Chapter 27: Bury My Heart At Wigan n’ Leigh.

Counting cash 

RECAP Of EVENTS THUS FAR: Stumblebum P.I Johnny LaCrosse has been cajoled into attending the very party that he was so intent on gate crashing but now as a prisoner of the Fat Man. instead of a hero Inside the bungalow he has discovered a horde of suited and booted international villainy all intent on getting their blood stained mitts on an object of great international importance. Just what is the secret held within this supposedly normal suburban Cul-de-Sac? Did ‘Hot Tits’ ever manage to cadge the last train home? Why does so little of this make any sense at all and does anyone still bother to read it? Are some of the questions we hope to be answered in the next instalment of yellowing paperback page turner titled: ‘CHEAP DAY RETURN!’

A huddle of WASPS at a party

The crowd of posh WASP-y looking bastards now fell deadly silent and as single person turned to face us as the fat man hit a humongous brass dinner gong which was strung between two jewel encrusted and very illegal poached ivory tusks. Sweating from this gigantic exertion he lightly dabbed at his greasy chops with his wet hankie again and then cleared his throat, it sounded like a bullfrog being forced through an empty Pringle’s chip tube with a plunger.

“My most dearest of friends in all the world!” he said with a silken perverted tone, the crowd laughed as did the fat man himself whose gigantic stomach rippled mightily in a positively guttural tsunami wave of chuckles causing Lord know what damage to his internal organs in the process. Everyone was in on the joke but me and the very concept of normality itself. The Fat Man took a sup on his handily placed oxygen canister sighed a hearty sigh to get back on track and then continued-

“I’m so very pleased that you could join me today for what promises to be a really very special auction indeed, in fact one could say historic!” the crowd absolutely purred with a an almost orgasmic sound of pleasure and several of them uncrossed their legs and hurriedly placed sofa cushions on their laps whilst the men in the room just stood.

Wells fat as a very fat thing“I have taken great pains to assemble you here all of you drawn from those countries most allied to our unique way of doing things, the underhand, the unhinged and the frankly devious all have found a place at our table and some have literally killed to be here today. Amongst us you will find the government who would murder an entire city to simply get one individual, the nation that would experiment on its own citizen’s by tampering with the drinking water supplies and now respected world leaders who formally traded in human beings as one would trade any other commodity to prop up their armed struggle against the rightfully elected government of their country… Hey! I’m looking at you Petrov!”

Everyone laughed at what I took to be the in-joke and ‘Petrov’ looked a bit sheepish, blushed and then shrugged his shoulders in an exaggerated “Well you know me!” manner. This floor show was starting to get my goat. The Fat Man listed several more crimes against humanity that several of the guests seemed more than happy to take credit for and a few even bowed and the following faux comic reactions were all the same. Judging from this all the things the Fat Man said all were genuine acts of torture, brutality and outright oppression and here I was without my sawn off 12 gauge, dammit.

“Anyhow, I digress” he continued “We all know what we are, we all know each other’s dirty little secrets and we all know I’m in need of a lot of money before I relinquish the property within my care. And now dear, dear ladies and gentlemen it is time to present my gift to you… at the right price of course!… Guards! Bring her!”

The heavy Victorian velvet emerald curtains behind us were pulled open with a deft motion and instead of the wizard of Oz standing there instead stood two turtle neck jumper wearing goons who shuffled in escorting a walking burlap sack… wait a moment, I recognised the sack’s satin clad veiny legs as soon as I saw em! It was Hot Tits herself! So she hadn’t taken my hint when I shoved the half day return ticket in betwixt her heaving mountains back in the office… the dumb broad and now the Fat Man was auctioning her to this cheap house of horrors! Sweet Christ on a unicycle I had to save her, right after I found out why the hell anyone else would want her that is.

“What’s with the dame?” I sidled up to the Fat Man and casually asked taking the effort to look nonchalant. He took an incredulous look at me and laughed so hard the plaster walls shook and his gut rolled up and down again creasing his shirt in the process.

“Mr LaCrosse? Really? You didn’t know that she is the prize? That deep within her…”

He paused to think of the correct words

“Er? Lovely head lays the answer to the most top secret and deadliest of weapons system ever devised; she knows everything down to the smallest nut to the largest programming codex! She is in short worth more than a thousand armies and more than a thousand lives. If Helen of Troy launched a thousand ships then she, this top heavy mammary laden tart could launch a million precision targeted hyper destructive rockets with just a single word and yet you cast her off as though she were a simpleton and a nuisance!”

“Well it was more down to her being as rough as a hound dog but I see your point. How in Sam Hell’s name could she know all that crap anyway? She’s a simple broad from Inchanook Pittsburgh she ain’t no God damn rocket scientists, well, not with those tits she sure as hell ain’t!”

“No Mr Lacrosse but her God damned father was! He wasn’t the slack jawed ironmonger from upstate New Mexico that she had claimed when asked, he was in fact Professor Harold Pryce-Lancet, the greatest rocket scientist never to have worn a Nazi armband during the Second War. He designed the Type Double D rocket systems shortly after the Korean War”

I winced upon hearing Korea mentioned and the shrapnel stung a bit too.

Early Rockets


“Knowing that he could never possibly allow this device to ever be built for the very existence of such a weapon would render armies obsolete and nations open to blackmail overnight but yet still worried that he might forget such an amazing once in a lifetime discovery he promptly proceeded to brainwash his own idiot bimbo daughter with every plan and blueprint he was working on using a system based around reward and lots of cake. For he knew she would never draw suspicion for exactly the reasons you just stated. I mean really! LaCrosse, you really are a dolt, are you telling me that you never enquired at all about her life? Her past? You dated this woman on and off for eleven years and her entire life is a great unknown to you is it? Are you really so self-centred and disinterested in others that you failed to get past her looks?”

Now I didn’t have a fucking clue what he was on about and he seemed to sense that. Sighing he ordered the burlap sack removed from hot tit’s face and a reinforced steel chair to be brought in for that ample ass of hers to roll over. She was bound and gagged in a manner that I had grown accustomed to seeing her in on those cold winter nights stuck in the apartment but in this room full of people it just felt kinda creepy now. The guards lowered her onto the seat and one put his back out in the process. Her good eye looked longingly at me whilst her other one eyed up the crotch of the nearest guard making us all feel a tad uncomfortable.

“Should I remover her ball gag?” Asked Guard number one who wore a name badge with ‘1’ on it.

“Not unless you want your ears to bleed.” I warned.

The Fat Man nodded at me in agreement and signalled to the goon to leave her as she was with a casual dismissive wave of his chubby sausage-like fingered hand. Hot Tits cast me a forlorn look with her eye that I thought almost showed a human understanding of the whole dire situation.

HatchetIf we got out of this alive I made a secret vow to buy her that takeaway Parmo she had asked for as a treat.

Now I just had to figure out how the hell I was going to do just that.

Orson Steiger: The Man Behind Johnny LaCrosse.

typewriter pulp

The Orson Steiger Story: The Man, His Legend and His Times

The character of hard boiled fiction Private Eye called Johnny Lacrosse was the brainchild of little known and often ill-tempered, racist, sexist, draft dodging and foul mouthed alcoholic author Orson Steiger. Steiger’s reputation as it stands now due to mainly modern mores rather than any critical assessment of the Pulp Fiction Genre makes him out to be less like a big fish in a small pond and more like a minnow in a lake. I hope the brief summary of the writer’s life below will do much to challenge such narrow minded preconceptions and that his name will now be associated with the written word rather than the misery he wrought on so many people (strangers and loved ones) in his turbulent private life.

If it helps then please imagine that you are watching a Ken Burns documentary and that the voice of Morgan Freeman is gently reading aloud the following chapters.

Chapter 1: The Start Of It All: Early Beginnings.

Orson was born in Texas around 1925 in Spatula County to a well-established family of German-Swiss descent, or as he went to great pains to and liked to claim instead, to a family of pure breed ‘native’ White Americans which had been in the Americas before the United States even existed. After a few drinks he would often even make outlandish claims that they had actually sailed over with the first Viking explorers or even descended from a white tribe of Welsh speaking Indians.

It is now almost certain though given what scant records do survive that his family line descended no later than a German speaking family who had immigrated to the USA in the 1870s and taken up trade at various times as wooden spoon makers, night soil men, village retards and general tinkers and scroungers. Whilst on his mother’s side the family appears to have come from a very mixed background of Poles, Irish, Moors, Eskimos and Spaniards and this seemed to be even more of a constant source of irritation to Orson than his German sounding surname. He was known to fly into a foul rage should it ever be mentioned within the family home.

Orson took up writing when he was in his late teens after a freak accident involving a wasp nest, a bicycle pump and his private parts which left him bedridden, sore, bandaged and bored for many months. He only started to write to keep the utter tedium at bay (and his hands busy on other things) and soon he discovered that he had a rare talent for it, for him it seemed just so easy and as he put it many years later in the 1960s during a phone interview from prison for Playboy-

“I soon realised that I could spin a f*****g yarn and if I threw enough sex into it then people soon forgot how f*****g bad the overall plot was and continued to read at least until the next dirty part which I could drag out into entire F*****g chapters.”

Aged 21 Orson married his childhood sweetheart Deborah Gunther-O’Shea and to please her as well as her dangerously unstable and inbred family he converted to their peculiar own strain of Mormonism which seems only to have existed within the Gunther-O’Shea clan. They bought a small dirt farm close to where they had both grown up and as Orson worked the land for little reward Deborah ate the meagre profits and got fat. Desperate for some cash to support himself and the bizarre extended ‘family’ in which he now belonged Orson took up his pen once again and began to write. With no real schooling to speak of or any true knowledge of the world outside of his rural shit kicker home town of Graceburg, Texas (population 35 excluding livestock) he somehow managed to write a gritty urban detective story set for some reason within Blackpool, England which was so exceptionally detailed that it even fooled the editors of the various magazines he sent the work into who all later admitted that they just assumed he was actually a gnarled world weary established writer in his fifties using a pseudonym for obscure tax reasons or as some great hoax.

dirt farm dustbowl


The first Johnny Lacrosse story proper was the short ‘From Here to Infirmary’ first published in the pulp fiction and light porno semi-weekly pin up magazine ‘Slinky’ in 1949 (issue 24 in a total print run of 25). After that Orson’s writing career stalled somewhat as he fled the States after a serious falling out with his unorthodox Mormon wife and her other five husbands. Vast amounts of speculation still lingers on as to the exact nature of the falling out or what caused the lifelong rift between Deborah his morbidly obese first love and her other husbands with whom Orson had apparently gotten on rather well with often bunking down top to toe in the same bed as them whenever the weather got too chilly. All that is known for certain is that after he had moved out two of the husbands were dead, killed when a dozing Deborah rolled over in the night and crushed them and the other three left her to join the circus. Deborah lived on and despite her obesity and various serious health issues she would even outlive Orson, some claim simply kept alive only by the hatred and sheer spite that she felt toward him.

slinky Mag

Orson though now briefly moved to Peru where he struggled to set himself up first as a paid by the minute gigolo and then as a Guinea Pig farmer. Upon finding it impossible to herd the small furry critters from end of his vast estate to the next by horseback. He later wrote-

“If I’d known now that these little bastards just scattered and ran around f**king squeaking in a terrified huddle everywhere all the time then I’d have eaten more of them frankly.”

Upon his return to America in 1951 Orson was very publically arrested at the airport and put on trial for an inflammatory text he had written for a Peruvian national paper which praised the then American President’s wife as a ‘Fine piece of ass’. The trial went nowhere when it became apparent that simply just saying the President’s wife was a ‘fine piece of ass’ wasn’t exactly illegal or even treasonable and by now if anyone even dared question the validity of that statement the First Lady got rather annoyed. At any rate President Truman also seemed to agree that indeed she was a ‘fine piece of ass’ and the matter was quietly dropped by the Whitehouse. Orson quickly fell back into his writing flushed with the amount of controversy and publicity his comments had afforded him as the offers of work came rolling in from publishing companies he moved to California.


Chapter 3: Pulp: ‘This Is Hardcore’- the L.A. Years.

His next writing success was an article for ‘Macho’ an LA based men’s magazine. This publication was primarily targeted at wealthy well groomed bachelors about town and other likeminded single men. The paper would often feature articles on everything from sports, showering Vs Strip Wash methods, fast cars, hunting in the woods whilst stripped to the waist, the latest body lotions and grooming tips as well as politics and where the best Turkish Baths were located in California. Orson’s article entitled ‘Homos: How To Spot ‘Em & How To Deal With ‘Em the Macho Way!” was a big hit with the subscribers and soon he had been allocated a regular slot to complete every month.

He quickly followed up his first article with equally successful-

‘Pansies: Worse than commies?’

And more soon followed with such titles as:

‘Who Runs The World’s Banking? Yeah, You Guessed It!”

“Canada: America’s Next Logical Colony.”

‘Zoot Suiters & Darkies On The Bus? Not On My Watch America!’

‘Catholics. Why One Will Never Be President.’

The inflammatory- ‘It’s Why We Call It The ‘WHITE’ House Liberal!’

And the far less successful science fiction stories which were written for Macho’s sister publication a short lived fantasy fiction based magazine simply dubbed ‘Discus’. Short stories such as-

‘Naked Hula Paradise’ as well as ‘Bucky Tonto & The Last Galaxy Rodeo’ and finally –

‘One Earth Man And A Million Moon Women’.

Which would later be made into a low budget sex comedy film starring a befuddled but financially desperate Lou Costello and the entirety of the Playboy Bunny Girls.

lou costello


Although his most famous article of the entire Macho Magazine period was undoubtedly-

“Pfft! Women. I Mean Just C’mon Guys, Just Why?”

            By 1952 though the ‘Macho’ had almost shut down all its various publications and soon the magazine itself completely folded due to ever changing tastes as well as the blow caused by loss of its main movers and shakers and almost all of the ‘live in’ editorial staff in a single dawn raid on an LA based 24 hour  steam baths by the LAPD vice squad.

So once again Orson was forced to quickly move on, packing up his ever trusty portable typewriter and several hip flasks he next relocated to New York where he fell into a routine of occasionally writing, drinking every day in the Chelsea Hotel bar rubbing shoulders with and more importantly for Orson, shouting abuse and exposing himself at New York’s self-appointed elite art crowd and visiting foreign bohemian types.

Discus Magazine mock up


Chapter 4: New York, Fleeting Fame and Fortunes.

            By 1954 he was once again writing short and serialised fiction for various low brow pulp and “saucy” publications such as ‘Otter’, ‘Brick’, Horn‘Pelt’ and ‘Idle Hands’ but the main title he supplied with his prodigious talents during this period was one called ‘Smooth-E!’ for which some of his best work was published. Titles written then included-

‘She Said Turn Left Now Idiot!’, ‘No Way For A Real Man To Die’, ‘Blood On A Dirty Glass’, ‘Hot Nights and Colder Sweats’, ‘That Damned Cherokee Lady’, ’Hot-Rod Hell Queen’, ‘The Thighs The Limit’, ‘Half Moon Highway Hula’, ‘The Sixth Column: Pansies!’ and of course many of the best loved stories in the Johnny LaCrosse series like ‘The Case Of The Jade Frog’, ‘Yellow Peril In Downtown Chinatown’, ‘Plot X-Ray’, ‘Cold Steel On Warm Bosoms’, ’Slum City Sluts’ as well as ‘If The Hat Fits Then Steal It Baby!’.

Suddenly truly wealthy for the first time in his entire life Orson fell in with a younger crowd of painfully hip Beatniks who had taken to following him around the streets totally enamoured with the man’s vast vocabulary of swear words, his earthy pallor, the ability he had to hand roll his own cigarettes, his saggy jumper and unkempt beard which by now had almost reached past his knees. Looking like a tanked up Old Testament prophet he led his shambolic, awe struck band through some of the worst slum bars, ghetto gambling houses, Honky-Tonks and flea infested whore palaces in New York. He remembered little of this time but did seem to think that these impressionable young finger snapping wealthy hobo looking skinny kids had set him up almost as a father figure or in his own words –

“A Goddamn Christ like figure sent from the almighty his-self to lead the shower to the promised-land, dig?”

In fact all he led them to was tragically a series of early graves brought on by successive desperate binge drinking sessions fuelled by their trust funds and the cheap buzz afforded to him by flat warm coke with nutmeg mixed into it. In turn and before they inevitably died off his Beatnik minions had turned Orson onto Cool Jazz, reefer, casual sex, the joys of extreme Frisbee at night and randomly saying ‘Dig’ and ‘Man’ to pointlessly finish his sentences. His most notable achievement of this short time in the Big Apple was as the self-proclaimed inventor of the ‘Beer Bong’ which had quickly taken off with the male student Jock fraternity with whom he would often play touch football in just his jockey shorts in central park whilst loaded up on flat cola/nutmeg and JD.

dirty beatniks

Sadly for Orson and maybe even more sadly for the world of literature and for all fans of a good read in general his art suffered greatly from such excesses and by 1957 he was down on his luck having by now simply forgotten where he lived and resorting to eating garbage from trash cans, drinking his own pee from a hubcap and writing his short stories when the muse took him on the backs of sleeping homeless people. A passing encounter with the renowned newspaper tycoon and magazine publisher J. C. Longfellow III outside a penny arcade ended in a terrible scuffle with Orson making off with the great man’s shoes and so seemingly now eliminating any possibility of Longfellow ever offering him work in New York. Orson was last seen in New York City turning tricks for loose change outside of a gang run bookies off Broadway before he simply vanished from the public gaze for the next nine years.

Orson photo fit pic


Chapter 5: California Dreaming ‘All The Leaves Are Brown’.

He reappears back in California in 1966 although now located deep in the northern half of that state and secured behind a high, razor wired compound wall only answering to the Yogi name of ‘His Most High-Man’ and where he was running a sort of personality focused new ager cult based around his own particularly unique teachings that mankind had all descended from potted plant life. His male adherents wore red flowerpots strapped to their heads at all time and very little else (a photo of his Cult later inspiring the look for Art Punks DEVO).

His odd religious mythos expanded greatly overtime to eventually include the Bigfoot as a Messiah destined to lead the world back to a righteous path of living in the woods and eating straying backpackers, a meteorite which would land in the sea and boil up all the earth’s water forcing everyone to drink their own urine, panhandling for gin money and the uttermost ideal above all others was that of free love amongst all his female followers just as long as he could sit in and read their auras during the act to better gauge their emotional wellbeing for the good of the entire Commune.

hippie cult

All too soon though this dreamlike idyll ended when law enforcement agencies raided the ranch on which the Cult had settled and sent many of the young followers to institutions for a regime of deprogramming and Orson (after a brief fight in which he had climbed up a tree and claimed he was ascending to heaven) to a brief stay in high security state prison. Prison was the saving of Orson as now free from all nutmeg based stimuli his mind cleared for the first time in years and as he succinctly put it-

“I now looked in the mirror and it was like I was seeing myself for the first time, I just thought ‘What the f**k man! Where did that beard come from and who tattooed my forehead?!”

The kindly prison chaplain, himself a former reader of ‘Macho’ from back in the day, managed to find Orson an old typewriter. It had the ‘R’, ‘X’ and ‘P’ keys missing, only red ink ribbons and a jammed space bar but that didn’t bother Orson in the slightest and soon he was reeling off pages and pages of new un-spaced tracts and short stories and essays which he sent around every publishing house, magazine and newspaper in the country.

None were interested.

Orson duly took his own life by hanging himself from the bare light bulb in his cell with the spare typewriter ink ribbon in 1970. He left a hastily scribbled note in pencil which simply read ‘I blame the damn pansies!’. A week later a letter arrived addressed to him and it was opened by the Chaplain, to his horror he read that it was an offer of work from the aged and by now quite barmy J. C Longfellow III who claimed to fondly remember Orson as ‘that bearded shoe thieving son of a gun scamp off the Bowery!’. Deborah his long estranged wife upon hearing of the demise of her tearaway husband simply said “Finally!” laughed for fifteen minutes exactly before dropping dead on the spot and causing a minor tremor felt through the entire county.

Orson’s remains were quietly cremated a month after his death without any fuss and his ashes simply binned when nobody claimed them, he has no final resting place but there was once a plan to have a plaque of fame attached outside the alleyway where he once lived and turned tricks for pennies. Years later an illegitimate son would emerge from Peru to claim his percentage of the publishing rights as the only living relative but he soon left disappointed by the actual amount owed which hardly covered the price of his airfare and saddened by his father’s legacy of stirring up race hate which often included Peruvians amongst his favourite targets. He refused to settle his late father’s bar tabs or to take his belongings (which had been in state storage for years) with him so the typewriter which Orson had used to write his final works ended up in a flea market before being bought by a shadowy private collector known only as ‘The Colonel’.

broken typewriter


If one could say anything of Orson it was that he left few friends in the world and even fewer completed works which would still be printable never mind even readable in today’s multi-cultural environment overly concerned as it is with ‘Political Correctness’ and women’s rights. No doubt Orson would have simply pulled out his trusty sock gun and fired a few wild rounds off at such detractors whilst sipping from his flask, laughing manically and dismissing their horrified protests as the voice of the ‘Damn F*****g Liberal Pansy’ he so despised. His surviving works have been bound together in various collections most notably the book series ‘Dire: How Not To Write Fiction. A Guide’ and ‘Hateful: Clichés, Bigotry, Stereotypes and Racism in Pulp fiction’s Heyday’ both published by Taschen which includes all his articles for Macho and many of his lesser science fiction and short stories but none of his Johnny LaCrosse series. The only book which attempted to collect some of these works was published by Hawk books in the late 1970s entitled ‘LaCrosse. A Very Hard Man’ which contained only three stories and several summaries of others and is now long out of print and impossible to find on the second hand market.

Third Instalment of the just terrible pulp novella- ‘CHEAP DAY RETURN’.

RECAP- When last we left our hero Johnny LaCrosse he had stolen a black cab from outside a local council building and was hurtling into the night in hot pursuit of the Fat Man aka Leroy Entendre. Without a plan or any idea of the plot he arrives in chapter 26 of the damn hard slog of a read that is Cheap Day Return.

Chapter 26: ‘ Cul de Sac of woe’.


            If only ‘She’ could have seen me now I thought as I pulled up outside the address I’d been given by the staff at ‘Dave Achmed’s Genuine Yankee Doodles Fried Innit Chicken Shack’. They’d explained how this address was the sole reason for the great fried chicken drought in Blackpool in ’08. Must be the Fat Man’s address and inside he’d have the key to it all, the veritable ruby slippers that could send me home.

“Hello Fat Man, my name is Lacrosse and I’ve come on behalf of kismet” I whispered to myself as I sidled out of the cab door. I flicked my business card onto the seat for the unconscious driver to send me his bill should he wake and headed toward the no 33 on the Rue Morgue Cul-De-Sac.

Rue De Morgue Cul-De-Sac was like a million other cul-de-sacs in a million other suburban areas that since their building had gradually been hemmed in on all sides by the expanding violent darkness of the city scape around them. What once had been a pleasant and green patch of middle class heaven was now in a state of siege, like the Alamo if the Alamo had well catered lawns and flower borders. The surrounding city’s filth and detritus blowing in from the tree lined driveway into this burb was a daily reminder to these people how much things had changed and how little the world seemed to care for their hopes and aspirations. I took a whiff of the air, yep this was Daily Mail country all right. I pulled the collar of my overcoat up around my ears like a down an out Dracula and headed over to number 33 or ‘Pink Eye Retreat’ as the name plaque had it.

cul de sac 1

The door was like a Hammer Horror film, being as it was long, outdated and in a pseudo Gothic style. The door-knocker was in the shape of a silver eagle, wings outstretched carrying a bundle in it’s talons. It looked like the Eagle had mugged the stork and was taking the baby with it. On closer inspection the bundle turned out to be a money sack complete with the dollar, pound and Euro symbols all joined together like the logo of a bankers Olympiad. The eagle was in fact a vulture and on it’s chest it wore a medallion with an ‘all seeing eye’ carved upon it. The conspiracy theorists would go nuts.

gothic door


I decided not to pull the bell chord instead I’d work my way over the link fence and make a dramatic rear entrance, a part of me laughed at the thought of the words ‘rear’ and ‘entrance’ but I shook it off. Now was no time for hijinks. Unstrapping my firearm I gently cocked the hammer and put the safety on then scrambled with all the ease and natural grace processed by the offspring of a ballerina and a commando such as myself, over the fence and into a shrub. Pausing just long enough to make sure that I hadn’t been seen I scuttled under the kitchen window and towards the back door.

Neighbourhood Watch area my ass, this was easy.

Then the back door creaked open and a booming voice rich in the sort of tone you’d expect from a man who gargled with gravy every morning spoke.

“My dear Mr Lacrosse! Why if you wished to join our little tête-à-tête then all you had to do was ring our front door bell though I must confess watching you scramble over the fence, catching the hem of your overcoat and falling flat on your face was highly amusing for all assembled. Please, do join us… and wipe your feet when you come in there’s a good fellow. There’s wine and cheese on the table as you enter.”

I heard the fat man shuffle from the door and the natter of people’s voices became clear from inside the house. Standing up I straightened out my attire and brushed down my clothing. If I was going in I wasn’t going to do it looking like a hobo. I retrieved the spare neck tie that I keep rolled up in the inside pocket of my sports jacket for special occasions and removed my old one. Catching my reflection in the kitchen window I was struck by how damn good I always looked when my life was in immediate danger and then headed toward the door.

The house looked like it had been decorated to suit the tastes of a man who was under the illusion that the pad he inhabited was less a bungalow on a quiet cul-De-Sac and more a stately home fit for a prince. The cheap walls had all been covered in a faux oak frame and wooden panelling and on those walls hung crests, ancient weaponry and framed pictures of famous people all seemingly signed by them and addressed to the fat man himself. Unless the Fat Man had found the secret of immortality I doubt they were genuine as most of the people he proudly displayed had been dead long before he’d been born. On closer inspection I noticed that they were all addressed to a L. Entendre II, the Senior. This fat bastard was L. Entendre III Jr.

fat mans walls

“Ah Mr Lacrosse I see you’re an admirer of history, as you can see my father was, as you’d say, a ‘big player’ in the world of far right political thinking. He was highly regarded for the unique service he offered his clients.”

“I see you have a portrait of Chevy Chase.” I said, the Fat Man sighed wearily.

“  Really Mr Lacrosse! You know full well that the man your looking at is Petrovich Zagreb Androvian the fifth president of the small landlocked yet wonderfully oil rich state of Zebredistan. This function is in his honour as very soon and thanks to his generous payments I shall be leaving this hovel to return my family to the status in which they were formally accustomed.”

chevy chase

“So you’re a chip off the old block? Your going into your daddy’s line of work then I get the picture.”

“Mr Lacrosse, I’ve been engaging in the family trade for well over a year now, my job at the cleansing department of the town council was merely a ruse, a handy cover story should a petty snooper like yourself ever come calling..”

“And now I have.” I said.

The fat man took out a dirty hankie from his trouser pocket and pointlessly made a show of dabbing the tidal wave of sweat from his forehead, the fat bastard. He looked more flustered than usual.

“Yes. Indeed, and now you have… you see you’ve put me in a very difficult situation Mr Lacrosse, by all rights I should just have you killed and your body effortlessly dumped into a meat grinder to be served to unsuspecting students from one of my many takeaway businesses that I own but seeing how close we are to realising the fruition of our goal I think allowing you to live for an extra half an hour won’t harm us. Just long enough to see what it’s all about and to know you can do nothing to halt it.”

He grinned, his yellowing bent teeth made a mockery of the word ‘smile’ and his cheeks looked like they were struggling to lift his lips in any other direction but a downward chomping motion. I took in the rest of the scene, the gathered posh Nobs he was playing host to appeared to be people much better off than himself. Here there were guys in full penguin suits and all the gals had more silk, fur and pearls drabbed over their bony frames on than Liberace had ever managed to pull off. Each carried a small wooden panel with a number on it, an auction was about to take place and I wanted to see what the prize would be.


Second installment from ‘Cheap Day Return’ : A Johnny LaCrosse adventure.

Chapter 25: ‘Leroy Entendre I presume?’

I slammed the gears of the bus I was now driving into third and took the corner of the road like Hitler took Poland. I was in no mood for politeness and the disability scooter shouldn’t have been on the highway to begin with. I pulled onto the curb and let the startled passengers off leaving my card on the driver seat should any wish to mail me their cash tips.double deckerI skipped up the first two steps to the council chambers then I skipped back down them then I hopped to the left and spun around. They didn’t call me the OCD Kid for nothing when I’d been a boxer. What had been a disability in normal everyday life had been a blessing in the ring, I’d spent so long skipping and hopping around in multiples of eight that the opposition had often just collapsed through boredom or given up in frustration, to be honest half the time I hadn’t been aware I was in a match I’d been so wrapped up in my rituals. But hey, I had the regional semi-final warm up games championship belt hung up in my closet at home to prove my pugilist credentials.

Now safely inside the chambers I shimmied to the reception counter and flicked the small dust covered rusting service bell, a shrill ting-a-ling rang out to be answered by a shriller voice from the staff room. A woman who looked like a shrew in a tweed scarf was now shuffling my way. Pausing only to break wind and blame it on the floorboards she moved behind the reception desk and placed a pince-nez on her face, not her nose just her face. It sort of hung pointlessly across her left cheek and seemed to be stuck under her eyelid. I pretended not to notice.

“Mr Entendre?” I asked.

“ Polly Cartwheel” she replied, I sighed the sort of long drawn out sigh usually reserved for use by special needs teachers or care workers.

“No” I said “I want to know which floor and office is his.”

“Oh no he doesn’t own any of them petal, he just works here. You see the council owns the building… it’s not his floor you understand. Is there anyone else with you that I can talk to for you?”

This dame was a loose end and it was time to cut the crap and get the job done. I pistol whipped the old dear to the ground and in sixty seconds or a minute, which ever is quickest, I’d had her trussed up like the Xmas goose and Xmas had come early this year along with a world of hurt because deep down we all know we’ve been naughty boys and girls and that Santa’s bringing the pain and heartache we all crave like a masochist craves a studded leather belt and a ball gag.

Pausing only to check the floor plans on the fire drill sheet I holstered my piece and took the stairs hopping and skipping all the way.

Damn it! I should have taken the lift this is going to take me all day to get to level three.

noir stairsI finally skipped and rotated up onto level three and as luck would have it I arrived the exact moment that fat man Entendre was leaving his office for his daily fix of fried chicken. His greasy malformed fingers clutching his money off coupon booklet like some grubby alien baby clutching an unhealthy rattle. The fat bastard was so engrossed in how much he could shave of his bargain bucket tab he’d failed to notice me creep up behind and whip out my revolver on him. I pushed the business end into where the arch of his back by all rights should have been, the gun vanished into rolls of fat, simply sucked into a vortex caused by the sheer scale of the man. Luckily I had a spare rod in my sock holster.

I bent down to retrieve it but in all the skipping and hopping I’d done that day the damn thing had slipped down almost pass the ankle as I pulled at it I went down flat on my back and that’s when the fat man stood back and the world went black!


When I awoke I was still on the floor in the hallway, the sweetness of the oblivion now replaced by a raging headache that felt like I’d been hoarding an army of woodpeckers in my head and told them to go nuts on the interior oak panelling. The fat man had long gone the lazy bastard hadn’t even bothered to finish me off or maybe he couldn’t risk leaning over in case he tumbled down the stairwell or had just figured he had no need to do any more. He knew what I had on him and the firm was shaky at best.

I’ll say this for the Fat Man he had guts alright.

jackie gleasonNow feeling as chastised as a nun at a family health clinic I worked my way back down the stairs again. Damn it! Forgot to use the bloody lift! I arrived at the ground floor to see several paramedics cart the old bag from reception away, with any luck they’d figure she just had fall and somehow managed to tangle herself in the detached phone cable which had worked itself into the shape of a hitch knot. Hell, old folks must do that all the time. I slipped my card into the top pocket of the community police warden along with a crisp two pound note bearing the visage of the heroic  King William III which I’d picked up from the no thrills bureau de change in the alleyway behind my office and headed off to hail a cab.

rain noirThe rain was coming down now like a kamikaze pilot making his final run and the wind weakly flicked around my trench coat like a lazy pervert gently fondles asses. I was on the trail of the Fat Man and I knew every location of every fried chicken outlet in the greater Blackpool area and had a passable health inspector warrant card forgery to get me in the backstage area should I need to. I pulled a cab over and got in.

Coshing the driver I took the wheel and sped off into the greying day, my rules baby, my rules.


Excerpts from ‘Cheap Day Return’

noire alley

Chapter 24: ‘Flickering lights and torn dirty tights.’

My heart beat like a tom tom drum being played by a heat crazed native. This sister was all hips and feline curves but it was way past the time all good kitties should be outdoors and the only milk I had in the broken office fridge was well past curdled and the SPAR had long since closed.

“Listen cute face” I rashly said as the index finger on my right hand flicked the safety off my British made Webley revolver I keep taped under the desk whilst my left hand deftly poured us both a stiff drink, neat, on the rocks. The triple Malt hit those icebergs with all the drama of the Titanic. The tension in the room was palpable.

“I don’t play cat sitter for no one and you couldn’t afford me if I did.”

I sat back down in my leatherette armchair with the aplomb of a dirty Tammany politician who’d just talked his way out of a sleaze racket at a press conference and made mother Teresa look like a penny sweet paid whore in the process. The chair squeaked in protest, I overruled.

“I haven’t the faintest idea what you just said but I think I like it.”

She murmured as she slid across the cheap wood board desk her bargain basement boob job knocking off the novelty snow globe my Aunt had brought back from Coney Island. She grabbed my neck tie and playfully throttled me with it, “I haven’t been this close to a man since my days in the convent but that was several lifetimes away and I’m all grown up now. This kitty has grown claws and knows how to scratch!” with that she nicked my eyelid with her single dirty nail which was held onto her finger more by prayer than anything else.

I couldn’t help but think that the cat thing was had run it’s course now she’d joined in with the theme.

pulp blonde“Maybe you are all grown up!” I snapped flinging her off the desk and into the faux leather chaise lounge I keep for emergencies, “But that don’t mean a damn thing in this cruel city, this city of the night, this cesspool of sleaze and corruption hanging onto the rocks of the Northern coast like some sort of parasitic bug on the malnourished caucus of a stray dog!” I sipped the bitter almond taste of my cheap dime store whiskey and sicked up a bit in my mouth, I covered the noise with a cough.

old crow whisky

“All this city cares about is eating up the good and pooping out what’s left and then making you wade through that poop to get the bus back to the one road town you call home. This ain’t no city of love it’s a Venus fly-trap made concrete and steel and I won’t let it make a meal out of us baby blue eyes! I just won’t dammit!”

She stood up, adjusted her huge bosom and grabbing me by the shoulders with the delicate touch of a blacksmith cried-

“But I like it here in Blackpool! It’s the Vegas of the North darling we can be it’s Rat Pack if only you’d get that through your thick skull or did the shrapnel you took in Korea kill what brains you had rattling around there to begin with?” She slapped me, it felt good, it felt real. Reality had been something I’d missed since I moved in across the road from the ‘Dame Miley Cyrus Arms Bar Floor Show Revue’ and the ‘Bulldog Café greasy spoon and B&B’ over a month ago.

You don’t come to Blackpool seeking reality.

The sting of her touch lingered on my face like a heatwave across the sunburnt ass of a mule.

Damn, Korea, I’d forgotten about Korea. Sure it had been hell but what could you expect from a cheap package flight and no knowledge of the lingo or the country, I’d been a fool to book my holiday there. The shrapnel was a constant reminder to me that the next time I travelled it was to be strictly first class and all the way to a luxury pad.

She shifted her D cups and made a move for the door, less a bee line than a hornets angered waltz. Stopping to gulp back the last of the bottle of Jacks I’d tried to hide behind the near empty filing cases she paused and looked at me with her one good eye, the other one looked directly at the crack in the yellowing celling.

“You know Johnny” she said “We could have made it you an I yet you chose to keep it business not pleasure.”

“If it’s pleasure you want you oughta try the theme park” I blithely uttered as I casually fingered yesterday’s Metro.

“Goodbye Johnny, maybe not goodbye but maybe lets just call it a farewell?”

She paused for effect her hand on the lead doorknob that was masquerading as brass.

“Well” I said, “Those are pretty much the same thing.”

She sighed, her boobs deflated marginally, “Don’t lets blame Blackpool, it’s just too easy.” and with that she had squeezed her plus size frame out of my doorway and into the neon lit night. Somewhere out there I heard a cat let out a distressed howl.

She’d be okay I thought, she was home on the mean streets of her beloved Blackpool…

and the day return ticket I’d slipped into her brassiere was valid until 12am.

blackpool 1950s

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