Special Blend



I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.
-Gilda Radner

If my doctor told me I only had six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.
-Isaac Asimov



NEW for September 7, 2007

Chapter 9 (see below)

Journal – My Trip to Olive Garden, Part 2; Fantasy Football Update

Quiz – Guess that Phrase

^^^

[As an innovator, I often try new things. Sometimes they work and sometimes they do not. I remain absolutely convinced that the Fagin Dupree saga is one of the best things I have done, and you would be better off for reading it. However, there comes a time when a man has to face facts, and that time is now. To date there have been I think two comments on Fagin. Otherwise nothing. Other columns have elicited more response, and while Comments are not the final arbiter for how much impact a thread is making, if it is just not the forum for me to do this, then I need to accept that and move on. Therefore, IF YOU WANT FAGIN DUPREE TO CONTINUE ON THESE PAGES, YOU NEED TO LEAVE A COMMENT TODAY, OR AT LEAST SEND A TEARFUL EMAIL COMPLETE WITH VOYEURISTIC PICTURES OF FEMALE FAMILY MEMBERS. With that, I hope you enjoy another chapter, narrated in first person by our new friend Archer Falcon. It's sort of a catch-up chapter from what has come before, leading to some of the best work of the series, A Night at the Opera. Will you get to read it? Who knows?]



THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE ADVENTURES OF FAGIN DUPREE



Read Chapter 8


Chapter Nine: Dupree Special Blend

My name is Archer Falcon—the same as the sign on the door: "ARCHER FALCON – CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING." That's me, I own the place, well, half the place, but that's another story. The important thing to remember is that I'm the boss. I'm in charge. Nothing happens around here that I don't want it to.

Except right now. There's a man sitting across from me putting test to that theory.

It was a Thursday, I think. Leticia let in a man who wanted to see me. I was glad at first, because if got rid of Pamela. Now I'm not so sure. He's an odd duck. Difficult to read. He says his name is Fagin Dupree. That don't really mean nothing to me. His story now, that's a fair bit more disturbing.

He says he had two other detectives working for him on something, and now they're both dead because of it. And now he wants my help. Not that I'm scared or nothing, but it seems like it's bad luck for a detective to be near this guy.

"Mr. Dupree." I said, deciding it was time to regain the advantage. "ARCHER FALCON is not your typical detective agency. We're more…of a specialty type of establishment. We don't just take any case."

"I appreciate that, Mr. Falcon" He replies, not a whit disturbed. "I hate to associate with boring people."

"Well, why don't you tell me a little about your situation, and we'll see if ARCHER FALCON is the right fit for you."

"Certainly." Dupree pulls out papers for rolling cigarettes. I never figured him for a smoker. Then he pulls out a pouch. I could see the words "PRIVATE BLEND" written on the side. He pushes both the pouch and the papers across to me. Now it becomes clear.

Dupree smiles, all teeth, no eyes. "I had that blend made up special. I think you might enjoy it."

"What's in it?" I ask, sniffing cautiously at the pouch for a hint of poison. My nose was convinced, and alerted the rest of me that joy soon cometh.


"There is some maple, cherry, brown sugar, cocoa, orange bark, a hint of jasmine, and a whisper of honey-suckle." My mouth started watering.

"I don't know whether to smoke it or rub lotion on its back," I cracked, but inside, I'm impressed. This Dupree not only knows I rolled my own cigarettes, but he went to the trouble of making me up a special blend. I rip open the top. It smelled…like a week I spent one night in Bangkok…but that's another story.

I roll one, my lips trembling in anticipation. My taste buds were throwing a party. I offer one to Dupree. He shakes his head with a small smile. When I had the cigarette lit and puffing away, he starts in.

"My first association with a private dick was the honorable Frank Pittsnogle." I should have known. When he got offed, it rocked our small community, the community of gumshoes, that is. Letty even cried. I had to comfort her. I needed to be more wary and not sucked in by these magnificent cancer sticks. Dupree continued.

"Pittsnogle was hired by my Ex's roommate under the misapprehension I killed the Ex. Through this I came to know Pittsnogle and eventually bought his entire practice."

I whistled. "That's pretty impressive, Mr. Dupree."

"Call me Fagin."

"That's pretty impressive, Fagin. What did you think of his secretary, Joey?"

"Her name was Gloria, actually." Okay. That was one test he passed.

"Oh yeah. Joey was the girl before Gloria. Pretty little thing, like that girl in the song."

"What song?"

"You know, 'Joey,' by Rick Springfield."

"Mr. Falcon…"

"Call me Archer."

"Archer. That song 'Joey' is by Concrete Blonde. Sung by a woman about a guy."

"Oh." Really? I'd have to ask Carrie Jain about that. She was an authority on all things '80s. I buzzed for Letty.

"Yes, Archer." God, I loved her voice. I could see that Dupree appreciated it too.

"Is Carrie Jain in?"

"Yes."

"Patch me through." A whirring sound can be heard. Fagin has a bemused smile on his face.

"Jain." Her voice is businesslike, as usual. I've tried for two years to get her to be more playful –good for the customers—I argued, but she wasn't buying.

"Carrie, lass, you know that '80s song, 'Joey'?"

"By Concrete Blonde. What about it?"

"Never mind." I click off. Fagin looks like he's trying not to laugh. I try to move on, best I can, with what dignity I can.

"Well, she was a pretty girl, no matter what her name was. Funny thing: Pittsnogle's wife, Colette, she made him fire Joey and hire Gloria, who's nice enough, but nobody's wet dream, you know? Then Colette up and leaves ol' Pittsnogle anyway, leaving the poor S.O.B. stuck with Gloria."

We both laugh hard at that.

"I didn't know that." Fagin says. "You're right about Gloria not being too easy on the eyes," he continues, "but I did get to like her a good bit. I'm sorry she's dead."

That shut me up right quick. Killjoy. "Why don't you go on with your story?"

"Yeah, well, there was an incident up in North Carolina. Pittsnogle referred me to a J.W. Lush."

"J.W.? I know that old-timer. Great guy. Talk your blasted ear off. But a great guy. Wasn't he always shacked up with some little thing with the same name? Diane?"

"Debbie."

"That's the one. Damn fine fillies, they two or three I saw. Practically had to order off the Kids' Menus, but damn fine fillies."

"Indeed. Lush was looking into something for me. It ended up getting him killed. They killed everyone at Pittsnogle just to show me they could. And they killed all my business partners and took away my business too."

"What was your business?" I asked.

"BÏSTDÅGG ACQUISITIONS."

"That was you? Impressive work that whole BÏSTDÅGG thing. Whitney was especially impressed."

"Whitney?"

"One of my detectives. Maybe you'll meet her later."

"Well, Archer," he continued, "it's all gone now. And my workers are dead. And Gloria is dead. And Pittsnogle is dead. And Lush is dead."

"And his girl? The Debbie du jour?"

"I spirited her away, but to be honest, I'm not sure how long I can keep her safe. My Ex and her roommate? They're threatening to kill both. They also killed my girlfriend in Vegas, along with a Poker dealer, framed me for the murders, and stole a 1.6 million dollar pot from me in the meantime, after already stealing my business."

"That's low. To kill a man's dame is bad enough, but to steal his poker winnings? I tell you, this world ain't civilized no more. What you do to piss these people off?"

"That's what I'm trying to figure out."

"And you want my help with that?"'

"Perhaps."

"Who's in charge of this group? What's the cat's name?"

"Arbuckle Greene."

"Never heard of him. To be honest, after your little tale of woe, I'm not sure I want to."

"That's interesting, Archer, because when I brought him up to your lovely assistant out there, she seemed to be under the impression that you not only know of Arbuckle Greene, but have had dealings with the man in the past."

Damn. It's not like Letty to sell me out like that. I tried another tack. "All the more reason for me not to take him on directly."

"Oh, I don't want you to take him on. Not exactly. Not yet, anyway."

"Then what, exactly, Mr. Fagin Dupree, if I might ask, do you want from me?"

"I want to work for you."

"You want to work for me." I repeat, in disbelief.

"Indeed. And the girl, Debbie, too, if there's room."

"What makes you think you can be a private detective?"

"I think you'll find, Mr. Falcon, that I have a lot of skills that will prove invaluable to your firm."

"Well, we'll see. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have another appointment shortly."

"Absolutely. I will be in touch." Dupree stands and shakes my hand firmly, but not like one of those guys trying to prove his manhood. He turns to leave and then pauses if remembering something. He turned back and handed me a piece of paper from his inside breast pocket.

"What's this?"

"It's the 800 number for that tobacco company. Tell them you want the 'Dupree Special Blend.' They liked the combination so much they decided to stock it for special customers."
I wanted to say something clever, but it was a mighty fine smoke. Besides, I'm never very sharp on Sundays.

Fagin Dupree walked out and I buzzed Letty to step in my office. Just the sight of her and I felt a little bit better. I was reminded of what Jack Lemmon said about Marilyn Monroe's walk: 'like Jell-O on springs'. A man could spend hours on the callipygian curve of that skirt alone. And then moving upward…

But now I was annoyed with Letty. Had to keep focused on that. "Leticia, darling, why would you admit that we know Arbuckle Greene to Mr. Dupree? That's not like you."

"But Mr. Archer, I no say nothing about that man!" She protested. "We talked about flowers and Mexican pottery—he knew much about these things—but he no say nothing about Mr. Greene!" She shuddered, for full effect.

Letty pouted prettily, waiting for me to say sorry. Damn. He got me again. I was really starting to like this fellow. I might even enjoy working with him. The only trouble spot was the look in Letty's eye when she mentioned his knowledge of Mexican Pottery, a favorite of hers. I better fix that right now.

"Letty," I said, "call a meeting for this afternoon. Everyone needs to be there. And make reservations. I'm taking you to lunch."

"The usual place?" she cooed.

"Yes, doll. The usual."

She sat on a corner of my des, leaned over and picked up my phone. Speed Dial-3.

"Hello. Barrington Arms Hotel?" This is Fran." Letty winked at me, although how anyone would ever believe someone with her accent would be a Fran is beyond me. "Yes, I would like my usual room, please. Gracia…I mean thank you."

Yes, Fagin Dupree was going to be an interesting character. But first things first.

1 comment:

Bogart said...

It seem that Archer is nice, seasoned, and one yard short of the first down...my guess is Archer's dead by chapter 11...and Fagin's in bed with Letty by chapter 12!