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 Post subject: Chapter whatever... the rest of the first story.
PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:04 am 
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Joined: Sat May 22, 2010 9:07 am
Posts: 11
MARCUS: Hello, Fletcher. Do you have any good news for me?
FLETCHER: Well, that's a matter of perspective, but I have news. There's still no such thing as monsters, which is good, but that means we're dealing with a flesh-and-blood problem, and we still don't know who that is. [briefcase clicks open, papers rustle] The vandal, or vandals, used a circular saw to make the “claw” marks and a butane torch to char them.
MARCUS: I see...
FLETCHER: Meanwhile, your writing on the wall was written in Hebrew by someone or other who has no idea how to speak it. Essentially, it's a garbled attempt at a satanic threat.
MARCUS: Satanic?!
FLETCHER: Seems your boy's fallen in with the wrong crowd – or fallen out of it.
MARCUS: What does that mean?
FLETCHER: It's my guess you've got some psychos up in arms because your son's trying to quit some sort of cult. Secret societies don't take kindly to having former members. Too much chance they'd spill the beans about where they hid the secret treehouse – or the bodies.
MARCUS: My word!
FLETCHER: So now you have some nice, clear-cut cases of breaking-and-entering, vandalism, and intimidation to take to the police. Now I don't know the local fuzz, but in my experience with cops in general, they will take this matter very seriously, but be pressed for resources. I think I might be able to dig up some “who” and “why” answers quicker than they can. I'd recommend you hire me to do some snooping while they gear up their investigation, but clearly I'm biased. The work I'm talking about won't come cheap.
MARCUS: Well, expense isn't really the issue with my family's safety at stake, but do you really think you can help?
FLETCHER: Well, nothing in life is certain, but yes, I really think I can. The police will likely seal off your house as a crime scene when they hear there are threats being made.
MARCUS: They already have. They also took the floorboards I had pulled up as evidence and told me not to touch anything else.
FLETCHER: Good. So they'll have that place airtight. Anyone who tries to return to the scene of the crime is toast. The bad news is that the bad guys probably realize that, and won't come too close. Still, I think I've got a pretty good bead on the kind of joker that pulls pranks like this, and he won't be able to resist having a look at the chaos he's caused. He'll be back, but he'll keep his distance, and probably hike through the woods at night to avoid being seen.
MARCUS: So what is it you claim to do about that?
FLETCHER: While the cops stake out your house, I can be staking out the road in, and the area around the turnoff for night hikers. My guess is they'll park on a quiet spot on the road and then head through the brush.
MARCUS: And that's what you don't think the police will do?
FLETCHER: Oh, you bet your ass they'll think of it, and they'll try to do the same. The difference between me and them is just that I don't give a hoot about every speeder or burnt out headlight or barfight that crops up, and they have to. All I care about is yoru place.
MARCUS: That sounds reasonable. So what would that kind of job cost?
FLETCHER: $70 a night. As you know, I usually charge $50, at least 'till I get settled. The rest is for working overnight, and because it's potentially dangerous.
MARCUS: That's fair...
FLETCHER: Let me be clear, though. I'm not a bodyguard. I got out of that racket a long time ago when a pal of mine got shot. If things heat up, I'm only going to be firing over my shoulder while I run scared with my tail between my legs to find a big, strong policeman.
MARCUS: Fair enough. I can't fault you for that. How about I write you a check for two hundred ten dollars for three nights' work?
FLETCHER: Er... I'd rather you didn't.
MARCUS: Eh?
FLETCHER: I don't like to think of myself as a greedy man, but I don't like being in a position to give refunds. If I crack this the first night, I'd owe you a hundred forty bucks, and money tends to evaporate when it hits my account, if you know what I mean.
MARCUS: That's very decent of you, Fletcher, but here [check tears] keep the two-ten. If you do catch the miscreant the first night, consider the rest as credit. There are a lot of strange goings-on in these woods, and you've shown a true knack for cutting to the heart of the matter quickly. I don't doubt I'll be in need of your services again soon.
FLETCHER: Well... if you're sure. I'm hardly in a position to say “no” to a month's groceries.
MARCUS: Excellent!


[bar sounds]
LARRY: Hey, high roller! What'll it be?
FLETCHER: Coke, a black coffee, and anything else you can get to keep me awake.
LARRY: All-nighter, huh?
FLETCHER: Yeah. Gotta stay awake so I can sleep all day and be alert tomorrow night.
LARRY: Still hunting hellhounds?
FLETCHER: [laughs] Yeah, something like that. Whoever trashed Powell's place is bound to come back for a look-see, and I intend to see him see.
LARRY: Then what? It's not like you know the town. How you gonna recognize him?
FLETCHER: Don't have to. Gonna sneak up and snap a photo.
LARRY: Just like that? What if he's armed and don't take to it too good?
FLETCHER: Then we'll see how straight he can shoot after I set off a flashbulb in his face in the woods at night.
LARRY: Still too rich for my blood.
FLETCHER: Maybe so, but for two hundred bucks, I'll take that chance.
LARRY: Just be careful, huh?
FLETCHER: Hey, if I was the careful type, I wouldn't be in this racket in the first place.
LARRY: So how you figure on catching this guy if the cops can't?
FLETCHER: Strategy and gadgetry.
LARRY: Gadgetry?
FLETCHER: Yeah. I got these motion-sensor things. I'll set up in the high ground, the electric eyes will tell me when something's moving, and I'll keep a lookout with my field-glasses and hope for enough moonlight to see.
LARRY: So how'd a two-bit operator like you afford a Batman-style setup like that?
FLETCHER: Got the pieces at Radio Shack for “two bits” and put 'em together.
LARRY: I didn't know you knew anything about electronics.
FLETCHER: I don't, but they go together like Tinker Toys. I don't have a clue how a motion-sensor works, I just know if you hook it to a radio transmitter, you can make a radio receiver turn on a light. If you get the right kind, you don't even have to know how to solder. I like the soldered kind better, though. More durable.
LARRY: Well, I'll be.
FLETCHER: So, now that you've got all my trade secrets, can I have a Coke or what?


MINDY: [snap] Morning, Mr. Bossman!
FLETCHER: [yawns] Morning, Mindy. How'd yesterday go?
MINDY: Almost as slow as ever. [snap] There were five calls. One asking about your rates – I told her it varies, but starts at fifty dollars per diem plus expenses. [snap] Someone from the courthouse checking on the spelling of your name...
FLETCHER: What?! It's “be, ar, oh, double-ue, en!”
MINDY: No, your first name. [snap] He didn't believe me that there was a ti in “Fletcher.”
FLETCHER: Oh, for the love...
MINDY: [interrupting] Yeah, I know. Two people called looking for Sam Swift's Shoe Store. I bet we'll get a lot of that. [snap] And one call from a Began Bertoli. She said she was returning your call.
FLETCHER: I'll call her back this morning. Anything else?
MINDY: No, just spent the day cleaning, mostly.
FLETCHER: Yeah, I see that. Smells good in here. Missed the windowsill, though.
MINDY: Huh?
FLETCHER: Something on the windowsill.
MINDY: Oh, that dumb old shoelace. I could have sworn I threw that away. [snap] So how'd that hunting trip of yours go?
FLETCHER: Would have been better if I were hunting for animals. Saw some deer and some little racoons or something. No bad guys yet, though. Good news is I don't think I missed anything. I accounted for all the alarms that went off, and it was a pretty good net. It was actually kind of fun. Had a close call with a deer around Midnight. I didn't see it till it was right next to me, so I snapped a picture and slipped away.
MINDY: They're usually pretty harmless.
FLETCHER: I'm not taking chances with a jittery animal with that many sharp points on its head.
So I think I'll call Megan and go home. Great job yesterday, same routine today. Oh, and call around to the local papers and magazines and stuff. Find out what ads cost.
MINDY: 'Kay. [snap]
[dial tone, phone dials, ring, ring]
MEGAN: [electronic] Hello?
FLETCHER: Is this Ms. Megan Bertolli?
MEGAN: Yes.
FLETCHER: This is Reggie Brownkowski from the Secret Service calling to ask you to stop printing those 3-dollar bills. You never quite get my face right on them.
MEGAN: You'll never take me alive, Fletch! How the heck are you?! 'Bout time you decided to call me!
FLETCHER: Yeah, sorry about that.
MEGAN: Now don't tell me you've been busy.
FLETCHER: How 'bout I just tell you I'm working my third case since I got here, and my secretary's fielding calls from other potential clients?
MEGAN: Then I'd say you're so full of it your eyes are turning brown.
FLETCHER: How 'bout you come by the Top Hat tonight an' I'll prove they're still blue.
MEGAN: It's a date, but next week's my treat for dinner. I got a settlement check coming in.
FLETCHER: That would be great, Meg! We'll discuss the details tonight.


[bar sounds]
MEGAN: So tell me about the new job. What kind of clientele you getting?
FLETCHER: Only every nutball in town. Okay, so only two so far. First there was this crazy dame that wanted me to prove her tea shop was haunted. I cracked it easy, but she was mad there was no spook in the bargain. Then there's this guy whose kid got mixed up with some cult. They rigged the place to make it look like a monster tore it up. I proved there's no monster, and now I'm trying to track who did it.
MEGAN: So you seem to be specializing in goblins and ghoulies, then.
FLETCHER: Well, I'm not putting that on the cards. I'm looking forward to a plain old cheating husband or missing old flame. Maybe deliver a subpoena or delinquent notice, you know, just for a change of pace.


MINDY: Morning, Mr. Bossman [snap]
FLETCHER: Morning, Mindy!!
MINDY: You look a lot better rested than you did yesterday.
FLETCHER: There are several reasons for that. One is that I'm less jet-lagged on my third night awake. Another is that I'm excited to say I've got the photos I was paid to take. The third is that I did it in time to take a little nap before I came here. The best part is, I still got my old moves.
MINDY: What moves?
FLETCHER: Picture if you will, I'm watching this elk out there when one of my alarms goes off.
MINDY: How do those even work in the dark, anyway?
FLETCHER: Huh? Oh, infrared. So anyway, I check where the activity was, and it was behind me.
MINDY: [snap] Aren't infrared detectors kinda spendy?
FLETCHER: Huh? Not if you shop right. TVs use 'em for remote controls. So I turn around...
MINDY: [interrupting] But aren't TV remotes...
FLETCHER: [interrupting] MINDY!!
MINDY: Sorry.
FLETCHER: So I turn around and see a light go out. “Weird,” I think, so I keep looking and a light goes on a little ways away. Then it goes out. The dork was out there using a flashlight on and off. I mean, sneaking and using a flashlight here and there is like tiptoeing past your folks bedroom while beating a drum now and then.
So I figured where he was and where he was going, and ran back to the path to cut him off.
I hid in a bush and held real, real still so he wouldn't notice me. When he got a few yards away, I saw he had a gun tucked in the front of his pants, which is a good clue he didn't know beans about guns.
So I waited till he was about as far from me as you are and yelled “boo!”
[laughs] Well, the idiot jumped a foot and looked right at me with big, wide eyes, and I snapped a perfect mugshot! It was great!
So then the flash hurt his eyes so bad he dropped the flashlight and grabbed his eyes, and I got his gun. I didn't even think about it, I just dove for it and it was in my hand! Well, I had my gun in my shoulder holster, so I dropped his and stepped on it, to put it out of the game.
So by this time, he's mad as a hornet but can't see, so he started swinging. Well, I ducked down, picked up the flashlight, and clocked him in the head with it!
So he fell over and I set my camera to auto and it starts going taking pictures rapid fire, and I've got the camera and the flashlight on him so he knows he's screwed, so he runs off through the woods, crashes into this tree headlong, falls over, he can barely see, he's trying to hold his head and crawl through the brush with one hand...
Oh, it was beautiful.
I was about to go after him when I decided to quit while I was ahead and went back to Powell's house, whistling a merry tune, and told the cops the whole story.
I gave them the gun and flashlight and promised them the negatives.
Then I took a nap.
Now, I want you to take this to that one-hour photo place on Ryman street and get three copies: One for our files, one for Mr. Marcus Powell, and one for the cops. Then run the prints and negatives over to the cop shop.
MINDY: What do I do while I'm waiting for them to develop?
FLETCHER: How's this? [money rustles] You run over to O'Hara's Tea Shop, get me a coffee, get something for yourself, and keep the change.
MINDY: Right away. [snap] Anything else?
FLETCHER: Nope. Just try and make sure Kelly sees your nice, respectable secretary clothes, and mention how well the new job's going.
MINDY: With pleasure. [snap]
[door opens, closes. dial tone, phone dials, ring, ring]
MARCUS: [electronic] Hello?
FLETCHER: Hello, Marcus, it's Fletcher. I earned my keep last night and as we speak my secretary is running some nice, juicy photos of our so called “hellhound” to the police. I'll have copies for you in two hours. I think it's time I met your son. Is he free tonight?


JIM: I got nothing to say to you.
FLETCHER: You won't talk about anything ever if they shoot you before we can help you.
JIM: Who's “they?”
FLETCHER: Look, we know you were involved in a cult, and we know they're mad at you for leaving. What we don't know is where-
JIM: [interrupting] No you don't! You don't know anything! You... you're just guessing!
FLETCHER: I'm a damn good guesser.
JIM: Look, I can't talk about it, all right?
FLETCHER: Son, you have a serious problem telling the good guys from the bad. [briefcase clicks open] We're the ones who want to see you live to a ripe old age. [cardstock rustles] This [cardstock hits table] is the guy who wants to see you shot.
JIM: Not shot. That would be too quick...
FLETCHER: And yet you've got some theory that talking to us, and getting rid of the people trying to kill you is going to make that … worse?
[silence]
You want to at least explain to me what it is you think you have to lose?
JIM: Look, these guys are pros. They know what they're doing.
FLETCHER: The hell they do! Look, the claws were a hoax that my specialist saw through before she touched a board. The writing on the wall is in such gibberish we can only make an educated guess as to what it's supposed to say. Last night one of the goons came back here trying to sneak while shining a flashlight and I beat the living crap out of him while taking his picture when he was armed with a revolver and a MagLight and who-knows-what-else. So far the ONLY thing I know about the guys in this cult is that they couldn't figure out which way an elevator was going if you gave them three guesses. [cardstock rustles] This is the guy I beat up. The cops say he's named Danny DiSalvo, but he hasn't been home all morning. Any guesses where to find him?
JIM: If I tell you, will he find out I told?
FLETCHER: Can't think how.
JIM: He's probably at the Cave. It's a little grotto out in the woods we use as a fall-back place.
FLETCHER: Can you tell us how to find it?
[drawer opens, papers rustle]
JIM: Here's the map. Just don't let any of them see a copy of it or they'll know I told.
FLETCHER: Thank you, Jim. Your life just got a little safer.


FLETCHER: Hey, Larry! A round on me! I've arrived! I made the news! [newspaper rustles]
LARRY: Watch it, Fletch, You keep smiling like that, your face is gonna crack.
FLETCHER: Let it! Listen to this:
Sheriff Morrisson credits the apprehension of the five youths in large part to the efforts of Fletcher Brown, a private investigator operating under the name of Bullseye Detective Agency whom Morrisson said “was a great asset in reaching a speedy conclusion to this situation, which allowed us to close the case without any further threat to the safety or property of the people of Missoula!”
Now what do you say to that?
LARRY: I say “here's to Fletcher Brown, Private Eye, the Man of the Hour!”
[cheers]
SomeGuy: Excuse me...
FLETCHER: Yeah?
SomeGuy: Are you really the same Fletcher Brown from the papers? The detective who specializes in haunted houses?
FLETCHER: Yep, that's... wait, what?!
SomeGuy: See, I just moved into my grandmother's house, and I've been hearing these strange noises at night, and I was just thinking--
FLETCHER: Oh, for the love!

END


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