Insert Chassis Albuquerque: The Butterfly Effect - Chapter 5: "Susan Strychnine"

5 July 2017

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…?”
“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.