Sunday, April 25, 2010

THIS is the city

My name is Friday.
I carry a badge.
It was cold in Los Angeles. I was working the graveyard shift in burglary. Scheduling mishap according to my captain.

The night shift sure is long. At 1:47 A.M., with no calls and nothing coming over the teletype, I wandered downstairs into the evidence cage. A lot of strange, bizarre articles carefully preserved in there. All of it tagged and neatly stored on shelf after shelf - a dusty magpie single nailed to a hunk of wood, two left clown shoes, a mannequin with jockey shorts wrapped around its head - stuff like that. One item, not on a shelf but leaning against the wall, sent a cold chill through me even though I’d already drunk two pots of coffee and was hallucinating. It was a stick. Yeah, that’s right, some fancy cane. A cylindrical piece of wood. Tag says June 14th.

June 14th, it was a clear day in Los Angeles. My partner, Frank Smith, was on the phone sitting across from me in homicide, laughing. He hangs up, tells me the story. A lady wants to report a murder. We get that a lot. A lady wanting to report a murder. But this one is different. It was 11:23 A.M. when we arrived at the address. We talked to the landlady of the Willow Manor Apartments. She tells us there’s a guy tap dancing in room 7 on the 3rd floor. Yes, Ma’am, we’ll go look. Sure enough, it sounds like a guy tap dancing on the other side of the door of room 7. We knock and there’s no answer. But now there’s a slow wooden tapping sound. We knock louder. The tapping continues. Frank wants to go get some donuts. He loves donuts. I say we should stay. My watch says 11:32. I kick in the door, 38 drawn.

A man and an orangutan, both dressed in top hat and tails, dancing canes over their shoulders in unison, are in the middle of the room, furniture pushed back up against the walls. Record player is blasting Puttin’ On The Ritz. The man looks horrified, eyes ablaze, face the color of bones. The surprised rang shows its teeth. I fire one slug into the ceiling, cheap plaster rains down. The man jumps through the window. Frank runs down three flights, moves pretty good with that donut belly, cuffs him winded. I look at the rang and it dejectedly looks at me and drops this cane. I reach for my cuffs, then change my mind.

Charge: a 922b, Section1 Felony, unlawful possession of a rang within city limits.
I shiver and my palms are sweating. It’s 2:11 A.M. and at least the coffee’s fresh. I can still see that rang’s teeth. The fact is…not sure if it was a smile, grimace, or the relief of being freed from learning to tap dance. The phone is ringing. It's 2:13 A.M.

14 Comments:

OpenID Jennifer said...

My palms would be sweating too, Friday. It all sounds like one crazy, vivid dream. I can just see that rang dropping the cane.

4/25/2010 11:05 AM  
Blogger Star said...

You certainly know how to paint some imaginative stories. Once I worked out what a rang was, I just had to smile. Well done.
Star

4/25/2010 4:51 PM  
Blogger Catalyst said...

Oh, that's funny! Reminds me of Stan Freberg! Great job, Vagabond!

4/25/2010 7:33 PM  
Blogger willow said...

This is super, Phil. I read this one with Humphrey Bogart narrating. Two left clown shoes?! Uh-oh. I'm having bad dreams now, even when I'm awake.

4/25/2010 11:46 PM  
Blogger Brian Miller said...

ha. that was fabulous...face the color of bones...lots of great one liners...great magpie!

4/26/2010 12:06 PM  
Blogger Lyn said...

My kind of fun! And,"face the color of bones"..don't want to meet that one..
Friday, ya did it again, and if you need me, just whistle!

4/26/2010 5:03 PM  
Blogger sheri... said...

this was hilarious and so well written! joe friday was a huge idol in my life so i could actually picture him in my minds eye...the tang was another story ;)

4/26/2010 9:18 PM  
Blogger Tumblewords: said...

I hear this one. Great job, just like the real thing!

4/26/2010 10:50 PM  
Anonymous Jingle said...

remarkable reminder,
cool magpie!

4/27/2010 3:29 PM  
Anonymous Jingle said...

http://jingleyanqiu.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/magpie-tale-the-magical-wish/

here is mine!

4/27/2010 3:29 PM  
Blogger joanny said...

A good script, enjoyed reading it love your opening in this story draws you right in to the end.
It reminds me of that Television show back in the fifties -- Sgt. Joe Friday and his partner Dragnet -- I use to love the deadpan style and the cool matter of fact -- "just doing my job"

Joanny

4/27/2010 3:59 PM  
Blogger The Bug said...

Loved this! But I wish there was a picture of the two of them tap dancing - that's just hilarious!

4/27/2010 4:37 PM  
Blogger C.M. Jackson said...

just the facts,mam...yep you got the dialogue just right--loved this take on the magpie! great job!

4/27/2010 11:25 PM  
Blogger steviewren said...

You're a master at this genre. Fun post.

4/28/2010 4:49 PM  

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