Category Archives: Author

Holiday Repeat — A Spillane Christmas Carol (Humor)


On Wednesday I presented an old piece I wrote for the now defunct El Paso Manuscript Club’s annual Christmas Writing Contest for the year 2000.  It was a poem written in the style of Edgar Allan Poe, and it told of the apparent murder of Lenore — a department store clerk — by an irate customer doing his Christmas shopping just a tad on the late side.

Today I present the companion piece (same contest, different category), the followup investigation of Lenore’s death as conducted by a character straight out of Mickey Spillane.  There is one inside joke that requires some explanation.  The reference to the word count remaining to tell the story refers to the increase in length for that year’s contest over the previous year.

A Spillane Interpretation
Of A Dickens Christmas

It was the best of times, Christmas.  It was the worst of crimes, murder.  She was a store clerk at the Old Curiosity Shoppe.  Her name was Lenore and she lay dead upon the floor, strangled with a ribbon of rain checks by an irate Christmas shopper.  The suspect’s name was Ollie, and I knew then that this murder had a twist.

It was time for the “bad cop” routine so I slipped into the role, not that it required much acting on my part.  “Okay, Ollie, what’s your last name?”

“Co . . . Co . . . Copperfield.”

“This your first offense, Copperfield?  Murder goes down easier if it’s a first offense.  You’ll probably be looking at two to ten.”

“Years?”

“Weeks.  Probation.  This is California, you know.  Now spill it.”

“I’ve never been in trouble before today.  Well, except for those two incidents, one in London and the other in Paris.”

“Just what I don’t need right now, a tale of two cities.  Let’s keep it simple, Copperfield.  Why’d you do it?  Passion?  Robbery?  Lust?”

I secretly hoped it was lust.  I’m kind of partial to lust.  Passion comes in a close second.

“No,” Copperfield whined.  “It wasn’t any of that.”

Rats, I thought.  Another long story with, like, no gratuitous . . . well, you get the picture.  “Start from the beginning,” I prodded.

Copperfield yelled in anguish.  I turned off the prod.  “Come on, spill it.”

“It was my son, Quasimodo.”

“Wrong author.  Save Dumas for next year’s contest.”

“Actually, that was Victor Hugo,” Copperfield corrected.

I shook my head impatiently.  “Never mind.  Go on.  We only have 1,242 words remaining to wrap this whole thing up.”

“And last year, you would’ve only had 742.”

I’d had enough of this.  I started to prod Copperfield for more information.

“Wait,” he yelled in anguish.  “I’ll talk.”

I put the prod back under my coat.  I yelled in anguish, then reached inside and turned it off.  It was a shocking miscalculation on my part and now I was really burned.  “No more stalling, Copperfield.”

“Quasimodo wanted this year’s hot toy.”

“You mean the Super Fly-A-Saur?”

“You know it?”

Know it.  Been trying to lay my hands on one of those damned, cursed, hellish things for three weeks.  I got a nephew in Newark who wants one.”

Copperfield’s face twisted in horror.  “Newark.  How awful.  Tough break.”

“Precisely.  Poor kid would’ve been better off as an orphan in London.  He should get whatever he wants.”

“Well,” Copperfield continued, “I didn’t even start looking for one until yesterday afternoon.”

I was incredulous.  “Let me get this straight . . . .  You didn’t start looking for the most popular toy of the year until Christmas Eve?”  I gave him a suspicion-filled glance.  “You settin’ up for an insanity plea?”

“No.  It’s true.  I swear.”

“Quasimodo.  He got any brothers or sisters?”

Copperfield nodded.  “He has a tiny brother named—“

“Let me guess.  Tim, right?”

“No.  Pickwick.  Pickwick Chuzzlewit Copperfield.  We call him ‘Boz’ for short.”

“Of course you do.”  I was duly impressed.  A four-fer.  Very good.  Tim would’ve been too easy.

It was then that my partner, Nick Nickleby, entered the crime scene.  Nick was the consummate “good cop.”  He never prodded the suspect.  He immediately grabbed Copperfield by the lapels and propelled him into the nearest wall.  “Sing weasel, or you’ll be looking at hard times.”

I grabbed Nick’s arm.  “He’s singing already.  Relax, would you?”

Copperfield massaged his head.  “The chimes.  I’m hearing chimes.”

Nick laughed.  “You idiot.  You hit the wall of the cuckoo clock section.  Of course you hear chimes.”

“Oh, yeah.”  Copperfield straightened.  “Silly me.”  He brushed the cuckoo bird from his mouth, removed the chain from around his neck, the weight from his left nostril, and spit out a feather.  “I was in the middle of my confession.”

“Ah HA,” Nick crowed.  “Then you confess.”

“He just said that.  We’re way past that, Nick.  We’ve already established intent and opportunity.  We’re working on motive.  Now, go sit down before I prod you to do so.”

Nick’s eyes grew like saucers.  He quickly stepped back.  “Don’t mind me.  Just pretend I’m not even here.  I’ll just listen while you question our mutual friend.”

I nodded approval.  An obscure reference, but well placed by a relative novice.  I turned back to Copperfield.  “You were saying?”

“Well, this store clerk, Lenore Dorrit, led me to believe she had some Fly-A-Saurs in stock.  I mean, just look at the window.  They’ve got ads for it hanging all over the place.  I’d been to twenty-seven stores before this and I was desperate, even though their advertised price is 1,200% above the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.”

“So, you entered the store with great expectations.”

“Precisely.  Only to have those expectations dashed upon the rocks like some sixteenth-century galleon caught in a South Pacific cyclone.”

“You’re losing focus again.  We did Robert Louis Stevens last year.”

“Defoe.  That was a Daniel Defoe reference.”

I started to prod, but Copperfield hastily continued.  “Anyway, she led me on.  She enticed me upstairs in the worst way.”

“In the worst way?”

“Yeah.  I mistakenly got on the down escalator.  Took me half an hour to make the trip.”

“Wow.  You were desperate.  Then what happened?”

Copperfield pointed to the raven-haired beauty.  “See those coupons?”

I nodded.  “Rain checks.”

“That’s what she had.”  He broke down sobbing.  “I went through hell, and all she had to offer was a rain check.  Can you imagine little Boz playing with a rain check on Christmas morning?”

Suddenly there was a commotion at the doorway.  A little, gray-haired old man burst through the tape and brushed past Nick.  Actually, the little squirt picked Nick up by the lapels and smashed him into the nearest wall.

“Get out of my way,” the old man yelled.

Nick rubbed his eyes.  “I’m seeing stars.”

I shook my head in disgust.  “Of course you are, you idiot.  You’re in the autographed celebrity pictures section.”

“I thought I was having a religious experience.”

“Get out from under that Madonna poster.”  I turned to the intruder.  “And you are . . . ?”

“Barnaby Rudge.  I got over here from Bleak House as soon as I heard.”

I nodded my approval.  I was wondering how in the world I was going to get those obscure works into this.  “What’s your connection to all this?”

He pointed to the body.  “My automated sales clerk.  She’s been destroyed.  Who did this?”

My jaw clenched.  I shook.  My knees went weak.  I reached inside my coat and switched off the prod again.  Damned faulty switch.  Someone was going to pay for this.  “You mean to tell me that thing’s a robot?”

“Yep.  Made for me by Dombey and Son.”

This guy was good.  Really good.  I’d have been lost without him.  I walked over to the body.  “Yeah.  Now it all makes sense.”

Nick rushed over.  “What?  What makes sense?”

I pointed to that irritating service smile locked on her lips, the one that just drives you nuts.  “She’s still smiling.  She looks like a damned Barbie doll.  I should have known.  And look at what she was ‘strangled’ with.  That roll of rain checks should’ve broken before she even started to turn pink.”  I turned back to Mr. Rudge.  “I’ve never seen one of these.”

“They’re brand new, different models for different occasions.  The ‘off/on’ switch is in the throat.  This one is the Carol model, specifically made for the holiday season.”

“Ah . . . .” I nodded knowingly.  “A Christmas Carol.  Tell me, why did you name her Lenore?”

“Why, that’s easy.  It’s the raven hair.”

I slapped my forehead.  “It’s so . . .  so . . .  obvious.”

I turned to Copperfield.  “You’re free to go, sir.  I won’t be prodding you for anymore answers tonight.”

“Thank God.”  He hurried off, lest I change my mind.

Nick clasped my shoulder.  “Come on, partner.  Let me buy you a drink.  Martini, right?”

“Yep.”

“Olive or twist?”

My eyes narrowed.  “Been there.  Done that.  Let’s go.”

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Happy Halloween — The Apollyon Particle


 

The Apollyon Particle — A Halloween Tale of Terror

The Apollyon Particle — A Halloween Tale of Terror

Time for this year’s Halloween Story. If you enjoy it, please “Like” it below and spread the word. If you don’t, keep your mouth shut or suffer the wrath of Apollyon:

Friday, February 13, 2015

For immediate dissemination from Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN):

My name is Dr. Vlad Draken, and I led the team that brought us to this catastrophe. The following is a brief synopsis of how we arrived here, what Apollyon has brought forth, and why there is no way out for Mankind.

We should have known better after we found the Higgs Boson — the “God Particle” — but we let our hubris convince us that an opposing particle does not exist even though history told us otherwise. We naively believed that a particle with zero spin wouldn’t have a correlating antiparticle with negative zero spin.

But most of all we should have clued in on the mass of the Higgs — 126 gigaelectronvolts. If the Higgs weighed in at 126 GeV, so too would the corresponding antiparticle. And our ancestors warned us of the significance of 126, or any other number in the sequence: 1, 5, 35, 70, 126, 210, 330, 495 and so forth. Pentatope numbers. It is no coincidence that two out of every three pentatope numbers is a pentagonal number, even though 126 is not. Perhaps that is what led us to believe our search would end well — that while 126 is pentatope, it is not pentagonal. Alas, Satan does disguise himself, and we should have known because we were warned by that most ancient of symbols, La Clef de la Magie Noire — The Key to Black Magic, Satan’s Pentagram.

Past interactions between Mankind and naturally occurring Apollyon Bosons were fortunately transitory, for the Apollyon Boson was until last week a rapidly decaying particle with a duration measured in days to weeks, although the resulting contamination may run for years beyond the initial dimensional breach. This new CERN-created Apollyon Boson exhibits no such decay, even though the effects are the same as with previous historically documented encounters:

  • Lycanthropy encounters of 14th and 16th Centuries.
  • 12th Century accounts of Walther Map and William of Newburgh of vampirism in England.
  • The vampire encounters: Istria, 1672; East Prussia, 1792; the Habsburg Monarchy outbreak from 1725 to 1734 (and which nearly spread out of control to other areas); the early 18th Century Habsburg-related pandemic that engulfed Eastern Europe; the sporadic incidents of vampirism in late 18th Century-early 19th Century Rhode Island and Connecticut.
  • The Satanic possessions of Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692-1693.
  • The 1611 Aix-en-Provence demonic possessions of Ursuline nuns.
  • The 1634 Loudun demonic possession of Ursuline nuns.
  • The 1647 Louviers Convent demonic possessions.

It was only following the Apollyon Particle dimensional rift near Geneva that we realized what we had unleashed — Hell on Earth. And this release of Satanic force is not confined to the CERN Euro-Asiatic breach. In keeping with the pentagonal aspect of the particle, other rifts developed simultaneously in four other global locations — on the North American Continent along the U.S.-Canadian border that has already engulfed both Detroit and Windsor; Paraguay, with demonic creatures already reported in neighboring Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil (Rio de Janeiro is being evacuated to the north); in Africa all contact has been lost from Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, and flesh-eating zombie-like manifestations are reported in the streets of Mutumba in Burundi; and a final rift reportedly developed between Adelaide and Melbourne. The last reports from these Australian cities before communication abruptly ceased indicated a joint infestation of both vampires and werewolves with cannibalistic attacks continuing unabated even after sunrise and in the absence of a full moon.

CERN concludes these rifts are irreversible and spreading exponentially. It is estimated that Mankind has less than seventeen hours remaining before being completely overtaken by forces of evil heretofore considered mythical in nature.

History will forever tie my name to this catastrophe, but according to our calculations history ends at 06:06:06 tomorrow.

Copyright © 2014 R. Doug Wicker
All Rights Reserved

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Coming Up This Week


Because of several things that have come up in the news and in the theaters, I’ll be pushing back my remaining blogs on our Montreal-to-Boston cruise aboard the MS Maasdam.  In an attempt at timeliness, I’ll be presenting my take on the Chicago En Route (ARTCC) Center fiasco and why those pushing for both consolidation and privatization of ATC are yet again being proven as off their collective rockers.  Also this week I’ll put forth one of my famous double-reviews.

This time I’ll be comparing The Equalizer:

Robert McCall versus . . .

to The Equalizer:

. . . Robert McCall

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