Happy Thursday. To help keep my own feet to the fire, I'm using Thursday as my public accountability day. That means, posting a bit of coherently creative output for you to read and feedback on every week. If I perform according to my own intent, what I put here will be available as a whole elsewhere at the same time or shortly after appearing here.
Similarities to Persons Living or Dead is currently available as a part of The Official Private Eye Handbook, first book in the CITY OF MAGICK series. Please, feel free to take a look here, though, and at subsequent chapters. Let me know how you feel about it. For those of you finding your way here relatively late, no problem. The start of the story is just a click away.
SIMILARITIES TO PERSONS LIVING OR DEAD
My head hurt. It wasn't a steady pain. It was more of an intense, dull throbbing, like being awake high school with a country music soundtrack. It certainly didn’t seem like anything I wanted to be awake for.
Then, I heard a woman moan, “Good morning, handsome.”
I managed to crack one eye open enough to see a blonde…blur, in the bed. “Who…?”
“Who was on the phone?” she asked. “Sorry, it stopped ringing just when I got to it, so…y’know…”
The phone rang? Should I have cared? Not what I was asking, anyway. Obviously, I‘d missed a few links in the chain of events. “Who the Hell are you?”
“You don’t even remember my name?”
“You’re lucky I didn’t start off with asking if we’d met,” I told her, lifting my arm to cover my eyes.
“Well, you’re still funny,” she giggled. “I’ll say we’ve met…and met and met...”
“Oy vey. New day,” I sighed, “same old headaches.”
“Some people call them ‘hangovers’.”
“Like I asked, sunshine--”
“There, see? You do remember my name.”
“You’re kidding, right? I don’t even know where I am.”
“You’re in your bed, silly,” she giggled.
“No, my bed…my apartment blew up.” And if it were my bed, my gun would be under my pillow and--
“I think you mentioned that,” she said, “so this must be a new apartment, ‘cuz it’s really nice.”
“Yeah, that doesn’t sound like me at all,” I said, trying to get to my feet. “My tongue feels fuzzy…Is this Monday? I should feel better than this on a Recovery Monday.”
“Tuesday,” she said, clawing at my back. “Love that tongue, though.”
“Tuesd--Damn. We had a Timeslip Tuesday and it cost me a Recovery Monday. I hate when that happens. I really could’ve used that. OK…Look, if I wasn’t quite myself--”
“If it gets better, I’d love to see that. You were a wild man last night. WOOF!”
Whatever I drank must’ve diverted blood from my brain. I was in no mood for a day of possible random time skips. “That the bathroom?”
“I’ll be in there,” I said. I pushed off from the bed and staggered into the bathroom. It was a lot nicer than my old one. It may have even been bigger than my old bedroom. The mirror didn’t present as pretty a picture as the new place. I was sure I’d seen better days, but I recognized my toothbrush so I started with brushing my teeth as I contemplated a shave. There was no sign of a razor. I settled for a double dose of aspirin and a hot shower instead. After several minutes, I stumbled out of the bathroom.
I was wrapped in a towel and drying the rest of myself with another, but stopped to make sure I hadn’t gone into the wrong bedroom. I was pretty sure I wasn’t brain damaged, but that I was actually looking at a whole different woman. She was sitting on the bed, her black hair spilling down over the shoulders of her private eye trench coat (standard issue). There was a semi-automatic .45 in her lap and a private eye hat (standard issue) sitting beside her. The day was rapidly going downhill, I just knew it.
“There was another woman here, wasn’t there? Or did I hallucinate that?”
“Oh, her. She saw my gun and left in a hurry.”
Oh, I liked this one. “Why didn’t I think of that? If you came in to relieve her for the day shift, you‘ll need to wait a bit. I just took a shower and I’d hate to waste all that cleaning just getting sweaty again. Maybe after breakfast, we can--”
“No offense, but she hardly seemed like your type.”
“She was a woman,” I said. “They come in lots of different types.”
“She seemed kind of dense.”
“I’m pretty sure I was blacked out before we met,” I told her. “Whatever criteria I used, I’m a lot of years past finding someone to help me with my math homework. I’m actually pretty consistent about the women I wake up with.”
“Oh,” she said, “I’m sorry.”
“It’s a situation I have to suffer with until someone comes up with a cure. Now, who the Hell are you? Unless my sister sent you to scare women out of my bed, you‘ve got a lot to explain.”
“Well, the shortest explanation is that my name’s Harmony Storm, Mr. Stone,” she said, “and I desperately need your help.”
“This ain’t an AA meeting, doll.”
“Please, Mr. Stone,” she pleaded. “I’ll do anything.”
Trouble. I knew it. Some dame showing up and starting to run her mouth was never anything less. “Do I know you? You look familiar.”
“Train station,” she reminded me. “Lots of blood.”
“I think I remember that,” I said.
“I’m not sure I can forget it.”
“If you needed my help, why’d you run?”
“Well, at the time, I had to go vomit after seeing all the…blood,” Harmony answered, trying to keep herself from retching, “and there…there are strange people after me. They were after me then and they still are! I wasn’t sure who you were. When I found out, I spent the last couple of days trying to find you again.”
“Swell,” I sighed, looking around the room. “Where are my clothes?”
“Kind of scattered around,” she said, “in here, down the hall, in the living room--”
“OK, OK…Go find the kitchen. Wait there. I’ll get dressed and catch up.”
“You’re going to help me?” she asked, both excited and relieved as she sprung up from the bed and threw her arms around me. “Thank you! Thank you!”
“Alright, you need to calm down, step back and go to the kitchen,” I told her. “You’re about two bounces from putting these towels on the floor and starting something that’s gonna cost us the day on your case.”
“Oh…um, sorry,” she apologized clumsily, embarrassed as she stepped back. “I’ll go now and…see you…in the kitchen.”