Category Archives: Uncategorized

Movie Review – BlacKkKlansman (2018)

Black Klansman review reblog.

Bookshelf Battle

Put on your bell bottoms, 3.5 jive turkeys.  It’s time for a review of Spike Lee’s latest joint.

It’s the 1970s and a young Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) has become the first black police officer on the Colorado Springs force.  Alas, his dreams of defeating villains with kung-fu moves gleamed from his favorite flicks come to a grinding halt when he’s assigned to the epically boring records room.

One day, whilst fending off boredom by reading a newspaper, he spots a recruitment ad for the Ku Klux Klan.  On a lark, he calls it, requests information on how to join and down the rabbit hole he goes.

Naturally, Ron can’t show up to a KKK meeting and expect to get out alive, so he teams up with fellow officer Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), a man whose Jewish heritage is also not looked at fondly by the Klan.

Together, Ron…

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Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Hey 3.5 readers. I’m going to reblog my reviews of the Oscar nominees. First up, Bohemian Rhapsody.

Bookshelf Battle

Scaramouche, 3.5 readers. Scaramouche indeed.

BQB here with a review of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

As a young man, Farrokh Bulsara had a ridiculous, almost supernatural and unwavering level of confidence in himself.  Where most of us reach our late teens and early twenties and decide selling out our dreams in exchange for financial stability is the safest way to go, Farrokh, who later changes and embraces his new name, Freddie Mercury, has talent and believes in himself intensely.

All he needs is an opportunity and he finds it in the form of a struggling band.  College students Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon are on the rocks and about to call it quits when Freddie confidently sings a few notes in front of them and the rest is history.

Freddie is a showman’s showman and the front man to end all front men.  As Queen’s star rises, he engages the audience…

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Movie Review – Green Book (Oscars 2019 Best Picture Winner!)

Hey 3.5 readers.

Funny.  I actually went out tonight.  I usually stay in on Oscar night and watch the show but I went out and saw Green Book instead.  To my surprise, it won.  It wasn’t surprising, as it was a good movie.  It’s just that I thought BlackKklansman had it locked up

So, that’s a first for me, seeing an Oscar movie in the theater the night it wins.  Someone give me an award for good timing.

Anyway, BQB here with a review.

 

You know, 3.5, as it turns out, there’s more that unites us than what divides us.  We’re all different.  Different races, sexes, classes and yet we’re all just looking for one thing – dignity.

Dr. Don Shirley (Mashershala Ali) is an educated man with multiple doctorates, but in the 1960s, he is most famous for being a talented classical pianist.  So great are his skills that he fills concert halls and moves everyone in attendance with his ivory tickling skills.

He prides himself on dignity and self-respect.  He’s well read and doesn’t care for rudeness, bad manners, bad grammar and so on.

An odd couple road trip is set into motion when nightclub bouncer Tony Lip is recruited to be Doc’s driver and protector on a concert tour through the deep south.

Hard to say it out loud, but Tony hates black people.  In an early scene, a pair of black repairman come to his house to work on an appliance.  When his wife gives them lemonade, he throws the glasses into the trash can, not wanting to drink out of the same glass as a black man.

When his club shuts down, Tony’s out of money and options, so he takes the job driving the Doc and watching his back.

At first, the duo can’t stand each other.  Tony is an uncouth bore, telling inappropriate jokes and constantly shoving fast food in his face.  Tony isn’t a fan of the Doc either, thinking his client is a holier than thou book worm.

Together, they learn and grow.  Doc teaches Tony some much needed gentlemanly skills – how to improve his speaking skills, how to write better, etc.  Tony teaches Doc how to grease the wheels and get out of jams.  In other words, Tony comes across as a dumb brute until his cop bribing skills and willingness to knock punks out comes in handy in the Jim Crow south.

Eventually, Tony drops his racist ways and he and the Doc become the best of friends.

I understand there’s some controversy brewing in that the movie isn’t all that woke in comparison to the other nominees.  Today, we definitely hold people to a higher standard.  You should never be racist and it doesn’t matter how much time has passed since a racist incident.  If you did something racist, then you’re gone.  Tony doesn’t fit that bill because he begins the film as a racist then by the end of the film he has an awakening that makes him a better man.

I don’t know.  On one hand, I get the need for people to be not racist from the start.  On the other hand, we should be encouraging people to be better and improve themselves so…I don’t know.  Somehow those two standpoints need to be reconciled.

There are a few powerful scenes in the film.  Spoiler Alert – the most moving is when Doc and Tony stop along the road to change a tire.  The black workers in the field, one assumes descendants of slaves who worked in the field look on in amazement as it becomes clear to them that Doc is the boss in the back of the car and Tony is his employee.

It’s a good film that tugs at the heart strings.  On top of racial clashes, all types of conflicts are discussed.  Class struggles.  Education struggles.  At times, Tony and Doc class less about race and more about their different education and class levels.  Ironically, Tony is less accomplished than Doc, yet Tony can walk into any establishment while Doc has to wait outside.  Sad to think that this was once the way the country was.

Admittedly, Viggo basically plays a cartoon character version of a mob connected Italian, but to his credit, he does transform into an entirely different person.  He’s lively and humorous, whereas Viggo is usually known for playing quiet, brooding characters.

I enjoy Ali’s performance as well.  At times, I could feel the crushing loneliness Doc felt.  He held multiple doctorates, was rich and talented, but the same rich people who would hire him to play would then turn around and tell him not to use their bathroom after the performance, and generally, had no interest in befriending him or treating him as an equal.  Sadly, at the time, black people didn’t have much access to higher education at the time, so they don’t know what to make of this fancy man in his fancy suits with his fancy way of speaking.  He is utterly alone and no one understands him.

Not sure it was the best film out of those nominated but still a lot of good messages just the same.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Melissa McCarthy Snubbed! #OscarsSoPretty

Melissa McCarthy isn’t ugly but she is chubby and unfortunately, the Oscars will never allow a person who isn’t skinny to win.  It’s sad such discrimination against people of size.

How long must my people suffer before we are finally recognized by the Academy?

For shame, Academy.  For shame.

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Movie Review – Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

Who knew a movie about crap that happened hundreds of years ago could be so controversial?

BQB here with a review of “Mary Queen of Scots.”

I’m going to say it at the outset.  For me, as one of a handful of fans of historical films left, this movie was a stinkburger with extra turd fries.  The problem is, I think that might have been the point?

I’m loathe to cry SPOILER ALERT because you’ve had 500 years to learn the tale, and there have been a number of other shows and movies about it but the short story is Mary returns to Scotland after the death of her French husband and takes her place as Queen of Scots.  This causes turmoil for Elizabeth, the infamous red haired Queen of England as two queens on one island is a recipe for disaster.

I’ll say a nice thing about this movie.  I will admit it taught me a lot about this period that I never knew before.  Namely, it takes the stance that the women, Mary and Elizabeth, were the calmest heads in the proverbial room, and it was their butthole male advisers refusing to take council from women that screwed everything up.  More specifically, Elizabeth is Protestant and her Protestant advisers subvert her efforts to make peace with Mary.  Elizabeth is like (she doesn’t say this but I’m paraphrasing), “Hey, I’m old and there doesn’t seem to be anyone else with a brain ready to take over when I croak so England might as well go to Mary’s offspring.”

But her male advisers are like, “No fuck that!  We hate Catholics!” and in secret they’re like “This is bullshit we have to take orders from a broad!”  Again, paraphrasing.

Meanwhile, Mary is like, “I’m a Catholic but if I take over England I won’t kill the Protestants!  Everyone can worship as they choose!” but her male advisers are all like, “Fuck this!  You have a vagina!  My dick is superior!  I must rule!”

And so, that’s the gist of the story.  It claims Elizabeth and Mary wanted peace, but the hot headed males under their command wouldn’t listen to them.  The injustice seems to be that if Liz and Mary had been male kings, male advisers wouldn’t have dared betray them but lost on the cutting room floor is that male kings probably would have had a few heads chopped off of people who looked at them funny just to keep conspiracies against the crown at bay.

So maybe the lesson is men have to keep their testosterone in check and obey the chain of command when a woman is in charge and women have to rough up a few muthafuckas to show everyone who’s boss.

Ultimately, that would have been a modern twist on an old tale.  Men, keep your balls in check if you want to work for a female leader and women, grow a pair of hypothetical balls if you want to lead because there will be times that call for aggression.

But it doesn’t stop there.  This is a very woke, very PC retelling of a classic tale, so much so that it looks like a bunch of SJWs got together and crafted it in a lab.

OK.  What I’m about to say may sound racist but I’m going to make the argument why it is not racist.

Mary has an Asian lady-in-waiting an African adviser and a Puerto Rican secretary.  There are also people of color throughout, as extras and in smaller roles.  Thus, the diverse casting in period dramas debate is raised.

Is it the end of the world to provide to a movie about 1500s England with a diverse cast?  No.  Is it historically accurate?  Also, no.  And I guess this is where the film goes out of whack for me.

And I know, this is where you say, “Oh BQB, you are a racist douche face because you hate seeing a diverse cast in a movie.”  No, that’s not it.  I just think that whenever Hollywood makes any kind of history piece, they’re taking a gamble because audiences don’t flock to historical movies.  On the other hand, Hollywood should be encouraged to keep making these flicks because they preserve and teach history for future generations.

Therein lies the problem.  You might argue, “Oh it’s so horribly racist to look at a period piece and see no diversity in the all white cast!” but my counter would be that more and more, people turn to movies and TV as their main source of learning about history.  As that trend continues, what if some nitwit, hundreds of years ago watches a movie like this and thinks, “Aww, look.  Mary Queen of Scots had a black advisor, an Asian lady-in-waiting and a Puerto Rican secretary.  1500s Britain must have been a wonderful place for people of color!”

No, it wasn’t.  There weren’t any there and of the few who may have been, they were no doubt treated poorly and definitely not appointed to high positions.

Director Josie Rourke explains her diverse casting choice in this article. from Refinery29.

I hope I won’t botch my take-away from the article, but it seems like she is saying that theater companies today are very diverse and when actors are honing their acting chops, it is common for them to turn to the classics.  Thus, you’ll have Shakesperean and old English era plays put on with diverse casts.

Fair enough.  I just…I don’t know.  To me, there just seems to be something off about it.  The message, I thought anyway, was, “Hey.  Here were two strong women who could have made peace and kept their island from imploding if all the male underlings would have just shut their holes and done as they were told.”

In other words, the island erupted in Protestant vs. Catholic warfare because it was an unwoke time where men couldn’t drop their egos long enough to take direction from a woman.

Good message, but to me, it’s lost in the diverse casting.  You can’t simultaneously claim this was an unwoke time where a lack of wokeness led to war but also, look, it was so woke that there were people of color in very high, prominent positions.

Maybe I’m a caveman.  I don’t know.  Any other type of movie, I’m all for diverse casting.  I actually don’t even care if there’s diverse casting in a historical fantasy.  For example, Netflix has a show called The Frankenstein Chronicles about 1800s London where a pair of detectives, a black and white cop buddy duo, investigate a series of murders that seem to imitate the murders in Mary Shelley’s tale.  Is it accurate that a black cop would have been treated with respect and seen as an equal in 1800s London?  No.  But then again, they didn’t have Frankensteins either.  It’s all pure fantasy and there are nerds  of all different colors who love fantasy so sure, why not have a diverse cast that appeals to all the different colors of the nerd rainbow?

Further, I think sometimes Hollywood does stuff like this to excuse their failures when it comes to casting larger roles in bigger movies.  For example, giving Mary Queen of Scots a black adviser in a film few will see doesn’t excuse the lack of diverse casting in big budget blockbusters.  Where’s the black Batman?  Where’s the Asian Ironman?  Etcetera.

Back to the movie.  Saorise Ronan and Margot Robbie each play their parts well.  Ronan is the hotter young babe, while Elizabeth is older.  There’s an underlying subtext of youth and beauty vs. age and wisdom.  The older you get the wiser you are but alas, you lose your looks and the uglier you get, the worse people treat you even though you’ve lived longer and know more than the younger folk don’t.  We are shown scenes where Elizabeth appears in full regal clown makeup (apparently people thought it looked great at the time though I think it made her look like Bozo.)  Then, behind the scenes, we see Elizabeth with her hair falling out.  She’s getting older.  Wrinklier.  She contracts chicken pox and spends a good portion of the movie with blisters all over her face.

Indeed, this lets Margot Robbie flex her acting muscles.  “Look! I’m more than a pretty face!”  However, as an ugly rights advocate, I object.  See, Hollywood is so committed to racial diversity that they’ll throw diverse actors into a period piece, but Hollywood is still so discriminatory against the ugly and the old that they won’t let an ugly old woman play Elizabeth.  There were probably many fifty year old women losing their hair who would have loved to play Liz but Hollywood was like, “Nope!  Slap some ugly makeup on the hot chick!  We need the audience to know that it’s all ok.  There’s still a hot young babe under all this ugly makeup!”

Black adviser?  Sure!  Puerto Rican secretary?  Why not?  50 year old woman playing a 50 year old woman?  GOD, NO!  GET HER OUT OF HERE AND SLAP SOME UGLY MAKEUP ON MID 20S HOT MARGOT ROBBIE AT ONCE!!!

STATUS: Borderline shelf-worthy, only because it taught me a few things about that time period I never knew before.  Problem is, you have to wade through all the wokeness and turn to the Internet to look up what was fact and what was fiction.  I think the film’s best messages get lost amidst a sea of wokeness and the problem is, the messages are woke if you sift through the PC-ness long enough to find them.  Ironically, this could have been a great movie.

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Movie Review – Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

This review isn’t forged, 3.5 readers.  It’s genuine.

Also, the SPOILERS are real.

BQB here with a review of “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

I can’t put my finger on one reason.  Instead, for many reasons, as I watched Melissa McCarthy as a middle-aged woman sobbing uncontrollably with a dead cat in her arms, I found myself thinking, almost in Jon Lovitzian fashion, “This is acting!”

But let’s backup.  McCarthy plays Lee Israel, a once successful magazine writer and biographer of celebrities.  One of her biographies hit the New York Times bestseller list, but when her latest biography flops, her career is done.  Over.  Finito.  She can’t catch a break.  Her manager, played by Jane Curtin, more or less informs her that she’s a loser, and her bills are piling up.  Her cat is sick and needs expensive treatment.  Her rent is overdue.  She’s on her way to being homeless.

In an odd twist of fate, while doing research on vaudevillian Fannie Brice, she discovers a real letter written by Fannie herself stuck in one of the library’s books about the old time comedienne.  Rather than be honest and tell the library about it, she pockets it.  She adds a joke at the end with her own typewriter to up the value and voila, she sells it for just enough cash to help her kitty and keep her landlord at bay.

Alas, once she gets a taste of easy money, she can’t get enough.  She falls into the world of celebrity letter collectors and yeah, apparently there is, or was, one.  She forges away, writing letters and attributing them to long deceased stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood.  She makes her way from book store to book store and other collector shops, selling them for profit.

Her partner in crime is Jack Hock, an unapologetically flamboyant homosexual raconteur.  Once an aspiring writer who hobnobbed in the same stodgy Mahattan writer party scene as Lee, they get reacquainted over a chance meeting in a bar.  Turns out, they’re both washed up has-beens who can’t even get invited to the parties they didn’t even like going to in the first place.

At this point, you might want to know why I think Melissa McCarthy deserves to win best actress for blubbering over that dead kitty.  Let me get there.

This movie isn’t just about the world of counterfeit memorabilia and the forgers who make dough off it.  It’s more than that.

It’s about loneliness. Sadness.  Aging.  Desperation.  It’s about how when you’re young, you have a dream, and then one day, you wake up and you realize you didn’t achieve it, you never will, it’s too late to keep trying.  You try your best to give in to this new, sad chapter of life where you go from hoping “IT” will happen, whatever it is to you, and trying to accept it won’t happen.

And yet, that little voice in your head keeps telling you to try.  So you keep trying, even though to the world, you look like a loser.  Because you’re old and didn’t you get the memo?  Old people aren’t supposed to do great things.  If they were going to do it, they would have done it already.

Long story short, that kitty was Lee’s BFF.  Lee had a prickly personality and had to accept her failure wasn’t just the world being unkind to another writer but also, because she was a drunk who insulted people who were trying to help her, making them less likely to help in the future.

She just didn’t like people.  And they didn’t like her.  So when that cat croaks, it’s like how a spouse might feel upon the death of a husband or wife, or any family member on the death of another in the family.  The cat accepted her and she accepted the cat.

The hottest actresses in Hollywood could never pull off this scene.  I don’t care how much ugly makeup you slap on, say, Margot Robbie.  You’d know it is still Margot under there.  You know Margot will never have to worry about having to keep a cat alive just to prevent herself from being alone.  You know Margot could score twenty dicks in thirty seconds just by asking for them if she were so inclined.

Melissa McCarthy isn’t ugly, per se.  She’s like the rest of us, average.  In fact, she’s uglied up for this film, given messy hair, extra wrinkles, etc.  She’s convincing as a person who dreamed big.  Thought she’d be a great, wealthy, respected writer.  And her plan didn’t work out.  And so, now she’s old.  And alone.  Watching TV with her cat.  Regretting breaking up with her long gone lesbian lover.  She knows her life will never be what she wanted it to be.  She’s bitter over the unlucky breaks the world sends her.  And so, the cat is the tipping point.  The last middle finger the world has given her and she can’t take it anymore.  She’s tired of never getting what she wants out of life and the fact that God can’t even let her keep her kitty makes her snap into a blubbering mess.

Bonus points for Richard E. Gant.  If you’re a nerd, you’ve seen him in a lot of nerdy stuff.  Dr. Who.  Game of Thrones.  Logan.  He’s one of those actors you’ve seen in so many things.  You’re like, “I know that guy, he was in…” whenever you see him in a movie.  This role finally gives him the reward of becoming the guy whose name you know.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Bonus points for the message that when your life is in the dumper, no one can pull you out of the trash but you.  Somehow, you have to keep going in spite of the odds against you.  Obviously, (spoiler) the success isn’t in the forgery but in pulling herself together when she is caught.

We’ve all had that moment where we break down and cry as we realize life is going to be a dick and not deal us the cards we need to make the life we want possible.  Maybe we weren’t holding a dead kitty when he had that nervous breakdown, but we’ve all freaked when we realize we must accept that what we want and what life will allow us to have are two very different things.

 

BQB’s Oscar Predictions – Best Picture

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Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

As you know, I have long been an advocate for ugly rights and this year, I have no doubt that ugly actors will be snubbed yet again.

But moving on, my thoughts on Best Picture:

THE NOMINEES:

Black Panther

BlacKkKlansman

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book

Roma

A Star is Born

Vice

WHAT I DID NOT SEE:

I didn’t see The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, Vice.

Vice, to me, seems like just one big long early 2000’s era SNL sketch about a presidential administration that is long forgotten.  Doesn’t seem like it should be but time moves fast.  So, I’m not sure it is Oscar worthy but again, I didn’t see it.

SNUBBED:

Crazy Rich Asians was a rare enjoyable romantic comedy.  Asians get so few lead roles in American cinema and on top of that, there was a message about how every young adult has to choose between making his/her family happy and making him/herself happy that is universal around the world.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?  I actually just saw this tonight and I didn’t expect it to, but it really moved me.  There is just something about Melissa McCarthy as a lonely old woman balling her eyes out over the death of her cat, quite literally her only friend in the world, that provides a look into the depths of loneliness and sadness that grips many people.  It’s something that a million hottie actress could never convey, no matter how much you ugly them up.

A Quiet Place – I might be alone here but I feel like this could have gotten some love.  It achieved a lot with very little.  It told a whole story with only a handful of words ever spoken.

Chappaquiddick – A powerful case study on how there is one set of laws for the rich and powerful and another set for the rest of us schlubs.  But, you know, Kennedy was loved by Hollywood so, on and on the vicious cycle goes.

WHO WILL WIN? (And What Did I See?)

Black Panther was a good superhero movie.  It’s watchable again and again and when I went, there were so many black people in attendance in traditional African garb that I figured there was no way the Oscars could ignore it.  They’ll never give an Oscar to a super hero movie (though if the Avengers series ever finally ends, they should consider giving that last movie an Oscar as they did with Lord of the Rings, another comic booky type of movie series, just to celebrate the achievement of finishing a series that lasted so long.)

Bohemian Rhapsody was touching and a good story about a) doing what you love b) being loyal to those who help you do it c) choosing one love over lots of meaningless sex will, surprise, surprise, make you happier.  D) Confidence will get you places.

But it won’t win because alas, the original director has some perv allegations.  I actually agree with that.  We can’t reward alleged pervs.

A STAR IS BORN – It’s long, too long.  And sad.  Yet, at the same time, it was hard for me to feel sorry for Lady Gaga or Bradley Cooper.  They are both just too beautiful.  It did have some important messages about keeping your jealousy in check in a relationship and also, as you age, you’ll have to learn to accept that you’ll never be as fabulous as you were in your prime.

PREDICTION: BlacKkKlansman will win.  It was a good movie.    It tackled a serious subject with, surprisingly, a lot of humor.  It’s one of Spike Lee’s best.  I think the Academy will pick it not necessarily because of the movie itself but because it is critical of Bad Orange Man and in case you haven’t noticed, Awards shows like to dump on him.

 

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Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop – Chapter 13

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It wasn’t exactly an out of body experience, but all the same, I sat back and watched as firefighters pulled my hide out of the deflated wreckage of Princess Paulina’s bouncy castle. Bryant came next, flipping out like a madman.
“I want this man arrested!” he hollered. “He’s out of control! I was just out for a breath of fresh air when this psychopath assaulted me and threw me off the side of a building, without so much as a…”
I watched as I gave the jerk a right cross, knocking him out. The remnants of the bouncy house broke his fall as well as mine. At that moment, I hadn’t considered the fact that knocking down that worm would bring me down with him.
Jeffries rushed over and undid the cuffs. Rosie followed, taking me by the hand, leading me away from the scene as cameras snapped away.
In my chair, I watched as Rosie led me past one of many finely coiffed, neatly pressed reporters on the scene. He looked into his camera. “I’m Alexander Guadalupe-Daniels and I’m on the scene at the Museum of Historic Antiquity, where renegade straw cop Mack Smasher just kidnapped a random, helpless, hardworking lobbyist and hurled him off the side of this building that holds some of our country’s most prized treasures. Public opinion on Smasher is that he’s a disgrace to the uniform and…”
Wham! I laughed and laughed as I saw my fist connect with the fool’s face. I grabbed Captain Braddock’s remote control and paused it just in time to capture a frame in which one of the reporter’s capped teeth went flying.
“Smasher!” Braddock said.
“Hold on, boss,” I said. “Let me run it back again. I want to see that prick get cold-cocked one more time.”
“I’ll have no more of your monkey shines, Smasher!” Braddock said.
“You ever notice that all of these reporters are whiter than snow yet they all have a Hispanic surname hyphenated onto their white bread last name?” I asked. “Seems like cultural appropriation if you ask me.”
“Cut the crap, Smasher!” Braddock said as he held up a stack of papers. “I just finished the fiftieth page, turkey. How do you like that?”
“What?” I asked as I grabbed the stack and poured through it. Every line had words written on it. “How did you do that? It’s only been a couple hours.”
“I told you,” Braddock said. “I’m the best of the best. Meanwhile, you’re the worst of the worst. What the hell are you doing? Kidnapping lobbyists, throwing them off buildings, punching out reporters.”
“I didn’t do that,” I protested.
My boss pointed to frozen frame on his TV.
“OK,” I said. “I did that last one. But that lobbyist walked himself out onto that ledge. He refused to leave it. I saved his life!”
“Yeah, well,” Braddock said. “You should have left the shithead out there until he fell off from exhaustion.”
“And you wouldn’t be chewing my ass out in that scenario?” I asked.
“Of course, I would,” Braddock said. “You do shit and I chew your ass out over it. Someone’s gotta keep your ass in check, Smasher. Speaking of checks…”
“Let me guess,” I said. “The mayor called.”
“You’re damn right he did,” Braddock said. Your ass just bounced a big, fat check and now I’m expected to pick up the tab. Smasher, the mayor’s head is so far up my ass that he just farted in my mouth and the smell was not pleasant.”
“It wasn’t?” I asked.
“Not one bit,” Braddock set. “It had a hint of skunk with undertones of onion and rotten tuna fish salad. Disgusting. And all that’s in my mouth and this paperwork? That’s the mouthwash.”
“Come on, sir,” I said. “It is not.”
“Oh, you’re damn right it is, Smasher,” Braddock said. “I’m going to swish this paper around, let it burn away at my oral rot, then spit it out and when I’m finished, you’ll be long gone.”
“Sir,” I said. “In my defense, I was asked to help on this one.”
“Bullshit,” Braddock said. “Don’t you lie to me, Smasher. You lie to me I will reach up into the heavens, pull down the spear of Aries and I will chop off your stupid head with it.”
“You can’t really chop anything off with a spear, sir,” I said. “They’re usually operated with a thrusting motion.”
“Enough gobbedly gook from your diseased sewer hole!” Braddock said. “Jeffries called me.”
“He did?” I asked.
“Oh yeah,” Braddock said. “You know what he said?”
“That he likes to wear women’s undergarments?” I asked.
“I don’t know anything about that,” Braddock said. “But screw you, bigot. It’s 2019. The man can wear any kind of underbritches he damn well pleases.”
“I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.”
“Jeffries said he had the whole scene under control,” Braddock said. “That the perp was about to voluntarily come inside when you waltzed onto the scene, threw your weight around, took over and tossed that shithead over the side, laughing all the while like you were having a grand old time!”
“Sir,” I said. “That is so far from the truth.”
“Neal Jeffries is a decorated department veteran,” Braddock said. “And a company man who knows how to take orders and not give any guff to his superiors. You, on the other hand, are a fart trapped deep inside a boll weevil’s asshole, just waiting to come out so you can impress the world for two seconds with your incorrigible stink until you fade away into the bleak, nothingness you deserve.”
“That book club is really paying off, sir,” I said.
“Are you calling Jeffries a liar?” Braddock asked.
“I am,” I said.
“You?” Braddock said. “A weak, sniveling, puss filled boil growing inside the urethra of a horny toad that’s been left out to die of thirst on a steamy rock, boiling under the crushing oppression of the hot, desert sun? I’m supposed to take your word against Neal Jeffries? Son, I would gladly karate chop your dick off and feed it to the devil himself if, by some sort of mysterious, predetermined arrangement, I would be able to trade you for Jeffries. Believe me. I would do it in a heartbeat.”
“I don’t know what to tell you,” I said. “He’s lying. I’m not.”
Braddock turned to his paperwork. He mumbled away as he wrote. “Offending officer lies like a rug, recklessly puts his life and the lives of others in danger and his uncouth, obnoxious behavior is probably just him trying to compensate for a tiny Irish penis.”
“My penis is gargantuan!” I said.
“Sexually harassed his commanding officer with inappropriate talk of his penis size,” Braddock mumbled as he scribbled away.
“I’m not even Irish!” I snapped.
The old man moved his pen. “Racist against Irish people. Told me in a direct quote that he wants to throat punch every red-headed bastard who would dare cross his path.”
“I never said that!”
The pen kept moving. “Contradicts his superior constantly.”
I stood up. “Whatever,” I said. “Let’s just both stick to what we’re best at, boss.”
Braddock looked up. “What’s that?”
“I’ll go save the world…”
I lowered my shades. “…and you keep that chair warm.”
“Wow,” Braddock said.
“Yeah?” I asked. “Good?”
“It gave me chills,” Braddock said.
“It did?” I asked.
“No,” Braddock said. “Now get the hell outta my office and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
I entered the hallway. Rosie was waiting for me. “How far has he gotten?”
“Fifty pages,” I said.
“Damn,” Rosie said. “He works fast.”
“He does,” I said. “But he’s still got ten thousand to go. I’ll be fine. Your boyfriend won’t be when I kick his ass.”
“My boyfriend?” Rosie asked.
“Jeffries,” I said.
“He’s not my…”
“Yeah,” I said. “I saw the way you looked at him.”
“I didn’t look at him in any particular way,” Rosie said.
“Who cares?” Smasher said.
“It sounds like you do,” Rosie said.
“I don’t,” I said. “But he’ll care when he’s picking his teeth out of my boot heel.”
“And why is he going to be doing that?” Rosie asked.
“He lied to the captain,” I said. “Told him the whole thing today was my fault.”
“He did?” Rosie asked.
“He did.”
Rosie stopped. “Smasher, this is simple. I was there. I’ll just go back and tell the captain…”
“No,” I said. “Women handle things by tattling. Men handle things with their fists. Next time I see that douchebag, I’m going to beat his face like it owes me money.”
Speak of the devil, Rosie and I bumped into Jeffries outside as he was heading up the steps.
“Jeffries!” I shouted. “You wang chomping shit flinger!”
The lieuntenant laughed. “Have a good time with el Capitan, Smasher?”
“You know I didn’t,” I said. “How could you deceive that old fart like that?”
“Easy,” Jeffries said. “Everyone loves me. Everyone hates you.”
“What?” I asked. “That can’t be true.”
Suddenly, a random man on the sidewalk pointed at me. “Hey everyone! Look! It’s Mack Smasher, the renegade straw cop that everyone hates!”
I grimaced.
“Come on, everyone!” the random man cried. “Let’s all boo and hiss at him to show our displeasure in his misdeeds!”
Jeffries smiled. “I have to admit, it’s nice to be out of your shadow, Smasher. Everyone loved you for years. Everyone cheered and applauded when you beat the shit out of hoodlums but now that you’re going nuts over straws…”
“I saved your ass back there!” I said. “That guy never would have gotten down from that ledge safe had it not been for me!”
“Yeah,” Jeffries said. “But you screwed me over with Mo-Mo and I owed you one.”
“So,” I said. “Are we even?”
“Not by a long shot,” Jeffries said. “You see, Mack. When you screw people over, the screw is obvious. You punch people in the face. Shoot them in the head. Blow their shit up. I, on the other hand, know how to play the game.”
“The game?” I asked.
“Law enforcement is all one great, big game,” Jeffries said. “Shake a hand here. Kiss an ass there. And when there’s a dirty job around, get the filthiest cop to do it so you can keep your hands clean. I knew there was no way that imbecile was coming off that ledge without a cop willing to bring him down and better you than me.”
I clenched my hand into a fist. “Why, I oughta…”
Rosie pulled me away. “Come on, Smasher.”
I relented, for my partner’s sake. We walked away.
“Hey, Rosie!” Jeffries called out.
Rosie looked back. “Yeah?”
“Scrape this barnacle off before he gets so fat he drowns you, will ya?”
Rosie looked ahead. “Goodbye, Neal.”

Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop – Chapter 12

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Inside an empty office on the top floor of the museum, I opened a window and stuck my head out.  A cool breeze hit my face.  I looked down.  Two fire trucks pulled up.  The firemen poured out, all hustling and bustling.  From this vantage point, they looked like ants.

I turned my head right and looked at Bryant.  He was shuddering.  There was a chill in the air, his coat was flimsy and the pajamas he wore underneath weren’t helping much.

“Hey,” I said.  “Buddy.”

Bryant recoiled in terror when he realized I was there.  He flattened his back against the stone wall of the building, his feet holding a precarious grip on the ledge.  “Who are you?  Don’t come any closer!”

“Yeah, no worries,” I said.  “I’d rather stay in here where it’s nice and warm than freeze my ass out there if it’s all the same.”

The jumper nodded.  “OK then.”

Bryant and I were quiet for a time.  He was petrified, refusing to look down.  Me?  All I could do was look down but then again, my body was secure.

“You a cop?” Bryant asked.

“Yeah,” I said.  “Well, for at least another week or two.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Bryant asked.

“Let’s just say my boss doesn’t like the cut of my jib,” I said.  “Well, deep down, I’m not entirely sure he feels that way.  But he’s got bosses who don’t like me and they’ve got bosses who don’t like me and you know how the game is played.  Everyone’s gotta do what they gotta do.”

“It’s a dog fuck dog world out there,” Bryant said.

“Yeah,” I said as I pulled out a cigarette and lit it.  “And we’re all just trying to not be the last bitch poodle.”

I puffed on the cig.  “Damn, I wish Rosie was up here.  That would have been a good line to pull down my shades on.”

“Huh?” Bryant asked.

“Nothing,” I said.  “You smoke?”

“Not usually,” Bryant said.  “Up until recently, my body was a temple but now?  Yeah, sure, why not?”

I nodded.  I pulled another cigarette out of the pack, lit it, then ever so carefully, reached my arm out the window.  Suddenly, I thought better of that move and pulled my arm back.

“Not for nothing, Kevin,” I said.  “But this is a little trust building exercise.  You grab my arm and try to pull me out there and throw me out this building and I’ll take you down with me.”

“I won’t,” Bryant said.  “Honestly, I’m starting to consider the possibility that this whole thing might have been ill-advised.”

I reached my arm out.  Bryant reached down and grabbed the smoke without taking his eyes off the world ahead of him.

“You think?” I asked as I pulled my arm back.

“Yeah,” Bryant said.  “I’m sorry.  I just needed someone to pay attention.  I need those straws, man.”

“I know,” I said.

“I don’t think you do,” Bryant said.  “Someone introduces something into your life that you need, that you gotta have and then one day, boom, it’s all gone.  Shit, if I could find that cop who destroyed Wisenheimer’s, I’d give him a piece of my mind.”

I sighed.  “I heard he’s a good fellow.”

“No,” Bryant said.  “On the news, they’re saying he drove a bulldozer through the joint then started juggling lit sticks of dynamite around while soccer moms and little babies were watching.”

“You can’t trust what you see on the news anymore, pal,” I said.  “Haven’t you heard of the term, ‘fake news?’”

“Fake news?” Bryant asked.  “No.  All journalists are wise, seasoned professionals and the fruit of their labors is unassailable.  Why, to even think of criticizing them is to assault the freedom of speech.”

“Whatever,” I said.  “I’m sure that cop had his reasons.”

“Yeah,” Bryant said.  “Well, he fucked up my life.  I need those Wisenheimer straws and I can’t get them.  I tracked down some of the employees who worked there.  They didn’t have any.  They threatened to kick me in the nuts if I ever contact them again.  I contacted some customers.  They didn’t have any either.  They too threatened to kick me in the nuts if I ever contacted them again.”

I puffed on my cigarette.

“I called the corporate office,” Bryant said.  “They said they couldn’t help me and that if I called again, they’d send a lawyer to kick me in the nuts.”

“I’m beginning to sense a pattern here,” I said.

“Yeah,” Bryant replied.  “That the world’s happy to have you as long as you don’t cause trouble but oh boy, have one little problem and everyone will just gang up on you and threaten your nuts with bodily harm.”

“Something like that,” I said.

Bryant took a drag on his cigarette.  “Aww, listen to me.  Going on and on like my problems are everyone else’s fault.  I admit it.  It’s crazy.  Straws.  What a silly thing to be addicted to.”

“It’s not that silly,” I said.

Bryant ignored my comment.  “I tried to stop.  I tried to stay away.  But all I could think about, morning, noon and night was straws, straws and more straws.”

“Kevin,” I said.  “You and your fellow addicts, of which I’m sure there are more out there, are blameless in this.  You didn’t sign up to…”

“My wife can tie a cherry stem into a knot with her tongue,” Bryant said.  “And my girlfriend can fit an entire cucumber up her…”

“OK,” I said.  “No one likes a braggart.”

“True,” Bryant replied.

“Plus,” I said.  “I’m sure that lifestyle isn’t easy.  Having to keep those broads from finding out about each other.”

“Not at all,” Bryant said.  “Amber and Brandy are best of friends.”

“You’re shitting me,” I said.

“I shit you not,” Bryant said.  “They hang out all the time.  We have three ways every Sunday, go on vacations as a threesome.  They send each other Christmas cards.”

I laughed.  “Damn it, Kevin.”

“What?”

“I’m so jealous I’m liable to throw you off this ledge myself,” I said.

Bryant smiled.

“There,” I said.  “A sign you don’t want to die.  Now, will you please come inside and bring this foolish spectacle to a conclusion?”

“No,” Bryant said.  “It’s all over.”

“What’s over?” I asked.  “Nothing is over.”

“I’m all washed up,” Bryant said.  “I got nothing.”

“You’re richer than a sultan!” I said.

“All smoke and mirrors,” Bryant said.  “There’s no such thing a free pussy, man.”

“Tell me about it,” I said.  “I field so many calls from my ex-wives’ army of crooked lawyers that I’d hire a secretary to answer them if I could afford one.”

“Every man dreams of scoring that primo snatch-o-la,” Bryant said.  “But you got any idea what you gotta do to keep it?”

“I can imagine,” I said.

“Trips,” Bryant said.  “Private jets.  The best hotels.  Gifts. Clothes.  Diamonds.  Jewelry.  They expect you to take care of their every little need.  Hire servants to follow them around and clean up after them.  And these broads?  They don’t know anything about the value of money.  They ask you for something and they expect you to pull it out of your ass like a magician.  Brandy wanted a pet puma, for Christ’s sake.  Do you know how much it costs to take care of a puma?”

“A lot?” I asked.

“The vet bills alone are staggering,” Bryant said.  “And the titty enlargening surgeries?  Don’t even get me started.”

“Worth it?”

“Yes,” Bryant said.

“I prefer big naturals,” I said.

“Oh,” Bryant said.  “I got a guy in Guadalajara.  Off the books.  Black market stuff.  Not exactly approved by the American Medical Association, if you catch my drift.   I don’t know how he does it but he can make a titty feel like it’s the pillow that God himself would just to rest his head on.”

“That sounds amazing,” I said.

“Yeah,” Bryant said.  “But expensive.  I’ve been living life large on credit for as long as I can remember.  Now that my income’s gone, it will all go bust.  I’ll be crushed under a mountain of dead.  They’ll take my houses, my cars.  I’ll have to file for bankruptcy.  The babes will leave and I’ll be all alone.”

“Now, now,” I said.  “Don’t get all down in the dumps, yet, buster.  You never know.  If your women love you enough, they might just stick around and…”

Bryant and I cracked up together.

“Oh, who am I kidding?”  I asked.

Bryant laughed.  “Thanks.  I needed that.”

“Kevin,” I said.  “None of this was your fault.  Now, I’m not going to bog you down in the details, but you need to trust me.  You are an unwitting pawn in a vast, underground conspiracy, one that, until recently, involved adding trace amounts of highly addictive cocaine to straws that were being dealt under the table at Wisenheimers.”

“Wait,” Bryant said.  “Coke?”

“Yes,” I said.  “As part of an illegal experiment to study the effects of cocaine laced straws on humans.  It’s all part of a conspiracy to force mankind to suck on straws until the end of time.”

“You’re telling me I’m a coke-head?” Bryant asked.

“Looks that way,” I said.

Bryant cheered.  “Yes!”

“I’ve never seen someone so happy to find out they’re hooked on the Columbian snot powder,” I said.

“This is great,” Bryant said.  “Every rich asshole in a fifty-mile radius is hooked on one drug or another!  It’s a right of passage.  It’s to be expected.  Hell, if anything, you’re considered a weirdo if you’re rich and you don’t get hooked on something.  When everyone thought I was offering to suck dick for straws, they thought I was insane, but now that I can tell everyone it was the coke inside the straws that I was after all along, I can get my life back!  My boss and my women will welcome me back with open arms, I’ll do a couple weeks in rehab and…”

“Yeah,” I said.  “That’s great.  Hey, listen man, if you could hold off on the celebration until after you’ve come inside…”

Bryant composed himself.  “Right.”

We both went silent.

“Hey, man?” Bryant asked.

“Yeah?”

“How do I get down from here?”  Bryant asked.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

Bryant pushed his back against the wall so hard it was as if he was trying to push himself through the building.  “I can’t move, man!  I’m too scared!”

“Oh, come on!”  I looked below.  The firefighters had pulled out a giant piece of plastic that was large, pink, and deflated.

I pressed the call button on my radio.  “Hey, Jeffries, what’s going on down there? Over.”

My radio squawked.  “We’re putting up an inflatable device that will, we hope, break your fall if, God forbid, a fall happens.  Over.”

I pressed my button.  “You think it will?  Over.”

“I don’t know,” Jeffries said.  “If I had to bet, probably not, but it’s a department rule that in a situation like this, there has to be one.  Over.”

I scoffed.  “Well, thank the department for me.  Over.”

Squawk.  “I don’t think the department cares about you per se, Smasher.  It’s just an insurance thing.  The department’s policy and you know, factoring in the actuarial tables and so forth, it’s just cheaper to inflate the damn thing.  It’s complicated.  Don’t ask me to explain it.  Over.”

I saw one firefighter hook up an air compressor to a hose attached to the pink piece of plastic.  Like a marshmallow, it grew and grew.

“Friend,” I said.  “I’m going to need you to develop some steel in your shorts.  Think about how you’re going to rebuild your life, how cooler your chicks will think you are when they find out you’re a coke-head.”

“Man,” Bryant said.  “They’ll think I’m so cool.  I bet they’d even let me get a second sidepiece.”

“That’s the spirit,” I said.  “Now, very slowly, and very carefully, without taking your foot off the ledge, start inching your way toward me.”

Bryant closed his eyes and shook his head.  “No, no, no, man.  I can’t!”

“Kevin,” I said.  “Your new life awaits you through this window.  Come on, now!”

The addict shrieked like a little girl.  “I can’t do it!

“Damn it,” I said.

“Maybe if I had one of those straws,” Bryant said.  “They made me feel brave, you know?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“Like I could do anything,” Bryant said.  “Like I was invincible.  Say, you don’t happen to have one of those straws on you, do you?”

“Not on me, no,” I said.

“You sure?” Bryant said.  “I might be willing to suck your…”

“That’s not happening,” I said.

My radio squawked.  “Smasher,” Jeffries said.  “What’s happening?  Over.”

I pressed my button.  “He’s pussying out.  Over.”

“I’m not pussying out!” Bryant shouted.  “I just need a straw!  You hear that, people?!  Get me a straw and you can drop your pants, make full use of my soft lips and supple mouth and when you’re done, feel free to leave my face looking like a frozen yogurt truck exploded in my general vicinity!  I don’t care!  Just get me a straw!”

Squawk.  “Smasher.  It’s Rosie.  Maybe I should just go back to the station and get him one of Humberto’s straws. Over.”

Bryant perked up.  “What’s that now?”

I thought about my partner’s proposition.  “No.  I’m not going to help the Illumistrawti turn people into straw addicts.  That’s letting the Strawman win.  Over.”

“The Strawman?” Bryant asked.  “Who’s the Strawman?  Does he enjoy a good pickle smooch, because I’ll do it, man.  I swear.  I will smooch every peen from here to Philly and back again if it will get me a straw.”

“Has that offer even worked on anyone yet?” I asked.

“Not as such, no,” Bryant answered.  “But you know how it is.  You get what you put out into the world and I’ve been putting out plenty off offers to gargle sausage for straws, so sooner or later…”

“Enough,” I said.  “I’m coming out there.”

“Don’t you dare!”  Bryant shouted.  “If you do, I’ll…I’ll…”

“Jump?” I asked.  “Give me a break, cupcake.  If you had the guts to throw yourself off a building, you would have done it by now.”

I crawled out onto the ledge.  I inched my way towards Kevin.  I reached out my hand.

“Take it.”

Bryant shook his head.  “No.  I can’t.”

“What are you going to do?”  I asked.  “Stay out here for the rest of your life?”

“If I have to.”

I pressed the button on my radio.  “Jeffries!  Is that thing up yet?  Over.”

“It’s up,” Jeffries said.  “Over.”

I looked down.  The height messed with my sense of balance, but I kept it together.  The sight I saw filled me with rage – the plastic had been inflated to form a pink bouncy house.  Scrawled across the top in purple letters were the words, “Princess Paulina’s Bouncy Castle.”  It had bouncy spires, bouncy minarets, the works.

Button press. “Are you shitting me?!”

Squawk. “No,” Jeffries said.  “Sorry.  Best we could do on short notice.  It seems stable enough.  It should hold.  Probably.  Over.”

Button press. “Probably?”

“I don’t know, Smasher,” Jeffries said.  “I don’t think this novelty inflatable children’s party attraction has been tested to see if it can take a body after a ten-story drop.  Over.”

“Oh,” I said to myself.  “Fuck me.”

“Man!” Bryan shouted.  “Am I getting a straw or what?”

“To hell with this,” I said.  I pulled out my cuffs.  I cuffed one side around my wrist.  I grabbed the idiot’s wrist and cuffed it.

“What are you doing?” Bryant asked.

“You’re a big man, Kevin?” I asked.

“Not at all!” Bryant said.

“You want to die?” I asked.

“Not anymore!”  Bryant shouted.  “If we’re being honest, I didn’t want to before.  I just wanted someone to pay attention to me.”

“Well,” I said as I looked out to all the news cameras pointed our way, as well as all the cell phones being operated by bystanders.  “You’re going to get your wish, dickhead.  Everyone’s going to know your name now.”

“No!”  Bryant said.  “Wait!”

“Three,” I said.

“Stop!”

“Two,” I said.

“Please!”

“You coming in?” I asked.

“Just give me a minute!”

“Sorry.  You’re all out of time.  One!”

 

Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop – Chapter 11

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“Get back! Everybody just get back or I’ll jump!  I swear to God I will!”

The Museum of Historic Antiquity was ten stories tall.  It didn’t provide the highest drop in the city but still, a fall from that height would easily turn a body into a pile of goo.

The jumper looked like a hobo.  Unshaven.  Bushy hair.  A hole-filled jacket that looked like it came out of the good will box.

Rosie, Jeffries and I observed the situation.

“Remain calm, sir,” Jeffries said into a bullhorn.  “Please do not jump.”

“I’m going to jump!” the jumper said.  “Do you want that?”

“No, sir,” Jeffries said.  “Nobody wants that.  If you could just relax, take a deep breath and…”

“Oh, fuck that noise,” I said as I yanked the bullhorn out of Jeffries’ hand and held it up to my mouth.  “You gonna jump or what?!  I haven’t got all day, so do it already!  What’s going on in that squirrel brain of yours?  You think your so special?  You think you’re so unique? You think anyone down here really gives a soft, buttery piece of possum shit if you…”

Jeffries wrestled the bullhorn out of my hand.  He spoke into again.  “Sorry, sir.  We’re experiencing some technical difficulties but rest assured, the situation is under control.”

“It better be!”  the jumper shouted.  “Because if it isn’t, then I’m gonna jump!”

“Who cares?” I muttered.

“Smasher, you’re going to get that man killed with that attitude,” Jeffries said.

“Whatever,” I said.  “You called me.  You don’t want me, I’m gone.  I got better things to do.”

Jeffries grabbed my sleeve.  “Hang on.”

The lieutenant pulled out a file.  He flipped a few pages until he showed me a photo of a clean shaven man wearing a suit.  “Ken Bryant.  Just a week ago, he was a powerful lobbyist, compensated to the tune of $900,000 a year plus perks and bennies.  We’re talking luxury houses, hot cars, hot women.  Hell, this guy had a supermodel wife with big fake tits and a mistress on the side with a pair of bigger, faker tits.”

“Goddamn,” I said as I looked up at the jumper.  “Respect.”

“I know,” Jeffries said.  “That’s the American Dream, right there.”

Rosie shook her head.  “But is it, though?”

He takes his sidepiece to Wisenheimer’s on New Year’s Eve.

“Cheap fuck,” I said.

“Whatever,” Jeffries said.  “I assume he didn’t get as high as he did by wasting money.  Anyway, since then, according to what we’re told from both women, is that he’s become, well, like you.”

“Like me?” I asked.

“Obsessed with straws,” Jeffries said.  “Can’t stop talking about them.”

I pulled out a pair of binoculars and used them to focus on Bryant’s face.  His eyes were red.  He looked strung out, like he hadn’t slept for days.  Little drops of drool poured out of his mouth.

“I need straws!” Bryant shouted.  “Get me a straw, now!”

“This isn’t like me,” I said.  “This is something else.”

I handed Rosie the binoculars.  She looked at the jumper through them.

“Oh yeah,” Rosie said.  “That’s the coke straws doing their work, alright.”

“Coke straws?” Jeffries asked.

“Straws laced with highly addictive, trace amounts of cocaine were being doled out on the sly at Wisenheimer’s,” I explained.

“You’re shitting me,” Jeffries said as he looked to Rosie, as though my word wasn’t good enough.  “Is he shitting me?”

“No shits here,” Rosie replied.

“You’re telling me all your straw bullshit is real?” Jeffries asked.

“As real as the dumb look on your face,” I said.

The lieutenant’s jaw dropped.  “Son of a…”

I patted Jeffries on the shoulder.  “It’s ok, buddy.  One day, if you wish real hard, you might just become a real cop, like me.”

“Whatever,” Jeffries said.  “No time to measure dicks, Smasher.”

“You’d lose,” I said.

“I would not,” Jeffries said.  “You want to do it right now?”

“I don’t know,” I said.  “Did you bring two tape measures?”

“We could use the same tape measure,” Jeffries replied.

“That’d be unsanitary,” I said.  “And also, both tape measures would be for me.  I might even need a third and…”

Rosie interjected.  “Gentlemen, if we could focus.”

“Right,” I said.  “What’s he doing up there?”

“Wife and mistress both report that after he went to Wisenheimer’s, he started acting crazy, babbling on and about straws, how he needed them, had to have them,” Jeffries.  “Now that you’ve filled in the blanks, it sounds like classic addiction.”

“Oh, the booger sugar will get you,” I said.  “Even when taken orally.”

“He stopped sleeping,” Jeffries said.  “Stopped eating.  Stopped reporting to work.  Got fired and didn’t care.  He just sat around Wisenheimer’s, ordering drink after drink, going on and on to anyone who would listen about how much he loved the straws.”

Bryant cupped his hands around his mouth, creating a makeshift bullhorn.  “I will suck the dick of anyone who will give me a Wisenheimer’s straw.  You hear me, world?  You got a straw from Wisenheimer’s and I will drop to my knees and polish your skin flute until it’s nice and shiny!”

I looked at Rosie.  “Looks like it isn’t limited to rats after all.”

“Conclusive proof, I’d say,” Rosie added.

“Rats?” Jeffries asked.

“Long story,” I said.  “What’s his end game?”

“When he showed up to Wisenheimer’s today and found out you’d burned it down…”

“Correction,” I said.  “A fight caused by the clandestine Illumistrawti hitmen in the employ of the Strawman led to it being burned down.”

“Nothing you ever say makes sense to me, Smasher,” Jeffries said.

“It’s cool,” I said.  “Stay ignorant.  Life will be easier for you, that way.  Continue.”

“He says he’ll jump if we don’t get him a straw from Wisenheimer’s,” Jeffries said.  “We searched the wreckage.  Asked around town.  Nothing.  We aren’t going to be able to comply with this guy’s request and he looks like he’s serious about jumping.”

I looked up at the jumper.

“I am so, totally serious about jumping right now!” the jumper cried.  “You guys don’t even know!”

“What’s the plan?” I asked.

Jeffries looked around, reluctant to speak.

“What?” I asked.

“Um,” Jeffries said.  “That you go out on that ledge and try to talk some sense into him?”

“Me?” I asked.

“Well, why the hell not, Smasher?” Jeffries asked.  “You live and breathe this cowboy shit, don’t you?”

“When it’s going to break open a case, yeah,” I said.  “Not to save the life of some yuppy butt monkey who was…wait, what the hell was he lobbying for anyway?”

Jeffries flipped through the file.  “The International Association of Pesky Telemarketers.  He fought for laws that would allow fly by night companies to call you during dinner and try to sell you socks, novelty goods, assorted anal creams…”

“Oh, screw this guy!” I said as I seized the bullhorn and pressed it up to my lips.  “Jump!  Jump!”

Jeffries took the bullhorn away.  “Smasher, knock it off!  Now, I called you down here to do what you do best.”

“And what’s that?” I asked.

“Crazy,” Jeffries said.  “Because you’d have to be a loon to go up there with that dingbat.”

“Straws!” Bryant shouted.  “Drop your pants!  Give me your dicks!  I’ll suck them off in a line like they’re all part of one big, long, fleshy xylophone as long as I get my straws!”

“You going up there or what?” Jeffries said.

“Fine,” I said.

“You’ll need to go unarmed,” Jeffries said.

“Are you kidding me?” I asked.

“It’s the only way he’ll trust you,” Jeffries said.

I rolled my eyes.   I took off my jacket and to my chagrin, my holster, which contained both Thunder and Lightning, and handed it all to Rosie.  I then pulled my .38 out of my boot and gave that to my partner as well.

“Anything else?” Rosie asked.

I dug into my pockets and my switchblade, my brass knuckles, and a compact pistol, all of which went to Rosie.

“Wow,” Rosie said.  “Is that it?”

“Yeah,” I said as I walked toward the building.  “Wait.”

I stopped.  I reached down the back of my pants, fished my hand around inside my underwear, then pulled out a grenade.

“Holy shit!” Rosie said.

“Relax,” I said.  “You act like you’ve never seen a grenade before.”

“You mean to tell me I was riding around next to that thing this entire time?” Rosie asked.

“It’s perfectly safe,” I said.  “It’s my good luck charm.  I’ve been carrying it for years and I haven’t needed to throw it yet.  As long as the pin stays in it, it’s just a harmless paperweight.  Here.”

Rosie refused it.  “I’m not taking that.”

I turned to Jeffries.  “Neal, I’m trusting you with my ass grenade.  If this goes FUBAR, please find it a good home.”

A tiny tear trickled out of Jeffries’ eye.  He sniffed as he accepted the explosive device.

“What?” I asked.  “You wussing out on me?”

“No,” Jeffries said.  “It’s just, you know.  Allergies.  You’ll be fine, Smasher.  You’ll be coming back to accept this ass grenade yourself.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I said as I headed for the building.  “Just keep it safe.”

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