Off the Wall
So I took the Prince Ivan thoroughfare up the hill to the east of town to where Joel had said E.G’s new developments were. It seems a big mall was in the works and EG, with the backing of some Ohio LLC, was building a pharmaceutical emporium and a corgie day care center. There was a broohaha when local poodle lovers had protested this plan as being discriminatory against their chosen breed, and had filed a complaint with the City to that effect. But the mayor, being a member of the Little Siberia corgie society, set them straight on that score, and the permit had fairly sailed over the desk of her brother Vinnie in the planning department.
I turned onto a gravel road that led north into the woods. A white and yellow building notice was spiked on the wide based of an old-growth cedar. I got out and walked down the road until I saw a short old guy with ruddy complexion being led by, what appeared to be, his grand daughter. After a respectful greeting I asked:
“Did you know this parcel is being developed by a mobster?”
I’ve been told, that for a private eye, I exhibit a marked lack of discretion, and this was not lost on his grand daughter who attended his obvious infirmity with touching solicitude. He hobbled, leered at me with a sideways grin, and said in a thick, southern Italian accent:
“That’s good. It will be protection.”
I got back into the Dart, lit a cigarette, and thought it over. All the seemingly casual series of events now funneled into an inevitable vortex in which the alluring image of Lupe flowed with languid abandon in the smoky arabesques of my square.
I suddenly became quite nervous indeed. For here in this lonely stretch of woods, all the crazy, disconnected events that transpired on the rock added up in a most disconcerting manner. It was as if all the paranoid imaginings of my troubled adolescence had come to realization; and the events of the past week had formed into a clear pattern. Most of all, I saw that no interference in the schemes of real estate speculators to realize a tidy profit would be welcome—especially such interference as might be offered by a simple artist like myself who does detective work as a sideline.
I was having, what we used to call, a flashback, and all these horrid imaginings unfixed my hair and made my heart knock frantically against all the studied uses of cool. The line between real and imagined dangers becomes very sketchy at times, and steadier mugs than myself have found serious trouble in extravagant delusions and a swell dame in a skin-tight, sequined dress. At such moments it behooves a simple gumshoe like myself to breathe deep, take a powder, and intone the sacred mantra: Fuck that.
I found this on the title page of my used copy of Elements of Style. At the risk of unleashing a storm of controversy, I question whether hair gel belongs on this list.