I unlocked the door to 12th story apartment overlooking downtown Cleveland. I threw down my keys and coat then turned on the light.
The local gangster, Gregg Poppovich, was pointing a gun at me. “What do you want with Art McGarth, Jack?” he asked as he lifted a stogie to his mouth.
“I’m investigating his death, Gregg,” I said. “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”
“Of course not,” he replied, “I just didn’t want you pointing the finger at me.”
“Now why would I want to do something like that?” I asked while I studied him over.
Gregg laughed and put the pistol away in his holster. “I didn’t suppose you did,” he said, “you’re too smart for that.”
“But you must know something. Or else you wouldn’t have broken into my apartment.”
He laughed some more. “Of course,” he said, “that’s why I’m paying you a visit. It’s neither organized crime nor police corruption. There’s a madman loose out there, Jack. I don’t know much more than you, but watch your back.”
“Thanks for your concern, Gregg. But I have the Lord’s protection. Besides, why kill McGarth? He must have had some connections.”
“Not McGarth,” Gregg said, “but the two prostitutes. They’re disappearing all over the city. I’m telling you, Jack, it’s a Jack the Ripper kind of situation.”
“A serial killer?” I laughed, “in a city like Cleveland? Never heard of such a thing.”
“I’m not crazy, Jack. I don’t believe in that silly God of yours, but I do believe in the Devil. And he’s here in this city. So you better watch yourself.”
“I’ll pray on it,” I said, “and I’ll pray for you and your Salvation. May the Lord guide you towards the Light.”
Gregg left and I took a shit. All that scotch and nicotine was running through me. I absolutely destroyed that toilet.
When I walked out of the bathroom, Sally was lying on the bed. “Jesus Christ, Jack!” she said while puffing on a cigarette, “someone light a match!”
I closed the door and loosened my tie. “You shouldn’t use the Lord’s name in vain,” I said. “What are you doing here? I should really change the locks to this place.”
“Just paying you a visit,” she replied while hiking up her skirt to expose her gorgeous legs. “Have you found out anything about Art McGarth? Seeing as we’re both investigating his death.”
“His murder appears to have been collateral damage,” I said. “Other than that, I know nothing.”
“Are you sure?” Sally asked as she unbuttoned her blouse.
“Sally, I don’t know what you’re expecting to happen here. You know I don’t know what to do with a woman. I’ve never had sex!”
“I could show you,” she said as she lowered her shirt to expose her shoulders.
“No thanks,” I replied, “I don’t believe in sex before marriage. Now please leave.”
After she left, I straightened out the bed, loaded one round into the revolver of my .38, spun it, pointed it at my head, and pulled the trigger.
“Thank you, Lord, for always watching out for me,” I prayed. Then I went to bed.
I always sleep better after a game of Russian Roulette.
“What can you tell me about Art McGarth?” I asked the cop at precinct 13.
“Fuck you Jack Hardcock!” the cop said. “You don’t run this city! Every time you come around here, a cop ends up dead. You’re a loose canon! I will not be cooperating with you!”
I pulled out my .38 and reached across his desk. “Listen here, HEATHEN,” I said, “I’m doing the Lord’s work by saving this city from the clutches of SATAN! You will cooperate with me or else you will be swallowing one of these bullets!”
The Chief detective of the precinct, Sally Wally, intervened. Her bottom of her skirt went just above her knees. “Jack, put that gun away,” she ordered.
“Sally, you’re dressed immodestly,” I replied. “I can’t do my job with an erection.”
“Step into my office please.”
I went into Sally’s office. I threw my coat and jacket down on the couch and kicked my feet up on her desk. “Did I say you can sit?” she asked.
“Sally, with all due respect,” I replied, “you might be over this precinct, but I’m still a man. And as a man, my authority supersedes yours.”
“What do you want with Art McGarth?” she asked, completely ignoring my comment. “This investigation is under our jurisdiction. We will handle this case.”
“The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations has asked me to look into his murder, along with the murder of two prostitutes,” I said. “McGarth was listed as a John Doe with the Bureau before I identified him and his name only appears in your databases. So what can you tell me about him?”
“After you got 14 of my officers killed in your last investigation,” Sally explained, “a federal grand jury decided that my department no longer has to cooperate with yours. If you have a problem with that, take it up with the Supreme Court.”
“You see, that’s the thing,” I replied as I lit up a cigarette and let the ashes fall to the ground, “man has his laws. And God has His. And I don’t answer to the laws of man.”
“That’s why you were kicked out of the FBI,” Sally said.
“Come on Sally! I wasn’t booted from the FBI! I voluntarily left because I couldn’t work for a heathen President like Joe Biden!”
“Tell your department that if they want our cooperation,” Sally said, “they will have to get a federal warrant. Until then, get the fuck out of my office and don’t show up here again.”
I stood up, grabbed my hat and coat, then put my cigarette out on Sally’s desk. “Have a blessed day,” I said.
There was something fishy going here. Whatever Precinct 13 was hiding, with the Lord’s help, I was going to get to the bottom of it.
When I walked outside, I reached into my holster and pulled out the .38. “Don’t worry sweetheart,” I said to the gun, “this city will soon know your wrath.”
I kissed the gun and put it back into the holster.
It’s been a LONG time since I wrote a story. So here’s a goddamn story.
Sorry about all the sacrilegious stuff lately. I’m just working through stuff
Like I always say: I ain’t promising that this story will be good.
“Cleveland. Shit,” I uttered to myself. “Still only in Cleveland.”
“What’s that, Jack?” the Chief asked.
“Nothing, Chief,” I replied. “It’s just that I’ve been stuck in this godforsaken city for the last two months.”
“Eh,” the Chief shrugged, “at least it ain’t Cincinnati.”
“Ain’t that the truth,” I replied as I lit up a cigarette. “What do you got for me?”
“A triple homicide. Two dead hookers and an anonymous John.”
“So the usual, huh?” I said.
“Jesus Christ, Jack! Do you want the case or not?! I’ve got two detectives downstairs itching for a case like this and you’re up here bitching like a little bitch!”
“Don’t use that language around me Chief,” I replied. “I was raised Southern Baptist.”
“My mistake, Jack,” the Chief said, “you know me, I always try to be respectful of other people’s belief’s. Except for Seven Day Adventist.”
“So what’s it gonna be Jack? Do you want the case or not?”
I put out my cigarette and grabbed the file. “I guess so Chief,” I said, “Sometimes I wish the Lord would come back and unleash hell on this town. If it ain’t a serial killer, it’s some goddamn junkie robbing his grandmother for his next fix. I swear, you unbelievers will learn the vengeance of God! May this city be cast into Hell!”
The Chief got on his knees and begged for mercy. “Please Jack! Don’t let me burn in hell for all of eternity!”
“Then accept the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart,” I said, “and pray for the forgiveness of your sins.”
And on February 23rd, 2022, the Chief accepted Salvation through Jesus Christ.
After the Chief’s conversion, I loaded my .38 and asked God to guide my bullets into the bodies of my enemies. “Thank you Lord,” I prayed, “let vengeance be Yours…and mine.”
I kissed the barrel of my gun and entered the mean streets of Cleveland. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil,” I uttered.
I grabbed the first pedestrian I saw on the streets. “Do you recognize this man?” I asked while holding up a picture of one of the victims.
“No,” they replied.
I slapped them across the face with the butt of my gun. “Liar!” I yelled, “Do you know what the Lord does to liars? He mutilates their genitals and they feast on them in heaven! So don’t let the devil catch your tongue! For it’s not the devil you should worry about if that happens! It’s GOD. And you WILL know God’s wrath AND the wrath of my .38!”
After the pedestrian pissed their pants, they confessed the victim’s name: Art McGarth.
So I let that poor sack of shit go and lit up a cigarette. “Not bad for an honest day’s work,” I thought.
“What happened to your face?” Jacob asked as I met him at the Cyrene’s inn.
“I was attacked by one of Herod’s thugs,” I said. “They’re onto us. So watch who you talk to.”
“You didn’t tell him anything did you?”
“I told him I was a friend of Joseph’s. After that, he left me alone.”
“Shit,” Jacob said and rubbed his face. “Well good news is I met with Ananias and his wife Sapphira. Remember them?”
“The one’s from Rome?”
“Yeah. They sold some of their property in Judea. They gave the money to John to distribute to the widows outside of the city walls. It’s finally happening Simon!”
“Don’t let it get to your head!” I told him. “You still need to lie low.”
Just then a big burly fellow with six other men busted through the door. “Χαιρετίσματα Jacob,” the booming voice said.
“You’re Stephanos?!” I exclaimed.
Stephanos looked over to me and back over to Jacob. “Who’s dis?” the man asked in his Greek accent.
“Relax, he’s Simon,” Jacob replied. “He was a good friend of Yeshua’s.”
Stephanos looked me up and down. “I heard you were arrested,” he said to me.
“No, it must have been another Simon,” I replied. “I’m from Bethsaida.”
Stephanos was confused. He looked back to Jacob. “I was told that Ananias gave you money. Our women and children are starving too-“
“Now Stephanos,” Jacob interrupted, “I know where you’re going with this. But Ananias was very clear: he wanted us to use this money to help the widows of Jerusalem.”
“Because we’re Greeks we’re not as important as the Hebrews?”
“I didn’t say that. Please listen to me. I’m only respecting Ananias’ wishes.”
Stephanos was furious. “We’ve been in the streets for days while you Hebrews have been coward up in your homes! Do you support us or not?!”
“Of course I support you!” Jacob yelled then took a deep breath. “I get how you feel, Stephanos, I really do. But you gotta understand our situation. Herod and Pilate aren’t too concerned with the Greeks right now. But they are after us. We can’t be out in the streets and we don’t have the money to spread around to everyone. I’m sorry. But Ananias is a very successful man from Rome and a diaspora Jew just like yourself. If you go to him and explain your situation, he can probably provide you with some assistance.”
Stephanos stood silent for a moment then muttered something in Greek. He walked up to Jacob. “μη με σταυρώνεις,” he said. Then him and his six men left the room.
“You should’ve stayed away from him Jacob,” I said.
“And Stephanos is a convert. To Ananias, he’s still a Gentile. He’s not giving him the money.”
Jacob began rubbing his temples. “I need a drink,” he said.
We went down to the tavern where Levi was scribbling something down. “What are you doing?” Jacob asked him.
“The Greeks wanted something to tell the people back in the Decapolis. Something about Yeshua.”
I looked over the writing. He didn’t write much but it was all in Greek. I couldn’t understand a word of it. Jacob was puzzled. “Where did you learn to write Greek?”
“In school, here in Jerusalem” Levi replied, “I had to learn it along with Hebrew.”
“Maybe we should drop the subject of Greeks for the time being,” I said.
We sat silently drinking our wine for a few minutes. There was a commotion on the streets. Andrew came running up. “They’re about to stone some of the Greeks!” he screamed.
Jacob and Levi instantly got up. “Aren’t you coming along?” Jacob asked me. Against my better judgment, I put down the wine cup and followed them.
A few blocks away, a crowd was gathering. Some were shouting. Others gawked out of morbid curiosity. Moments later, Temple guards began dragging out seven Greeks. One of them was Stephanos.
Behind them followed a few members of the Sanhedrin, including Joseph. Standing beside him was Ananias.
“Thief! Thief!” Ananias shouted. “These men conspired with Yeshua to rob the Temple and overthrow the Romans!”
My heart began to sink. This was a setup.
The guards threw the Greeks in front of Herod’s black-cloaked mercenaries who had their spears ready. Meanwhile, the Roman guards stood back smiling at the whole affair.
A judge from the Sanhedrin stood among the crowd and faced the accused. “Conspiracy, sedition, robbery of Ananias,” the judge said, “are these accusations true?”
It didn’t matter what Stephanos said. And he knew it. From his knees, he laughed and looked at the crowd. “You stiff-necked people,” he said, “your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—”
“God help you,” the judge said.
With those words, the mercenaries plunged their spears into the bellies of the Greeks. A pool of blood formed in the middle of the crowd.
Levi screamed in horror and ran away.
But the crowd was just getting warmed up. They picked up stones or any disposable object and began hurling them towards Stephanos. He got bruised and battered and knocked in the head a few times but kept crawling forward.
Among the mercenaries, I recognized a familiar face: The scars….the scabs…the wiry frame. It was him alright. It was the man that attacked me a few days earlier.
And Stephanos kept crawling towards this man as the stones were raining down on him. When he reached his feet, Stephanos grabbed the man’s cloak and got to his knees.
I was too far away to hear anything, but Stephanos was clearly saying something to this man. Judging by his face, the figure was stunned by what was being said. But before the figure could react, a member of the crowd smashed a rock into Stephanos’ skull.
The man in the black cloak stood back with blood and brain matter splattered all over his face. He was in a daze.
Before the crowd could mutilate the bodies, Joseph stepped in to quiet them. That’s enough!” he yelled. “The perpetrators of the Passover sedition have been caught and punished! This matter is closed! Please return to your homes!” As the crowds dispersed, the Temple guards started dragging the bodies outside of the city walls.
Jacob and I returned to the inn in silence. We didn’t know what to make of what just happened. “Do we leave Jerusalem?” Jacob asked.
“Why?” I replied. “It looks like Joseph and Ananias took care of our problem.”
“It is the King’s wish that your three female crew members join his harem. In exchange, we will grant you land rights on Ishnar, allowing you to remain here permanently,” Hazov declared to me in front of the Royal Council.
“What if they deny the King’s wish?” I retorted.
“Then you and your crew will be asked to leave.”
“Hazov, I can’t make them do anything. Those three crew members are distinguished women in their own right. I do not own them.”
“Those are the conditions on which you may stay on Ishnar.”
“Unacceptable,” I said, “I am responsible for the safety and well-being of my crew. Under no conditions would they submit to this demand.”
Hazov then whispered to one of the advisers. They convened privately for a few moments. “Alright,” Hazov finally spoke up, “then the King will accept one of your female officers for his harem: Commander Mwangi.”
I tried to hide the anger boiling beneath. “Under Space Fleet guidelines,” I responded, “we are ordered to respect the customs of extraterrestrial cultures. But I cannot submit my crew these demands, not without discussing it with them first. Please allow me to return to the Sagan where I will meet with my crew.”
“Of course, Captain.”
I was bluffing. I knew the crew wouldn’t agree to these terms but I needed time to find other options.
When I returned to the Sagan, Dr. Jackass pulled me aside. “Valdez is indeed pregnant,” he said, “we ran a DNA test and the father is Smashhouse. Yah was correct.”
“Fuck me running!” I replied.
I went underground to meet with Yah again. The guards refused to let me through. “Look,” I told one of them, “Hazov has granted me unrestricted access to Yah.”
“We need an explanation for your visit,” the guard said.
“I just need to go over with Yah the court proceedings on Earth should he stand trial,” I replied. “That’s all.”
“I need to confirm this with Hazov.”
“Don’t waste your time, Hazov’s time, and my time. You’re being ridiculous.”
We had a stare down for a few moments before he let me through. Another guard escorted me to Yah’s chamber.
“Can we have some privacy please?” I asked the guard. When he was out of earshot, Yah spoke up.
“I knew you’d be back,” he said.
“Of course you did.”
“We got off on the wrong foot Captain. But I can help you with your problem.”
“What is my problem?”
“Your ship doesn’t work and you can’t stay on Ishnar.”
“So? Maybe I can find another corner of this planet for my crew to live on.”
“The King of Ishnar rules this entire planet. If he ever found you and your crew, he would kill all of you. Face it: the customs of Ishnar is incompatible with Earth’s. You know this to be true.”
“How can you help me then? Can you fix thrusters, hydrogen drives, and hibernation chambers?”
“Through me, all things are possible.”
“Do you agree to do this?”
“You have my word, Captain.”
“What about Earth? It’s gone. Can you help us rebuild the planet?”
“I’ve only ever wanted what’s best for humanity.”
“Okay then. If you go back on your word, I will not hesitate to eject you into outer space where you’ll spend eternity in your chamber.”
“My powers are limited in this chamber. The only way I can repair your ship is if you release me from it.”
Son of a bitch, he was right. I knew he was right. And he knew that I knew he was right. We were playing each other. I had to make a choice.
I called the guard over. “Bring Yah’s chamber to the surface,” I ordered. “We’re bringing him back to Earth.”
It has been absolute Christmas for me the last few days. My blog’s existence has been vindicated by the conflict in Ukraine and the state of journalism reporting on it.
The internet really has ruined everything…especially the Twitterification of political discourse.
Case in point is Glenn Greenwald, sometimes referred to as the “GOAT” of journalism, who is now having an total fucking meltdown on Twitter.
Monitoring this situation, it has occurred to me that people can’t handle that multiple things can be true at once.
No, Greenwald is not a “Putin agent”. Yes, “propaganda” is bad, especially when it’s used to drum up war. And yes…Russia, led by an autocrat, invaded a sovereign country and no matter how terrible propaganda and American foreign policy has been, it doesn’t change the fact that….Russia, led by an autocrat, invaded a sovereign country.
I’m always hesitant to say that the “media lies to you”. It’s more complicated than that. What they’re actually doing is spin doctoring, omitting facts, and failing to interrogate all available information and opinions (but I guess in a certain sense, that is lying).
That’s why it’s up to YOU, fellow reader, to be honest enough with yourself to interrogate all available facts. That’s all we’ve got for the time being.
Because there is no trustworthy journalist or media figure. They’re all cynical actors until proven otherwise…especially the ones that have prior ideological convictions (what they are specifically for Greenwald, idk. But they’re easy to infer: has close associations with Noam Chomsky, his husband is a Socialist politician in Brazil, etc) and simultaneously criticize Big Tech yet profit off of it (via Substack, Twitter, etc)
But if you’re a Greenwald defender, relax: “iM jUSt aSkiNg QuEsTIons”
I’m gonna leave a link to these two articles here. Maybe they’re old. Maybe they’re outdated. Maybe they’re inaccurate. You be the judge.
Yeah yeah, I know that my detective stories are unpopular and always peter out before I finish them. But I’ve never written a story with supernatural/horror elements in it, and a detective mystery is my only way in.
Will this story work?
Lol, I never promise that.
So let’s see how this goes…
So I was doing a seance during the middle of the night in a cemetery when a security guard approached me.
“The hell are you doing?” he asked.
“Conjuring the dead. What does it look like?”
“Well hurry up. Gates close in an hour.”
So I cranked up the spirit box and pulled out the Ouija board. I asked the spirit box, “is a Joe Morris present?”
The box scanned through the channels before saying “Beelzebub”. Oh shit, I thought. I probably just cursed myself.
“No no no,” I replied. “JOE Morris.”
The box continued to scan but I was receiving no answers. The Ouija board was no help either. It kept spelling out “anal sex” and “go fuck yourself”. This was getting me nowhere.
I packed everything up and took out my flashlight. Next to Joe Morris’ tombstone was the name “Jezebel Morris”.
Dorthy Morris neglected to tell me that name.
Joe was Dorthy’s father. He was allegedly poisoning in 1952. The autopsy, however, was inconclusive. Dorthy’s been wanting this case solved her entire life. Now, in her twilight years, she lived a reclusive life on her family’s estate while her brain slowly demented away.
In my opinion, Joe died by natural causes. You know how men lived in those days. But I hadn’t had a case in months.
Was it wrong of me to take this elderly lady’s money? Yes.
I immediately left the cemetery and stopped at the Voodoo shop. I had to do something to spurn any demonic curses, ya know? Afterwards I drove to Dorthy’s estate.
I pounded on the door. She was hard of hearing.
“Is that you Lyle?” she asked
“No ma’am. It’s Ty Carson, private detective,” I replied.
I opened the door and found Dorthy with a blanket covering her lap in front of the fireplace. She was playing checkers.
“Who are you playing checkers with?” I asked.
“I’m not playing checkers.”
I quickly moved on to the business at hand. “I did what you asked,” I said. “I went to the cemetery to talk to Joe. I found out that the dead aren’t too keen on talking.”
“But I talked to Joe this morning,” she replied.
I ignored that comment.
“Who’s Jezebel?” I asked.
Dorthy gave me a puzzled look. “Jez has been dead for years,” she said.
“I know. Who was she?”
“No. I can’t betray Joe like that.”
“But she might be key to understanding Joe’s death.”
“No. That matter is closed.”
I shrugged. I figured that I could just go through public records in the morning. As I began to leave, I turned around.
“Oh, by the way,” I said, “the spirit box and Ouija board came to about $150. That will be charged to your account.”
“$5,000 you said?” Dorthy asked as she pulled out her checkbook.