Cast of Characters
I'm busy writing the fifth installment of "Trip Hazard - Los Angeles Private Eye who will also work for publicly quoted companies". I've not written the first four yet, maybe I never will.
I'll let you know when it's ready. It might even come out in podcast form if I can come up with a convincing american accent. Just as a taster, here is the cast:
Trip Hazard: an LA PI who nearly always does the right thing. In his own way. Cast aside by the LAPD for a crime he probably didn’t commit he now wages war on the side of the angels in the city of the angels, helped by his treasured ’74 open top Mustang and numerous friends and acquaintances. First seen in the pilot programme: “This Shield May Not Be for Hire”
Mycroft Strange: sometime sidekick to Trip who finds his classically trained, British Empire background a help and hindrance in equal parts. A mystic codebreaker who also worked for MI5 he joined forces with Trip in episode two; “Eat Lead for Breakfast”
Koyoto: Enigmatic Japanese beauty with brains to match. Teamed up with Trip in episode three; “Ninja Motorbike Assassins from Tokyo” when he saved her from a life of high octane crime.
Beverley Vermont: Wisconsin Cheese heiress who, due to her inadvertent involvement in a Mafia yoghurt scam, ended Trip’s police career. Returns to become his full time lover in episode four; “Milk isn’t the only thing that curdles”.
Archibald Nemesis : a childhood friend of Trip who has since gone over to the wrong side of the tracks and lives in a disused station there. Now a boss of a huge underworld syndicate which also operates above ground. Really the cause of Trip’s downfall, and nurses a non-secret passion for Beverley. Although he wouldn’t kick Koyoto out of bed either. Introduced in episode one.
As I heard the shot ring out and felt the bullet thud into the wall by my face I breathed a sigh of relief. I remembered the words of good old Sergeant Murphy “You never hear the one that hits you” I recalled him saying on that first day of training. What a guy. With his ready smile and endless supply of ammunition he was just the man to tell us the truth about life on the dangerous streets. “The streets are dangerous” he once told us. How true that was.
If he hadn't been killed on the junction of 53rd and 7th by that falling piano he would be dispensing his mix of street smarts and heavy artillery even now. But that was all in the past. Before I discovered the meaning of true love and then lost everything, my badge, my career, my hopes, my dreams, and also a rather nice cashmere sweater that I got for my birthday.
I shook those unhappy memories from my head and concentrated on the job in hand. From the sound of the shot and the angle the brick particles made as they spattered into my face from the impact I made a rough guess that the sniper was 125.7 meters away at an angle of 46 degrees north and an elevation of 27 degrees. I turned in that direction, bringing my gun out and up in a single smooth, well practiced, motion. Nothing.
I silently cursed myself for failing to allow for the local wind speed and turned further to the left. Just above the empty bookstore, across from the abandoned warehouse above the vacant lot I caught a movement in a broken window. The streetlights glinted off the barrel of the gun as it swung round to aim. Now was the time to move…
I started running towards the entrance in the building in front of me spraying fire up towards the window as bullets kicked up clouds of dust all around me. “There must be half a dozen men up there with a gun each” I thought to myself as I hurtled across the concrete. “Or three men with two guns”. I was just pondering the possibility of a single man with six guns strapped to him as I made it to the opening.
As I paused to catch my breath I used the time to wonder who might be so keen to see me dead. After all, it was two hours to the ransom drop, the drug bust wasn't until Tuesday, and I didn't have any library books overdue at the moment. Whoever it was, they were going to pay for this, in blood if necessary. Although I also take most major credit cards.
This building had definitely seen better times. Water ran down the walls and the stench of rotting garbage was overpowering. A rusty stairway led up to a dingy landing and above me I could hear feet moving as the gunmen changed position to prepare for my ascent. From the sounds I counted seven men, one with a club foot and another with a nasty ingrowing toenail. “He really ought to get that treated” I thought to myself as I shoved another clip of bullets into my Schnieder and Beefcake 45 and prepared once again to fight for my life.
Then I heard a familiar voice, which sent shivers down my spine.
“Good afternoon Trip” said Archibald Nemesis.
“You sound pretty lively, for a dead man” I replied, trying to sound as casual as possible.
“Ah yes, my so called death” he responded smoothly. “It turns out that being shot through the head, electrocuted and dropped into a pool of sharks isn't always fatal”
Of course not, how could I have been so stupid. The bullet could have snagged on the side of specially designed titanium spectacle frames, hidden carbon fibres in his suit could have redirected the electric current and the sharks could have been specially bred vegetarians.
“You see” he continued “my spectacles were actually…”
“Yeah, yeah, I figured” I interrupted, trying to get the right amount of boredom into my voice. “What do you want?”
“I want you Trip” came the reply. “More specifically, I just want you to do a few little jobs for me. Then kill a bunch of people”.
I heard a clang as something dropped down at my feet. A gas canister with a note wrapped around it. Through the gathering smoke I managed to read “Kill Mayor, then pick up laundry”
“What makes you think I’ll do your dirty work?” I spluttered, feeling in my pockets for a handkerchief to put over my mouth.
“Oh, you’ll do it all right. Otherwise I’ll have to kill someone myself”.
Then I heard a sound that chilled me to the very core.
“Trip” she called. It was Beverley.
“Trip, I’m so sorry, he took me by surprise. He’s promised not to hurt me, as long as you do what he asks”
Beverley. The love of my life. Someone I would gladly die or kill for. As the choking fumes swirled around me I vowed that I would rescue her if it was the last thing I did. Preferably it wouldn't be, but at least I would die happy. Then Archibald spoke again.
“And just to show how serious I am, here’s a little token of my esteem”
Something small and damp fell at my feet, I looked at it, blinking tears away from my burning eyes. It looked like it had once been a cashmere sweater. And it seemed horrifyingly familiar. My head began to swim as the gas started to really get to me.
“I've taken good care of it” he rasped “In fact I've just boil washed it”
“Nooooooooooooooo” I howled. And with that, the darkness closed around me and I slumped to the floor.
As I opened my eyes I realised that things were bad. I felt like I'd been shot at, gassed and then savagely beaten whilst asleep. Which seemed about right, given that I had been. "This is going to make a really good blog post" I thought to myself as I struggled to my feet in the dirty stairwell. There were no sounds other than the traffic on the nearby highway, so I figured that Nemesis and his henchmen were long gone. It was still light, although I could just see the last rays of the setting sun on the abandoned building opposite. As I brought up my watch to find out what the time was I noticed that my glasses needed cleaning. Then I froze. I don't normally wear glasses.
In the earpiece of the glasses a tiny speaker crackled into life. "Aha." A voice rasped in my ear. "I see that you are awake". . It was Nemesis. "That's right, I can see you, I can also hear you, in case you ever say anything interesting or amusing".
"Drop Dead Nemesis". It wasn't much, but it was the best I could muster in the circumstances.
"Oh" he replied. "I'm not doing that any time soon. But I do know someone who might be. Bring in the girl"
I'd forgotten. He still had Beverley, my love, my life, now held hostage. The only glimmer of hope was that I knew she would be trying her utmost to escape and get back to me. Unless they were holding her somewhere with room service.
"Oh Trip" It was her. "I'm so sorry. I'll get back to you soon. I'm sure it will all work out OK in the end. Just do what he wants and he has promised to release me."
Before I could pass comment on the chances of Nemesis delivering on any of his promises I heard her being dragged away.
"Now then Trip". That hated voice again. "I've left instructions and all the tools you will need in your car. Remember to keep your glasses on at all times. They contain a rather clever camera and microphone. Whatever you see, we see. Whatever you hear, we hear. At the first sign of disobedience we suspend room service to Beverly. After that things will get a lot worse...."
His threat hung in the air like a piece of dangerous washing on a line.
"...and remember" he continued. "The first one must die before the moon sets".
As I got to my feet I considered things as dispassionately as I could. "Worse things happen at sea" I thought to myself. Although having the love of your life kidnapped and being a given list of people you must kill before she is released probably doesn't figure on most cruise itineraries. And as for the special glasses which linked me with the kidnappers and let them see and hear my every move, they were just icing on a very nasty cake that was not in any way nautical.
As I stood up I felt a wire tugging on my glasses. It seemed to be connected to briefcase on the ground at my feet.
"What's that?" I said out loud.
"Battery pack". The voice of my tormentor rasped in my ear. "I could have got lighter ones, but then again I don't have to carry them. I've also left a few presents inside."
I opened the case. There was a pack of batteries, sniper rifle, a clip of bullets and an egg mayonnaise sandwich. I hate egg mayonnaise. My stomach churned.
"A little something for later". The voice in my earpiece sounded rather too pleased with itself. "But I'm not going to make you eat it now".
I closed the case, picked it up and walked carefully back to my car. I got in and started the engine.
"I need to go back to the office." He didn't like the idea of that.
"If I don't check in they will start looking for me."
"Just call them. And no funny business.I went to clown college you know. I can spot the signs". I sighed. I knew all about his time with Professor Chuckles at his Mirth Academy. And his first gig. And the humiliation. And his subsequent spiral into crime which had turned us from fast friends into mortal enemies.
I pulled out my mobile phone. I flipped it open and hit the speed dial. Koyoto was quick to answer.
"How goes it boss?"
"OK." I tried to sound as relaxed as possible. "But something has come up, I'm not going to make my 6 o'clock I'm afraid."
"That's OK, I'll call them and cancel." she replied, all Japanese efficiency.
"Thanks. I'll see you tomorrow". I snapped the phone shut and pushed it back into my pocket.
"Now then Trip" came the voice in my ear, "Let's go and see Mr. Mayor." The first name on my list, who has to die before the moon sets.
Everyone knew where the mayor was going to be tonight. The annual benefit for homeless lifeguard veterans had been a sell out for weeks. The press were there, the TV were there. Nemesis was going to make sure that everyone saw me pull the trigger.
"What makes you think I'll kill the mayor?" I asked. "Because you love Beverley." came the reply.
Nemesis seemed to have thought of everything. As I pulled up outside City Hall a man walked up and asked for my car keys so that he could park my car. As he drove away I reflected on the organizational genius of the evil overlord. "I don't know who that man is" came the voice in my ear, "but he has your car now".
Some days you just can't get a break.
I climbed up the stairs to the top gallery. My name and reputation had got me into the building and up to this vantage point. Some people in the city police force seemed to have a high opinion of me. That would change. I snapped the tripod together and assembled the rifle in a daze. Before I was aware of what was happening I was staring through the telescopic sights at the mayor on the podium.
"Do it now". The voice in my earpiece was urgent, "Or she dies now".
He was right. It was him or her. And he was definitely uglier. The best mayor we had ever had, honest, forthright, tough on crime, the causes of crime and also the causes of the causes of crime. But he had to die to save her.
I breathed in, held it, and then squeezed the trigger. The gun coughed and a red spot appeared on the chest of the most beloved man in the whole of LA. He faltered and collapsed as guards swarmed around the stage. A spotlight swung round and I was blinded by the light. I dropped the gun and began to run back towards the darkness.