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The Gumshoe (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
My MC for my NaNo is a man named Hank. He, like myself, is an amateur writer... but he's not very good at it. In my story, we see some of the stories he as written, which, are horribly, horribly bad. Basically, I pick a genre, and then try to cram in every cliche I can think of. In the interest of giving everyone a bit of a laugh. Here is the first story of his (it is incomplete - sorry to all who might wonder "what happens next"):

The Gumshoe

It was a dark and stormy night in the big city. The rain beat down on the windows, the glass rattling in it’s frame whenever the wind blew. The window wasn’t the only thing rattling in my office. Maggie Simms, a frail slip of woman sat in the worn, leather chair across my desk. She was eighty, and covered knees to neck in shawls, scarves and the tattered remains of several winter coats. She wasn’t cold – she was afraid.

Someone was out to kill her, she’d said. Someone she knew. It’d taken guts for this lady to walk the dark alleys to my office at night in the middle of a rainstorm all by herself. The old bat was tough as nails. I’d known her since I was a kid, and if she was rattled, it had to be bad.

“Who is it?” I asked her, already guessing it’d be one of her family. Most likely her cousin Vito, or her son Frankie. Vito had been a thorn in her side for ages, the whole neighbourhood knew that the two of them had never gotten along. An old family grudge existed between them that hadn’t lessened with the years (even if neither of them truly remembered what it was the grudge had been about).

As for her son, I knew he’d recently had some very bad gambling losses. I try to gamble as little as possible, but I do keep my ears open for any interesting news. It’s my job to know what’s going on, and sometimes, even a rumor can be valuable information.

“It’s Frankie,” she told me. I knew it. “He and Vito have made some kinda plan to kill me off and make it looka like an accident.”

“Now why would anyone want to kill a nice old lady like you?”

“They wanna make it look like an accident. Then, Frankie will get the insurance money, and collect alla the inheritance money too.”

Ah, now the pieces were coming together. I asked her how much the inheritance was, and nearly spit out my drink when she told me. If I’d have known how rich these frail old ladies might be, I’d have been working as a gigolo instead of a private dick. Though, in some ways, the job description fits both occupations.

I asked her why she hadn’t just gone to the police with this information.

“Vito, he knows people. They would talk to the police. Tell them that I am a crazy old lady. That I’m just an old fool who doesn’ta know nothing.”

Vito knows people. Sounds like the mob to me. Sure, it’s an old cliché that the mob is made up of close-knit Italian families, but all stereotypes are at least party based on fact. I didn’t like the idea of going up against the mob. Especially not all on my own. But I liked the idea of Maggie Simms renting an apartment at the Pine Box Hotel earlier than she planned.

We discussed payment for taking on the job, and I took the case. Sure, I could’ve done the job for free, but charity work doesn’t keep me in whisky and cigarettes. I helped Maggie to the door, and bid her a good night. I started planning what I could do to give her the proof she’d need to keep Vito and Frankie in line.

I was just pouring myself another drink when someone knocked on my door. I wondered if maybe Maggie had forgotten her purse or some part of her ramshackle ensemble.

I plunked a couple of ice cubes into my drink before opening the door. The sight before me nearly made me drop my drink. I downed the whole of it in one shot to make sure I wouldn’t spill any of it. The woman on the other side of the door wasn’t Maggie at all. It was Claire.

I hadn’t seen Claire for almost two years. Not since the night she walked out on me, and left me handcuffed to the brass headboard of the bed in room #312 at a roadside motel. She’d been the subject of an investigation that I’d gotten a little to close to, and rather than break it off, she chose to just walk on out of my life.

Now, she was walking into my office. I almost turned her away, but the sentimental part of me wanted to see what she wanted, for old times’ sake. There were a couple other parts of me that just wanted to see her, and I was willing to humour them – for a little while. She slipped past me, closing and locking the door behind her. I watched her walk as she crossed the room to the chair Maggie Simms had been in just a few minutes ago.

She hadn’t changed a bit. She sat gracefully, and crossed her legs. I remember those legs; Impossibly long and creamy smooth. And here there were again, those same legs she’d used to leave me behind.

“I haven’t seen you in while, Claire,” I said, refilling my glass from the bottle at the bar. “Can I get you something to drink, or is this a business call?”

“It’s business,” she said, her voice every bit as sultry as I remembered. “But I’ll take a scotch, on the rocks, if you’ve got any.”

I fixed her drink, crossed the room and sat on the corner of my desk. I wrestled with simply tossing her out of the office, but by offering her a drink, I’d already invited her to stay. Besides, maybe I could work some angle that’d let me get close to her again. It’d been far too long since I’d last felt the warm caresses of a woman.

“Give me a reason why I should hear you out,” I said, trying my best to sound like I didn’t want her.

“Skorsky,” she said, batting her pretty lashes at me.

“Skorksy? When did that weasel slink back into town?” Jimmy Skorsky was the man Claire had been involved with when I had first met her. He was the reason she’d locked me to that bedpost. Didn’t want me to tangle with him. I kept hoping it was out of concern for me, but my cynical side kept telling me she was more worried about herself. Skorsky was her meal ticket, and having him behind bars – or worse – would put a real kink in her style.

“He’s been in town just a couple of weeks.” She took a sip of her drink, her full, red lips leaving a print on the glass.

“So what’s that got to do with me? I’m not on his case anymore – you saw to that.”

“Are you still bothered by that?” she asked, running one of her long fingers up the side of my leg. “I was just thinking of you, and doing everything I could to keep you safe.”

“Sure, dollface. I believe it. Handcuffing me to bedpost so I could wait around for the cleaning lady in the morning was just your way of saying how much you loved me.”

“It was.”

“Funny, most times when you say you love someone you stick around. You, on the other hand, left town and disappeared completely. I know. I looked.” I stood up, partly to emphasize my annoyance, and partly to get her to stop running her fingers up and down my leg. She was a distraction, and a damned good one at that.

“If you’ve got business for me to take on, then tell me what it is, already,” I said.

She looked hurt, maybe even no the verge of tears, but I held my ground.

“Skorsky’s got an angle. A friend of his here in town’s got a contract job for him. He’s been out of the business ever since we took off together. He’s been laying low, waiting for the heat to leave him alone. Looks like they were just starting to give up too. Now, he’s here, and he’s gotta take a contract out on somebody.”

“Why does he gotta take this contract?”

“He made a deal with Don Gio a couple of years ago, and the Don’s calling in the favour. Jimmy says it’s a quick job, but I don’t like it. Who sets up an old lady for a hit?”

An old lady? Maggie Simms?

“Sounds fishy,” I said. “Do you know anything about the lady?”

“She’s some old Italian woman. I don’t know anything else about her. Jimmy says that the less I know about these things the better.”

“That makes sense. Jimmy probably figures you’ll talk.”

“I wouldn’t!”

“You already have.”

There was another knock at the door. A loud one. I looked at Claire and knew she was thinking what I was thinking. One of Skorsky’s boys had followed her here.

“Open up in there, and I’ll start shooting,” yelled a voice through the door.

“Don’t you mean, ‘or you’ll start shooting?’” I yelled back, throwing Claire to the floor and diving for the gun in the holster hanging from the coat rack. A couple of quick shots rang out, the bullets tearing through the door like it was made of tissue paper. Some people had no sense of humour.

Claire shrieked out of fear. We were both uninjured. I fired a few quick shots at the door, blindly firing at where I figured the man would be. I was rewarded with a yelp of pain. Quickly, I grabbed Claire from the floor, threw open the window and shoved her onto the fire escape. It’d been ages since I’d had a beautiful woman in my arms, and here I was pushing her out of a window.

This just wasn’t my night.

There were another two shots from the man behind the door, both of them into the lock of the door. It was probably even weaker than the door had been. A mountain of man, holding his gut with one hand, and a gun with the other entered my little office. Claire was already heading down the ladder, and I was close behind her. The fat man fired another shot just as my head disappeared under the windowsill. I felt splinters of wood breeze past my ear.

If there had been any more shots in his gun, I think we’d have both had it. The fire escape was the quickest way to the ground, but it gave Skorsky’s man a clear shot.

The man cursed as he tried to reload his pistol, but we were on the ground and running before he had a chance to finish. The rain and darkness kept us concealed until we got somewhere safe.


I hid Claire in a dingy little apartment on the lower east side I kept rented under an assumed name in case of emergencies. It wasn’t much to look at, and it was even less to live in, but it was enough to keep us hidden for a day or two until I could find some way out of this mess I’d gotten myself into.

Shortly after we arrived at the safe house, I gave Mike Stantz a call. Mike was a police officer, and the closest thing I had to a friend on the force. I told him I needed to speak to him, but left the details out of the conversation. I didn’t want anyone else listening in over at the precinct. If Maggie Simms was right, there were a few too many crooked cops over there.

I showed Claire the few TV dinners I kept in the icebox, and found a screwdriver for her so she could chisel them out of the frost that had accumulated in the months since I’d been here last. I warned her not to leave the apartment, and not to answer the door for anyone. After all, I had a key, and nobody else was supposed to know we were here.

I collected some spare ammunition from where I kept it in the bathroom, and reloaded my gun. I tossed a few rounds into my coat pocket, too. I had a feeling I might need them.

I wished Claire luck with dinner before leaving and locking the door behind me. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was going out into a storm to try to sneak across town while avoiding the mob, it might have almost been like being husband and wife. Almost.

Getting across town in a storm is pretty easy. There’s enough side roads and back alleyways that you can get anywhere you want without ever having to use a major street. Getting there without being seen is the hard part. There’s any number of lowlifes skulking about in the dark, and they’re all more than willing to part with information on what they’ve seen for a couple dollars or a bottle of cheap hooch. If I was lucky, I could avoid being seen. If not, the word that the mob was looking for me might already be out.

If that was the case, then I knew I could expect some trouble. I stuck to the darkest shadows and the quickest routes I knew to get across town. I didn’t see anyone, but I couldn’t know if someone else had seen me.

Mike Stantz was a good guy. A young officer with a firm belief in the absolute need for law and order. If there were any clean cops left on the force, Mike would be it. He didn’t like private detectives much; he felt they got in the way of justice far more than they helped. We had a habit of running into each other whie working on cases. Tonight’s meeting wasn’t going to be like the others. Instead of him running into me just after all the smoke had started to clear, he was meeting me so I could find out if he’d be able to help.

I’d arranged to meet him on the corner of Fifth and Main, a pretty public area, near the heart of downtown. I figured it would be best to try to hide out in plain sight. He was waiting for me on the corner when I arrived. The rain had slowed to a mere drizzle, but the night had turned cold and windy.

“Hey Mike,” I said as I approached.

“What can I do for you? You don’t usually call on the police for help.”

“Walk with me a little way, Mike. Let me tell you what’s been going on.”

We took a walk along Fifth Avenue, and I told him about Maggie Simms and the sudden re-appearance of Claire into my life. He listened with interest, probably because he’d never heard me talk so much before. At the end of my story, we’d found ourselves down by the docks. I’m not sure which of us had lead the other here, or if our feet had simply wandered here all on their own.

“So, can you help me, Mike?” I asked.

“I can’t help you in an official police capacity,” he said. It was pretty much what I’d expected. He would have a hard time investigating the other policemen without them noticing. Then, he surprised me. “See, I’ve been suspended from duty for a while.”

“Suspended? What happened?”

“I was hitting on the Commissioner’s daughter.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad.”

“With my squad car.”

I suddenly had a new, and distasteful appreciation for Mike Stantz. Maybe I was wrong about him being the only straight cop. Maybe I was right, and this was as good as our officers got. It was the latter that really worried me.

“Well, Mike, that’s really too bad,” I started to say, just wanting to put some distance between me and he, so I could get back to Claire and make sure she was still ok.

“I’m really sorry about this,” Mike said, pulling a revolver from his coat. “You said the mob might be after you. And that means a reward. With me being suspended, I’ve got to find some way to make money to feed my family. I’m sure I understand.”

I did, I really did. People did what they had to in order to survive. It was a basic animal instinct. I couldn’t blame him for that. I could, however, wrestle him for the gun, and I did. I really did.

Grabbing the gun had taken him by surprise. Luckily for me, he had forgotten to fire his pistol as soon as I’d made my move. I quickly pushed him off-balance and kept my leverage throughout the fight. We traded blows and grappled on the ground like a couple of children. Each of us would get the upper hand for a moment before losing it to the other.

I finally managed to pin his arms down and gave him a couple of solid punches to the face. The third one knocked him out cold. His nose bled, and his eyes were swelling. I knew he’d be in pain in the morning. I thought for a minute about just shooting him,, or dumping his unconscious form into the river. I couldn’t though, he was a family man, and I just couldn’t bear to have his wife and kids mourning his loss on my conscience. Heaven knows I’ve had more than my share of things on there for longer than is probably good for me.

I hurried back to the safe house, taking the most winding path I could think of to get there. I was glad I hadn’t mentioned the address of where I was staying to Mike. Otherwise things would have gone downhill quicker than they already were.