Grimner, P.I. – A Flash Fiction Piece
Some guy on the internet said I had to write a short story about a superhero… by mashing it with another genre.
The genre I chose was Noir. Then I added a bit of Paranormal. And threw in a bit of Satire.
Let me know your thoughts! Or don’t let me know your thoughts!
His name was Grimner.
Everybody who passed his office knew his name was Grimner, because that’s what it said on his door.
Ulysses K. Grimner, P.I. of the Paranormal. Supernatural Superhero. Psychic Solutions.
He was still thinking of titles to adorn the door. But first, he needed a bigger door.
Word-of-mouth advertising was how he got most of his work. A good reputation, like a small bonsai tree, was a hard thing to cultivate. To ensure his reputation didn’t die a slow and parched death like the last bonsai tree he’d tried to grow, Grimner only accepted clients with cases he knew he could solve. Failure came in the form of verbal black marks against his otherwise sparkling name. Failure meant less clients. Less money. Less chance of Lolita accepting his dinner invitation.
It was a day just like any other when Benny Threefingers walked into Grimner’s office. From the moment he lay eyes on Benny, Grimner knew the Brooklyn thug was a man with a huge stinking pile of crap on his shoulders. The hat-wringing was a dead-give away. Men who came in wringing their hats had come as a measure of last resort. The thick smell of desperation rolled from Benny in palpable waves, amongst which Grimner wallowed happily.
Benny’s story unfolded like an origami swan set adrift on a lake. Grimner listened in silence as Benny described the job he’d accepted ten days ago, how he’d just gone along because two men wasn’t enough and four was one too many. They’d needed a third man and it was an easy job, they’d told him. Easy as taking candy from a baby.
“How was I supposed to know the house wasn’t empty?” Benny wailed. Grimner nodded along sympathtically. “I just thought the job was a quick smash-and-grab. It wasn’t my idea. I didn’t plan any of it. I was just there to be the third guy. Right?”
“Right,” Grimner agreed.
“So anyway, we smashed the window and grabbed everything on the list. Then this kid wanders out of the bedroom, still rubbin’ the sleep outta his eyes, and as soon as he clocks us his mouth opens. I can see he’s gonna scream, so I think ‘Shit, what do I do?’ Didn’t get chance to do anything, did I? Tommy Anaconda shot the kid in the head, point blank. As if that was going to make less noise than a screaming brat! Now I’m looking at a murder charge if the cops ever find out I was there. But that’s not the worst part. Do you want to know the worst part?”
“It would certainly help me with your case.”
Benny leant forward, shifty little eyes darting from side to side as if looking for someone to keep his secret from. His voice, when he spoke, was a hoarse whisper. “He follows me around. Has done ever since Tommy shot him. It ain’t fair! I was just the third guy! I didn’t shoot him! Why don’t he go haunt Tommy?”
Grimner nodded in understanding. He’d never met Tommy, but he knew the guy had no conscience. He was a cold-blooded killer. There was no hope for Tommy Anaconda. But Benny Threefingers, he saw the ghost of the little boy he hadn’t killed. There was hope for Benny. He just needed a push in the right direction.
“Benny, I’m going to help you,” he said.
“Good, good. Thank you. How much will it cost me?”
“My prices are negotiable. Wait here.”
He left Benny alone for a few moments, give the guy a chance to stew in desperation whilst Grimner collected a few things from his store-room. Table-cloth. Chalk. Dribbly candles. A few runestones, just for good measure. When he returned to his office, Benny was still wringing his hat.
“Um, are you sure I need to be here for this?” Benny asked, eyeing up the mystical items.
“Yes. It’s vital you stay.”
Grimner swept everything off his desk with one swipe of his arm, sending piles of paperwork he’d placed there just for that purpose crashing to the floor. With practised expertise he flourished the black table-cloth and lay it over his desk, then used the chalk to draw a pentacle upon it. After lighting the pre-dribbled candles he picked up the handful of runes and cast them across the cloth, making the appropriate ‘Hmm’ sounds as he pretended to study those which had landed within the boundaries of chalk.
“Gimme your hands,” he said, resuming his seat and offering both hands. It was a measure of Benny’s desperation that he didn’t balk at the request.
Grimner closed his eyes. His hummed a long, low note, and swayed from side to side a bit. Whilst he was waiting for Benny to be suitably cowed, he glanced ahead through the Astral Plane and watched the outcome of the Knicks match at the end of the week, then made himself a mental note to place his bet at the bookies as soon as he’d finished with Benny.
“Ahh, yes, yes, I see!” he said at last. Benny’s hands gripped more tightly. “The boy is with us. Here, in the room. He says… he says…”
“What does he say?” Benny squeaked.
Grimner opened his eyes, examined Benny’s sweaty countenance. “Alright, here’s how it’s gotta be, Benny. The kid wants you to atone for what you didn’t do. He said you gotta do charity work.”
“Yeah, you know. Helping orphans, feeding the homeless, picking up litter… that sorta thing. He’s gonna follow you for a bit, to make sure you really have turned over a new leaf. But he says if you get out of crime and start helping your community and whatnot, he’ll leave you alone.”
“But… I don’t know how to do charity work! Crime’s all I’ve ever done.”
“Here.” Grimner jotted down a name and an address on a piece of paper and gave it to Benny. Father Grant would get him started. “Once you’ve got yourself on your feet, I’ll send you my bill.”
“You mean… I don’t have to pay you now?”
“Nope. Payment comes later.”
“Er, thanks! Thanks, Mr Grimner, I really appreciate your help. I swear, I’m done with crime. From now on I’m going to lead a good life. One where I’m not haunted by dead kids!”
Benny left, his heavy footsteps fading away as he clomped down the wooden staircase. When he was gone, Grimner picked up the pile of paperwork and put it back on his desk. Then he pulled a diary out of his drawer, and added a mark to his running tally. One more job successfully completed. One more soul put back on the right path.
“Ghosts,” he scoffed, shaking his head. “What a laugh. Can you believe that he actually thought he was being haunted by the ghost of a dead kid?”
He glanced at the chair in front of his desk, where the silvery-blue ethereal outline of a woman shimmered as it crossed from the Astral Plane to the Material, becoming flesh.
“Yeah,” Lolita agreed, a conspiratorial smile gracing her sanguine lips. “What an idiot.”
It’s nice to find another writer with an appreciation for similes. I liked the origami one a lot. What I’m realising about writing is that it’s like going for a bike ride some bits are nice and flat and easy and then you have to ride up a bloody big hill and it’s so much work that you wonder why you set out on this ride in the first place. For me similes are one of the flat bits and I’m finding dialogue to a rather large hill. ‘You were riding along one your push bike space man, when I noticed you, you looked so pretty as you were riding along…’ Why do I keep bursting into song every time I come here, it’s very embarrassing?
Thanks, I do indeed enjoy a good simile, and from time to time go completely crazy with an occasional metaphor, too. To me, they feel more like ways of story-showing than story-telling, and I love it when I come across a simile that makes me smile with how apt it is.
Keep at the dialogue; I think large hills are well worth mastering, because when you reach the top you’ll have had a better work out than just pottering along on the flat bits. Hill training for the writer, instead of the cyclist 😉 I struggle with dialogue too at times (I suspect everyone does, a little) — not so much writing it, but trying to break it up with meaningful narrative so that it’s not just one big, long chunk of conversation which eventually falls flat under its own weight. Then I second-guess myself; has that narrative between those two lines ruined the flow and immersion? What a minefield.
Wasn’t it William Congreve who said, ‘Music has charms to soothe the savage breast,’ and Abba who (rhetorically) asked, ‘Without a song or a dance what are we?’ Sing away; the internet is a virtual shower in which everybody sounds amazing when they sing 😉