him in closer and asked him directly:

“WHO LET THE DOGS OUT?!”

“I don’t know!”  Chauncey said.  “Look, all I know is…the party was nice, the party was bumpin’…”

“Hey!”  I yelled.

“Yippie-Yi-Yo,”  Chauncey said.   “I don’t know.  That was some dumb thing everyone was saying.  Anyway, everybody was having a ball until the fellas start the name callin.”

“And the girls respond to the call?”  Mickey asked.

I had to hand it to Mick.  That was an important question, but Chauncey ignored it.

“Did you hear anything else?”  I asked.

“Yeah,”  Chauncey said as he poured himself a third glass of water.  “I heard a poor man shout out, ‘WHO LET THE DOGS OUT?”

“Who?”  I asked.

“Who?”  Mickey repeated.

“Who, who, who?”  Chauncey said between sips.  “Jesus Christ, you cops are like a broken record, that’s all I remember, may lightning strike me dead if I’m a liar.”

“What do you think, Mick?”  I asked.

“He’s full of shit,”  my partner replied.  “But not this time.  He’d of talked like Walter Winchell by now.  He’s got nothin.'”

“Looks like it,”  I said as Mickey and I headed out into the hallway.

“Hey coppers,”  Chauncey said.  “I gotta take a leak!”

“Start doing the pee pee dance, Chauncey,”  I said.  “You’re not going anywhere until we sort this mess out.”

“Who Let the Dogs Out?” by The Baha Men – a 2000 release.

Do you know who let the dogs out?  Hatcher wants to know.  Drop a dime on the good-for-nothin.  Tweet the answer to @bookshelfbattle #popculturemysteries or leave the info in the comments on bookshelfbattle.com.

Oh, and try not to get confused because Mickey hasn’t made it to 2015 yet.  (Or has he?)

Jake’s working on the ending to “Who Shot First?” and hopes to have it out soon.

Images courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

Copyright (c) Bookshelf Q. Battler 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

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