Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and sixty-three.
Tonight we present Mulligan and The Monkee, Part 1 of 1
This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Skinner Co. store!
Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.
Tonight, Mulligan Smith, private investigator, finds himself awaiting a waning star in a gambling den’s watering hole.
Mulligan and The Monkee
Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May
Mulligan sat in the Seneca Niagara Casino’s bar thinking about his mom. It wasn’t her sort of place – he doubted she’d ever stepped foot in a casino in her limited time – but he was sure she would’ve flocked to this one. Risking another look of annoyance from the vested minimum-wager mixing drinks out of a book, the PI ordered a third 7 Up.
In the mirror behind the bottle shelf, Smith watched a cluster of six gray-haired women tittering around a standing table. As they talked, their eyes tracked from their fruity drinks to the door and back, and Mulligan was again reminded that his mother wouldn’t have been much older.
Running his thumb across his lips as if it might wipe the thought away, he hooked a nail under the can’s tab – he was broke or he wouldn’t be working this sort of job, and no tip, meant no glass – and that’s when he noted The Fop again.
Thirty-something, long hair, long coat, long pants. Despite the appearance of melting lent to him by his sagging clothes, his face, angular but slight, was so cleanly cut that Mulligan was convinced he’d either never sprouted facial hair, or that he shaved with a laser.
He’d spotted the man earlier in the evening, at the concert. The casino’s security were a customer-friendly lot – friendlier than the bar staff, the detective reckoned – and they’d seen little threat in letting two dozen grandmothers rush the edge of the stage to shout their love to the man of the hour.
The now ancient Michael Nesmith, the last of The Monkees and Mulligan’s mother’s third greatest love in life, had cared little for the attention. His gaze was sharp under his wrinkled brow, but he seemed interested only in thoroughly wringing every note from the neck of his Les Paul.
Smith had taken in most of the show with one eye on the hypnotic movements of his knuckled hands and the other on the glass-hipped groupies.
The Fop had hovered a few feet from the gently hopping and waving women, his phone camera up and snapping away. Though he hadn’t made any attempt to move closer, his out-of-time dress was unavoidably noticeable under the show’s rainbow kaleidoscope of lighting effects.
By Circle Sky Mulligan was sure he’d see the man at the meet and greet.
When Nesmith shuffled into the room, however, all attention was his. He was quickly enveloped as he approached the table, and he spent the following fifteen minutes patiently refusing offers of liquor, and more, from the cloud of cooing.
Bessie Kowalski, the true reason Mulligan was on hand, took especial care to draw attention to her ringless fingers.
As her shrill giggles carried to his ears, Smith reminded himself of the words his mother had always given him when they’d tended her garden together: Tools were meant to be used.
He could not deny that The Fop was a tool indeed.
Watching the hatless musician say his good nights, Mulligan triple checked his conclusion.
Was The Fop a fan? He’d looked at his watch five times during the show, and he hadn’t sung along to anything but Daydream Believer – and, even then, Smith felt he’d simply mouthed his way through most of the verses.
If he wasn’t here for the music, what reason would a youngish man have for hanging around a gathering largely made up of aging women lustily drinking in a casino?
Mike was drifting towards the door and the ladies were clearly planning the remainder of their evenings.
Leaning in, Smith told The Fop, “the old fella might care more if he saw the Ferrari the one in the low-cut green dress drove up in, beautiful machine.”
In reality, everything Smith had read about the receding pop idol told him it went against the image he projected, but it was clear his conversation partner had no interest in Nesmith’s minutiae.
After two long gulps the man in the coat cleared his daiquiri, then he raised a hand for two more and set out across the room.
An hour later, Bessie, wearing only The Fop’s long jacket, would answer Mulligan’s knocking at the door to her comped suite.
The PI was too broke to even be carrying the complimentary champagne he claimed to be delivering – he’d simply filled an ice bucket and covered it with a towel after borrowing a red uniform shirt from a maintenance closet – but, through the briefly opened door, he still managed to collect all of the unpleasant photos that Mr. Kowalski, his client, had suspected he might find.
Flash Pulp is presented by https://www.skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.
Text and audio commentaries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.
– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.