Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mob Ink: an experiment in humor

It isn't easy living by your pen. Writer Fizz Sheridan knows this better than most--he hasn't eaten meat for a week and a half and his last shave was three days ago. But when his novel inspired by a mob crime he witnessed hits Chicago's bookshelves, Fizz finds the real mob overly interested in his life. Kidnapped and taken to headquarters, living by his pen gains new definition when Fizz is told that mob boss Eddie Harold Howard will only let him live if he continues the story of the mob every night. Love tangles, heists gone wrong, and a covey of other problems beset the gang, and the unfortunate Fizz is left with the smoking gun...pen; every incident belonged to the story Fizz told the night before, and Eddie Harold Howard is sure his captive has an ink-vendetta.
The majority of you seemed to like the idea of Mob Ink, so I scrawled up another bit of it the other night just to find my way into the setting and characters a bit more. At the moment, I'm just toying around with bits and smidgens of things when I have the chance. I'm much too busy to buckle down to anything till I've finished editing my mystery, but this rule doesn't go to hand-scrawled things, does it? So I sat on the porch in the middle of my own beetle-flood (so terrifying) and wrote this. Enjoy.

When he stopped to listen, the tick of little beetle toes against little beetle wings filled the space between them. Fizz shifted just a fraction against the wall. Now a forgotten nail threatened to pierce his spinal cord and let his fluid, but at least his head was a bit out of prime bug-drop territory. The ticking-clickery grew louder as if the small beetle cousins were being sent to bed by those of a larger variety whose fancy ran toward having a jazzy dance on the features of the rich and famous. Party-beetles; freakish idea.
A cat—an exceedingly Dust-Bowl specimen of the breed—poked his head into the alleyway from behind an ashcan and chewed on a fish bone, reflective. He blinked at Fizz and his captor then withdrew, disinterested. He was not a very sympathetic animal; obviously entirely unable to appreciate the terror of having one’s head bludgeoned by bombardier insects.
Fizz’s captor, the one with eyes like light-sockets—not the one with the camel-forehead—lounged with him against the wall. He did not seem concerned by beetles or bloodshed. Fizz, deep in some half-frightened, wholly interested part of his mind, speculated how he might be able to put that into a novel.
“Scared of neither beetle nor bloodshed,” he murmured.
“What?” Light Socket barked.
At his silent companion suddenly speaking, Fizz jumped right into the path of a droning,whizzing beetle. He quickly shifted to the other side, directly into Light Socket’s shoulder.
“What?” the guy demanded.
“We are…there are…too many beetles,” he ended lamely.
“So?” Socket lit his third cigarette of the hour and gnawed Fizz’s soul with his eyes.
Thoroughly disturbed, Fizz thought now would be prime opportunity to inquire his fate. He braved the bomber-squadron stream of beetle-y things and stood tall. His unfortunate head brushed the base of the light in its rust-encrusted fixture by the doorway. The glad beetle society embraced his eyes and nose and mouth and ears. Somewhere through the crush, Fizz saw Socket turn just the tiniest bit in his direction as if interested to watch the insect hoards.
“Why can’t we go in?” Fizz meant to say, but with all the joyous bug population using his lips like the Blarney Stone, what came out was more of: “Vy kunt ve do din?”
“Speak English,” Socket ground out over the cigarette.
Fizz puffed a colony of adoring insects from his face and thrashed wildly with his palms as if to stay the ticklish flood. “Whycan’twegoin?” he crammed out before the mass descended again.
Slowly, gracefully, a luna moth parted the way between Fizz and the beetles and settled on the light fixture. Grateful to the moth for at least not clicking like a miniscule pair of Chinaman’s chopsticks, Fizz smiled. He’d forgotten—it all seemed so distant now—but today was the first day of April and just that a.m. he’d been heading down to Lake Michigan with a yellow tulip in his buttonhole. Somewhere between the mugging and this alleyway, the tulip had been lost, but the reflection imbued Fizz with an iota of hopefulness. This was April First after all. Perhaps this whole business was nothing but a huge joke played on him by his eternally inappropriate roommate; it wouldn’t be the first time Marvin had done something idiotic for a laugh.
“We can’t go in cuz the boss hasn’t comed out.” Socket’s explanation was terse and wasted no bonhomie.
“We have to wait for his okay? While the—” Fizz phiffed a miniscule insect off his upper lip and refocused: “While the beetles gobble our face off?”
“Smoke.” Socket offered Fizz his half-burned cigarette.
“Much obliged.” He saluted his kidnapper with the butt end then put it in his mouth and drew in a draught of tobacco smoke.
The flavor turned his stomach, but it wasn’t half bad compared to sticking out the Beetle of Armegeddon. White smoke followed his exhale. Fizz was pleased to see a distinct reduction in the amount of beetles in his immediate vicinity. Maybe this guy wasn’t so awful. He’d given him a way out of suffering…maybe Socket wouldn’t kill him after all. At least, Fizz reflected with the second draw, at least he’d not die at the hands of beetles.


Anne-girl said...

I would buy this book from a new books bookstore {that's saying a lot for me as I always buy used or off amazon or both} . The blurb has me jumping around squealing .There is just such a tang to it all.

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

Funny we both came up with a story about a writer in the 1930s—except yours is dealing with gangsters and mine with high-society nitwits and a pompous bestselling novelist. Although I do have a very scene-stealing burglar...

Miss Dashwood said...

I would buy this book too and it isn't even of a sort I would normally read at ALL. Jeevesie, your words have such a special sort of spice to them. Do PLEEEEEASE write more of this. I find myself liking Fizz already.

Rachel Heffington said...

It seems to me a very good sign that both you, Bertie, and you, Gussie, approve of this story. :)
Elisabeth, isn't it? I have been on a 30's kick, I guess, what with having just written Anon, Sir and then having 30's gangstas on my mind. Am I still on for beta-reading yours? I love everything I know about it. (Scene stealing burglars.....oooooh)

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

Oh, definitely! Basically, anything for which I need a beta-reader, you've got first call. Of course that means I get to read Mob Ink too, right? :)

Rachel Heffington said...

Indubitively. :)