Archer Falcon



She was gorgeous. She was trouble. She was a dame. What else was new?
-Archer Falcon







NEW for September 6, 2007

Hyperion's Journal - My Trip to Olive Garden

Quiz - Am I Dumb?

Story (below)


^^^

[Chapter 8 marked a real turning point in the Fagin Dupree saga. In Chapters 6-7 I showed Fagin could be hurt, but now I changed everything. For the first time the story shifts from third person to first person, and the storyteller isn't even Fagin! I loved Archer Falcon so much I almost wanted to quit writing about Fagin and make the story about detectives from now on. I still might go back and write a story about the Falcon crew. Anyway, if for some reason you are still resistant to reading this, NOW IS THE TIME TO JUMP IN!!!!! This chapter is breezy, irreverent and very mango. See if you don't agree.]



THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE ADVENTURES OF FAGIN DUPREE



Read Chapter 7


Chapter Eight: "Man, I hate Wednesdays"


"Archer Falcon: Creative Problem Solving"


That's that what the sign reads on the front door. The door is regular, without a window or anything fancy, and the letters are in red, not blood red, we get enough of that around here, but more a nice Indian red, except I guess they don't say that too much anymore, so let's just say the sign's red, on a brown door. To be honest, the door and the sign are pretty ugly, so I'd just as soon quit talking about it if it's all the same to you.

Inside, the office is tastefully decorated, in light blue-greens. (I'd say a "sea-green," but there are probably some sort of Mer-people I'd be offending.) There is sky lighting magnified by mirrors that gives the room the appearance of being filled with light. It's really quite something to look at, but no one in their right mind spends much time lookin' at the walls.

That's on account of Letty.

Leticia sits behind a big wide desk. The desk is made in such a way that the table seems to float in mid-air. (Actually, it comes out from the wall.) The chief advantage to this design is a space age modern aesthetic. Aaah, I'm just kidding you. The real aesthetic is allowing a customer, upon entering, full view of Leticia's luscious lust-inducing legs. (Say that five times fast.)

It may sound sexist to blatantly point out (and to centrally feature) Leticia's legs. And, after a fashion (if you're a skirt or a nancy-boy), I suppose it is. But you got to look at it from a business perspective. There are practical and logistical reasons for this architecture choice.

In my 22 years here, I have found that most men who visit this establishment are nervous, agitated, and usually a bit ashamed. I have also found it to be true that a gorgeous dame equipped with a pair of killer legs will help put such a man at ease.

If has also proven to be the case that women often come here quite apprehensive and reluctant to talk about whatever suspected mischief they have discovered (usually, about their husbands). A beautiful woman helps stoke their competitive juices, makes them want to impress, which in turn helps them open up.

So: far from being a lollypop in our over-sexed world, Leticia's legs are a strategic business move. And, it doesn't hurt to have those gams be the first sight I get every morning when I walk in.

As I was saying, I started this joint 22 years ago with a lot of moxie and no cash. I used to share space with a Korean Laundromat, and Mrs. Kim, the short full-lunged proprietress, used to come over every day and yell at me for 10 minutes, presumably about my low-life clientele. At least, I think that's what she was yelling about. Mrs. Kim didn't speak any English, and I didn't speak any Korean. I've seen successful marriages work on the same principle.

By the way, in case it comes up, and things tend to happen very fast around here, so it probably will, I'm Archer Falcon. You know; the name you saw on the door.

I know what you're thinking: the name's a come-on, fits right in with being a gumshoe, right? I'm here to tell you friend, the name's real. That's what happens when you have a father crazy for detective novels—especially anything Dashiell Hammett, and a mother in love with Humphrey Bogart.

With a name like mine, could I really be anything else? You can't say "Archer Falcon: Math Teacher" with a straight face, and "Archer Falcon: Registered Nurse" don't fit too well neither. It works out, though. A private dick is all I ever wanted to be.

But times have changed. "Detective Agency" no longer has the cachet it once did. Hence the title: "Creative Problem Solving." (Although, this is also because we have a slightly different mission statement around here, but we'll get to that later.) Also eighty-sixed in modern times are: the seedy images of the gumshoe's foul-smelling cigar, hip flask and revolver, fedora and trench coat, and of course his gal Friday by his side. Most modern detectives now wear business suits and drive imports. Bunch of nancy-boys.

Here at Archer Falcon we're a little bit of a throwback. True, we use automatic Lugers instead of revolvers, but we all carry them. (Even Letty, although with the outfits she wears, God only know where she puts it.) I rather suspect more than one of my people takes a nip of liquid courage now and then, and Leticia is gal Friday and every other day of the week.

Gone are the dark dank offices of the past (although every time I smell detergent or hear a small Korean woman screaming, I get nostalgic). Now we have the ultra-modern waiting room, which leads to an antechamber, which will go to any of the offices. All of the offices also open up to a second antechamber, with a private exit, to allow maximum discretion for skittish clients. (In case you didn't know what antechamber was, don't worry about it. I didn't either. It just means room, see? It's one of Whitney's words, and she says it so often she got us all saying it.)

I will now briefly introduce my people, though you'll get to know them more later.

My Detectives: There's Sylbester Gonzalez, hulk of a man – of course everyone calls him "Tweety;" there's Michelle Whitney – you'll never see her coming for you; there's Carrie Jain – you will see her coming, but unfortunately, it won't stop her from handing you your head on a platter; there's Butch Thompson – "Old Butch" everyone has called him since he was 8 years old. Old Butch is legally blind and walks slower than molasses, but he'll catch more with his eyes closed than a hidden-camera documentary on "Dateline;" and there's Spencer Piaget – the less said about him the better.

These are my detectives, and you've already met Letty. There is also Pamela and Gator, but I'm hoping they won't make an appearance until, well, never would be fine with me.

No such luck.

It was a Saturday, or maybe a Thursday; one of those useless days that ends in a "Y." It was raining buckets outside. You could hear the water smacking into cars on Peachtree Lane. (Not to be confused with Peachtree Street, Peachtree Road, Peachtree Boulevard, Peachtree Avenue and any of the other 128 Peachtrees around here. It's a Southern thing,)

I'm sitting in the office reading the mail, intercom turned on in case Letty needs me for anything. Bills, bills, hey: here's one. A death threat from an "Anonymous." This is the second Anonymous death threat this month. These idiots. I don't mind someone trying to kill me, but be a man and own up to it, you know?

I switch to the paper, and I'm reading the sports section, lamenting the two Gs I put on the Falcons yesterday. (I guess that makes it a Monday, then. It figures.) I always lose money on the Falcons, but with their name, I feel a sense of loyalty to them, you know? (Old Butch says my loyalty is actually to Morty, my bookie.)

Anyways, it's a Tuesday, or whatever day we agreed upon, and I'm trying to read the box scores when I hear her yelling. We got soundproof rooms here, so for me to hear anything means it is powerful loud. I can't make it all out, but it's angry, it's female, and it's in English. Too bad. I miss Mrs. Kim.

There's only one woman I know who would be yelling this early on a Thursday, so it is without surprise when I hear a door open and five seconds later mi door flies open too, and in she walks.

She was gorgeous. She was trouble. She was a dame. What else is new?

She sits down uninvited. I would have expected no less.

"Why do you look so terrible?" she asks, her usual charm and tact on display. "Beyond your usual Monday morning hangover that is." It's Monday? No wonder I feel awful.

"Good morning, Precious." I answered. "It's good to see you too."

Just then, Letty buzzed on the intercom. "Archer, it's Morty on the phone."

"Tell Morty I'll call him back." There was a gleam in Pamela's eye. Pamela knew Morty. I hate it when my worlds collide.

"Up to your usual tricks, I see." She's smugly satisfied. Dames are always nagging about the trouble a fellow could get in, and dammit if they ain't pleased as a peacock when they're right.

"If you came to gloat, Precious, I could have saved you the trouble, and just listened to an earlier tape."

"Since when do you tape me?" She demanded. "You did not have my permission to tape me except for…" Pamela trails off, her face reddening. One thing about Pamela, she's strangely literal, and I use that against her, among other things. I guess the past is a double-edged sword.

I keep her dangling for a minute then let her off the hook. "It's just an expression, Precious." I'm such a pushover for killer legs.

Realizing her naiveté, Pamela blushes even more. To cover her embarrassment, she turns all business.

"I received a letter in the mail today. You apparently bought some "land" in Florida, and used the Agency as collateral. What gives you the right, Archer Falcon! What gives you the right to do that?"

She keeps talking, but I tune her out. Like I said, I've heard the song before, and this dame can't sing. I didn't know they were going to send her a letter about the sale. Figures, though. At some point, I should mention that this shrieking vision of loveliness before me is my Ex-wife, and she owns half of "Archer Falcon: Creative Problem Solving."

Divorce Attorneys: if there is more wretched hive of scum and villainy anywhere, I don't to know about it.

Pamela stops to take a breath, charging up for the second verse, but Letty saves me. The intercom again. "Archer, there is a man here to see you."

"Have him talk to Gonzalez, Whitney, even Piaget." Pamela commands Letty through the intercom. I hate it when my worlds collide.

"Everyone is out, even Old Butch." Letty's voice comes back through the box primly. I know that ain't true, but wisely hold on to the fact. Leticia and Pamela, like most gorgeous dames, don't get along. It's about the only advantage we poor men have.

"Show him to the anteroom." I click the intercom off and get up to hustle Pamela out the door.

"Don't try to herd me like cattle!" she protests.

"Precious, sweetheart, baby, I would like nothing more than to continue this conversation on my moral degeneracy, but if I don't talk to clients the firm don't make any money, and you don't want that, do you?"

She's angry—doesn't want to be mollified—but also like most gorgeous dames; she knows what side her bread is buttered on.

"We will talk, and soon," she says icily, but allowing me to lead her out of my office.

"Of course, Precious, baby. I'll call you for dinner. Tonight…tomorrow at the latest, if this new case goes anywhere." That ought to buy me a week at least.

Back in my office, I open the door to admit my gentleman caller. I've never seen him, but I immediately start trying to guess why he's here. I'm the best you'll ever meet at sizing people up. In my business, it helps.

He walks in confidently, but his eyes are wary. He looks around almost expectantly; this isn't the first detective office he's been in. Even with the wariness, he takes a chair easily, almost as if he owns the place. He nods as if giving me permission to sit too. I'm having a hard time getting a full read on him.

He's not a powerfully built man, but he exudes a dangerous air, as if he'd know what to do in a fight. Yet there's that wariness again. Something—or someone—has knocked him down a peg or three.

I continue looking at him. I am in no hurry to speak. As a matter of policy, I assume that most of what he tells me will be untrue, or at least his version of the truth, small difference. So this time is often the most honesty I will get.

When using this tactic, clients usually react in one of two ways. They either start talking immediately, bursting to get their story out, or they wait for permission, visibly wilting under my probing gaze.

This man does neither, but instead looks right back at me with the same frank appraisal I must be eyeing him. We're like a couple of dogs in the old neighborhood, neither one willing to back down. This goes on for almost 20 freaking minutes, and he prepares himself to speak. I hold my mild gaze, but inwardly smile. This first victory is important to keep control of the situation.

"You are correct Mr. Falcon," he begins, pausing to make sure his next words have full impact. "…to surmise that I have indeed been in a private detective's office before this occasion. In fact, I have recently been in two of them."

He pauses again, visibly waiting for me to get slapped upside the head with the knowledge that he figured out my thoughts on him. Before that fact can sink in, he takes one more shot across the bow.

"Both of the detectives are, unfortunately, dead now."

Maybe I better hold off declaring victory just yet. I'm not sure I want to give him any more free at-bats. Time to get in the game.

"How did they die?" I ask lamely. I could have picked a better question to open with. To cover, I pretend like the question is a formality, and I don't care a whit for the answer.

"Both of them were employed in my services. Though their killings were of different means, time and place, it was their attempt to aid me that was the proximate cause of death in each case.

"This brings me to you, Mr. Falcon. I have most urgent need of your services."

My mouth is dry. I feel like I walked into a trap I didn't know existed. "Who are you?" I ask weakly.

"My name, Mr. Falcon, is Fagin Dupree."

Man, I hate Wednesdays.

1 comment:

Bogart said...

Fagin for president and Falcon as his VP!

I think an entire series of Archer Falcon is a great idea.