Insert Chassis Albuquerque: July 2017

The Asshole

“I need this typed up and printed out. Make sure that asshole reads it."
“Which asshole?” she asked and I looked at her.
Burgman was alright. But just last week she’d got her goddamn head caught in the fax machine and Shimansky had had to call the fire brigade to extract her using hydraulic Jaws of Life.

You Gonna Make It...?

I'm sitting on a rain, sorry, that should read “I’m sitting on a train,” obviously a major plot difference. So, I’m sitting on a train heading for an interview with the BBC about up and coming writers, Indie writers in particular. They'd heard I was writing a 2nd book and were interested in how I was going to try sell it, even who was going to buy it.

The Butterfly Effect - Chapter 13: "Trouble"

She appeared at the window above him now.
The lock on the door had been changed and Wolffe couldn't get in; drunk, Wolffe can make no sense of it.
“You! Big detective, you find new place to live!” she cried down at him.
When she appeared downstairs, his hold-hall in her hands, she yelled (she was never able to modulate her voice and always yelled, it was like that saying: “You ever see two Polish people whispering? Impossible!”): “Wolffe! What ‘wong with you! Why you here, huh?”
“Don't ask for the details, I almost goddamn died today, just let me in for Christ’s sake!”
She said almost happily: “You almost die…? I check life insurance, big money for me…!”
With this in mind, worth noting she’d taken out a fairly substantial life insurance policy on him.
And placed a side bet with a bookie the year and month he’d die ‘cause she liked to gamble. Not motivation enough for his murder, just a listless hopefulness she’d somehow profit from his death - she wasn’t a murderer, just practical and good with money, so with some to spare, why not?
Things deteriorated.
“You come for this…? Now you no have…!” she cried at Wolffe, throwing the hold-hall at his feet.
Wolffe didn’t react. There was no point, women didn’t react to reactions - you know why? Could be any reason, couldn’t it? Does there have to even be a reason?
She squirted lighter-fluid over the hold-hall and set it alight.
“I can see by the way you're burning my clothes and other important documents - passport, old case-files and so on - I asked you never to touch, that, whilst not helpful, you're upset!” Wolffe said.
All this carousing had drawn the attention of the neighbor's and they were into it pretty deep by the time the fire brigade - followed by the police - arrived. The cops - who knew Wolffe - knew Wolffe was drunk, but not stupid. However, Wolffe’s wife claimed he’d broken in and tried set her alight when she wouldn’t give him the hold-hall and he had all those marks on his face and hands after the struggle with the bartender earlier (he’d be no witness to help Wolffe and wanted to get back with his wife because she was “dependable” and “good in the sack”).
“There was struggle, he very violent man, try barbecue my ass…!” Wolffe’s wife was shouting.
“We gonna have to book you, Wolffe. Sorry man, if we could we’d book her,” the cops said.
Wolffe nodded.
To be honest Wolffe really wasn’t too bothered. You know, it was the hypocrisy of having to be a man and then pretending to care or give a shit? Do you know? Maybe you don’t. Anyhow, there’d definitely be a court appearance…

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The Butterfly Effect - Chapter 12: "Their Wife"

Their wife.
Tainted from the start, they were doomed to failure due mainly to differences of opinion. And she was Chinese, very difficult to reason with, as is anyone who eats dogs and cats.
“There's a reason people shouldn't eat cats - they make nice pets. You wouldn't eat your child, would you…?” Wolffe had asked her.
“French eat snail and frog, what that say ‘bout them?”
She’d a very stereotypical Chinese accent.
“It says they produce fresh produce and aren’t above economizing during times of austerity,” Wolffe had replied.
She’d an inner-beauty and was good in the sack, which is what men ultimately prefer.
Still, she’d thrown Wolffe out on the street.
They’d taken it well, under the circumstances of all these cultural difficulties; she’d bought a parrot for company.

The Butterfly Effect - Chapter 11: "Alcoholic Wife

There only two kinds of assholes in the world – the kind you tolerate and the kind you marry.
Wolffe was in a local bar shooting his mouth off saying provocative things like: "Reagan's a communist." It was the wrong time to be saying things like that, people’s minds were still fresh with the 1981 Iran hostage crisis.
The barman kept a weary eye on Wolffe, who he recalled as consistently being a problem.
While Wolffe took peculiarly great pleasure in asking the barman where his wife was when they both knew they’d divorced just a few years ago and, in fact, Wolffe was currently married to her.
“Fucked your wife recently...” Wolffe said to the barman.
“Oh yeah…?” the barman said.
“Still fucking her, you know, not so much these days, but marriage can do that to a marriage.”
There’d seemed no point the barman engaging Wolffe’s grievances. The barman knew for a fact Wolffe had entered a period of personal decline over things he’d no control of leaving him unable to stabilize his rank ambivalence for life; it wasn’t that Wolffe hated mankind, but he’d never really got on with it.
The barman said: “You want me to call someone now or after you get fucked up?”
“Let’s play it by ear,” Wolffe said.
“You outta here, pal!” the barman cried.
“I think you’ll find I’m over there by those strippers you call customers.”
Well, they were showing a lot of cleavage so the barman had hired them on the spot. Girls who showed enough cleavage often responded well to the idea they'd be paid, at some point... maybe.
"What's your name…?" Wolffe asked one of them.
"Big Breasts," she said.
"Big Breasts, you got any proof that's who you really are? And be careful, I’m a detective so I’ll know if you’re lying," Wolffe warned her.
"Well, I've got these - wanna take a look and make sure it's really me, Detective?" she said.
But before he could it became necessary for the barman - with the help of another barman - to expel him; unhinged, Wolffe refused to pay for the privilege of Big Breasts.
"Holy shit, you can't go around groping women's tits! The act of encroaching yourself upon a woman without consent is assault. Unless you pay…!" the barman said.
They threw Wolffe out on the pavement.
“Give my regards to my wife,” the barman said.

The Butterfly Effect - Chapter 10: "Literary Interlude"

And now for a very brief literary interlude (or you can skip it): Downtown Tokyo - an old woman slips and shatters her hip, making a sound like ice splintering; this had little to do with Wolffe, it’s just theatrical observation. As is: Children playing out in the cold streets and frozen parks. They engaged themselves in the same traffic jam childhood experience as everyone else, attacking with tremendous hostilities what was left of their childhood with whatever means - by land, by sea, by air and any available co-ordinated social means. Just harmless fun their playful war messing about in the snow, poking fun at winter but already engaging that conflicted passing season into adolescence and the terrible, inevitable progression of having reached their maximum design capacity and malforming into an adult.
Childhood's death, what’s happened that they would become what we are now, too adult for the swings and slides and the merry-go-rounds and the wild, wild rides still spinning in our heads where every day is war.
Childhood’s remorse?
Childhood’s a small island sanctuary floating amongst the great continents of adulthood you leave and can never return to that we long for when it’s being too late for too long; largely there’s no way back.
Wolffe thought about his missing brother.

The Butterfly Effect - Chapter 9: "Landing"

About 3 miles out they were put into an unusual holding pattern - upside down with the emergency slides deployed. It all must’ve got to the nurse a little suddenly. She engaged in a mild degree of physical intimacy with herself, the kind of intimacy that left people uncomfortable  but still interested enough to want to stick around and see what happens next.
“Don't worry, it's totally harmless for the person touching themselves, you know how I know that?” she said.
Wolffe nodded.
“Yeah, you’re a nurse. You mind…?” Wolffe said to the small group that had gathered around them to watch; they sullenly dispersed.
“What you going to do?” Wolffe asked the nurse when she’d finished and they prepared for landing.
"I’ve a lot of pharmaceuticals from the hospital, I guess I’ll get high - extremely high," she said.
The thing about getting high is the higher you go the higher you get.
And then you want to keep it there - forever.
Which is impossible.
“Forever is a long, long time, lady - too long. So you don't want to do that alone,” Wolffe advised.
“I don’t go with drunks. I’m a nurse, remember…?” the woman said.
The airline gave Wolffe and the other passengers a coupon each for a soft-drink and free inflatable pillow as they disembarked, keeping quiet about the incident but being polite out of fear of litigation. Sensing opportunity (and a lotta cash), the passengers rallied one another in the airport terminal. Passengers were on pay-phones to lawyers and legal teams trying to establish some sort of aviation precedent. It must have come as a surprise to many of their lawyers to discover their clients, though initially thankful to be alive, had had a backbone after all.
Wolffe was in a weekend state.
This is not a typo, Wolffe really was in a weekend state - that meant he had a pressing need for a drink and wanted to go with the whores in Downtown Tokyo.
But he didn’t want to have to pay them.
So that just left drinking really.
“You anything to declare?” the customs officer asked.
“At some point life just seems to have got the better of me, officer. I don't know when, I don't know why but it seems to have just turned me around a little,” Wolffe said; security waved him on through disinterestedly.
Outside in front of the airport terminal in the semi, gloomy dark, looking out at the winter enclosing Downtown Tokyo, passengers complained.
“Why’d we have winter, what's its point?” they said, gesturing at the sky with gloved hands, waving winter caps angrily, yelling muffledly through thick, woolen scarves tied about throats for taxis or at children or at one another before dispersing in the murky light and heading home.
Wolffe hailed a taxi.
The taxi driver took one look and said: “Hey, man, you looking to get laid or into a fight…?”
“Either, but first I need a drink,” Wolffe said.
“This is Downtown Tokyo, pal, that’s all people do round here, drink,” the taxi driver said as Wolffe piled in and they sped off.

The Butterfly Effect - Chapter 8: "The Almost Plane Crash"

Control and Flight ZS4545 discuss the technical requirement of the EMERGENCY as the plane drops from the sky.
Wolffe Gunstormer looked out his window at the horizon. They were fast approaching a layer of clouds. Clouds are beautiful things, Wolffe reflected, the way they’d change shape and wisp away as if having never ever existed. He began the process of analyzing what had gone wrong since taking off - two things had happened. First, he’d taken a leak, a very bad experience for him and he didn’t want to talk about it too much.
But he did.
He’d noticed a porthole in the loo which was strange as it - as a design feature - was probably a safety hazard.
Of course this was in 1981, passenger aircraft design was still ascending a steep learning curve. Anyhow, Wolffe was taking a leak when a man's face appeared over the porthole on the outside of the plane. He was wearing what looked like a pilot’s uniform - Wolffe knew this because he was a detective.
“I think it may have been the pilot,” Wolffe told the stewardess.
“Not to worry, sir, probably just doing some routine in-flight maintenance on the fuselage of the plane. Very common,” she said.
Secondly, a while later the pilot came on over the PA system and announced they were having engine trouble just above London or Moscow, which was odd as they'd left New Mexico bound for Downtown Tokyo, New York (Downtown Tokyo is a lot like Chinatown, only Japanese).
So either the pilot was drunk or the navigation system fucked.
When Gunstormer raised this issue with the same stewardess she screamed that he should return to his seat immediately, fasten his seatbelt and wait for further instruction.
Wolffe demanded a drink.
He lit a cigarette while he was waiting.
The stewardess returned with a bottle.
Everyone else had entered a state of suspended disbelief.
While Wolffe poured himself a drink.
He should call somebody on his cell phone (something his missing brother had often referred to when they were youngsters) but then realized it was just past 1980, the cell phone hadn't yet been fully, properly invented and was still just a crazy idea in someone else's head.
Instead here he was about to die, a feeling he resented but embraced - there was little to do about it and Wolffe had seen it all before anyway.
It was like truth, truth’s often one of those things people always feel compelled to tell most times you've a gun to their head and their asshole’s on the line or, appropriately, a family member of theirs is hostage and therefore some other asshole’s asshole is on the line.
Looking around, there were some ugly looking passengers on board, screaming their hearts out.
"Can you believe it? Can you?”
“There’s no alternative, I mean, Jesus, not even one?” they pleaded with one another.
“Not even one!”
“We gonna die!”
The individual next to him, who whilst statistically quiet pondering their fatal circumstance, sat with her long, beautiful legs crushed together.
There was a noise like a small duck laughing.
Wolffe realized she was crying; still, he hadn’t really appreciated how there was a certain amount of promiscuity over in her dark corner, huddling.
“Have a look if you want, sure is beautiful,” Wolffe offered, gesturing out the window.
He wanted her to see the view, because he'd been in love before, which he knew less about than being a drunk.
"Sometimes I think. You know…?" the woman said to him.
But he didn't and dared touched her hair. She’d never know, her body was flooded with chemicals, she’d taken drugs and her perception had altered.
The plane practically inverted and the other passengers became apoplectic.
It sounded as if people were being gutted with grief in their seats.
"You look trustworthy, drunk, but trustworthy,” the woman said fighting the terror overwhelming other passengers.
“I'm not drunk,” Wolffe said.
“I’m a nurse, so I know all about drunks,” she said as Wolffe noticed her whoring bipolar eyes, that look of San Francisco in them and the sound of casual bigotry in her voice when she leaned over him and said absently: “Oh, isn't that so pretty!" and the zipping gray-green-blue-and-black earth rushed up to meet them.
“You have any regrets?” she wondered.
“Sure, I’m a man, aren’t I?” Wolffe said.
He’d had regrets. He’d wanted to go see the Beatles performing in concert but they’d been broken up for a while and now John Lennon was dead; which reminded him he'd always wanted to learn play piano.
Curious about this formation in the woman’s eyes he kissed her.
She removed his hat.
And the aircraft leveled out a few meters above the ground, the fuselage straining under the massive effort and the engines screaming and then began hauling itself skyward again. Passengers applauded and hollered what a great job the pilot and crew had done. The woman responded by pulling away and telling Wolffe a pretty erotic story instead while the stewardesses strolled the aisles again pushing their trolleys while straightening their hair and passing out drinks to the terrified passengers pretending they were all fine again.

The Butterfly Effect - Chapter 7: "New Mexico - Missing Boy"

New Mexico - local media had made a big deal out of the fact the family of a missing boy lived in one of the biggest houses in the area.
It wasn't even a good area, it was just an area; all the houses looked the same.
But of course this was early 1980, before the invention of “architecture”.
Money was no object for the family and they’d spared no expense remortgaging their house trying to locate the boy, not because they were rich, because they were desperate to find what had become of their son.
The boy’s room was in disarray. Papers and objects - plastic toys - littered the floor. Not unusual, but some of these appeared to have been exposed to an immense, overwhelming heat and melted, so that was a big clue: Wolffe had discovered the exact moment something catastrophic had occurred; the problem was this type of event was often beyond any logical explanation.
Local police, with their “local” narrow-minded view, had been dismissive and put it down to a runaway.
Whereas Wolffe, examining the crime scene, knew they were looking at what in science is called an Extinction Level Event, in this case just a small one but nonetheless there it was: An Extinction Level Event.
The mother said: “Given the extreme-sounding nature of what you’ve described, do you think our son’s still alive…?”
She was clearly an unreserved optimist.
What mother isn’t? Because when there's the tiniest chance people cling to hope - it's all they’ve left and Wolffe suspected if hope made any appearance in this particular investigation it would only feature as a small, cameo part.
“It was on the news a while ago a man fell 50,000 feet. He’d no memory of the event but he survived, which implies he somehow figured out how to fly, unaided, and land safely. Your boy was smart? Good at maths?”
“Maths? I don’t understand,” the father said, confused. “The police say he’s run away. But he hasn’t, somethings happened to him! Someones taken our boy…!”
“Looking closely at all the evidence I can see a number of things, including that the police are wrong.”
The police had done all the usual things, canvassed the area with leaflets, organized search parties to look for his body and knocked up all the local perverts and child molesters to no avail.
“Mr Gunstormer, we just need to know you can help us…?” the mother pleaded.
The parents of the missing boy had had good reason to take him seriously. Wolffe was full of dangerous tendencies and, though they know little about Wolffe’s prescription medication (for instance, he’d taken a hallucinogenic to help him make it through the day) or where they should stand with each other, making extensive use of his personal magnetism he was able to placate most clients with solid results.
Wolffe had a bag of apples in his inside jacket pocket, a sleeve of them.
He took an apple out and began eating it (Wolffe also liked kiwnao, but they were more seasonal. And because they were exotic, they were not always readily available).
“The police have no interest in your son because over a million kids run away from home each year, 2000 of which are found dead. And yet something keeps telling you, there’s no explanation for it other than something, this overwhelming intuition as a parent says your son hasn’t run away but is in dire trouble,” Wolffe said taking another bite out of his apple.
To be honest it was really touch-and-go but touch-and-go is what Wolffe did best, it's what he was good at and he just had this feeling, something bad had happened here and it was going to get worse. Wolffe took another look around the place. He kept asking questions, none of which the police had asked.
They’d asked questions like:
“When did you last see your son?”
“What was your son wearing?”
“Has there been any trouble at home with your son?”
“You kill your son, bury him someplace? Tell us now and the law will go easy on you.”
“The police were accusatory,” the parents told Wolffe.
Of course, statistically a lot of murders are committed by people who know the victims, but Wolffe’s take on it seemed mostly educational.
“What about science?” he asked the parents.
“Yeah, you know, the analysis and testing of all data proven beyond any theoretical, logical speculation - he excelled at science?”
Both parents nodded dumbly.
“Our son had a gift for learning, he relished knowledge, especially science,” the mother said.
All Wolffe recalled from science was burning himself, repeatedly, with a Bunsen burner.
And then an explosion.
So while Wolffe wasn't exactly capable of rocket science he knew when shit don't add up. He fired off a proton beam to get to the heart of the matter.
“I concur, he didn’t run away. Something very scientific happened here - he was working on something, something phenomenal.”
“He was? He was always tinkering, I guess…” the father said.
“Looking at all the evidence and having conducted a very scientific analysis, your son surpassed all the theoretical stuff and found a way to bend space time back on itself and, doing so, entered another dimension - he created a wormhole.”
“So he hasn’t run away…?” the father asked hopefully.
“All evidence points to the contrary. Using a pretty sophisticated system of levers and pulleys I believe your son’s alive, he’s just not here.”
“Where! Tell us where he is!” the father screamed.
“Boris! Boris! Calm down…! Detective Gunstormer cannot know exactly where our son is…!” the mother cried;  she clearly had some theoretical grasp of quantum entanglement, whereas, overwhelmed, the father slumped into a chair, head in hands.
“Why didn’t the police tell us this? Why don’t they know about this! We must call them immediately. My god, a wormhole, our son!” the father cried.
But even if they explained to police the series of events leading up to the boy’s disappearance, the police weren’t scientists. Most of any police force are failed fire brigade candidates and the best presentation in the world of all the facts wouldn’t change that - not that the police didn’t care, it’s just most of them wanted to be out on the fire engines dousing fires and heroically saving people (women particularly) from a burning death.
Face it, that kind of shit makes an impression.
“You’ve seen this before, Detective?” the mother said.
Wolffe nodded.
She really was way too pretty to be a scientist.
“My brother, Horatio Santiago Gunstormer.”
He was the only person Wolffe was aware of who could build such a device to allow 2-way directional travel; it may sound far-fetched but scientific evidence exists to corroborate Wolffe’s version of events.
But Horatio was dead.
Had been for years.
Wolffe pretty much exhausted any hope the couple may have had for their son to return, safe.
That's what he did, after all, exhausted all the possibilities.
“What should we do?” the parents wondered
Wolffe shrugged.
"Some people build a shrine."
"A shrine…?"
"It helps. My advice? I strongly recommend you both take some comfort in knowing that your son is atomically very much alive, not on this dimensional plane but here somewhere…” he said, gesturing around them.

The Butterfly Effect - Chapter 6: "The Wall"

At first Wolffe thought Susannah Strychnine was looking for a pair of shoes.
Or a cat.
But then he realized the baby was hiding under the bed.
"Icarus? Oh, there you are - Icarus!" she said.
“Hands up…!” he said to the kid.
“Is that the man? He doesn’t look very detective-like. Do you drink…?” the baby asked Wolffe suspiciously from under the bed.
“Just a little.”
“What are you doing under there, Icarus?” his mother asked.
“Still reading Joyce…?” Wolffe wondered.
"You deny being a drunk?" the baby demanded.
“I deny lots of things, son. Why should this be any different," Wolffe said.
Then he saw the wall, an entire wall taken up with newspaper articles and photographs - kids, adults, girls, boys, men, women, people from Minnesota and all across America; each victim’s hometown was pinned to a massive wall-map of America.
There were nine in total, their photos neatly arranged off to one side of the wall alongside the map and clippings, one under the other. Icarus had collated all their data with extraordinarily detailed orderliness.
“What are you thinking, Detective? Please update me,” Icarus said from under the bed.
“Mr Wolffe…?” Susannah Strychnine prompted.
Wolffe stared at the map, silently contemplating and absorbing the information.
“The missing, they’re all members of MENSA, but there’s something else,” Wolffe said. He looked at Icarus. “Science, these nine were studying or engaging in Theoretical Physics.”
“A very specific area of Theoretical Physics,” Icarus said, emerging cautiously from under the bed.
“The Einstein-Rosen bridge - a wormhole,” Wolffe said.
Suddenly Icarus began to cry.
He also hollered and screamed and stomped his feet some, but that’s just kids for you, very unreasonable at the best of times.
“You have any children, Detective?” Susannah Strychnine asked, trying to comfort the little boy.
“None that I know of, so maybe,” Wolffe said.
“Excuse me. Sometimes I’m overcome by inexplicable tantrums of the emotions,” Icarus said.
“I know the feeling. Let me guess, not only are you a member of MENSA-”
“The youngest member,” the baby interjected.
“The youngest member, but you’re also developing a theory for inter-dimensional travel?” Wolffe said.
Icarus nodded.
Susannah Strychnine said: “A workable theory for how it may be capable, Detective, can you imagine!”
“Are you kidding me?” Wolffe demanded but, looking at their faces, Wolffe knew: They were serious.
This little prick was claiming to have figured out how to jump between dimensions; the repercussions for this were immediately enormous - cab companies would have a field day and airlines would go bankrupt as a result; it would completely revolutionize the takeaway delivery business and who knew what else.
“You’ll help us, Detective? Money’s no object - what kind of payments do you take?"
There it was, that calculating coldness only money allowed for.
“What you mean, what kind of payments do I take? The usual kind, the only kind, the kind where you pay and I give you results."
“So you’ll take our case…?” Susannah Strychnine said, her voice tense. 
Wolffe looked at his watch, then at the wall and then at his watch again; either it was wrong or they were running out of time. He looked at her and the boy and nodded.
“Probably a good idea to get some security over here. I can give you the number of a company. The last victim-” Wolffe began to say but Susannah Strychnine cut him off.
“I’ve booked a ticket already, your flight leaves in one hour, Detective Wolffe,” Susannah Strychnine said.

The Butterfly Effect - Chapter 5: "Susan Strychnine"

The bout in the living room was over (it was a warm-up fight, people were carousing - sitting, standing, you name it, this little soiree was in full swing; in the background the light music of electronic cocaine and the finger-dip, acid exchange of life continuing when all of a sudden the baby everyone was talking about appeared. This one year old came striding in, shouting for everyone to keep it the fuck down.
He sure ejected quite the stream of bullshit out his little mouth for a one year old.
Wolffe had never seen anything like it.
The baby yelled at everyone: “Don’t you assholes know I’m trying to read? I can’t hear myself over this racket…!” 
There was stunned silence.
People were alarmed and clearly felt uncomfortable to be confronted by a baby in such a manner.
It felt unnatural.
He was wearing just a diaper, one of those very expensive disposable ones with the adhesive tape if you had enough money not to have to wash your own.
“What you reading…?” someone asked.
The baby went nuts.
“Reading…? If you must know, Ulysses - James Joyce, you know him…? Do you…?” the baby demanded. “Reading! You people don’t know how to read - you’re animals! Animals drinking and taking narcotics - you should all be arrested!”
Wolffe was unimpressed.
Clever people left him uneasy, you never knew what they may say and you were really fucked if it was something smart and made sense to everyone else but you – you were too stupid to understand.
The butler appeared and tried to placate the little guy.
“Sir, please try calm yourself, your mother will be out shortly.”
“My mother! Is she reading Joyce, Hubert, is she…?”
“No sir, you’re mother is not reading Joyce, and there is little need for one to be rude, sir."
"I think you'll find there is reason to be rude, Hubert, what you're saying is "rude" is a reaction to your uselessness and these peoples general foulness!"
“Yes, sir. However, it is important you stay calm - sir.”
“Calm! Why, I’ll show you calm…!” the baby shouted at him and, for a moment, Wolffe thought the little guy might be armed.
Wolffe drew his weapon.
Just in case.
Because you could never be too careful and it was better to be prepared.
“That won’t be necessary, Mr Gunstormer - Icarus, please refrain yourself. Go back to your rooms and I’ll come tuck you in. Everyone, the main title fight is about to begin.”
“Mr Wolffe Gunstormer, Mrs Strychnine,” the butler announced.
The baby glared at Hubert but sullenly retreated.
“Thank you, Hubert, that will be all. Good evening, Mr Gunstormer, thank you for coming. I’m sorry about the long wait,” Susanna Strychnine said as she led them to a private room some way from where the main title fight was underway.
“Me too,” Wolffe said as they sat down.
Like the face you'd see in a wedding gown behind the veil moments before the husband issued her divorce papers, Susannah Strychnine had two blue, dynamic diamonds for eyes and a nose and mouth so sensual where her hair was framed by nothing other than endless reams of money, money, money; normally Wolffe would’ve used a tape measure to determine the length of his interest in her but there probably wasn't one long enough in this case.
“I’ve never hired a detective before. I guess we should get to know each a little first…?” Susannah Strychnine said.
“Sound cosy, you read my mind,” Wolffe said moving in closer and putting his arm around her shoulders. He grabbed the TV remote control; there was an old film showing, shot in black-and-white full of very beautiful black-and-white people. “Let me ask you something, though: “Why you speaking like that?”
“What…? Oh, that - I’m English.”
“English? Tell me something, because I like to know who I’m dealing with, are you very English or typically English?”
“I’m not sure I know the difference,” Susannah Strychnine said hesitantly.
“Well, in my experience typical English talks a lot and cheats at everything.”
“I see - I don’t think I am, neither do I know anyone typical of a manner like that, Detective.”
“Fine. It’s just I always like to ask, Mrs Strychnine,” Wolffe said.
“Of course. So, maybe you tell me about yourself, Detective Gunstormer?" Susannah Strychnine said.
"Let's see, not much to tell I guess. I speak English and work in the library. Know how I know that? I'm a detective. Now let’s say we stop messing around here and get to the point, Mrs Strychnine - what am I doing here?"
“You very busy, Detective, places to be?”
“Look, lady, you’re incredibly pretty and charming and money always has a way of appealing to man. What I want to know is - you wasting my time?” Wolffe demanded.
“No, it’s just I’m a little nervous and you’ve your arm around me and, as I said, I’ve never hired a detective before…”
“Well, what about that - how ‘bout you tell me what I can do for you…?”
“My son believes he’s going to be kidnapped.”
“Is there money involved - maybe it’s the father? I haven’t seen him, he around? Maybe he’s got a grudge? The majority of crimes are committed by people who know the victim, Mrs Strychnine. Don't look so shocked, I've been married a number of times myself so know how it works. Once was to Audrey Hepburn in 1965, you know - well, I call her Aubrey Hepburn but her real name was Clarice Arrow.”
“Clarice Arrow…?”
Wolffe nodded.
“Where’s the boy’s father?” Wolffe asked and she sighed sadly.
“I’m not actually married - Hugo enjoys the formality of pretending I am. The father gave me a hug and the next thing I was unable to sit or stand comfortably for 9 months - I was pregnant. That’s the last thing I remember about him. So while I understand having a baby is just one way of enabling two people to highlight the others shortcomings, I think it would help if you met Icarus and saw what he’s worried about.”
“Worried? Jesus Christ, Mrs Strychnine, he’s only one!”
“Yes, he’s only one,” she agreed, taking a deep breath, “but he is very special, Mr Wolffe. And he’s always right.”
“Well, he’s still pretty young. Hell, with enough time he’ll prove you wrong countless times, surely.”
“I’m sure and I don’t doubt what you say. However, Icarus believes people with high IQs are going missing, they’re being kidnapped. My son is in danger and I want you to protect him, Detective. Of course I’m willing to pay you whatever it costs,” she said. But seeing his face she said: “I’ll do anything, anything, Detective Gunstormer.”
“Anything - you have something in mind, Detective…?” Susannah Strychnine wondered nervously.
“As a matter of fact, yes,” Wolffe said and Susannah Strychnine stiffened but didn’t pull away.
There was something in her voice, though, it seemed willing enough but at the same time sounded desperate to convince something was wrong.
“Alright, I’ll take a listen to your boy,” Wolffe agreed.

The Butterfly Effect - Chapter 4: "Just People"

The only other event of significance was, back at the roulette table, Wolffe watched as the butler opened the front door to a new guest. With any luck, she was one of those New Age girls with a free spirit - you know, meaning she really slept around…? Wolffe could tell, her mind was like the inside of a dumpster, dirty and quite unsanitary; there was a smell.
Wolffe thought he’d better investigate this further - for one thing, she also had on a dress you could see clear through and the funny thing about that was she’d no panties on, either. So Wolffe, who usually liked to take his time about things and getting to know people before starting offend them, went over while all the men (and probably a couple of the women) were leering and still thinking about all that and said: "Wolffe Gunstormer, private investigator.”
“How can I help you, Mr Gunstormer? You investigating me…?” the woman said.
“I sure am and what I’d like to know is the whereabouts of your panties…!" and she – regarding him - said: "Wouldn't you like to know, Mr Wolffe…!”
“Yeah, I really would, lady. Let's go back to my place and see if we can find them - you any good at art? Maybe you can draw me a diagram."
It was a classic seduction, classic, but despite her incredibly low cut, completely diaphanous dress she didn't like to be touched.
“I don’t think so, that would be very irresponsible, don’t you think, Detective?” she said, removing his hand from her hip.
“You know what’s irresponsible, lady? That goddamn skirt.”
“So long, Detective,” the woman said, walking away.
“Lady, I didn’t get your name…?” Wolffe called.
“You’re a detective, figure it out,” she said and was gone; another butterfly appeared and took off after the woman.
The apartment was certainly full of other interesting personalities.
Not as attractive as the mysterious women.
Or without any panties.
A desperate egomaniac with no thought for other people wandered up to Wolffe.
“That’s a nice hat. You seen the baby? No? Well, I’m a writer, self-published. You write? I write, just got my new book out - here it is. See the blurb, the fantastic reviews…?” the man said. Clearly, having written a novel and being unable to find a traditional publisher, it had gone to his head in a bad way. He had a rucksack full of his books.
“I feel I should add: None of these critical people are my wife or in any way emotionally related to me. Yours for $10 - it’s a good read,”
“No thanks, pal. Reading is such a very personal thing and particular readers like particular writers. Not all particular readers like the same particular writers,” Wolffe said, attempting brush the guy off.
“And some readers are just communist. Say, you not a communist, are you? My book will help you address that, in a fictional way - $10, what you think?”
He held the book up for Wolffe to see. Wolffe had to take a step back; maybe he just wasn’t drunk enough.
Wolffe said: “Jesus! Who did the cover - a blind child?”
“Covers are expensive. Besides, it’s the story that counts, right?”
Wolffe wasn’t so sure.
Wolffe read the blurb, the writer claimed to be “…quite religious about writing and always wrote facing south, usually toward Spain.”
Or some other place he couldn’t ever quite reach.
“Give you a dollar to fuck off,” Wolffe said.
“A dollar? Listen, a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into this book…!”
“That’s what writing is, blood, sweat and tears,” Wolffe said.
“This book’s going to be a best seller!” the man cried.
“I’ll give you a dollar to get lost,” Wolffe said, flicking his coat to one side so the guy could see the Colt Python in its holster. “Been a while since she killed anyone and she don’t read too well. Got a complex about it,” Wolffe said.
“Yeah…? Make it five dollars - this book I wrote is worth getting killed over.”
These writers were a tough bunch of negotiators. In the end Wolffe parted without resorting to violence and at least $3 to get rid of the guy…

The Butterfly Effect - Chapter 3: "Susan Strychnine's Apartment"

Upper 5th Avenue, seventh floor.
A butler opened the door of the massive apartment; behind him, a lot of opulent revelry was underway.
People waved when they saw Wolffe at the door. Wolffe didn’t wave back, he didn’t know them.
“Susannah Strychnine…?” he said.
“Madam is expecting you…?” the butler asked.
“I have an appointment - Detective Wolffe Gunstormer.”
“Of course, Detective - please wait here…” the butler said politely and made as if to close the door.
“Why should I wait out here? I’m here already, aren’t I? I’ve kept up my end of the arrangement - Susannah Strychnine meet all her invited guests out in the hall?” Wolffe said.
“Of course, Detective, please come in,” the Butler said and stepped aside. “May I take your hat and coat?”
“I’m a Detective - you never watch any of the detective shows on TV? Ever seen any of those guys without their hat and coat? You may see them without one, either the coat or the hat, but they’ve always got the one, either the hat or the coat. Incidentally, usually the butler’s in on it - you in on whatever’s happened here that your boss needs to see me…?”
“No, sir. But I’ll fetch Mrs Strychnine for you now so she can explain,” the butler said, closing the door behind Wolffe.
“And let’s hurry up about it, I’m armed,” Wolffe called after the little man.
It was pretty cramped inside the apartment. There was a boxing ring in the living room and a fight was in progress; a guy in a tuxedo serving cold beer from a fridge waved Wolffe over.
“What can I get you, sir - you seen the baby…?” he asked.
“Gimme a whiskey.”
“You got it, and, hey man, you probably wanna see the baby,” the guy said.
He’d only been inside a few minutes. A number of people had already wandered up to ask if Wolffe had seen the baby yet.
To be exact, they all asked if he’d seen the baby.
“Very smart, very clever - for a one year old,” they’d all observed.
Wolffe did not cut deep with money or his efforts to mingle with Mrs Strychnine’s guests.
Besides, in 20, 30 years these people would be nothing - their entire lives would be a dead-end cul-de-sac where all that happened was cars pulled up to turn around and leave disappointed by the semi-circular barrage of sameness (of course, Wolffe had been wrong before, so in hindsight this may one day have proved to be untrue but that’s all he had to go on for now - suspicion. And if all we’d had to go by were his suspicions, the world would be safer place).
He hit the head and then sat down at one of the roulette tables.
A butterfly flew by.
Wolffe was certain, it wasn’t a moth.
The croupier, a foreign women, said something, it was hard to discern what exactly. It sounded like she was saying: "Skin your rats, please, skin your rats…!" but she was actually saying: "Place your bets."
By the time Wolffe had worked out what she was talking about and leaned over to place his bet, she said: "Nah moor bats, nah moor bats please…!"
40 minutes later there was still no sign of Susannah Strychnine. Wolffe had to hit the head to take a leak again. He’d a mild bladder infection from either a sexual encounter or some milk that had gone passed its expiry date. Leaning over the bleak, empty white bowel, Wolffe's watery reflection stared up at him. The great shit stain on the side of the bowl he’d spied earlier was gone and a new one, of greater, more significant proportion and color had taken its place on the opposite side. He updated his notes - what did Susannah Strychnine want…? One thing was apparent, having a lot of money obviously keeps people very busy because there was still no sign of her.

The Butterfly Effect - Chapter 2: "Film Gig"

Wolffe had a meet the other side of town, a film crew shooting an instructional video on: “How To Be A Private Investigator”.
It was a good gig, $120 a shoot plus future royalties from purchases or rentals.
On set they took a few shots of Wolffe demonstrating to viewers how to emerge from the shadows under a street light like people always do in the movies.
“You get all that…?” Wolffe said.
He was feeling pretty good and did a few more takes “on the house”, just in case.
Then they interviewed him, Wolffe with his trench coat and hat on, seated on a bar stool, the heel of his shoe resting on one of the rungs and the trench coat pulled to one side so viewers could see the Colt Python in its holster.
“Detective Gunstormer, why is it important for potential Private Investigators to be able to emerge from the shadows in that manner? And when would you employ this particular maneuver?”
“Very useful anytime you wanna confront someone, catch them off-guard or, say maybe surprise a pretty lady-subject as she’s walking through a rough neighborhood on the way home.”
 ”And is it an advanced maneuver best suited for fully qualified, experienced investigators? Or can the beginner private detective employ it…?”
“It’s versatile enough for deployment at any level. I recommended beginner detectives master it almost immediately.”
The cameraman zoomed in on Wolffe and Wolffe looked into the camera as his face framed the shot, his hat pushed up from his forehead.
“So, to recap, just remember: Whenever emerging from the shadows it’s useful to ensure the right lighting. Nothing too illuminating but also sufficient enough light to help conceal you until the right moment. Until next time…” 
Wolffe stood up from the stool and walked off, the camera following him into the distance.
“Cut…! That’s a wrap! Good job, Detective…!” the Director said.
Wolffe leisurely walked back to his offices at the Boston Manor Motel, a seedy joint as joints go with a suite of offices on the ground floor where Wolffe - along with a laundromat and office supply company - also had his office. There was a new sign up outside the motel: FOR SALE. Wolffe thought he might put in an offer. Up a flight of stairs from the back of his office Wolffe could access his apartment above the office. There was a message on the phone for him, a woman’s sultry voice: “Detective, this is Susannah Strychnine. I’ve been given your name by an acquaintance - if you wouldn’t mind giving me a call, urgently? Thank you.”
The number was Manhattan, so definitely money.
Wolffe did a little digging around: Susannah Strychnine was an incredibly wealthy socialite whose billionaire father had been so wealthy he thought he didn't have to indicate when turning in traffic - money excused him from any accountability. He was t-boned and killed when - without bothering to indicate - he sauntered across three lanes of a highway to make a turn.
So maybe the woman wanted to know why her father, a billionaire, hadn’t had a driver to chauffeur him around. Maybe she suspected at some kind of coercion that had resulted in her father’s death?
However, Susannah Strychnine was not her father.
Still, she was very, very rich and money, money made Wolffe uncomfortable.
He itched his neck.

The Butterfly Effect - Chapter 1: "The American Family"

Outside, the weather looked okay.
Although sunshine with occasional Nazism was probably a more accurate description. But, despite small patches of terrorism, life continued.
Wolffe got out the cab.
He removed his hat and coat.
“You gonna be long, Detective…?” the cab driver wondered.
“Depends,” Wolffe said.
The cab driver didn’t say anything more and looked out the front windscreen instead, down the road. There was a man walking toward them, eating an ice-cream.
Wolffe had been observing the family for a few days now. Their home life was clearly Catholic, probably abusive, but on Fridays they always had fish - so that was dependable. The father had a high-powered job in the city and drove an expensive, imported family saloon. The wife was very pretty and on the social ladder attending galas and events, spending money to help ensure they remained on the top societal rungs. And the boy, he was a mean little bastard. So in all the usual ways they were a decent upper class American family instilled with all the expected decent virtues of any very successful American family. However, given the number of scumbags that had walked into his office over the years - the hoods, the thugs, the murderers - Wolffe was familiar with scum, he’d a pretty good feel for them: This family were scum.
The boy’s friends and him had singled out a young Japanese girl at their school and the bullying - mostly the usual ill-informed, prejudiced bullshit - had recently become physical and the Japanese girl had been attacked. Held down by his friends, the boy had shaved one side of her head with a goddamn razor.
The school wouldn’t pursue the matter - the boy’s family made weighty donations and, you know, for the right price, people were willing to overlook anything. One of the teachers Wolffe had done work for (he’d investigated the suspicious death of a relative in the military, “suspicious” in that the relative had been thrown from a helicopter) had reached out to Wolffe for help.
As the family were pulling into the drive and the father emerged from the car, Wolffe struck, hard. He didn’t say much, just kept beating the father - an inherently genetic quality, Wolffe had found the best way to get to the bottom of anything was always by force.
Or bribery.
Using bribery and other irregular means you could always shortcut the whole system, so whichever’s easiest; but bribery saved on the knuckle-work.
Several neighbor's appeared out on their similarly precision-trimmed lawns to see what all the commotion was about but none intervened or ventured to their neighbor’s assistance. Reserved in the way smart money often is, they’d held back.
That was another thing about money, sometimes money felt some principled entitlement and other times, sensibly, it was more reserved.
Wolffe said to the boy, pointing at the father (who lay mostly unconscious and bleeding generally from the face on the clean, expansive, precision-trimmed lawn while the mother fretted and screamed over him): “The Japanese girl, Aiko, anything happens to her I come back and do that to your father again, so badly this time you won’t be able to recognize his face through all the blood and broken bones - understand…?”
The boy nodded.
The boy was crying, but now he knew the score.
It was a fancy neighborhood and police always tended to respond more swiftly to money but there was no sign of them.
The neighbor's were waiting for Wolffe to leave so they could call the police and pretend they weren’t able to identify the attacker.
Occasionally Wolffe helped people out, pro bono. In the interest of fairness, Wolffe had investigated the Japanese  family, too, by the way: They’d no money, the mother and father worked two menial shift jobs each to pay the private school fees. They’d practically no life to speak of; they just wanted their little girl to have the best life.
“See you around, kid,” Wolffe said to the boy.
Wolffe walked calmly back to the waiting taxi, got in and the taxi driver quickly sped off.