Tag Archives: self publishing

How to Make Big Money in Self Publishing

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Hey 3.5 readers.

I’ve been studying the topic of self publishing a long time now.  I don’t want to call myself an expert, but I have figured a few things out.

Specifically, I have come up with an amazing system that you can use to be super, filthy, mega rich.  Make boku bucks and stay at home, doing what you love – writing!

Write faster.  Write better.  Write smarter and better yet, get rich while you’re doing it!

I know. It sounds too good to be true but, would your old pal BQB steer you wrong?  I don’t think so.

Anyway, enough out of me.  If you want to learn how to get rich quick in the world of self publishing, click here.

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 26

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The top of Professor Elliot Lambert’s head was bald and oh so shiny, but the sides of his head had yet to get the message. The hair on the back and sides of his head was brown, speckled with gray. He’d grown it down to his shoulders, perhaps out of some misguided belief that this would prove that he actually had hair.

Standing in front of his class at Sitwell Community College, the scholar was engaged in a lecture on the mating habits of the Antarctic penguin. He found it riveting, even though no one else did.

“And so, the male penguin will perform a seductive dance, which culminates in the female to bend over and expel the feathers surrounding her hormonal glands,” Professor Lambert said. “It’s truly an amazing sight to behold. I swear, kids, if you ever get up to Antartica, you must check it out.

The professor couldn’t help but notice that something was off. Normally, his class room was packed to capacity. Although no one on campus had a particular fondness for Animal Biology 101, Professor Lambert was a notoriously easy grader, an educator who would gladly stamp an A on a paper as long as a student regurgitated something halfway legible. Further, the course satisfied a science requirement.

However, on this morning, only three students managed to show up: Connor the Hipster, Kate the Goth Chick and Mackenzie, a girl whose eyes were permanently riveted to her phone.

“Is there something I don’t know about?” the professor asked.

The three students remained silent.

“Big party last night?” Professor Lambert asked. “Everyone back at their dorms, sleeping it off?”

“You don’t know?” Declan asked.

“I don’t know what?” Professor Lambert said. “That’s a ludicrous question, young man. How could I possibly know what I don’t know? The point of asking a question is to determine what one does not know and then to persist in obtaining and answer to what one does not know, thus to facilitate an answer that can added to the mental reservoir of what one knows.”

“Chad Becker died on the toilet last night,” Ann said in her Goth monotone.

“It’s been all over the news,” Mackenzie said as she stared at her phone.

“True,” Connor said. “Although personally, I prefer not to obtain my information from corporate outlets like Network News One as most mainstream channels simply whore themselves out to big business. Instead, I prefer low key, self-sponsored blogs produced by independent owners and operators. In fact, the Bookshelf Battle Blog just reported that Countess Cucamonga may have been an alien from outer space. Now that’s an angle you’ll never hear from the bought and paid for corporate media.”

“The Bookshelf Battle Blog?” Mackenzie asked.

“Oh, you wouldn’t have heard of it,” Conor said. “It only has 3.5 readers.”

The Professor threw up his hands. “Slow down children. Are you telling me that Chad Becker is dead?”

“Deader than disco,” Mackenzie said.

“His soul is the property of Azaglotz, Keeper of the Demon Realm, now,” Kate said.

The professor lowered his head into his hand. “This is terrible. So terrible.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” Declan said. “Were you two close?”

The professor lifted his head up and blurted out. “I bought my weed from him!”

Connor and Kate appeared shocked. Mackenzie was too glued to her phone to care.

“Um,” Professor Lambert said. “That is to say, yes, he was one of my favorite students. He took this class seven times.”

The professor picked up a remote control and punched a button. A blank, white screen rolled down in front of the dry erase board. Next, the Network News One channel was projected onto the screen. Kurt Manley was reporting, as usual.

“Witnesses on the scene report that Russian President Anatoly Verashenko pulled out his penis, plopped it down on the podium in front of the entire United Nations General Assembly, and dared the President of the United States to do the same,” Kurt Manley said. “The Russian President openly doubted that President Stugotz would accept the challenging, saying, quote, ‘Everyone knows that in an international dick measuring contest, Russia will win every time!”

Kurt shuffled some papers. A photo of Chad Becker wearing a bra on his head with a beer on his head appeared on screen. Kurt spoke in a voice over. “In our ongoing coverage of the bizarre series of toilet murders that has gripped the state of Florida, we’ve talked a lot about Countess Cucamonga. But what about the other victims? We’ll talk about retired history teacher Hugh Hogan in the next hour, but first, a retrospective on the life of Chad Becker, who, some say may hold a world record for the longest amount of time ever spent in pursuit of a two year degree. We’ll look back on Mr. Becker’s life after this commercial break. Also coming up in the next hour, could this brand of frozen pizza cause you to hallucinate and believe that you are the Second Coming of Ethel Merman? We’ll tell you which brand after sports and weather but first, a word from our sponsors.”

The Network News One announcer came one. “Network News One. The Hottest Blonde Chicks. The biggest titties. Oh yeah, and occasionally we report the news and shit.”

The professor turned off the television. “Awful. Just awful.”

“Professor,” Kate said. “I don’t mean to be a downer…”

The professor and Connor looked at Kate, surprised she would say such a thing.

“…I mean, no more than usual but…I just don’t think I can concentrate given the fact that some psycho is running around murdering people while they shit.”

“I should be safe,” Connor said. “I have decided to stop using toilets as I have realized that every flush just puts another dollar into the pockets of Big Toilet.”

“Big Toilet?” Kate asked.

“The toilet industry,” Connor said. “They keep us subservient by making us believe that the only way to shit is through a toilet. I checked out a book on how to compost your own shit from the library and I’m going to do that from now on.”

“Wow,” Kate said. “That sounds hella woke. Can I join you?”

“Of course,” Connor said. “Maybe we could even, um…”

“I already told you I’m promised to Azaglotz, dirt beard boy!” Kate said.

Mackenzie yawned. “All I know is I got no sleep last night because my roommate was too afraid to shit in the bathroom after what happened to Chad, so she shit in a coffee can and stunk up the entire room.”

Professor Lambert scratched his long beard. “Hmm…yes. I suppose under the circumstances, it would be appropriate to cancel class.”

All three students jumped up to their feet with eager anticipation.

“Read chapters thirty through thirty-five in your textbooks,” Professor Lambert said. “And don’t forget there is a quiz on the anal cavity of the East Himalayan Snow Leopard next week. Good day, students.”

The students left the room. The professor sat down behind his desk. “How the hell am I supposed to get my Supersonic Chronic now?”

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 25

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Sharon took the seat behind Cole’s desk. Freddie was placed in the visitor’s chair on the other side. Gordon took a menacing stance in the back corner of the room, watching Freddie’s every move.

“Mr. Milton,” Sharon said as she flipped through some papers in a file. “Do you know why we’ve brought you here?”

“What?” Freddie asked. “Do I look like I just picked up a plus five psychic powers card?”

“Plus five what now?” Sharon asked.

Freddie scoffed. “Clearly you’ve never been blessed with a good game of Magicians of Montazor.”

“Clearly not,” Sharon said. “Cut the bullshit.”

“Cut the bull-what?” Freddie asked.

Gordon grabbed the nerd by the back of the neck and slammed his head down on Cole’s desk. “How’d you off Countess Cucamonga, geek?!”

“What?” Freddie asked.

Gordon lifted the nerd’s head up then slammed it down on the desk once more. “The fat ass pop star! The old man! The college student! You killed ‘em all and we want to know how!”

“But I didn’t…”

Wham! Before Freddie could finish his sentence, his head was connecting with Cole’s desk again.

“Is this even legal?” Freddie asked.

Sharon sat back. Gordon kept his hand on the back of Freddie’s head, ready to strike at any moment.

“It’s a gray area, Freddie,” Sharon said. “Abuse of a scumbag like you only becomes a problem if a) the public finds out and b) the public cares about you. But let me give you a little piece of advice. Countess Cucamonga’s songs about her big butt were universally loved by people of every race, color, and creed in the entire world. Ergo, people want her killer found and won’t give a shit about what happens to him in the process.”

Wham! Another head slam. “That means you start talking now, bitch!” Gordon said.

“You think I killed Countess Cucamonga?” Freddie asked.

“Stop restating the obvious,” Sharon said. “My colleague has no patience for it.”
“I didn’t do it!” Freddie shouted. “Why would you think I did?”

Sharon perused Freddie’s file. “You were harassing and stalking her several years ago.”

“I was harassing and stalking her with love!” Freddie said.

Wham! Down the nerd’s face went yet again.

“You were caught red handed,” Sharon said. “You broke into the Countess’ mansion and she walked in on you while you were wearing one of her dresses and singing one of her songs. You even had a pillow stuffed down the back of your underpants to simulate the Countess’ fat ass. You left her so traumatized that some speculate you were the cause of her Japanese Moki fish huffing addiction.”

“OK,” Freddie said. “You got me. Yes, I did that. But I was in a bad way back then. I just got out of college. I was depressed to discover that there weren’t that many career opportunities for sociology majors. I mean, who would have known that, right?”

“I knew that,” Sharon said.

Gordon slammed Freddie’s head into the desk. “Everyone knows that, nerd!”

Freddie’s forehead turned bright red. “Could he please stop doing that?”

Sharon looked at Gordon and nodded. “Cut him some slack.”

Gordon growled like an angry Rotweiller.

“I plead guilty,” Freddie said. “They let me off with probation. I got a job at Tasty Burger. I moved in with my Grandma. I joined the local chapter of Magicians of Montazor. I turned my life around.”

“You call living with your Grandma while you flip burgers and play kids’ games turning your life around?” Sharon asked.

“It was better than before,” Freddie said. “I used to have a problem with bath salts.”

“Shit,” Sharon said. “That’s a serious addiction. A lot of junkies do bad things after they ingest them.”

“Ingest them?” Freddie asked. “No. I’d just sprinkle them in my bathtub and take long, luxurious baths while lavender scents filled my nostrils. It relaxed me so much that I lost control and did, well, you know what I did. To this day, I feel so terrible that I caused the Countess so much pain.”

“Lies,” Sharon said. “You would have killed her right then and there had her security detail not pinned you to the ground and beat the ever loving shit out of you.”

“No!” Freddie said. “I would never hurt the Countess!”
“Then why’d you break into her house, freak?” Sharon asked.

“Because I wanted to know what it was like to be her!” Freddie said. “I listened to her songs in the bathtub whenever I felt down. Big Time Booty. Booty Funk. Asstravaganza. Around the World in Fifty Cheeks. She was fabulous and I guess for once I wanted to know what it would be like to be a beautiful woman with a corpulent keister that was loved by millions.”

“Right,” Sharon said. “So you cooked up a bizarre scheme. Figured you’d kill her and replace her and no one would notice? You were caught then but you went back to the drawing board, spent the past few years devising a new scheme to kill the Countess and you finally did it!”

“No!” Freddie said.

“Just admit it!” Sharon said.

“Never!” Freddie said. “I love the Countess too much!”

“How do Hugh Hogan and Chad Becker figure into this?”

“Who?” Freddie asked.

Sharon looked to Gordon. “Do it.”

“With pleasure,” Gordon said as he slammed Freddie’s head into the desk.

“I don’t know those people!” Freddie said.

“You’re on thin ice, Freddie,” Sharon said. “And it’s about to crack.”

Tears streamed down Freddie’s face. “I didn’t do it I swear. I could never hurt a fly!”

Sharon sighed. “That’s too bad, Freddie. I thought we could cut some kind of a deal but now you’re going to do life for this. You know who else loves Countess Cucamonga? Prison inmates. Her fat ass songs helped them get through their dreary days and you took that away from them. They’ll make short work of you.”

“No!” Freddie said. “Please, you’ve got to believe me.”

“Why should I?” Sharon asked.

Gordon loosened his grip on Freddie, allowing the nerd to sit up and dry his tears. “I have an alibi.”

“Don’t play me for a fool, Freddie,” Sharon said.

“I do!” Freddie insisted. “Talk to my fellow magicians. Talk to my Grandma. I was home all night.”
“Sounds pretty flimsy, Freddie,” Sharon said. “How do I know a bunch of nerds and an old lady wouldn’t lie for you?”

“You don’t,” Freddie said. “But please. I’m telling you the truth.”

“You gotta give me something, Freddie,” Sharon said.

“Give you something?” Freddie asked.

Gordon slammed Freddie’s head down on the desk. “Give her something!” the enormous man shouted.

“OK, OK!” Freddie said. “I may have something.”

“Spill it,” Sharon said.

“Well,” Freddie said. “I may have…kind of…sort of…committed a crime to get this info, so that’s why I never told anyone.”

“No surprise there, weirdo,” Sharon said.

“So I don’t want to go to jail for this,” Freddie said.

“Depends on how good the information is,” Sharon said.

Gordon tightened his grip on the back of Freddie’s neck. “You’re not in a position to bargain, little man.”

“OK,” Freddie said. “When I broke into the Countess’ mansion…I may have…kind of…sort of….”

“Stop beating around the bush,” Sharon said.

“I’m not saying I did this,” Freddie said. “But hypothetically speaking, I might have, in theory, hacked into the Countess’ personal computer and found some troubling files.”

“Troubling files?” Sharon asked.

“Her agent was robbing her blind,” Freddie said. “I was hoping to find, you know, photos of the Countess in the buff…”

“Because you’re an insane pervert,” Sharon said.

“I’m a reformed insane pervert,” Freddie said. “But back then, yes, I was out of my mind. But instead of nude photos, I just found a bunch of emails to the Countess from her manager, Irving St. John. Concert ticket sales, merchandising rights, TV special deals, album sales…none of it added up. Her cut of the take was supposed to be one thing, but the money being deposited into her bank accounts was another…”

“You hacked into her bank accounts?” Sharon asked.

Freddie blushed. “In theory.”

“Jesus,” Sharon said.

“You want a suspect,” Freddie said. “I’d look into that guy. Maybe the Countess finally figured out Irving was skimming off the top and he rubbed her out to keep her from going to the cops.”

“Did you save any of this evidence?” Sharon said.

“In theory,” Freddie said. “I might have a flash drive I could turn over…that is, if it gets me turned loose.”

Sharon nodded at Gordon. Gordon pulled the nerd up onto his feet. “Let’s go, nerd!”

“Wait!” Freddie said. “What about my deal?”

“We’ll see if your story checks out,” Sharon said. “Until then, you’ll be cooling your heals in a holding cell for awhile.”

“I want my lawyer!” Freddie cried.

Gordon dragged the nerd out of Cole’s office. “You’ll get nothing and like it you little dweeb!”

Once alone, Sharon leaned back in Cole’s chair and rested for a few moments. She spotted a turned over picture frame on the desk. She picked it up to find a photo featuring much younger versions of her and Cole, embracing on a beach. Cole’s lips were playfully pressed up against her cheek.

“Oh Cole,” Sharon said.

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Eleven Weeks of Toilet Gator Sundays!

3.5 readers, I truly believe that a thousand years from now, students of English literature will be studying this excellent book:

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99 Designs Expands Its Book Business

Hey 3.5 readers.

Came across this interesting PR Newswire press release.

99 Designs has been providing authors with the ability to hold book cover design contests for a long time.  Now they’re branching out into book layout, typesetting, interior book design, basically.

Could be a boon for self-publishers.  I know I tried Adobe one time, gave up on trying to figure it out, and came to the conclusion that if the inside of my book was ever going to look good I was going to have to hire someone to do it.

What say you, 3.5 readers?

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 20

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With all the turmoil afoot in Sitwell, Mayor Dufresne was doing what any good public servant would do – figure out away to make more money. His Honor was up, bright and early on his car lot, getting prepped by a production crew he hired for his latest local television commercial.

“What do you suppose happened at the college last night, Mayor?” a makeup artist asked as he applied some rouge to the Mayor’s flabby cheeks.

“Oh, hell if I know,” the Mayor said. “These goddamn millennials, always with their drugs and their drinking, their sex and their social media. Rotting their brands instead of serving their community. Why, it’s enough to make a bonafide public servant like myself sick, but I carry on because I know that’s what the good lord would want me to do.”

The makeup artist rested his hand on the Mayor’s shoulder. “You’re very brave.”

“I know,” the Mayor said.

Carl, the Mayor’s top seller, walked on over. Carl was a good enough looking fellow, save for his wall-eye. At any given moment, it was hard to tell where exactly Carl was looking at.

“Just sold another one, boss,” Carl said.

“Hot damn,” the Mayor said as he slapped his knee. “Who’s the lucky sucker…er, I mean, customer?”

“Edna Dinkus,” Carl said.

“That old battle axe?” the Mayor said. “Shee-it. I’ve been barking up that tree for months, but that old dog wouldn’t hunt. How’d you seal the deal?”

“She wanted a car with less than a hundred thousand miles,” Carl said.

“Yeah,” the Mayor said. “Well, like I told her, I want to be the King of Siam and have throngs of bodacious babes tickling my nut sack but wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which fills up first.”

Carl had long learned to not try to decipher the Mayor’s strange sayings or “Mayorisms” as they were known about town. “I let her test drive an old Caddy. She liked it, but wanted one with less wear and tear. So I took it around back, cranked the odometer back to a thousand, told her it was a different that was only owned by a little old lady who only drove it to church and bingo! Sold!”

The Mayor slapped Carl on the back. “Aww, atta boy, Carl. Atta boy. You are the son I wish I had.”

“Thanks Boss,” Carl said. “That sure does mean a lot, coming from a pillar of the community like you.”

“Don’t mention, my boy,” the Mayor said. “Speaking of sons, where’s the one I wish I never had?”

“Buford?” Carl asked. “He’s holed up in his office.”

The makeup artist finished and removed the white paper smock from the Mayor’s chest. The Mayor picked up a martini glass and a lit cigar, both of which had been resting on a nearby stool. Together, Carl and the Mayor walked over to the middle of the lot, where a hole slew of video cameras had been set up.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with that boy,” the Mayor said.

“Aww,” Carl said. “Don’t be too hard on him, Boss. He’s just adjusting to his new position.”

“New position?” the Mayor said. “Boy’s been here for three goddamn years and hasn’t made a single sale. I have half a mind to have him tested. No one way of my golden sperms could have produced a boy who can’t make a sale. Hell, I could sell an outhouse to a man without an asshole but that boy couldn’t even sell penicillin to a discount prostitute.”

“He’ll figure it out one day, Boss,” Carl said. “Growing pains, you know.”

“Growing pains?” the Mayor said. “Shee-it. Boy’s nearly thirty years old and as far as I know the only pussy he’s touched is the one that belonged to his Momma when the doctor yanked him out of it.”

Carl snickered. “That’s a good one, Boss.”

The director of the commercial, a young man with a backwards baseball cap on, called out to the star. “We’re going to roll in five minutes, Beau!”

“That’s good,” the Mayor said. “Let’s get this show on the road. Time is money, you know.”

The Mayor took a sip of his martini, then a puff of his cigar. He looked around the lot. Juggling clowns were entertaining families. Strippers turned part-time models were striking seductive poses by cars as crusty old perverted men stopped to oggle. Lot workers passed out cotton candy and popcorn. Kids went nuts in bouncy houses.

The Mayor shook his head. “I’ve told that boy time and time again, ‘All this will one day be yours.’ And it just doesn’t get through to his pea brain.”

“Some people just don’t appreciate what they got, Boss,” Carl said.

The Mayor stared at Carl’s lazy eye. The old man moved to the left, then to the right. “Carl, where the hell are you looking?”
“At you, Boss,” Carl said.

The Mayor looked over to a nearby El Camino, where a model was standing.

“Are you looking at me or that model’s ass?” the Mayor asked.

Carl blushed. “Both.”

“Shee-it,” the Mayor said. “If that isn’t a super power.”

“It comes in handy,” Carl said.

“Yeah,” the Mayor said. “Still, it freaks the bejesus out of me. How many times do I have to tell you to wear a pair of sunglasses in my presence?”

“I forgot, Boss,” Carl said.

“Stop forgetting,” the Mayor said as he scratched his chubby gut. “I need my people to look presentable, you hear?”

“I hear, Boss,” Carl said.

The Mayor sipped his martini.

“Two minutes, Beau!” the director shouted.

“Damn it!” the Mayor shouted at the director. “You don’t need to count down like this is some kind of fancy newfangled nuclear missile launch, son! Just tell me when you’re ready to shoot!”

“OK, Beau,” the director said.

The Mayor used the sleeve of his white suit to wipe the sweat off his brow. “Goddamn it. I live a burdensome life, let me tell you. I gotta do everything around here. If only that useless, good-for-nothing son of mine would step up to the plate once in awhile, I could enjoy my golden years before I shuffle off this mortal coil.”

“I’m sorry, Boss,” Carl said.

“Not your fault, Carl,” the Mayor said. “You’re the wind beneath my wings and the apple in my dumpling. I don’t know what I’d do without you. But that son of mine? Shee-it. When I was his age, I was broker than a train hopping hobo. I didn’t have more than two pennies to rub together but through strength and hard work and determination, I became a great success. My Daddy didn’t have a pot to piss in to leave me. If my Daddy had left me a classy operation like this, I’d have jerked him off on command and been happy to do it.”

“I’m sure it will all work out someday, Boss,” Carl said.

“I hope so,” the Mayor said. “You’re a good boy, Carl. I don’t say that enough.”
“Thanks, Boss,” Carl said. “You know, I didn’t see my Daddy growing up all that much, so sometimes I look at you like you’re my…”

The director shouted, “Action!”

The Mayor pushed Carl away. “Get the hell outta my frame, ya’ googly-eyed, monster!”

The illustrious car salesman composed himself. He contorted his ugly face to form a wide-grin, right into the camera.

“Hooo, dawgies!” the Mayor said. “How y’all doin’ out there in TV land? Mayor Beaumont Dufresne of Beaumont Dufresne’s Slightly Used Car Emporium here. You know, people say my cars are slightly used, but I like to say they’re previously loved. Every car on my lot was treated with a gentle touch by their previous owners, the kind of gentle touch that you only see in one of them fancy French romance films.”

The Mayor stepped in front of an extremely old beige sedan. “Take this beauty here. Owned by a shut-in who never even drove it. Why, this baby is in such tip top shape that…

Whack! The Mayor slapped the hood of the car. The front bumper instantly fell and clattered to the ground.

The Mayor was furious. He looked around. “Who the hell put that car out here?”

The director waved his hand. “Keep going! We’ll fix it in post!”

The Mayor composed himself and returned his gaze to the camera. “Boy, it’s a hot Florida summer, folks. Hell, I just looked at a thermometer and it told me that it’s hotter outside than Scarlett Johansson’s behind. You know what y’all should do on a hot day like this? Come on down to Beaumont Dufresne’s Slightly Used Car Emporium. Have yourself a nice, cool glass of lemonade and talk to one of my highly qualified, intensely trained salesmen. Each one is guaranteed to make you a deal that’s right for you. No pressure. No gimmicks. Just straight up southern hospitality with a smile.”

Just off to the Mayor’s left, a model dumped a dab of white powder onto the back of her hand and sniffed it. The Mayor glared at her. She looked around with a surprised look on her face.

“Oh,” the model said. “Are we still rolling?”

“Post!” the director shouted. “We’ll fix it in post!”

“I’m fixin’ to post my foot up all your asses!” the Mayor shouted.

“You’re doing great, Beau,” the director said. “Keep going.”

The Mayor composed himself again. “Here at Beaumont Dufresne’s Slightly Used Car Emporium, we provide service with a smile and we aim to please. Why, if you’re not happy with your experience in the slightest way, I want you to bend my ear about it and we’ll get you fixed up in two shakes of a dog’s leg.”

The Mayor climbed behind the wheel of a used convertible. The top was down. The Mayor tipped his cowboy hat at the camera.

“Life is short, folks,” the Mayor said. “And you deserve to look good. Hell, even the ugliest ignoramus will look like a Hollywood star behind the wheel of this fabulous…”

The Mayor turned the key. The engine stalled.

“…behind this fabulous….”

The Mayor turned the key. The engine stalled again.

“I say, even the ugliest ignoramus will look like a Hollywood star behind the wheel of this fabulous…”

The Mayor turned the key a third time. Kaboom! The engine exploded. The hood flew twenty feet into the air before it crashed on top of one of the bouncy tents, causing the air to rush out of it. Lot workers ran over in a desperate attempt to save all the children inside. Flames and smoke chugged out of the engine.

“I can’t work like this,” the Mayor said as he hopped out of the front seat. He started walking towards the lot’s main office building.

“Come on, Beau!” the director said. “We’ll fix it in post!”

“You can kiss my cotton pickin’ ass in post, son,” the Mayor said as he gulped the last drop out of his martini glass. “I need a refill.”

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Ten Weeks of Toilet Gator Sundays!

The time sure does fly when you’re having fun…

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 19

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At sixty-three years young, Maude Fleming was Cole’s trusty right hand. She typed, dispatched, took messages, cooked, cleaned, sewed – she did it all. She was never without her old, tattered gray sweatshirt. She wore that mess for so long that no one was able to remember her wearing anything else. Meanwhile, she’d given up the battle with her hair a long time ago, opting to wear a blue baseball cap instead.

Maude was live streaming Network News One’s wall-to-wall coverage of the Countess Cucamonga murder and crocheting a mitten at the same time. Knitting mittens was one of her favorite pastimes. In theory, it made her happy. In reality, the mittens were useless. She had hundreds of pairs at home. Occasionally, she’d give them out as gifts but seeing as how she lived in Florida, no one really had any use for them.

A cigarette dangled out of Maude’s mouth. Pieces of ash fell into her yarn but she didn’t pay them any mind. She just kept working her needles.

Around dawn, an exhausted Cole stumbled through the door of the rundown Sitwell Police Department building.

“Long night, Chief?” Maude asked with her raspy smoker’s voice without taking her eyes off of her mitten.

“Ergh,” Cole grunted.

“That bad, huh?” Maude asked.

“Harumph,” Cole replied.

Cole walked on over to the coffee machine and fumbled with the filter. Maude jumped out of her chair, put down her mitten, and gently guided her boss away from the machine.

“I’ll get that,” Maude said. “You take a load off.”

Cole rubbed his bloodshot eyes and headed for his office. “Thanks.”

Walking into the Chief’s office was like stepping into a rustic hunting lodge. High up on the wall behind the desk were three mounts, the heads of a grizzly bear, a large antlered buck, and a lion that he bagged while he was on a safari vacation.

Cole put both legs up on his desk, then turned on his radio. The dial had been set on one and one station alone for twenty years – WRDNK aka, “The Redneck – Grover County’s Number One Country Western Station.”

As luck would have it, Cole’s favorite song was playing again:

“Will I drink myself to death?
Because without her, I got nothin’ left.
Will I ever rev my life up to full throttle?
I doubt it, cuz without her, all I got is the bottle…”

Cole opened up an old cigar box on his desk. He pulled out a good stogie, chomped off the end, then spit it into the trash barrel. He lit up and puffed away.

The Chief relaxed in his chair, allowing his personal sense of ennui to flush through his body. He’d learned long ago it was easier to embrace the sadness and let it run its course rather than try to pretend its not there like the rest of the world usually does.

Minutes later, Maude bursted through the Chief’s door. Her appearance startled Cole, because for the first time ever, there was a plastic tube up her nose. It was attached to a small, portable oxygen tank that the old lady carried by a handle held by her left hand. In her right hand, she carried a cardboard box with a notebook balanced on top.

“What the hell?” Cole asked.

“What the hell, what?” Maude asked.

Cole pointed to the tube in Maude’s nose. “What the hell, that!”

“Oh,” Maude said as she set her tank and cardboard box down on the Chief’s desk. “My doctor says my lungs are no good. I’m not getting enough oxygen, on account of all the smoking.”

Cole puffed on his cigar, then pulled it out of his mouth. “Then what the hell are you smoking for?”

Maude shrugged her shoulders. “What? I’m going to quit down? Screw that. The time to quit was twenty years ago. Now I might as well enjoy it until I die.”

Cole coughed and choked at the same time when he heard that news. “You’re dying?”

“We’re all dying, hon,” Maude said. “I can’t imagine I’ll be around a whole helluvalot longer with this condition but no one’s put an expiration date on me yet.”

Cole breathed a little easier. “Thank God.”

“Why?” Maude asked. “You’d miss me or something?”

Cole flashed a rare smile. “Nah. It’s just, who would get my coffee?”

“What I wouldn’t give to have a time machine so that I could go tell my younger self to give up smoking for good,” Maude said. The old lady and the young man then had a stare off, until Cole gave in and stumped out his cigar into an ashtray.

“Anyway,” Maude said as she flipped open her notebook. “Enough sentimentality. The phone’s been ringing off the hook. You’ve gotten so many calls that I have half a mind to ask for a raise.”

“That sounds like a good idea, Maude,” Cole said. “See if the town will give me one while, you’re at it.”

“Apparently everyone has flipped their lids over this Countess Cooky-Booky, Wooky-Nooky, whatever the hell her name is. The famous girl with the fat ass,” Maude said.

“Right,” Cole said.

“I’ve got a call from the Mayor asking for a status report on the investigation,” Maude said.

“Tell him to look for it up the deepest, darkest regions of his cavernous asshole,” Cole replied.

Maude jotted repeated a more diplomatic response as she jotted it down in her notebook with a pencil. “The Chief is working diligently on the matter and there are no new developments at this time.”

The old lady read another message. “The Sheriff would also like an update.”

“It’s also up his ass,” Cole said.

“The Chief is always happy to collaborate with other law enforcement agencies and will gladly update you when he has new information,” Maude said as she jotted the reply down.

“Come on, Maude,” Cole said. “Time’s a wastin’.”

“Tell me about it,” Maude said. “It seems like it was just yesterday I was able to shit without three different medications.”

“TMI,” Cole said.

“I’ve got a bunch of messages from wackos claiming to have tips on the killer,” Maude said. “One guy insists the killer is a space alien, but he sounded like he was calling from a bar. One guy says Elvis is alive and well and murdering people on the toilet. One woman who sounded like she was abusing one substance or another is sure that this is the handiwork of the government and that they’re trying to scare people into not using toilets. Something about a vast conspiracy against the toilet industry.

Maude tore out several pages of her notebook and plopped them on the Chief’s desk. “I don’t know. I’ll let you sort through all that B.S. I just take the messages.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Cole said.

“Thirty calls from various federal officials,” Maude said. “Lab technicians, forensics analysts, investigators and so on. They’re all calling to let you know that they’ll be setting up shop here.”

“Yeah,” Cole said. “The FBI’s taking over. Just give them whatever they want.”
Maude closed her notebook. “Umm…”
“What?” Cole asked.

“I couldn’t help but notice they all said that if you have any questions, you should refer them to Agent Sharon Walker,” Maude said.

“Yup,” Cole said.

Maude shook her head. “God. That’s not good.”

Cole clasped his hands together behind his head and leaned back. “Eh, it’s no big deal.”

“No big deal?” Maude asked. “You nearly drank yourself to death when she left. Why, if I see that dirty, no-good skank I have half a mind to…”

“Just pay her no mind,” Cole said.

“Pay her no mind?” Maude asked.

“Ignore her,” Cole said. “I already saw her tonight.”

Maude gasped. “You did?”

“Yeah,” Cole said.

“I hope she got old and fat,” Maude said.

“Nope,” Cole said. “Looks better than ever.”

“Damn it,” Maude said.

“It was hard seeing her again,” Cole said. “But I got through it. I was a professional. I listened politely to her FBI bullshit. I’ll soldier through her being her until this thing is over and that’s all there is to it.”

“If it were me I’d tell her to go to hell,” Maude said. “What with everything she put you through.”

“Nope,” Cole said. “I didn’t mean anything to her. I’m not about to let her know she means anything to me.”

Maude sighed – loudly and discernibly, almost as if she were asking Cole to ask her about her sigh.

“What?” Cole asked.

“It’s none of my business,” Maude said.
“You’re right,” Cole said. “It isn’t.”

“But women always know,” Maude said. “Men try to hide things, but women always know, and sometimes a woman will use that to a man’s disadvantage.”

Cole smiled again. Most of his smiles were reserved for Maude these days. “I will try not to let that shatter my faith in the female of the species, Maude.”

“Good,” Maude said as she opened up the cardboard box. Inside, there was a homemade cake. It appeared to be the product of several hours’ worth of work. The white icing had been meticulously applied, with blue trim around the sign. Written in red icing on the top were the words, “Happy 40th, Chief.”

“Oh shit,” Cole said as he glared at the cake. “I was hoping no one would remember.”

“Why the hell would you hope for that?” Maude asked.

“Because I don’t want to remember,” Cole said. “Jesus Christ, Maude, I can remember being a young buck like it was yesterday. Thought I’d be on the top of the world by now but here I am, babysitting my ex-wife while she investigates the murder of some girl with a fat ass.”

Maude laughed. “Well, you know they say life isn’t about the destination. It’s about the journey.”

“Yeah,” Cole said. “Find the guy who put that in a fortune cookie and tell him to…”

“Shove it up his ass?” Maude said. “Got it.”

Cole looked at the cake again. “It’s very nice, Maude. Thank you.”

Maude headed for the door. “Yeah, well. Taking care of you is a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. I’ll get your coffee.”

Cole took another peek at the cake. As he looked closer, he noticed little pieces of cigarette ash in the frosting. He chuckled, then closed the box. It didn’t matter. He wasn’t going to eat it anyway. The fewer reminders of his forty years on the planet, the better.

Along the right hand side of the wall, there was a tall metal gun cabinet. Cole found the key for it on his ring and opened it. Shotguns. Rifles. Handguns. He was well stocked.

He reached into the bottom of the cabinet and pulled out a bright orange box. He set it on his desk and unlocked it as well. He then opened it up to reveal one of the biggest revolvers on the planet, the Angry Barracuda .500 Caliber. Better known as, “the Hunter’s Helper,’ it was heavy, but the weight felt good in Cole’s hand. The barrel was long. The bullets were enormous.

The piece had been designed as a backup sidearm for hunters whose rifles had jammed. No one wants to be staring down an angry beast with a bum rifle and not another gun to reach for. The force it brought was so powerful that it knocked Cole on his ass the first time he used it at the local gun range years earlier.

“Oh boy,” Maude said as she returned with her oxygen tank in one hand and a mug of coffee in the other. “You’re playing with your big gun. This can’t be good.”

“Everything’s fine,” Cole said. “It’s just at times like these, I feel like shooting something.”

“Well,” Maude said. “As long as you’re not drinking anything, it’s fine by me.”

Maude left the office. Cole put the gun back in its box, then locked it up in the cabinet. He returned to his chair and rolled up the right leg of his pants to reveal a prosthetic leg. The flesh of his real leg ended just below the knee. The stub was secured in a metal socket. The prosthetic itself was metal connected to a hard plastic foot inside his shoe.

Cole removed his stub from the socket and propped the prosthetic up against his desk. He then rubbed his aching knee.

The Chief was exhausted after a long night. He closed his eyes and was about to drift off to sleep when his cell phone rang. He pulled his old flip phone out of his pocket.

“Hello?”

“Cole!” came the surly voice of Mayor Dufresne. “Why in tarnation is my town all over the news? You think anyone’s gonna wanna do business in a town where people are getting killed while they’re sitting on the shitter?”

“Wrong number,” Cole said.

“Don’t you wrong number me, you son of a bitch,” the Mayor said. “Now I wanna have a big pow wow with Floyd and see if we can’t nip this thing in the bud. I been calling you at the station all night and I demand to know why you haven’t been returning my phone calls. I own your ass, Mister, and I will…”

“No hablo Ingles, Senor,” Cole replied. Flip. In that moment, Cole decided that he would never upgrade to a smart phone. Not only did he not need all of that Internet mumbo jumbo clouding his mind, but it was much more satisfying to hang up on an unwanted call with a flip than a swipe.

The land line on Cole’s desk rang this time. It was Maude.

“Chief? Got the Mayor on the line. Should I put him threw?”

“No,” Cole said. “Tell him he’s an asshole, then slam the phone down hard.”

“You’re not in because you’re working diligently on important law enforcement matters. Got it. ” Maude and Cole hanged up.

Ring! Another call on Cole’s desk phone. “Hello?”

“Chief?” Maude said. “Got a reporter on the line from Network News One. She identifies herself as quote, ‘A Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties,’ unquote. She wants to know if you’ll be interviewed on air.”

“Tell her that her titties look lopsided,” Cole said.

“You’re not available at this time,” Maude said. “Got it.”

Click.

Cole leaned back in his chair. He cranked his radio loud. A new song was on. It wasn’t his favorite, but it was about a man who turned to drinking after his wife ran out on him so it worked in a pinch.

“Drownin the pain away,
Cuz I didn’t get to see my baby today.
Yeah, I’m drownin’ the pain away.
Oh, there’s gotta be a better way…”

Ring!

“Hello?”

“Chief,” Maude said. “It’s Rusty. He’d like a word. He sounds mad.”

“Tell him to blow it out his ass,” Cole said.

“The Chief is indisposed,” Maude replied. “Got it.”

Click.

Cole closed his eyes again.

Ring!

“Damn it!” Cole shouted out as he picked up his phone. “What?!”

“Well, hello to you to, Mr. Snooty Britches,” Maude said.

Cole rubbed his face. “Sorry Maude. Who is it now?”

“Bitchface McGee,” Maude said.

“Who?” Cole asked.

“Sharon,” Maude said.

“Oh,” Cole said.

“She wants to know if she can recruit some of your officers to canvass the college campus for clues,” Maude said.

“Sure,” Cole said. “As many as she needs.”

There was a brief pause.

“What?” Maude asked. “No snappy comeback?”

“No,” Cole said.

“You don’t want to tell her to blow anything out of her ass?” Maude asked.

“Nope,” Cole said.

Another pause.

“I’m worried about you,” Maude said.

“Don’t be,” Cole said.

“Your pushing all your emotions about her down and that’s going to get you started drinking again,” Maude said.

“Not gonna happen,” Cole said.

“So why the kid glove treatment with Miss Prissy Pants?”

Cole sighed. “Because it accomplishes nothing and I’ve wasted as much sorrow as I can on her. She’s a grown woman. She wanted out. She got out. End of story. I’ll treat her like any other suit the Feds want to jam down my throat.”

“Hmm,” Maude said. “OK then.”

Click.

Cole was frazzled. In the lower left hand drawer of his desk sat a flask, half-full with a perfectly aged scotch. It had been sitting there untouched for eight years. For a long time, Cole thought about throwing it away, but after awhile, he grew so proud of his ability to have it around without drinking it, that he just kept it.

But now, he figured he was cured of alcoholism. Surely, one little sip to calm his nerves wouldn’t hurt. He opened the drawer and unscrewed the top of the flask. Slowly, he raised it up to his mouth and then…

Ring!

Cole lowered his hand. He took a deep breath, then answered the phone. “Hello?”

“The Mayor again,” Maude said.

Cole’s face turned bright red as he shouted, “Tell him to blow it out his ass!”

Slam! Cole bashed the phone down on his desk. He looked at the flask in his hand and strongly considered guzzling the whole thing. Instead, he opened up the cardboard box and poured the booze all over the grim reminder that he’d been around for forty years. He then threw the flask and the cake into his trash can.

He needed a jolt. A took a big swig of the coffee Maude had brought him, only to choke and sputter. He coughed and coughed until one of Maude’s cigarette butts popped out of his mouth.

“Son of a bitch,” Cole said.

It was clear there was no peace to be had in his office. Cole reattached his leg and rolled down his pants leg. He returned to his gun cabinet and retrieved his orange gun box. He opened up the door and stormed past Maude.

“Where are you off to?” Maude asked as she worked on her mitten.

“I need to shoot something,” Cole said. “Hold my calls.”

“Will do, Chief,” Maude said.

 

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#ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear

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Female writers are mad as hell and they’re not taking it anymore, 3.5 readers.

They’ve taken to Twitter to share some of the nasty, rude, unkind, insensitive things that they hear as women writers.

Hmm.  You know, I’m nothing if not a friend to all female kind, so there was a part of me that just said, “Eh, don’t even write a post about it.  Let the ladies complain.”

And honestly, as I scroll through the tweets, much of it is valid.  Women get told they can’t write from a male perspective, that complex topics might be too hard for them, that they’re selfish for writing when they should be taking care of their kids and husbands and so forth.

I guess what irks me is the “only” part of the hashtag.

Look, ladies, I hear you.  You got problems.  That vagina and all the things that come with it is not a cakewalk.

However, do keep in mind that there’s something that no male writer has ever heard before:

“Here’s a million dollar book deal because you have a penis!”

It’s never happened.

This sort of reminds me how sometimes I’ll be watching TV and a woman will complain that men can be all fat and ugly while women are expected to be hot and attractive.

Umm…sure I’ll agree that it sucks when a woman is discriminated on based on their looks, but honestly, men that don’t look good get shit upon regularly too.  It’s not a male/female thing, it’s a looks thing.  The better you look, the farther you’ll go in life, whether you have a penis or a vagina.

Back to the hashtag.  Do male writers get shit on?  Yes.  Ever since I was a little BQB boy, everyone has shit on my dream of becoming a writer.  Men have shit on it.  Women have shit on it.

I work and then I try to carve out a little time at night and on the weekends to write.  Often, several weeks will go by where I don’t work on my novel projects at all because various people in my life need help.  So I help them.

In the past, I’d try saying something like, “Hey, I’m trying to write a novel here” but they, men and women, would look at me like I just said, “Hey, I’m trying to time travel to ancient times and bring back a dinosaur to be my pet.”

In other words, the average person who is not interested in writing think that attempting to write a novel is frivolous and silly.  If you tell people you’re writing a novel, some people will be polite and say, “Oh, isn’t that nice?”  or they’ll be supportive and say, “That’s awesome!” but many, if not most, will think you’re being a wide-eyed dreamer with your head in the clouds, too busy day dreaming to pay attention to everything going on around you.

Yes, it sucks when female writers get shit on and told they are bad mothers and bad wives if they dare to carve out some time to write.

But, men get shit too.  Men are expected to be manly.  Men are expected to make a lot of money and be good providers.  Men are expected to fix shit around the house when it breaks.  When men take time to write, they’re often called pussies and wimps engaging in a frivolous daydream rather than being manly and making more money or fixing a car engine or something.

Men get shit.  Women get shit.  We all get shit.  And we should be all be able to complain about the shit we get.

And before you give me shit, I feel like in the numerous project irons I’ve got in the fire, I’ve written some very strong, positive, female characters and I’ve had plots and subplots that point out some of the shit that women have to go through.

I just feel like we’re headed down a bad path in this country where the debate always turns on, “Well, I have this kind of genitalia so my life sucks and your life is great.”

No.  No.  No.  Life sucks.  It sucks in different ways for different people and sometimes the suck is even similar.  But it sucks.  It really sucks and you don’t get a pass on the suckyness of life just because you have one kind of body part or another.

OK, everyone let the point fly over their heads and proceed to bash your humble resident nerd in 3..2…1…

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 16

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The tapioca pudding wiggled and jiggled as Dolores Nelson’s boney old hand slowly moved the spoon up to her mouth. Agents Walker and Bishop sat with the old lady in the nursing home’s cafeteria. It was late and they were the only three people in the entire room.

“I’m surprised you’re able to eat after what happened,” Sharon said.

“Oh honey,” Dolores said as she dropped a dollop of pudding on her lip. She didn’t notice and just left it there while she continued to eat. “When you get to be my age, you lose the ability to give a shit. For all I know I could die tomorrow and if that’s the case then I’m not going to miss out on what could very well be my last pudding cup ever.”

“Touche,” Sharon replied.

Gordon stared the old gal down. The old gal stared back.

Wham! Gordon pounded his fist on the table. “Let’s cut to the chase, ya’ old bag. Did you do it?”

Dolores appeared confused. “Do what?”

“Calm on!” Gordon shouted. “Don’t play coy with me.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, young man,” Dolores said.

“You killed Herbert Hogan, didn’t you?” Gordon asked. “You eighty-sixed him! Put him under for the deep sleep, the long nap, the eternal siesta!”

Dolores clutched her pearls. “You…you think I had something to do with this?”

“I’ve been working murder cases for years and nine times out of ten the perp is always someone the victim was bumping uglies with,” Gordon said. “So what happened? Old Herb found an ugly to bump that was better than yours?”

The old lady’s eyes looked up and to the right. She took her time thinking about the question. “Not that I know of. I’m pretty much the hottest piece of ass in this joint, copper, but then again, that slut Estelle has been known to parade around in her adult diapers like some kind of common streetwalker.”

Gordon wagged his finger at Dolores. “That’s the ticket. Herb got himself way to deep in Estelle’s disposable underpants and you couldn’t take it, could you? It drove you wild with rage! It left you beside yourself with anger! You lost control and you grabbed a big blunt object and beat old Herb into oblivion!”

“No!” Dolores said. “Never!”

Wham! Gordon slammed the table again. “Admit it!”

“I admit nothing!” Dolores said. “Oink, oink, piggy!”

“And then,” Gordon said. “When you saw what you had done, you went berserk and you smashed the toilet and destroyed the water pipe. Just come clean you decrepit old hag. You’ll feel a lot better.”

Dolores set down the spoon and the pudding cup and held out her shaky hands. “Sonny, it just took me a half hour to get one spoonful of pudding out of a cup and into my face. You think I have the kind of strength it would take to beat a man to death?”

Gordon seethed with rage. Sharon patted her partner on the back, a sign that she was tagging herself in.

“Let’s try a different approach,” Sharon said.

A pile of napkins sat on the table. Sharon picked one up and dabbed the pudding off of the old lady’s chin. “I’m sorry, but that was bothering me.”

“Oh, thank you dear,” Dolores said.

Sharon picked up the cup, spooned up some pudding and brought it towards Dolores’ mouth. The old gal hesitated at first, but then she opened her mouth and ate the gooey goodness.

“Dolores,” Sharon said. “Did you have a job when you were younger?”

“Sure did,” Dolores said proudly. “I was a hooker!”

Gordon threw his hands up in the air. “That explains everything. Come on, we can’t trust a word this old bitty says.”

“A meat hooker,” Dolores said. “Worked at a meat packing plant in Wisconsin for thirty years. The slabs of beef would come in off the truck and I’d put them on hooks and send them on down the assembly line.”

Sharon smiled at Gordon. “You probably had to do some things you didn’t agree with on the job, right?”

“Oh sure,” Dolores said. “Sometimes I’d run out of hooks and I’d tell the boss, ‘If you want me to be a good hooker then you need to give me the supplies I need to the be the best damn hooker in this entire place.’”

Gordon placed his elbow on the table and leaned his chin on his hand, taking in the story as a spectator.

“We have to do things like that too,” Sharon said. “We don’t think you killed Herbert but we need to ask you if you did because eventually our boss will want to know if we asked you.”

“Oh,” Dolores said. “That makes more sense.”
Sharon spooned another glob of pudding into the old gal’s yap.

“I like you better than that shit for brains that was just here a minute ago, dear,” Dolores said.

“He’s still here,” Sharon said.

Dolores looked at Gordon. “Oh right. I knew that.”

“Let’s just get this out of the way,” Sharon said. “Did you kill Herb, Dolores?”

“And relieve my hey-nanner-nanner of his beautiful tongue tsunamis?” Dolores asked. “Not on your life, sweetheart.”

“Do you know who killed him?” Dolores asked. “Was there anyone who didn’t like him?”

“I can’t think of anyone,” Dolores said. “He kept to himself, mostly. He never bothered anyone.”

Sharon stirred the pudding. “Dolores, while you and Herb were…”

“Tripping the light fantastic?” Dolores asked.

“Sure,” Sharon said. “Did you see anyone come in your room.”

“Oh,” Dolores said. “I was the only one cumming in that room, honey.”

Gordon put the top of his fist up to his mouth to quell a dry heave.

“My love biscuit may have seen better days but it’s not ready to quit just yet,” Dolores said.

“Let me try asking this another way,” Sharon said. “No one else entered your room?”

“Nope,” Dolores said. “The only thing that entered was Herbert’s tongue…into my quivering puddle of lady jelly.”

Gordon looked away. On the cafeteria wall, there was a poster of a cat hanging onto a tree branch by its paws with the slogan, “Hang in there” printed underneath. Gordon tried his best to do just that.

“How are your eyes?” Sharon asked. “Do you see well?”

Dolores adjusted her glasses. “These seem to work but sometimes I have a hard time making things out.”

Sharon held up two fingers. “How many fingers am I holding up?”

Dolores squinted at Sharon’s fingers. She hemmed and hawed until she finally blurted out, “Four?”

“Useless,” Gordon said.

“Aww, shut up, shit for brains!” Dolores said.

“Stop jerking us around!” Gordon shouted.

Dolores performed a King Kong style fist thump on her chest. “You wanna go, piggy?”

“Oh,” Gordon said. “You think I won’t throw down with you just because you were born during the Woodrow Wilson administration?”

“Screw you and screw that spindly prick and his League of Nations!”

Sharon patted her partner on the shoulder, then spooned more pudding into Dolores’ pie hole, calming both adversaries down quickly.

“Let’s focus here,” Sharon said. “So OK, Dolores. You don’t see very well but, let’s say that a man with a woodchipper or a chainsaw or some big weapon were to walk into your room. You think you’d be able to see him?”

“What the hell kind of question is that?” Dolores asked.

“Just a theory I’m working on,” Sharon said.

“Of course,” Dolores said. “Sometimes, everything’s a bit blurry, but I can see you…”

Dolores pointed to Gordon. “…and I can see that giant gorilla you stuffed into a suit to make him like mildly presentable.”

Dolores looked around the room. “I can see tables and chairs and vending machines…”

“Right,” Sharon said. “So if a man with a big knife or something were in your room, you’d be able to realize he’s there?”

“I’d probably shit my pants,” Dolores said. “More so than usual.”

Sharon looked to her partner. Gordon nodded.

“I think we’re done here,” Sharon said.

Ted the orderly had been waiting in the back of the room the entire time. He helped Dolores up.

“Say, coppers?” Dolores said.

“Yes?” Sharon said.
“When you find that lousy, no-good son of a bitch that did in my Herbert, kick him in the balls for me, will you?”

“Sounds like you really loved him,” Sharon said.

“Well,” Dolores said. “Love is a complicated concept at my age, dear. Sure, I was fond of Herb, but what I really loved was straddling his sweet face like it was a wild, bucking bronco and holding on for dear life until completion.”

Gordon looked to Ted and pointed at the door. “Get her out of here.”

As soon as the parters were alone, they stood up.

“What a waste of time,” Gordon said.

“Not necessarily,” Sharon said. “We’ve got confirmation that in both cases, the suspect managed to sneak in and completely obliterate the victim without being seen.”

“You have an odd way of finding the bright side,” Gordon said.

“Beats being stuck in the dark side,” Sharon replied.

Gordon headed for the door. Sharon followed.

“Off to Sitwell,” Gordon said.

“Yeah,” Sharon said. “About that. There’s something about Sitwell I have to tell you about.”

“Oh?” Gordon asked.

“Actually,” Sharon said. “Make that more like someone.”

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