Insert Chassis Albuquerque: 2018

Chapter 10 - The Short Skirt: "The Escape"

We didn’t get far.
I was driving, nowhere particular.
There was plenty of traffic about. A small stone flew up from under a car ahead of us and bounced off the windscreen. The woman alongside me stared as little glass veins of fractures, like the thin, red veins of an iris, cracked out across the windscreen.
It was only 8:30pm.
I could tell: The woman in the passenger seat was beginning to get suspicious. Already I’d pulled into two different, but equally popular fast-food drive-thrus - one was for chicken and the other was, predominantly, a burger chain. This way, when they found our bodies, hopefully they’d be able to review any CCTV footage and get these bastards. Obviously I’d made an effort to be memorable to the servers taking the cash at the windows and said things like: “You Australian…? Let’s see, Australia, historically you’re all descended from convicts. You know that…?” I asked the women in the passenger seat.

Chapter 9 - The Short Skirt: "On The Road"

A woman wandered over. 
Short, cropped, blond hair.
Beautiful body, what I could see of it.
She was maybe 25.
She looked at the tangerine I was eating.
Then at the scuffle with Ronald Ford and Tiburg’s people.
Tiburg was conscious and making threats to sue, if not Ronald Ford then the owners of GARBAGE. Tiburg’s people were taking photographs with their phones and trying to get witness statements from everyone but no one knew anything. No one cared for Tiburg and the delicate symbiosis that existed between him and the future of the counterculture movement.
“You Ofberg…?” the woman asked surreptitiously, gesturing at the tangerine.
She made sure to keep her question and movements covert, so as not to draw any attention.
“Sure am,” I said, taking another bite of the tangerine.
“Get your guy and let’s get going,” she said.
What…?” but she’d already turned to leave.

Chapter 8 - The Short Skirt: "Gretta Garbo With Two `T's"

My phone rang again.
Ronald Ford was heading over to GARBAGE later tonight, a small club where a lot of counterculture types tended to hang out (before moving on to whatever was the next newest, most popular counterculture club whenever GARBAGE died). GARBAGE provided a platform for poets, writers and singers. Every few nights famous singers and actors would drop in to check out the acts. It was a careful, delicate symbiosis between the counterculture types and the famous, who wanted to be seen to be a part of of whatever was going on and try tap into the momentum of the movement - one would influence the other’s success.
Ronald wanted me to meet his date, Gretta Garbo, an up-and-coming film actress.
Obviously not the famous Swedish actress, Greta Garbo, a fact this Garbo had sought to clarify with me almost immediately.
“It’s Gretta, with two T’s,” she corrected me when we met.

Chapter 7 - The Short Skirt: "Sackball's New Apartment"

I was still going to have words with Ethel Sackball.
I'm not blaming her, but I’m definitely holding her responsible for this mess - from just minutes earlier when I was getting rid of Sharnay to fucking her over the kitchen sink by the dish-rack.
I was in deep.
Sharnay wasn’t the kind of girl you could leave, just take a look at her sap husband. He knew all about her and her “affairs” and still wouldn’t divorce her.
So, if she wouldn’t leave, I’d have to.
While Sharnay was grabbing a snack from the fridge, I said I was gonna take a shower and escaped down the fire escape instead. I could hear her shouting all kinds of profanity at me from the window just as I reached the bottom of the fire escape. Wisely, I’d thought to lock the communal bathroom door. Sharnay would have no choice but to leave because she refused to use any ablutionary facilities that were communal.

Chapter 6 - The Short Skirt: "Sharnay Serizay"

My phone rang.
This was maybe the fifteenth time.
Judging by the persistence of the caller, I thought I knew who it was: Sharnay Serizay.
I was walking up the sidewalk to the entrance of my building. Bobbi-Jean was talking to that idiot building superintendent, Ethel Sackball. Bobbi-Jean was wearing another short skirt showing off her legs; they really were beautiful, long and tanned, a nice caramel color.
With legs like that I bet she’d crushed a lot of hearts.
Between them.
The two of them were talking and laughing, sharing some joke.
As soon as they saw me they stopped laughing - obviously I was the joke.

Chapter 5 - The Short Skirt: "First Day" I learnt the Boss didn't play piano or even own one.
But he sure had good shoes and drove a nice car.
Very old-school, he was big on a man’s shoes.
“Shoes,” the Boss said, “shoes are a way to judge a man - you know why, Broadway? So you at least you have an idea of what kind of shit a man’s already stood in.”
But why judge a man at all?
Because it's just something people (mostly women, wives and girlfriends) like to do.

Chapter 4 - The Short Skirt: "New Job"“Where you heading?” the taxi driver said when I jumped in the cab.
“The Big Piano Warehouse Discount Store - you know it?”
“Sure do - you in the market for a piano?” he said as we pulled off.
He sounded skeptical.
I shook my head.
“Say, you in some kind trouble…?” he asked suspiciously, looking in the rear-view mirror at me.
“Just quit my job back there at Beaumont’s,” I said, hoiking my thumb over my shoulder back that way and into the past.
“You’re unemployed…?” the cab driver practically screamed. He was alarmed and immediately swung the car over to the curb and hit the brakes. “Get the fuck out - move it…!” he yelled, reaching back and opening my door; we hadn’t even skidded to a complete stop.
“Hey, man…” I said but he wouldn’t hear it.
I got out and he sped away into the traffic.

Chapter 3 - The Short Skirt: "Broadway Quits" Beaumont family had money, lots of it.
Money is a funny thing. Funny if you got enough of it, live in a big house and drive an expensive car.
Not so funny if you don't.
But, despite all their wealth, was it just me or did everyone think Dr. Peter Beaumont was a dickface of immense proportions…?
The answer is, according to a very recent survey: Yes.
Beaumont had a disparaging habit of calling staff by their surnames.
"Is that o’Riley? O’Sullivan, that you? Or is it o’onnor…? O’Neill, you seen o’Riley…?” he’d say (we’d had a plethora of Irish sales staff recently).

Chapter 2 - The Short Skirt: "Beaumont's Pianos" though I was running late, I still made it to work on time.
That’s the difference between being responsible and not.
As with most people my age, youth had left me brain damaged. Mild brain injuries - very pleasant sounding medically - had left me somehow incapacitated. Work, any work, I'm dead against it. You see those successful people on the TV - well, imagine the work that must go into it…!
So I didn’t want to work.
But I had to.
And it was a routine I was still struggling to get to grips with.

Chapter 1 - The Short Skirt: "The Short Skirt "

Downtown Tokyo, New York: Even in hell you can find happiness.If you know where to look.
And that’s where I was: In hell.
Actually, I was scratching my balls and looking out the window of my very small, one bedroom apartment - there are two guys out there in the street fighting over a parking space. A woman pulled up on her little scooter and parked it in the space and then walked across the road to our building.
The two guys don't know what to do, so are leaving. They climb back into their beat-up cars and drive away in opposite directions. I watched the woman. She was taking her helmet off. Thick, beautiful blond hair tumbled out of it around her shoulders. This looked like trouble. She was full of what looked like female corruption. Part human, part myth, I'd never known a woman like this to exist...!

The Sundial Salesman - A Chapter

Related imageOne's groundswell can quickly degrade to a slump.
"Where to...?" the taxi driver asked.
As soon as I said: "Tokyo," he looked apprehensive.
"Tokyo? I didn't know people lived out there any more - well, that'll cost extra," he said and got on the phone to his insurance company. "Is this it, the John - is that Lennon or Lemon? Real classy," the taxi-driver reads, straining his eyes when we pulled up outside the building, because years ago already someone's craftily made the effort to clamber up to the sign above the door and bother to alter the wording so that it reads: "The John `Lemon'" building.
Almost immediately a guy carrying a woman off his shoulder appeared and asked the taxi driver for a light. And as if she knew the taxi-driver was watching her dead body, she raised her disheveled, broken blonde head from off her man’s back. The cab driver couldn't see a cigarette anyplace on either of them and, on second thoughts, quickly checked with me in the back seat, just to be sure the three of us weren't in it together for some kind of hijack fuck-fest.

Detective Wolffe Gunstormer - "The Butterfly Effect"

Chapter .1.
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 to Amazon so he could pick up a copy of "The Butterfly Effect" - click here: The Butterfly Effect

The Missing Woman.

Related imageBack at her place, this is where the real trouble must've started.
There was nothing in it - no mirrors, no tables or dresser, no drawers with makeup and hairbrushes or cupboards of outfits and suits, no photos on shelves, family and friends, no photos taken in another world from another time when all she'd known was still alive.
There were no clues as to her past, which would've helped me find her now, in the present.