Monday, January 5, 2009

Kung Fu Noir: More Noir For Less

Act 1: The Mystery Lies

I put my feet up on the old all-purpose Navy desk and poured myself another glass of whiskey, straight up. Canadian Mist. Not top of the line but it will do, I thought, taking a swig.

I had procured the desk when became a P.I.. A friend of mine, a Chief, who I served with when I was in the Navy asked me if I wanted it, since he was getting a new one. It was kinda beat up but still functional and sturdy as hell.
Thanks Chief, I thought, taking another swig and saluting.

I damn near decided to stay in, but I got a sweet job offer from another old Navy friend who worked at San Diego PD. The pay was much better. Especially when I made detective and Lieutenant. Plus, I got to be home every night or day, depending on my hours. Sure, I pulled OT sometimes, but I was still home far more than I was in the Navy.

Home...damn! I emptied my glass and refilled it. I glanced at my watch. Huh. 2015 already, and on a friday night? What am I doin' here? I asked myself. Aw sh*t, what difference does it make? I stifled my thoughts 'cause they were goin' into restricted territory. I took another drink to help the stifling.

The door to my tiny office opened and I instinctively reached for my Colt .45.
National City, a suburb of San Diego wasn't the best of neighborhoods but it was the only place I could afford an office. There were gangs in the area but they usually left me alone. Sometimes they liked to spray grafitti on my door though. Punks.

But it wasn't a punk walkin' through my door, it was a dame. I eased my gat back into my hip holster. The desk was high enough where the dame couldn't see it.
Damn, she's high class, I thought, tryin' to put my eyes back into my head.
Hubba hubba. She was dressed in a fine red dress with matchin' high heels. Her hair was jet black and her deep brown eyes drew me in. Sho nuff, she was a knockout!
The necklace and earrings she wore were probably worth more than I made in two years.

"Are you the private dick?" She asked in a sultry voice, with a brilliant smile, walkin' slowly towards me, her hips swayin', hypnotizin' me. And she was packin', if you know what I mean. Not much concealed there, I thought.

Gotta snap outta it! I thought. But God was she striking! I realized my mouth was hangin' open and nothin' was comin' out. I cleared my throat.

"Um, hi," I said. "Yeah, I'm Mack," I continued, scramblin' to get my feet off the desk and stand up. I set my whiskey down and extended my hand. She took it and I felt a shock go through me. Her fingers, her hand...so soft and silky. It seemed like she held my hand in hers for a long time, and I wasn't about to complain. Her eyes held my gaze, and I just stood there in awe. I was disappointed when she finally let go of my hand.

"I'm Annie," she whispered. Such a sweet voice. I wanted her to keep talkin'.

"Oh! Sorry, let me get you a chair," I said, grabbin one of the metal, Navy folding chairs and unfolding it. "Wait, why don't you sit in my chair, it's more comfortable," I said, gesturing.

"Thank you," she breathed. Her perfume was subtle but intoxicating. Of course, I was nearly intoxicated as it was, but still, it took all the self control I had not to follow her.

Then it hit me. I was actin' like a damn fool! What the hell is wrong with me? I wondered, as I sat on the steel chair. This wasn't like me to fall for some dame I didn't know. Must be the whiskey, I thought. Yeah. That's it. I looked down and saw my ring and felt ashamed. No, don't go there!

I pulled out my cigs and offered one to the dame. "Thank you, yes," she said in that seductive voice.
I lit her cigarette and she looked at me the entire time. Readin' me like I was readin' her. But I was wary now. The ring woke me up.

I lit my smoke and grabbed my whiskey. "Want a drink?" I offered. "Unfortunately, this is all I got, but it ain't bad."

"No thanks," she replied. I gotta drive and one drink of that will make me tipsy," she said, giggling.

"Wait, your car is outside?" I asked.

"Yes, I parked on the curb," she replied with a puzzled look.

I got up and walked to the door, opened it and looked. Under the dim, dirty yellow streetlamp light I saw a red porsche. Sweet! I thought. I swept the area with my eyes but didn't see nobody.

"Look, you might have noticed this ain't a low crime area," I said, glancing back at the dame. "I'm gonna hafta keep a close eye on your wheels, 'cause believe me, there's plenty of scum around here who will jack it in a heartbeat."

"Okay. Thank you," she said.

"But it is friday night, and most everyone is cruisin' the main drag or partyin' somewhere. I'll keep checkin' every few minutes just to make sure though," I said, walkin' back to the chair and sittin' down.

Why in tarnation was this rich dame comin' to see me? I mulled, drinkin' down a long slug of my whiskey.
I looked across my desk at the dame and she smiled her sexy smile again. Why was she smilin' so much?

"So...how can I help you?" I asked, takin' a drag off my smoke.

"Well, I need your services to find a...friend," she said.

"Have you gone to the cops?" I asked.

"No, she hasn't been missing long enough. But I know something is wrong," she said, frowning.

"What's her name and when did she go missing?" I asked.

"Gloria Stanton. She went missing this morning. She was supposed to meet me for breakfast and a game of tennis." Annie said. "She always calls if she can't make it, and only then when she has an appointment. But she didn't call me and hasn't answered any of my calls."

"Is she married?" I asked.

"Yes. I talked to her husband, Andrew, and he thinks I'm over reacting, that cad! He says she went shopping and to visit her mother, but when I called her mother there was no answer! I'm not over reacting! I just know there's something terribly wrong! Will you help me?" Annie asked, reachin' across the desk and touching my arm. "Please?" She whispered.

"Of course," I replied. "I'll need Gloria's address, phone number, and any info on friends she has. Also, what kind of car she drives, places she likes to hang out at, and any possible enemies she might have. That should do to begin with."

Annie answered all of my questions, but I couldn't shake the feelin' she wasn't tellin' me everything.

"Why did you decide to hire me?" I asked, looking out the door again to check on her porsche.

"I heard you are one of the best," Annie said, smilin'.

"Who did you hear that from?" I asked, starin' at her intently.

"Oh, I don't remember off hand. It was at a party. May I ask you something personal?" She asked.

"Sure," I replied.

"Are you married?" She asked, lookin' at my wedding ring.

I took a deep breath and tried to reply but nothin' came out. I turned and looked out the door again.

"I'm sorry," Annie said. "It's none of my business."

"No, I..," but again, I couldn't finish sayin' it. I didn't wanna think it. I took another long draught of whiskey and drained my glass. I walked back to my desk and refilled it.

Annie got up and walked over, putting her hand on my shoulder.

"Don't!" I exclaimed, pulling away. "Just...don't."

"I'm...I'm sorry," Annie replied. "I just want to help. Ohh I wish I had never asked that. I really am sorry. Please forgive me, Mack."

She looked so forlorn. I felt like an ass. "Annie, I...she's dead." I finally managed to say without choking up too bad.

"Oh Mack, I had no idea! I'm so sorry. Can I...can I please hug you?" Annie asked, grabbing me and holding me tightly.

This time I didn't resist. Annie held me and I held her, as tears flowed from my eyes and I silently cried. I felt so ashamed and yet, oddly, relieved.

"It's okay, Mack," Annie whispered in my ear. We hugged for a long time and, reluctantly, I slowly let her go. Then she looked into my red eyes...and kissed me.
At first I was shocked as questions raced through my mind. Warning signs were everywhere and alarms were goin' off left n' right. But I kissed her back, desperately, clinging to hope and fighting to hold off despair and...guilt.
I thought of that horrible day three years ago...

"I gotta see them!" I yelled, pushing through the two cops tryin' to hold me back.

"Mack...it's bad. Real bad," my partner, Jim said, blockin' my way. "Don't do this to yourself, my friend," Jim continued, putting his hand on my shoulder.

"Jim, I gotta see for myself. Please. Don't...stand in my way."

Jims face was full of anguish. I saw tears in his eyes. A rare sight.

"Okay. I won't try to stop you, but...this is a crime scene." Jim said solemnly.

I rushed into our house and stopped a few feet into our living room. My mind struggled tremendously to make sense of what I saw.

There on the floor was my wife, son and daughter. Blood was everywhere, and there were large pools under each of them. They were...hacked...to pieces. Sheer horror!

My God! I stood there, trembling. No! "Nooo!" I boomed. No. This can't be. "I must be dreamin'...tell me I'm dreamin'..."

I felt Jim's big hands on my shoulders. "Mack...I'm so sorry my friend," his voice cracked.

"Who? Why? How?" I asked.

"I don't know, Mack, but we'll get them, I promise you," Jim said.

As I looked in shock I realized that the weapon used to murder my family was a sword.
Maybe more than one but it was the same type of sword. A very sharp sword. Maybe a katana or tachi, or perhaps a tsurugi. I was sure it was a Japanese sword, because the cuts were so clean. The cuts...

"It's my fault. I should've been here," I whispered.

"No! There was nothing you could've done, Mack, you were working. There's no way you could've known. This isn't your fault!" Jim said, moving in front of me.
"Don't blame yourself, Mack. C'mon, I've arranged for a ride to my place. Go there. Sarah will take care of you while I...find the bastard who did this."

"You gotta let me in on this case Jim. This is my family!" I boomed. Jim was senior to me, and had been on the force for nearly twenty years. He hated desk work and he was a phenominal detective, so that's what he did. He was so good, no one tried to push him into taking admin. jobs. I had learned so much from him.

"That's why you can't be on this case, Mack. I'm sorry, my hands are tied. The Captain will never let you on this case. Please, Mack...go to my house. I'll keep you informed, I promise," Jim said.

I took a long look at my family and let my breath out. My loves were dead. Murdered.
I would never feel love or joy again. I felt so empty inside. And I felt somethin' else...a burnin' desire for revenge. Justice.

"Alright Jim. I'll go. You let me know when..." I said, trembling again.

"You got it, Mack, of course I will," Jim said, guiding me out of our house.

I was numb on the ride to Jim's house. When we arrived the driver turned around.
"Lieutenant...my condolences sir."

"Mack," I said. "Just call me Mack."

"Yes sir," he said. The other cop just bowed his head. They are good guys, I thought.

"Thanks guys," I said, walkin' up the steps to Jim's house.

Sarah was already at the door, her eyes so red and watery.
"Mack..." she said, hugging me. "Oh mack."

"Thanks Sarah, for takin' me in," I replied.

"Don't be silly, you're family," she said, holdin' me. Sarah always had felt like a mom or big sister to me. "Now, what can I get you?" She asked, leadin' me into the kitchen.

"I could use a drink," I said. "Got any whiskey?"

"We sure do Mack. How about some Chivas Regal?" Sarah replied.

We sat in silence for awhile while I drank. I didn't know what to say and I'm sure Sarah felt the same way, or maybe she was giving me some space.

"Sarah? What am I supposed to do?" I asked, tears streaming down my face.

"Mack...stay with us. We have an extra room. Keep busy working, and remember, Jim and I are always here for you, dear," Sarah replied, coming over to hug me again.

I tried. Oh how I tried. I worked as much as I could and when I wasn't workin' I drank. I drank because...I couldn't handle the nightmares. I despised sleep and fought it tooth and nail.

It got worse when Jim couldn't find any leads. None of my neighbors had seen or heard anything, and CSI could find no trace of the killers. I was sure there were at least two, but it was only a gut feeling.

"Jim, could it be Yakuza?" I asked one day.

"I don't know, Mack. It's possible. The killer, or killers, knew what they were doing. If only I could get a break. Why did they do it? What was their motive?" Jim answered.

Jim looked so haggard. For months he had put everything into this case. If he couldn't solve it no one could. I felt so helpless, and I felt bad that Jim was pushing himself so hard.

"Jim...I know you're doin' your best," I said. "But don't push yourself so hard."

"Mack, I'll rest when I find the butchers who did this. And I'll tell you now, I dearly hope they resist arrest," Jim said, his eyes narrowing.

Jim thought there was more than one also. I wracked my brain tryin' to figure out why the Yakuza, the Japanese mob would put a hit on my family, or if not them, lone swordsmen. One thing I knew, the killers knew kendo. I knew this because I had been training in the same art. Bushido, the way of the warrior, and kendo, the way of the sword.

Master Toshiro had made me memorize the purpose of kendo:

To mold the mind and body.
To cultivate a vigorous spirit,
And through correct and rigid training,
To strive for improvement in the art of Kendo.
To hold in esteem human courtesy and honor.
To associate with others with sincerity.
And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself.
This will make one be able:
To love his/her country and society.
To contribute to the development of culture
And to promote peace and prosperity among all peoples.

Perhaps Master could help. I hadn't been to see him since the day...

I drove to his house, a small, humble abode, with about five acres of property in the desert, east of San Diego.
I knocked but there was no answer. I looked around, thinking Master might be outside somewhere.

Odd, there were weeds. Master never permitted weeds to grow anywhere near his house. I sensed that Master wasn't here. I did a quick search and tried to look into the house where the curtains weren't drawn but there was no sign of him.

I called Jim on my cell phone. "Jim? I can't find Master Toshiro. Can you see if anyone has reported him missing?" I asked.

"Wilco, Mack. I'll get back to you," Jim replied.

Half an hour later Jim called back. "No. No reports, Mack."

"I'm gonna break in, Jim," I said. "He could be hurt."

"I didn't catch that, Mack, you're breaking up," Jim said.

I tried to find a window that was unlocked but no dice. I wrapped my jacket around my arm and broke the living room window. Just enough to unlock it from the inside.
I lifted it up and crawled in, after clearing the glass.

I searched the entire house but there was no sign of Master Toshiro.

I did notice dust on everything, which was another sign that Master hadn't been here for quite some time. Where could he have gone? I wondered. I searched for clues.

In the den, inside his desk I found an expired plane ticket to Hong Kong. What? October 13th? But that was...! No! I couldn't believe that Master Toshiro was involved in my families murders. That was...impossible. But where was he?

I continued to search his desk but found nothing. I got down on my hands and knees and looked under the desk, hoping to find a secret compartment or something. What's that? There was a phone number written on the bottom of the desk top. What's that doin' there?

I tried the number. "Hello?" A man answered.

"Yes, may I speak with Toshiro?" I asked.

"...Who is this?" The man replied.

"This is Hiroshi, his brother," I lied.

"How did you get this number?" The man asked.

Crap! C'mon, give me somethin'. "Toshiro gave it to me," I replied. "Is he there?"

"N-no. There is no one here by that name," the man said.

"Okay, sorry to bother you," I said, clenching my teeth. I called Jim back.
"Jim, this is Mack. Can you trace a call I made to it's source? Here's the number."

"I'll see what I can do," Jim replied. "Any idea why I'm doing this?"

"Just a hunch. I'm tryin' to find Toshiro and I found this number. Thanks, Jim," I said. I didn't tell Jim about the air ticket. I knew Master Toshiro wouldn't have...no way. And if Jim thought there was any connection to the murder of my family he would stop me in my tracks.

I searched some more but I found nothing. My cell rang. "Yeah?"

"The address is blocked, Mack, but it's in the general area of Clairemont Mesa. An Upscale neighborhood. If you can keep him on the phone for a few minutes we can run a trace," Jim said.

"Okay, I'll be there in an hour or so and we can give it a try," I said. "But this has to be on the QT."

"No problem. But you better fill me in," Jim said.

"Right now it's just all hunches, Jim. I'd rather not speculate at this point."

"Okay, that's good enough for me. I'll call in a favor," Jim said.

"Thanks Jim," I said.

I tried to make sense of Master Toshiro's disappearance. Was he in trouble? Why didn't he call me? I wondered.

I drove as fast as I could but it was lunch time and highway 8 was packed.
I reflected on all the new events. I had to be careful. I didn't wanna get Jim in trouble. I wasn't too concerned about myself. It was imperative I find who killed my family and find Master Toshiro.

As we kissed a question somehow made it to what was left of my mind. Why is Annie kissin' me? Isn't she concerned about her friend? Oh crap. Talk about ruinin' the moment. Why couldn't I think of that after...

I pulled away from Annie, reluctantly. "Annie, I..."

"Shhh, it's okay," Annie said, kissing me again. It got pretty hot and heavy and our passion ruled the moment. The questions could wait, I thought. But my senses kept warning me and wouldn't shut up.

I felt a draft behind me and I spun around quickly. There was a man dressed in black. A ninja? He hit me with a glancing blow but it wasn't enough to put me down.
I countered with a side kick to his left knee and I heard a loud crack! Followed by the ninja's scream. That hadta hurt, I thought.

I pulled the mask off the ninja but didn't recognize him. "Who sent you?" I asked. "Why did you attack me?"

"I want a lawyer," the ninja said, gasping in pain.

"And I...want answers," I said. "I better put some pressure on that knee. It's bleedin'," I said, pressing down on his injured knee.

The ninja screamed again. "Mack!" Annie cried.

"Stay out of this Annie," I replied. "I aim to get some answers."
"Who sent you?"

"I-I don't know. Really!" Ninja said, crying.

"Why did you attack me?" I asked.

"I was p-paid to knock you out and b-bring you to the warehouse," ninja said. "I d-don't know why. Please! Call an ambulance!"

"What warehouse?" I asked. "Where is it?"

I felt another rush of air and turned towards the door. I felt the sting of a dart in my neck before I could react, followed by a flash of blinding light, then everything went slowly dark. I couldn't move as I fell to the floor. Annie screamed.
I hate ninjas! Damn! Was my last thought as I lost conciousness.

20 comments:

Joan of Argghh! said...

Oh, bravo! Bravo!

I loved this. Can't wait for more for less.

walt said...

So, uh ... Ben!

I can see the Headlines now:
Jet Li Announces Comeback! When reporters asked the famous actor about the new Kung Fu Noir series, he replied, "Jackie who?"

Now ... about that agreement I faxed you -- the one that says I'm yer exclusive Agent?

You will be gettin' back to me sometime soon ... won'chu?

Great story, but geez -- don't you remember how Master Toshiro always warned us that ninjas run in pairs? I guess the whiskey and the dame slowed yer instincts ...

julie said...

:D

That last line had me thinking:
"Ninjas... why did it have to be ninjas..."

Awesome!

Robin Starfish said...

I believe the word for this is...ripsnortin'. This is gonna be fun. Hell, it already is!

Only thing is, you hafta post new chapters at least once a week. Your public won't settle for less.

mushroom said...

Ben, Hollywood needs you. That's pretty good. Robin's right -- this is going to be fun.

QP said...

Rootin' tootin' I'm hooked - I'm in for however many chapters of cliff-hangers it takes to discover what The Mystery LIES are.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks guys, glad you liked it.
I was kinda nervous doin' the fiction thing. I started and stopped many times, but eventually, I just decided to wing it.

I'm discoverin' the story as I write it, so it's fun for me too, although it ain't quite as easy as writin' about myself...or am I? Ha ha!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Walt-
Yeah, now ya tell me. I was probably snoozin' on the day Master toshiro bcovered ninjas.

So, are you my agent provocateur?
You gotta oplay rough with them hollywood types.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ha ha! Funny line, Julie! :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Okay, Dojo, that's a deal. I'm a temperMENTAL writer, but we all gotta make sacrifices right? Right?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Bravo's from you, Joan are music to my ears! :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey Mushroom!
I think any of us can write better than most of those hollyweird hacks! :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I gave you some clues, QP!
Okay, I admit they was subtle and some were between the lines, but they were there.
Alright, you got me. Even i don't know what mystery lies means...exactly. That'll teach me to just use words 'cause they look cool. :^)

jwm said...

Awright- What happens next?
I gots ta know!

JWM

Jimmy J. said...

Oh, oh, Mickey Spillane meets Bruce Lee. And Kung Fu Noir is born!

I love this genre. Go, Master Ben!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi John!
I'm workin' on gettin' the next act started pronto. Soonish anyway. :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ha ha! Thanks Jim!
It really is a little used genre.
Can't figure out why that is.
Kung-fu and noir go together well.
Of course, I'm biased. :^)

jwm said...

Soonish, huh?

cyber-foot taps impatiently while waiting...

*spoiler alert*


(I bet the butler did it.)

;)

JWM

Gecko said...

Nice. Before you know it you'll be giving Klavin some competition.
:)

Gecko said...

Klavan.