Episode 12: The Cat’s Claws – Part 1

Note: To read the entire story from the beginning click here.

My little .38 was a pea-shooter compared to the hardware the goons up above were carrying, but I pulled it out. “Get behind the crates as best you can,” I said to Mrs. Fanutti’s new incarnation as Meredith from Kentucky. She brushed against me as she groped in the darkness. Her wildflower perfume had changed when mixed with fear, adding a musky humanity to her appeal. She cursed softly as she barked her shin against a wooden crate.

We waited as whoever was above tested the sound of the trapdoor beneath his feet again — stamp, stamp-stamp — then slowly walked away. It had almost sounded like a signal. A minute later the faint rectangle of light around the door vanished.

I heard her trying to pry the lid off one of the boxes with her fingers.

“What are you doing?” I asked almost inaudibly.

“If I get this open we can make molotov cocktails,” she replied no louder.

“Even if you could open the crate without alerting the whole waterfront, fire’s not the best weapon in an enclosed space, especially when you’re throwing it toward the only exit.”

She stopped her efforts. “I suppose you’re right, but they may come in handy once we get up there.”

“The cops are bound to come sooner or later. We just need to hold out until then.”

“Cops are the last people we need. Who do you think they work for? Who do you think was my husband’s chauffer for his last ride?”

“In that case, I think it’s time we left this hole.”

“What if they’re still out there?”

“There’s always going to be someone out there, but I think that last guy might have been a friend.”

“I don’t think I have any left. Besides you, I mean.”

“Cello wants you alive long enough to get your map, and he wants me alive long enough to get the map from you. I don’t know who that was up there, but he found the trapdoor and didn’t even try to open it. Wait here.” Like she had anywhere else to go. “Don’t move until I give you the all-clear.”

Without the square of light around the trapdoor it took me a bit of groping to find the ladder in the blackness. I knew the general direction but I passed it on the first try, then got turned around a bit. Soon enough my outstretched fingers found the smooth wood and headed I headed up. I felt the planks pushing down on my hat. I reached up and the bolt was where I remembered it. Odd to have a bolt on this side except for contingencies exactly like this one, but then you would have another exit as well, wouldn’t you? The steel bolt slid in its groove silently. I lifted the heavy door just enough to peek out.

It was dark in the warehouse, but after the total blackness below I could see well enough. Nothing moved. It would have been easy enough to hide in those shadows, however, and there could be someone standing five feet behind me, just waiting to put a bullet into the back of my head. That kind of thinking doesn’t get you anywhere, though. Just ask General Custer. I pushed the door open a little farther to extend my field of vision. Still nothing. It was useless I knew, but I decided to move quickly in case there was someone behing me. Perhaps in the darkness I’d only be wounded by the barrage from the Thompson machine gun.

I took a few deep breaths and flung myself up the ladder, twisting to look back over the thick wood. I found myself sitting on the edge of the hole, losing my grip on the massive door and dropping it painfully on my thighs. I almost dropped my gun as well, but I was happy to have only bruises as I looked and found no one there. I sat as silently as I could, catching my breath. There was a time when that maneuver would have been easier. I lifted the door off my legs and hauled myself out. Below I could hear Meredith moving around. I hadn’t given her the signal, but it would just make more noise to stop her now. I pulled the trap the rest of the way open and watched the shadows as she emerged, my coat still draped over her shoulders.

We slid to a wall as quietly as possible and Meredith led me toward a door opposite the one we had first come in by. I was hobbling along pretty badly, walking like a constipated crab as I tried to work the kinks out of my bruised legs. There was a form lying near the door in a splash of moonlight from a skylight. I kept to the shadows but my escort gasped and stepped up to the corpse. She knelt by the dead man. “Mick,” she said. She put her hand in his hair and it came back dark and sticky. She looked up at me, her skin pale in the moonlight, her eyes lost in shadow. Her voice was eerily flat, the voice of Lola Fanutti. “Whoever did this is a dead man.”

I believed her.

Tune in next time for the conclusion of: The Cat’s Claws!

Too much

One thing about walking a couple of miles each day is it gives me some good thinking time. Tonight I was walking along and I thought of a great way to start a novel. It’s fantastic. Tantalizing and human. Its about a tortured soul that doesn’t even know it’s tortured. It works.

So I fired up the ol’ novel writer and opened a new document. I looked at the blank page, “Book Title Here” written at the top, and thought about what it meant. Another project. The Test is not shrinking down enough to fit between two covers, I’ve been neglecting selling The Monster Within, and my real passion, the novel with the road in it, is languishing. Then there’s the big update to Jer’s Novel Writer I’m working on right now, and I’m tweaking the first release of the slick little flashcard program I’ve been writing when I should be studying my czech. How can I possibly start another project?

I once worked at a largish company, and while in the end I didn’t like the CEO much, he did say something that has stuck with me. To paraphrase: anyone can start something, but almost no one finishes anything. The whole reason I am here, the whole thing I am trying to prove, is that I am one of the people who finishes things. I’m not some dilettante wanna-be dabbler flitting like a butterfly from thought to thought, easily distracted by the pretty colors of the Next Big Idea. I have discipline. I can do it. If I say that often enough maybe it’ll be true.

So I have to be careful when a new idea blossoms. I have to do something or it will eat away at me while I worry that I’ll forget it. I’ve been putting effort into short fiction recently, and that’s been a fun way to pay attention to new ideas without disrupting my flow too badly, but this new idea won’t fit in such a small space. I guess it’s time for another chapter one.

Traveling at the Speed of Google

A long list this time. I didn’t bother with obfuscation, a decision I may revisit.

  • squirrel pants law Linked to two different episodes: SSDC and My Pants.
  • “yellow brick road” meaning – If metaphor is what the searcher wanted, The American Road Myth isn’t bad.
  • movie accidents of Garfield – this was a search on A9, which at least wants to appear to be affiliated with Amazon. My hoping that Marmaduke would choke to death on Garfield’s corpse pulled a visitor into a fairly incoherent episode.
  • chilly midriff – the searcher went through some 320 hits before arriving at my page, only to discover that Google was out of date and the references to small shirts and cold weather had been pushed off the main page. In the search I was in fine company, clearly, wedged between “nauseating repugnant and therefore very cool” and “Yo mama”.
  • butch girl haircuts remarkable because the word haircuts appears nowhere in the episode, none of the words are in the title, yet the episode came in second in google’s list. (The episode gets a lot of hits for its mention of specific bars; all I can figure is some of that love rubbed off.)
  • electromagnetic bomb scheme build – linked to the get poor quick category page; most of the word matches were in the Reusable Space Vehicle episode.
  • space launch cannon here’s the followup to the reusable space vehicle episode
  • drinking from the stanley cuphere
  • ramblings of a drunken man – main page
  • “and that’s the way it always is”Megan
  • the brief explanation about AM radio – well, this site is a bastion of science…but in this case no science was to be found here.
  • jeans for real women – linked to an episode about my pants.
  • gyroscope balanced motorcycles – there’s it’s gonna work, I tell you.
  • roxie blog OR journal “san francisco” -cinema -theatre -theater – all that and they still came here.
  • san diego fern bar – I have to wonder why anyone was looking for a fern bar, no matter where it’s located.
  • dew barrymore and clovis – a typo and a weird convergence of words led to the homeless tour category page.
  • ideas techniques expose skirt – a stripper looking for professional advice, or someone needing a new half-baked invention? Votaw, I want the blueprints on my desk by Wednesday.
  • “the frogs” band virginia “yeah yeah yeah”
  • shy dogs facts and pitchers – that misspelling gets me lots of business
  • poker’mon pitchers – what do you get when you cross a hick with a anime fan?
  • freeloading counter linked the episode where I borrow broadband from Jojo.
  • beeristers – I’m surprised more people haven’t used this word. I used here while wondering about a girl across the bar.
  • i only make passes at cowboy asses – somehow I don’t think The Cowboy God is really what they were looking for
  • holiday ticker – ’cause you gotta know what’s coming up!
  • flashing breasts – only notable because msn ranked me number 4 for this search.
  • PARTY GAMES WITHOUT WRITING.COM – ’cause so many party games require literacy
  • “Tiki Hut Girls”
  • HOW LONG CAN I GO WITHOUT FEEDING MY FIRE EEL here
  • “this means nothing” interesting only because this meant nothing
  • skoda store – linked to a very brief observation about the effect of cars on an unsuspecting society
  • i have lost my pants
  • VIDA ……………………………OGLING – an episode like this one was top of the list for this odd query
  • i have lost my pants – linked to the episode where I paid tribute to my pants
  • Cartoon Poodles – linked to the main page here, due to the episode where I picked a fight with a poodle
  • define ssdc comcast net – the other search results didn’t mention squirrels at all! What gives?
  • prague guide “budvar bar” – linked to main page.
  • how to get getting started in arial photography – linked to the get-poor-quuick category page. I think they were looking for aureola photography, but I’m not sure.
  • scary squirrel sex
  • step to step guides on how to use bed hoists? – the new egg episode caught their eye.
  • breakfast rhymes with – linked to an episode about Ely, NV.
  • “why people go to bars” – you need a reason? Linked to my episode from oh, so long ago about bartenders.
  • telecom tower praha babies – someone else fascinated by the giant freaks. Did not link to the episode with the pictures.
  • BIG ASS BEER – I like the exuberance expressed in the search.

All the usual suspects have been well-represented, but February was the slowest month here in a long time, partly due to Google deciding that I wasn’t the Egg Guru it used to think I was. Perhaps it suspected me of being a Google-bomber. For a while I actually got a better feel for how many people come here on purpose, and it was better than I thought. As of yesterday, the egg-friers are back with a vengeance, though. The reign of The Mr11K3 will soon come to an end.