The Cagney Effect
Jinn Don’t Play Nice
Raising the Dead
Below are a few random excerpts (easier than writing a blog post.) I hope you enjoy them, bearing in mind the opinions are not necessarily those of the author. 😎
"You got something to say to me, Sam? I think you have something to say to me."
He looked up, defeat scrawled on his face. There are six letters in 'defeat' and they don't look good on men with small faces.
I put down the phone and stared. The request was nothing new, the oldest one in the book. It was one I’d done a thousand times before and likely would a thousand times more. A package had gone missing, and there was only one man who could find it. Clay Cross. He hadn’t mentioned Sheri Lamour. He hadn’t said what the package was—just that in the wrong hands it would change the world as we know it.
I reckoned that might be a pretty good thing, but I hadn’t been hired to philosophize. I stared out the window and wondered where Sheri was, and why she was taking so long, and why I even bothered to ask. It was raining. Brown rain. And people scurried like ants on a honey-run. It was a damn shitty world and it seemed to me any change would be an improvement and that I could philosophize and crack a case all at the same time. I was a big boy. Sheri agreed when the mood took her.
Sheri was studying the papers. I was down to my last four fingers of bourbon. It was quiet in the office, the way I liked it—but for two small flies in the ointment. Sheri looked like she was itching to talk, and the bourbon was nearing its end. Work was slow, and the office needed cleaning—and one look at Sheri tells you it’s not something she does.
“Anything interesting?” I was talking about the book in her hand, not the small screen permanently on mute. Screens are for stumblebums grazing on chicken fry or breeding the next feral horde. Give me a book I can open or close, occasionally burn. In my experience screens regurgitate lies and salacious tattle from broads with more silicon than brain. Jeez. I like a broad with something to hold. I just don't want to be knocked off my seat when they turn.
She’d been gone less than a minute when the air rippled and a skeletal figure in black sat in the chair she’d vacated. He wore a crooked stovepipe hat. A long cigar clenched between a skull’s teeth.
Baron Samedi, the one who’d got us into this mess. The cigar swivelled to the side of his mouth. “And aren’t you the miserable fucker. What’s up?”
“Sheri just asked me that.”
“I know. I was there. So, spill. What’s crunching your balls?”
I said the first thing that came to my head and knew it didn’t make sense. “Midlife crisis.” Something a dame might say in between sobs. “Try that on for size.”
“You have no mid-life, Cross. You’re fucking immortal. You’re Djinn.”
“And whose fault is that?” For a time, there was silence, the kind that gives death a bad name.
I was halfway across the room when the door opened, letting in a dim orange light, street noise, and a dame that’d make a corpse whistle. She wore a dress tighter than skin, a dress designed by Beelzebub and cut by Mephistopheles of Milan. She smiled, and my brains turned to ice cream, and I knew I was in trouble with a capital T and then more. One thing for sure, she was here for a purpose, and it had something to do with Jake and a leg that had gone walkabouts. Was she after it too, or had she come back disappointed, looking for what they hadn’t yet found?
"What can I do for you, kid?"
"It's what I can do for you, Clay." Her gaze flitted over my shoulder a moment before my brain turned to mush. I saw a shadow, smelled onion and garlic, and turned just a little too late. The cosh hit me hard, and a thousand lights told me the film had just ended.
We found Nightingale Song easy enough. The streets were mean but there weren’t many of them.
Nightingale Song, yeah, I know, sounds like a ladyboy— only Nightingale Song was less classy. It was a club you'd be wise to avoid, one on its own, turning lowlife into specimens for the rich to shiver at as they sipped their overpriced drinks. You know the deal. Bring in a few 'characters', those without teeth or missing an eye, the broads with clothes too tight for bodies you didn't want to see. Atmosphere, they call it. I call it a not very nice smell. But it appeals to people who want to live 'dangerously' and hold down a 9 to 5 job.
Sheri spotted her first and led me across a room full of shadows that shuffled, shadows without faces. I wondered whether they'd ever had them or whether it was something they handed in along with their hats, along with their souls.
. . . The dame was unarmed. With breasts like those she didn’t need guns; she was packed with enough fissionable material to blow the place sky high…and she was looking at me. Maybe I should have been excited, given her some kind of dopey smile and whisked flowers out from behind my back, but this dame was trouble. A man had been beaten to death because of her and now her sights were on me.
I’m Clay Cross, with a nose for trouble and an eye for dames. And this was one broad I was going to follow wherever she took me if only to see how she looked from behind with her come-and-get-me-I’m trouble-boys sway.