Part One – An Unmarked Parcel
This time I had done it. I was naked, handcuffed to the radiator and sitting in a puddle of my own tears. I was a prisoner in a dark and dank bathroom, my exposed skin felt cold against the tile floor. I had been beaten so badly that I was sure I had a broken rib or two and I used my free hand to softly test my crunchy and fractured nose.
“Why?” I asked myself “Why did you get yourself into this mess? You knew it was trouble from the start.”
I peered over to the other end of the dimly lit room where I could see my pants and gun. I stretched with all my might but I could not reach them before the door opened.
“Don’t even think about it,” said my assailant “I’m not done with you yet”.
“Please” I begged, “I can’t take anymore. Please, I’ll do anything you want… Anything…”
“Lick my boot,” said my captor and I did as I was told. “That’s right, you lick that boot because you are a dirty dirty boy.”
I continued to do as I was told but then a large, impersonal bell began to clang-a-lang. There was a voice over the loud-speaker and the woman who I had paid to beat and humiliate me shook my hand and moved on to her next client.
“Thank you” I called down the hall toward the voluptuous woman in the red leather corset but she did not reply. She did her job well and when she got paid it was over, I could respect her for that. I was the same except that I didn’t do my job very well and I was very rarely compensated.
I walked out the back door of the sexhibition center and onto the cold and rainy alleys of Chowder City. This was a world that the fat cats and opera hounds never saw, a world in the shadows.
I shuffled past a couple of alley restaurants (Dumpsters), alley wives (Hookers) and past a bush of alley berries. I pulled my collar up high against myself face to shield myself from the alley breeze (Hobo farts).
“This whole town needs a bath” I said to myself as I passed an alley bath (Puddle) and continued on to my office a few blocks away.
As I unlocked the door I heard the hammer of a gun click back and the light cast from the hallway eventually migrated into the room and exposed the inspiration for the noise.
A short man sat in a chair in the middle of the office facing the door. He looked familiar to me but I couldn’t quite place him.
“Close the door and keep your mouth shut” he squawked and I did as I was told.
He lit a match and I followed the flame as it ignited a candle that filled the room with a dim yellow-orange light. I could see him better now; he was a small man but the look in his eyes betrayed the fact that he meant business.
“I’m unarmed” I told the stranger “there is no need for that gun. If you would like to speak with me I can pour us a drink and we can pretend to be gentlemen”.
“The gun ain’t for you, Ace. It’s for the guys who are after me” he said and relaxed his hand from the trigger.
“So what can I help you with? We don’t offer personal protection services here, we are detectives.”
“I was hoping you could help me do some detecting but I need to know you got the stomach for it. This case includes some of the most powerful men in the country”.
“I’ve dealt with the unions before” I said cockily “they don’t scare me”.
The man laughed to himself in a grim way.
“Oh this goes a lot deeper than the teamsters,” he said. “This thing runs all the way up to the Postmaster General”.
I dropped the drinks that I had fixed and the glass landed with a shatter.
Part Two- Return to Sender
“You should be a bit more careful, Ace,” said Jack Spade, revealing himself in the doorway. “You are as nervous as a prom night virgin.”
I briskly swept up the broken glass, trying to save what little face I could.
“But I can’t blame you, I was surprised by what he said too” said Jack, referring to the bombshell dropped by stranger. “Everyone knows who really runs Chowder City, but what did you do to get on the Postmaster Generals bad side? Mr…?”
“Cooligan, Gregor Cooligan. But everyone calls me Mule on account of how much mail I can haul” said the former stranger.
“Everybody calls me Bonesaw,” I said, trying to start the nickname I had always wanted.
“No they don’t” said Jack, turning back towards Cooligan. “Now tell me please: What did you do to piss off Captain Scratch?”
“It ain’t what I did, It’s what I saw” said Cooligan and he looked over his shoulders with genuine fear. Whatever he knew, he didn’t want anyone to know he knew it. Except us for some reason…
“It was late, after my shift. I went back to the depot to grab my Tamagotchi and I noticed that the light was still on in the machine room. I made my way out onto the floor to see who was burning the midnight oil. When I got out there, what I saw… Let’s just say that what goes on in the post office at night would rattle even the most jaded of gumshoes.”
“What was it? What did you see, man?” pleaded Jack.
“You wanna know? You really want to know?” teased Cooligan.
“Yes, damn it! Tell us so we can help you!” screamed Jack.
“Alright… My secret… The biggest secret I have ever had to keep… Is…”
“WHAT!?!” I screamed and at that exact moment I heard a splinter in the window behind me.
I turned to see the bullet hole in the glass and followed it’s trajectory to the neck of Cooligan. He wheezed and coughed as the blood flowed from his neck, he tried to speak but when his lips moved no noise came out. Just a mortal gurgle and he was dead. Another shot grazed the brim of Jack’s hat and we both hit the deck.
“What the hell have we gotten ourselves into?” I called over to Jack.
“I don’t know” he said with a twisted smile across his face “but it seems like it’s going to be a lot more fun that taking pictures of fat guys cheating on their wives.”
I couldn’t help but smile. Jack shuffled across the floor to a chest. He pulled out two tommy guns and slid one in my direction.
“You ready?” he asked and I had no choice but to nod in passive agreement.
We stood in unison and began to fire the machine guns out of our office window in the direction of the sniper.
“Talk to Tommy!” called Jack as his face lit up in the golden light from the barrel of his weapon. He bit down hard on his cigar and laughed.
Part Three- Charge On Delivery
I ducked down from the window as our assailant or assailants returned fire. I had thoroughly soaked my trousers with my own urine and scrambled to find any liquid that might take the fall for me. Jack looked maniacal as he continued to stand and shoot, laughing like he was an early 90’s Def Comedy Jam audience member.
“Oh no! They shot this bottle of liquor and it sprayed all over my crotch,” I said from behind him as I poured a bottle of whiskey on my junk.
“Don’t worry, Ace, I pissed myself too but it was out of excitement!” he replied, not turning from the window. He stopped shooting and there was silence. Suddenly a grenade was lobbed through the window and it spun on the hardwood of the office floor. Jack jumped between the grenade and me and there was a loud explosion and then darkness and the smell of smoke. Something heavy was resting across my chest and I tried to lift it but failed. The smoke filled my lungs and I drifted away from the waking world…
And there I was, in a meadow with flower pedals obscuring my nakedness. There were many beautiful women around me, frolicking and free with flowers in their hair and nothing else to hide their beauty. I stood and they blushed at the sight of my now nubile and manicured genitals. I began to chase them, skipping and laughing, pinching their bums and eventually coming to rest in a heap.
“Tee hee hee” I tittered in an orgy of snuggles and Eskimo kisses.
Then I awoke, back in the dirty world of fully clothed assholes.
Someone was moving around me in the smoke and darkness and I felt them lift the restriction from my chest. I felt a strong and masculine hand lift me from the rubble and aid my search for purchase in the vertical perspective. It felt like the hand of a steel worker or a railroad man. Bunyanesque strength capable of clearing an entire forest with a single axe swipe. When my eyes adjusted and my vision cleared I saw that the hands belonged to Temperance Tate, our sometimes bookkeeper and one time sexual partner of mine. I had dumped her after she refused to take any of my phone calls or letters or flowers or even acknowledge my existence after my underwhelming attempt at sex-doing during the Christmas party.
“Ace! I saw smoke from the street. What happened?” she asked.
“Grenade… I figure it must have exploded right about here,” I said as I pointed to the exploded room we were standing in. Then I realized something. “Where is Jack?” I asked as I began to frantically search the small office.
There was no sign of him except for his hat.
“NOOOOOOO!” I cried. “He’s dead! Blown to smithereens! All that’s left of him is his hat, his stupid, dumb, hat that made him look like a mid-life try hard.”
“Don’t you think if he was blown up there might be some guts or blood or something other than a perfectly not blown up hat?”
“Shut up you stupid dummy” I snapped “haven’t you ever seen a cartoon? He jumped on the grenade to save me and was completely vaporized. He’s dead forever this time!”
“No, that’s not a thing” said Temperance.
I wept into Jack’s hat and the cheap fabric scratched my face. I tossed it away in disgust.
I was completely alone in the world without a soul to help me.
“Do you want to go look for Jack or go get the cops or something? I can help you,” said Temperance.
Completely alone I was.
Part Four- Special Delivery
Temperance led me from blast sight, there was soot on my face and I coughed up a small cloud of black smoke. I stumbled down the walkway, my ears still ringing from the explosion and Temperance kept her hand on my arm, guiding me away from the various dangers of the street.
She pulled me into a small greasy spoon and we claimed the small corner booth in the back of the diner. She ordered for both of us and before I could gain my bearings there was hot coffee and eggs in a pile in front of me.
“I can’t eat at a time like this” I said between large bites of eggs and toast “I feel absolutely sick about Jack” I continued as I took some sausage links from Temperance’s plate and greedily sucked them down my gullet.
We talked and ate for a while before Temperance excused herself to the powder room. Our waitress, who had been watching us from the side of her eye since we came in, took the opportunity to sit down across from me in the seat that Temperance had vacated.
“You’re Ace Heart, right?” she asked, looking over her shoulders to make sure the diner was still as empty as when she took her seat.
“There is something you should know, that girl you are with, she ain’t what she seems. You gotta believe me” emplored the waitress.
“Temperance?” I asked, completely unconvinced.
“Is that what she is calling herself now? I know her as Layla Scratch: The dirtiest whore since Solome Hilton and ex-wife of Captain Scratch…”
“The Postmaster General” I finished her thought for her. She nodded in silent confirmation before standing and returning to her perch behind the counter.
I couldn’t even speak when Temperance (or Lalya, I wasn’t sure which) sat back down. My mind was racing but it ground to a halt when the woman across from me dug her stockinged foot into my crotch.
“You’ve had a tough night, Ace. Wanna get out of here?” she asked.
At that moment I didn’t care if she was Temperance Tate or Layla Scratch or Casey Anthony; this girl was gonna touch my junk and that was all the evidence I needed to sentence her to sex… with me…
Part Five- Not Rain Nor Sleet Nor Snow…
Sex is pretty sweet when you do it with your penis. I don’t want to take anything away from the dykes I went to Gumshoe Academy with, but I can’t imagine they are having as much fun as me and Temperance were having.
“Oh! You are so good at doing sex,” Temperance moaned convincingly as I counted the strokes.
“21, 22, 23, 24… 25!” I cried and fell on top of her with the release of cosmic bliss.
“Gross” she said, “You got your cosmic bliss all over my tits.”
“You want some Gatorade? I feel a powerful thirst for electrolyte replenishment.” I asked as I readjusted my sock garters, underwear corset and nipple suspenders.
“I could use a real drink,” said Temperance with the same disdain she had shown on the night we fucked in honor of the baby Jesus. The way that all women looked when I was done humping and pumping them: Crestfallen.
I walked out into my loft and began to fix my favorite drink – A Hal Johnson: two scoops of orange Gatorade, tonic water, sea bitters, kale extract, pancake batter, lemon pledge, moustache crumbs, tub water, agave runoff, a pinch of Mrs. Dash and a dash of Mrs. Pinch. I took a long sip of the drink and let out a pleased groan.
“Goddamn that’s good” I said to myself “nectar of the gods.”
I mixed up a Joanne Macleod for Temperance (Same thing as a Hal Johnson but with tears added to the dram) and returned to my bedroom.
There was blood everywhere. Temperance lay still on the bed. I dropped the rocks glasses against the stone floor, my heart was a brick and my testicles felt as small as pebbles as I dropped to my knees like a boulder.
“Nooooo” I cried in genuine anguish “I was totally going to hit that again!”
I crawled to her body and realized that she was still alive, barely, but still alive. Her breathing was as shallow as a Hollywood wading pool and almost as bloody. She was trying to mouth something but she couldn’t squeeze out the words.
“You want me to fuck you one last time before you die?” I asked.
She found the energy to look completely disgusted. She shook her head with an emphatic ‘no’.
I laughed a bit to myself because of my hilarious timing and then got serious again. “Who did this to you?” I asked.
She summoned all her remaining strength she tried to speak but no words came. She stuck her finger into a pool of drying blood and began to spell something out on the bedspread.
“Jack Spade” she wrote and then she collapsed into darkness and death.
Part Six- Overnight Delivery
I heard police sirens in the distance as I stood and stared at Temperance’s body, she was still as a frozen winter lake and as dead as the batteries in a lonely woman’s vibrator.
“I guess you’ve tickled your last taint,” I said bittersweetly as I gently closed her eyelids with my fingertips.
Then there was a knock on the door, a policeman spouted jargon from the other side. It was time to make like a pizza with no mozzarella and cheese it.
I climbed out the bedroom window and down the fire escape. I hopped onto an eaves trough and then down onto a large awning.
Then I was on the street and I stopped for some chicken skewers. They were succulent and flavorful and I forgot for a second what I was doing. I was about to order some more chicken sticks from the hairy street vendor when I saw some police officers exit the front door of the apartment building. I pulled up my collar up to my face and made my way down the street.
So much ran through my brain as I walked down that street. What happened to Ace? Who exactly was that woman I just slept with? How do cellphones work? How old is that kid who plays lead guitar for the SNL band? Does Michelle Obama ever get to wear jeans? Why can’t I stop crying?
So many questions. I bought a pack of cigarettes from a bodega and lit one up. I started coughing violently and vomited into a trashcan before I remembered that I had terrible asthma and didn’t smoke. I tried again to be sure but when I puked for a second time I knew for sure that I wasn’t supposed to smoke anything but crack and salmon.
In my haze, I didn’t even realize where I was going. When I looked up I was back in front of my office. The windows were still jagged and shattered and it was dark inside. Something inside of me compelled me to enter the condemned building. When I entered the dark office, I saw a man sitting with his back to me… in a Postman’s uniform.
Part Seven- Candy-grams and exposed secret plans.
The man in the chair did not turn at first.
“I bet you think your pretty clever, don’t you, Ace?” said the man with a voice that I recognized.
“Well you are pretty clever. You are also pretty handsome and pretty great.”
The man in the chair swiveled and revealed his identity by removing his postman’s hat. Someone turned the lights on. A crowd of people yelled “surprise” and I was standing face to face with Jack, Temperance, the waitress from the diner, the postman Cooligan and all my family and friends.
“Happy birthday!” they chimed in unison and somebody popped the cork on a bottle of champagne. Music began to float through the room and soon the blown up office was the site of a routine cocktail party. Waiters circulated with whore’s derves.
Jack smiled coyly and wrapped his arm around my shoulder.
“Got ya, didn’t we?” he asked, knowing that he surely had.
“Yes you did, I didn’t suspect a thing. I completely forgot it was my birthday.” I replied, still stunned.
“That’s how you know it was a good surprise, you never suspected it for a second” said Jack, pouring me a glass of punch.
“Yeah, I was pretty wrapped up in dealing with the grief and guilt of your death. I really was thinking about killing myself just to satiate my demons”.
“Ha! Hilarious.” Said jack as he led me to Temperance who was chatting with some friends. I could see that there was still some fake blood on her neck and chest that she had missed in her hurry to beat me back to the office.
“Sucker!” said Temperance. “You were crying like a baby when you thought I was dead. Idiot!”
“Yeah… silly me… I thought we were falling in love,” I said.
“Der I thought we wuz falling in luv..” mocked Temperance “you are such a fucking loser! But seriously, happy birthday.”
“Thanks…” I turned from her and was immediately confronted by Cooligan who took my hand in his sweaty palms.
“Hated to do it to you, bud” he said “but when Jack told me you were turning the big 3-1, I knew we had to pull out all the stops… Did you know it was my idea to blow up the office?”
“Wow, that was you guys too. I guess we probably won’t be able to file any insurance claims in that case,” I lamented.
“Not a chance!” laughed Cooligan “I would be surprised if you guys get out of this without some criminal charges for reckless endangerment!”
He then turned and matriculated back into the crowd of appetizer hounds.
I was left standing there alone. Forced to think off all the damage and subterfuge it took to organize his party. I nibbled on a dry and tasteless puff pastry and sipped my watered down punch while I listened to Norah Jones sing something boringly.
“Best birthday ever” I said to myself.
The end… For now…