Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Long Nap - Part V

PART V .... Continued

I followed Gunter back down the hall.  When we reached the foyer, there leaning against the same arched doorway that Wendy stumbled through was Lucile, her hands behind her.  She was in a long silk dressing gown.   I was holding my hat at my waist again.  She looked at it and raised her eyebrows.

“Nice hat.”

Gunter turned toward her. “Oh, Miss Lucile, I was just showing Mr. Merlot the door.”

“I’m sure Mr. Merlot has seen a door before, Gunter.  I need a few words.”

Gunter bowed slightly.  “Yes, Ms. Lucile.”  

“Mr. Merlot if you would just follow me.”

I grunted “Do I have a choice?”

She turned looked at my hat again and asked, “Did you want one?” then started walking.

I scratched my head and laughed a little. “I guess I don’t.”

Lucile took me by surprise.  I had to take a second look when Gunter addressed her.  I had seen pictures of her and Wendy in the society section of the Times, but she looked different – about 100 pounds different. 

I followed Lucile into a long room with high ceilings and tall windows and curtains that looked like the kind of stuff they line coffins with.  A white divan was at one end, and a big bed on a dais at the other.  The wallpaper was silk.  There were bookcases and a small bar.  There was a big glass amphora of Chanel on a dresser.  The room stank of it.  There was an uptown expensive kind of ‘cheap’ to the place.  She went over to the bar took out some ice from a bucket, dropped a few cubes into a glass, poured herself some bourbon and added a shot of soda.  She put the glass down on the bar and looked at her reflection in the mirror behind it and combed her hands through her hair a few times. 

“I wanted to talk with you Mr. Merlot if you don’t mind.”

“Suppose I do?”

“Do what?”  She was oblivious.

I laughed and shook my head and said in a low voice “Never mind.”

She was still facing the mirror combing her hair.  I saw her look up.

“Tell, Mr. Merlot, do you usually talk to yourself?”

I leaned forward a little.

“Frequently.  You meet a better class of people that way.”

She turned to me.  “No doubt, something you learned in detective school.  You did go to school didn’t you?”

I was getting Ritzed, but I didn’t mind.  “Top of my class.” 

She turned back to the mirror and took out a cigarette from a silver case.  She caught me staring at her reflection.  She had a look on her face that seemed to not mind being stared at. We made eye contact then she turned directly to me and leaned against the bar resting on her arms.”  She gave me a look between a smile and a scowl.

“Are you sizing me up, Mr. Merlot?”

I looked down at my hat then up again.  “Forgive my manners it’s just that I’ve seen pictures of you before and well, you look different.”

“If it was that dreadful photo the Times ran at last year’s sailing regatta I can understand.”  She arched her upper body back like a cat in heat.  She looked me up and down like Wendy, except with a little more class.  She lowered her head then raised it again and asked:  “So, do you like what you see … now?  Everything look ship shape?

“You look pretty tight.  I'd guess you'd be quick enough under a full sheet.”  Or a twin for that matter.

She smiled “Oh, you have no idea. Mr. Merlot.”  

She took a gulp of her drink.  “So you’re a private dick.”

“I thought we weren’t going to talk about my hat.”

She looked down “We’re not.  I already saw your hat in the foyer.  It’s nice but it’s no Borsolino.”

“So I understand.  Well then, what do you want to talk to me about?”  

She held out her cigarette.  If she was waiting for me to light it for her she was going to have a long wait.  I wasn’t willing to be her lap boy, at least not they way she was thinking.  After a minute or so she turned back to the bar picked up a lighter and lit her smoke herself.  She drew in, threw her head back and puffed out a cloud.  She picked up her drink and made a circular motion.

“This business of Daddy’s…Can you handle it?” 

Handle the General’s business?  I thought that was Gunter’s job, but I wasn’t going there.

“We talked.  I don’t think it’s all that hard.” I replied.  “And by the way, he offered me a drink.”

She ignored me “I just don’t want to see Daddy taken advantage of, that’s all.”

“Neither do I.  I like the old gent, but in case you’re forgetting he called me.”

She turned in a huff.

I’m aware of that, Mr. Merlot!  That is the very point of this conversation.  Why are you being so difficult?”

I did my best to fake sincerity. “Sorry, I wasn’t aware I was being difficult.”

She turned back again. “You know my family is very rich. Daddy made his money with the trains.”

“So I hear.  He should have spent more time at Union Station.  He would have learned something.”

She squinted a little. “Whatever do you mean?”

They always pull out on time.” I said.  ”And about that drink?”

She got caught off guard. “Look here Merlot, I don’t need a comedian.  And this isn’t the fountain at Woolworth’s.  I’m not the counter girl.  Get your own damn drink!”

I tossed my hat on the bar.  “No, thanks.”

She did a double take. “What the hell?”   

I have to admit I liked the way she sparked and I was willing to bet with the right kindling she could start a fire. I also was willing to bet that she had jerked more than a couple sodas.  She tried to shift strategies.  She pushed her chest out a little and spoke and in a more demure tone:

“There’s no need to play cat and mouse, Mr. Merlot.  I’m not going to eat you.”

I thought to myself “I bet Wendy would!”

“I just don’t want to see him hurt, that’s all.”

She lowered her big brown eyes. “Is this business of Daddy’s some kind of state secret?”

“No, just business between me and him” I said. 

She pulled back and looked at me, hard then snuffed her cigarette into an ashtray. “You’re not going to tell me a damn thing? Are you?” She was getting annoyed again.

I shook my head.  “Nope, and those Maybelline lashes aren’t going to help you.  Of course you can always try Gunter, but I hear he’s only into Hessians and visa versa.”

“If you’re insinuating that I’m trying to seduce you, don’t flatter yourself.  I’m not in that kind of business.”

I thought “Too bad. I had 10 bucks and she smelled good.”

“Besides, we were talking about my father’s business.”

She was starting again, but I cut her off.  “And it’s still your father’s business and still between me and him.” I was forceful, but tried to be polite like.

She turned to the bar and then spun back toward me with a look in her eyes that seemed to say “Aunt Flo was packing her bags, on her way and I had better watch out.”  She slammed down her drink splashing the liquid onto the bar.  ”Are you usually so insolent?”

“I am!  It’s one of my better traits.  It comes in handy in my trade.”  I pulled myself up to the bar.  She turned toward me.  I looked her right in her beautiful pouting face which was going through several shades of red at the moment.

“Look sister, I don’t mind you flashing your gamms and beeping your honkers like that neon sign at the Bug-In-The- Rug’ burlesque.  I don’t care if the only vitamins you get are in the olives at the bottom of a martini glass, or if you’re colder than ice in that drink.  It doesn’t bother me if you don’t like my hat.  I don’t like it myself some times, but save your self the trouble and don’t try to grill me some piece of meat!” 

She looked at me with the General’s intense stare.  “Who do you think you’re talking to?”

I stepped back.  “That’s whom.” I teased. “See I did go to school.”

I caught her off guard again.  She finally relaxed a little and gave up a quiet laugh.  I watched her as she walked over to the divan and sat stretching her legs out.  I tried not to look at the sheerness of the silk that was clinging to her legs and bust.  Wendy may sizzle, but Lucile looked like she could make a man come to a slow boil in his own sweat.  She cradled her drink and looked up at me.

“You amuse me Merlot.”

“That’s not the best thing to say to a man in your bedroom.”

She laughed. “Like I said, you amuse me.”  She took her drink and walked over to the divan and sat down, stretching out her legs a little.  

“I’m pleased to be of service.”  I picked up my hat and started to walk out.

She looked up.  “You haven’t been yet.  What are you going to do next?”

I paused and turned.  “I like to get a lay of the land.”

She looked up from her drink. “I bet you would, Merlot.  I bet you would.”

I smiled.  “Good day, Ms. Stoner.”

to be continued.........

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Long Nap Part IV


Part IV Continued .....

He looked at me with softer eyes than before.  He opened his hands and asked: “Well then what are your qualifications, sir?”

“If you’re asking what kind of experience I have … well, I worked at the DA’s as an investigator for about 5 years I suppose Barney told you, that.  I can still speak Pig Latin when I have to and I know the penal code, never shake it more than twice - keep your eyes on your own stream, oh and I know a little something about the law.

He smiled a little then focused on me and asked “What do you know about me, Mr. Merlot?”

I took a long draw on the brandy and said: “It all depends.” I took another sip, almost a swig.

He leaned forward a bit.  “Depends?”

I looked up from the drink “Depends on who you believe and what you want to hear.”

He sat back into the chair. “What do you hear?”

I had to stop for a minute. The old guy seemed to like me and truthfully I was warming up to him.  In fact he was alright.  I figured he could take the truth.

“You’re worth more than Roosevelt.  You made a bundle with railroads.  You were a brigadier in the war. Afterwards you lingered in England a little and got hitched to some theater dame.  You have two daughters - one wild and one mild, kind of a fire and ice thing.  They had a mother and you had a wife … once, but she disappeared kind of mysterious like.”

The General leaned forward  a little.

“Oh come, come Mr. Merlot, there is need to spare my feelings and certainly there is no mystery.  She ran off plain and simple.”

I held up my now almost empty glass and jiggled it a little. He nodded and I leaned forward enough to reach the cart and refill it.

“Fair enough, General, but no one knows, why or who with and no one has heard from her since.  That’s the mystery, isn’t it? Unless you know where she is.”

He grunted "I certainly do not, or do I want to."  He started off into space.  

“That's alright. Finding her isn't the reason you called me anyway.  Is it General?”

“No. It isn’t.” He jutted a some slips of paper toward me. “Take a look at these.”

I put down my glass and looked over the papers and then read them . 
“Easy Edie’s Canyon Casino?  That Eddie Ryan’s place.  I’ve heard of it. Looks like Wendy likes to play, but not to pay.   Have you had that fatherly talk with her about the evils of men?”

He shook his head.  “Wendy is the evil of men, Mr. Merlot.  I have no illusions as to either of my daughters. They are exactly as they seem. Lucile is calculating and as warm as an Eskimo pie.  Wendy is wittless and the pie everyone has had a piece of.  She listens only to her own libidinous yearnings and yields to every whim.”

“Perhaps her older sister could have some influence.”

He shook his head even harder. “Lucile has no more influence than anyone else.  As the older child she looks after Wendy the way one does when housebreaking a puppy. They both have their own finances and if Wendy runs short, Lucile makes up for it.  I’m certain that had she known about these she would have taken care of them herself.”
I fanned the sheath of slips in my hand. “Still, you can’t collect on gambling notes, General.”

“Turn one over. Mr. Merlot.”

There on the back was written ‘Received from by Felix Ulysses Tew; paid in full’ with a date.

I picked up the drink again and took a swig. “Who’s this Felix guy and why is he so generous?”   

“His generosity does not come without a price, Mr. Merlot. Read on.”

Further on down in a different somewhat feminine script was penned in violet ink “While children will be children I thought you might like to avoid the embarrassment none the less.”

“Extortion from the looks of it.”  I scratched my head.  “ But who is this Felix guy?”

“That sir, is what I want you to find out.”  

I set down my glass which was now empty. “Do you want me do anything about it?

“Just stop it, but quietly.”

“Do you care how?” I asked.

“Permanently, Mr. Merlot.”

I put the slips in my shirt pocket, grabbed my jacket and got up.  I looked around for my hat. “Ok General, I’ll keep it on the QT.”

He nodded then looked up at me. “Gunter will show you out.”

I was still looking for my hat when, Gunter came back into the room.  I asked. “Did you see my hat, Gunter?”

He smiled ever so slightly as he did that monocle thing again and said, “Not all that closely, sir.” 

It was then I noticed it had fallen under the beverage cart.  He noticed too and began to reach.

“I think I can get my hands on that, sir.”

“I bet, you can’t” I said grabbing it as quickly as possible. “I like anchovies” I mumbled under my breath.

Gunter turned toward the doors.  The General kind of cocked his head. “Good day, Mr. Merlot.”

“I’ll be in touch, General.”

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Long Nap ...continued Part III

 Part III Continued ....

The Conservatory lay at the end of a long dim hall.  Gunter pushed open two heavy wooden doors like Moses parting the Red Sea.  A blast of heat and light hit me like a sucker punch from a 300 pound gorilla.  There were plants and vines everywhere.  The place looked like it was designed by Better Homes and Jungle.  Turns out that ‘conservatory’ is just a rich way of saying ‘greenhouse’ like “venereal disease” instead of the “clap.” 

There was a shady spot to the left clear of all the greenery.  The General sat there in a wheelchair like FDR minus the cigarette and jaunty smile.  He was bundled up like a squealing newborn, just not looking that “new.” His eyes followed me into the room.  He motioned with is right hand to a rattan chair which Gunter was already pushing up behind me.  I turned to Gunter briefly glancing at that tube in his coat pocket with a look that said “I ain’t your date.”  He casually pushed the tube out of sight with a very slight smile.  The General nodded to Gunter and then cleared his voice. 

 “Please, get some refreshments, Gunter?”

Gunter started to turn to go, but not before trying to take my hat.

I held on to it like a tom cat on his way to the spay and neuter clinic.  The more I pulled the more he pulled.  It was like a tug of war.

The General called the armistice. “That’s alright, Gunter.  Mr. Merlot can take care of own his hat.  Now please see to the refreshments.”

 Gunter let go reluctantly with that faint smile, nodded and then took off like a puppy after a stick,”

I ran my hand on the inside of my hat and set it next to me in the big chair.   I settled into the cushions like they were a box of Campfire Marshmallows.  I looked at the General and asked; “Is he always that efficient.”

The General smiled. “You’ll have to forgive Gunter.  It the Hessian in him.”

I thought to myself: “I’m not sure what was in him, but I was pretty sure they weren’t called Hessians.”

“I found him at the back lines on the staff of a German Senior officer during the war.”

I blurted out “Bingo.”

“I beg your pardon.”  The General asked.

 “Oh nothing, please go on.”

“Well I was so impressed with his abilities to organize and attend to so many different affairs at once that I offered him a position.  He accepted and has been an invaluable manservant ever since.  I suppose the Hessian in him is what makes him so efficient.  After my wife, Reagan, left Gunter started handling my business at home.  Not that it’s very hard any more.  Still it’s good to have Gunter around.  No one gets to the bottom of things like Gunter.”

I shook the pictures that were starting to form out of my head took out a handkerchief and padded my brow and the back of my neck.  I could not help wondering who in their right mind builds a glass oven in Los Angeles?  The General noticed my mopping the sweat.

“Make yourself comfortable, Mr. Merlot. Well, as comfortable as you can in this humidor.  You may loosen your tie and take off your jacket if you wish.”

I slipped off my jacket and pulled at the knot that was garroting me.  “Thanks” 

I took out a pack of Chesterfields and offered one to the General who simply shook his head.

“Please enjoy yourself. Mr. Merlot.”

I pulled one out and lit up and exhale.  The General sniffed the air like a hound dog trailing the scent.  He closed his eyes for a moment like remembering an old flame.

 “It’s a sorry day when one goes from smoking cigars to being one, Mr. Merlot. The only thing left is turning into the eventual ashes.  I trust I didn’t keeping you waiting too long.” 

“That’s alright, General.  I was entertained.” I smiled then noticed he pulled back into his chair at my comment.

He wringed his hands a little, looked off to the side and then back again at me.  “I see you met, Wendy.”

I almost said “Most of L.A. has probably ‘met’ Wendy.”  - almost.  There was an awkward silence that rattled like a gutter ball in the tenth frame.  Thankfully just then Gunter re-entered the room like a pin reset.  He wheeled in a cart loaded with various bottles of booze, a bucket of ice and a bowl full of tiny umbrellas. 

“What is your poison, Mr. Merlot?”

 “Cheap blondes.” I quipped as I tossed my hat aside.

 He grunted. “I’ve shared that poison, sir.  How does a brandy sound for now?”

“Sounds just fine.”  

“Do you wish ice or just as it is?”

I wiped some more sweat from my brow. “Normally straight, but I think I’ll have the ice today.”

 Gunter dropped in a couple of ice cubes and started pouring like he was measuring our medicine.  The General looked at him a bit disapprovingly.

“Oh, do it right, man.”

Gunter added more until it almost came to the brim.  He handed it to me.  I picked out the umbrella and sipped.  The General followed the glass from my hand to my lips with the intensity of a peeping tom.

“My wife liked to warm hers in both her hands rolling it back and forth.” His gaze went a little distant.

I thought to myself.  She wouldn’t be the first woman who liked to hold her liquor like that.

Whatever day dream he was having was a short one.  He shook his head slightly and grunted again.

“I suppose I should know something about you, sir, though Bernie Buck had a lot of good things to say.”

“Bernie’s a good man.  He was good boss.”

“So good that you left?” he asked.

“My leaving had nothing to do with Bernie as a boss.”  I replied. 

 “Something with Mrs. Buck, I hear.”  The General smiled knowingly.

 He heard right and now it was my turn to daydream.  Betty Buck had raven black hair, dark full cherry red lips and a small high bosom.  She was a tall of gin and tonic, cool and intoxicating.  And me – I was just the willing swizzle stick.  The memories of cheap rye, sweat and Bernie’s desk flooded over me for a moment while the words “Buck me, Betty.  Buck me hard” played like a cracked record in the back of my mind.  Where did I put that damn hat?  The General’s voice brought me back.

“Mr. Merlot?”

 “Sorry, I’m not one to kiss and tell, General.” I looked around some more for the hat that the marshmallow cushions must have swallowed. 

“I’m not criticizing, Mr. Merlot.  Men are frequently left parched after over-indulging a taste for women, … or anchovy pizzas.  Was it worth it?”

I tried to laugh a little. “You’re safer with the pizza, General.  Besides when’s the last time you got the cla ….  er venereal disease  from an anchovy?”

The old man laughed a little.  “A point well made, Mr. Merlot.”

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Long Nap part II (C) Tobe Freddo 2013

So a day latter I’m cooling my heels at the Stoner Fortress.  Gunter, the butler greeted me at the door with all the warmth of an undertaker.  He was tall - silver haired - Germanic.  His walk was tight, precise and measured which maybe explained the tube of Preparation H hanging out of his coat pocket.  The rumor was that the General got him as part of the Versailles Treaty after the Great War; his own little settlement with the Kaiser.  The General also got a wife, two bratty daughters and the clap.  The wife was dead and I didn’t think he wanted to see me about the clap, so I figured it had to be the daughters. Gunter left me waiting to find out.  I looked around.  The place was filthy with family paintings of droopy eyed stuck ups with vacant stares. Obviously the General was from a long line of Stoner’s.  I thought it strange that there were no paintings of his kids any where.  Maybe they missed picture day.  Maybe he didn’t want to be reminded of his mistakes.  One of them though was now sauntering her way down the stairs with the intermittent flow of a post nasal drip.

She was wearing white tennis shorts the way snow wears a mountain pass. She had legs that seemed to go all the way to her neck and a pair that looked more like a full house. They were almost bursting out of her black top like a couple of bulls in a rodeo pen that you couldn’t wait to ride.  It was a good thing I wore a hat which I now held at my waist with the fingertips of both hands.  It came in handy, strategically speaking.  She looked me up one side and down the other, pulled back a little then stared at my hat.  She ran the back of right hand around the brim.  She licked her lips put a finger in her nose, pulled it out and pointed in my direction and asked in a sultry tone,

“Is that a Borsolino?”

“Looks more like a bugger” I smiled.

“No, that thing in you hands.  Is that a Borsolino?”

I looked down and replied “It tries to be.  I just call it Waldo.”

She tossed her head back laughed. “What are you?”

“My mom was French and my old man was a drunkard.”

She laughed some more. “No silly, I mean what do you do?”

“I’m a shamus” I said.

“Your heal people? She squinted.

“No, no.  An investigator, a private dick.

 “You and every other man.”  She laughed again and then fell back.

There was a ‘thunk.’   She rubbed the back of her head as she got to her knees pulling on my belt to steady her self. Her face was planted in my hat as she struggled.  Just then Gunter walked in.  His left eyebrow rose as his right lowered simultaneously as though he was putting on an imaginary monocle.  His gaze met hers momentarily. She raised her head a bit defiantly then giggled again into my hat.  She turned to Gunter slowly shaking her head.

“It’s not a Borsolino.” She said pointing to it.

Gunter extended an arm to help her. “As you say, madam, but then few are.”  

She backed away from me tripping a little like she had one too many martinis, which I’m sure she had.  She ran her left hand through her hair then let it fall to that chasm between her bosoms keeping her gaze all the while on my hat, which was now really coming in handy.  She licked her lips again. 

“You know, I got a box for that hat. It might be a tight squeeze, but I bet I could get it to fit.”  

I laughed a little. “I bet you could, but thanks just the same.”

Gunter for his part was trying to look nonchalant and detached, but his presence was clearly putting a chill in the air.  She picked up the drop in temperature.  An index finger went into the nose again for a moment. She stepped back.

“I’m just saying if you want to keep that hat in good shape every now and then it has to spend some time in a box”  She put the index finger in her mouth and licked it. “Mmm. Salty - like me.” She giggled again, turned and ambled out of the room like a new foal out of a barn.

 I kept holding onto my hat, still fidgeting the brim.  I nodded in the direction of the arched doorway she passed through and asked.

“Is she house broken?”

Gunter turned to the doorway glancing at her departing figure, the back at me.

“I really can’t say, sir.  You’ll have to excuse Ms. Wendy. She’s high spirited.”

I cocked my head. “Yeah, well I have whatever spirits she’s drinking.”

Gunter cleared his throat.  “Indeed, sir.  Now if you and your ... hat will follow me, the General will see you in the conservatory.”

I followed, making a note that Gunter seemed to be paying a little too much attention to my hat.  Hmm, maybe that explained the Preparation H. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Long Nap or Film Noir - Re-Noir'd (c) 2013 Tobe Freddo

It's been a while since I posted anything, but after Tobe re-read Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep," he was inspired to write some "hardboiled detective" copy of his own.  How much of the parody he will complete is anyone's guess.  For now however, WELCOME TO

By Fillitup Merlot.

Waking up in a strange city to a foggy morning is one of those things you smell before you see.  It hits you in the kisser like a pair of panties that a girl you picked up at some dive the night before would leave on your face the next morning while you were still sleeping so you wouldn't see her rifling through the wallet you left on the chest of drawers. Yeah you wake up a little wiser, a lot more broke and with a salty caramel taste in your mouth … and a smile.  You got played. She’s gone alright, but you tell yourself, “One thing for sure, I'm keeping the panties!" 

 A note on the chest of drawers catches your eye.   It has her cheap perfume scent. You're intrigued.  You didn't know she could write. You read her scrawl. You noticed she misspelled ‘penicillin’, then you wonder what she meant by "Thanks for every little thing...."  You shrug it off, walk over to the window and push it open and let the grey roll in, stench and all.  You start to think; yeah Fog City is a lot like Lucile - thick and close to the ground.  Lucile on the other hand was nothing like her younger sister, Wendy. 

For being sisters, the only thing they had in common was that visit from “Aunt Flo” every month. Wendy tried not be home when she came, but she did anyway, an unwanted houseguest who like the proverbial fish began to stink after the third day, oddly enough like a fish.  Still Wendy was not without her charms.  She had that kind of looks and voice that made men write checks that would bounce higher than a $10 trick with a new mattress.  Her Rita Hayworth legs, Veronica Lake hair and Betty Davis eyes made her a walking movie poster with “Coming Soon” written all over.  No doubt about it, Wendy knew what she had even if she couldn’t pronounce it and whatever it was it burned and it’s what was always getting her in Dutch with her old man, General Stoner.

 It was the General that now had me waiting in his foyer. He had called my old boss, Bernie from the D.A.’s office and said he had “something to show me and he wanted me to jump on it right away.”

 I told Bernie that “I don’t swing that way”

 Bernie said “It’s business.”

 I said “Not even for money.” 

 Bernie said “It involves a girl.” 

 Hmm that got my attention.  I asked Bernie “A three way?”

 Bernie said, “No, the girl is dead.”  

 I asked “Dead, dead or is she just English?” 

 Bernie said “Both!”

 Now he really had my motor running, but before I could ask anything more Bernie said

 “Just get down here, Merlot.  The old man wants to see you at Stoner Manner on Westwood off Wilshire, next Monday at one in the afternoon.” Bernie barked “You got that, Merlot?”  
I barked back. “Yeah, Stoner Manner, off Wilshire.”  I started to hang up the phone, but not before I heard Bernie add:

“And bring your own papers.”

To be continued.......

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tobe In The Land of the Twits

Tobe In The Land of the Twits

Tobe’s a hedgehog who’s loyal and true.  He loves little children as all hedgehogs do.  So to no one’s surprise and very little guessing he went off with Joseph to do CPS’ing. 

The first house they went to was really a mess with vermin and roaches and things all upset.  The cupboards were empty with nothing to cook, and the stove was all greasy and covered in soot.  The rats in the bath gave a terrible spook and the toilet so filthy you feared you would puke.  But the bedroom,  -  the bedroom was all shot to pieces with garbage, soiled diapers and animal feces.  
And there in a crib, against a far wall, Tobe heard a sweet voice so soft and so small that he winced just a little before he could look to see a new infant amidst all the gook. 

 He turned to the mom and he yelled “What the hell? Does the word child neglect ring some kind a bell?”  She just shrugged her shoulders annoyed by the fuss, but the pipe Tobe found said more than enough. 

 Without hesitation or any delay Joseph phoned for the police who came right away.  They drove up in cop cars, the ones they call “cruisers” with a big German Shepherd, who I think they called “Bruiser.”  They hooked up the mother and read her a verse and then they drove her away while she continued to curse. 

 Tobe looked at the child with no sense of joy not certain if the tot was a girl or a boy.  The name on the paper gave not a clue as it seemed to be written in a tongue no one knew.  No matter however, a placement was found in a nice foster home that was safe and was sound.  Then it was back to the office to write the report and file a petition to send off  to court, to explain to the judge the dangers of drugs and the who’s its and what’s its of babies and bugs.

While Joseph set forth to recap the mess, Tobe searched all about for a quiet place to rest.

There among the forms, the computers and logs, in between the memos and bureaucratic cogs, he found a little niche in which he could sit and think about the children whose lives turned to shit.  The longer he thought and the more that he sat the sadder he felt for the lives that got shat.  He wondered and pondered as he furrowed his brow the why’s and the where’s and the who’s and the how’s. 

“Abuse” he told Joseph “is a terrible thing - and neglect – just as bad as a bell that won’t ring.  But how does this happen that children get tricked by mothers and fathers that no one would pick?  How do they get here – by what roads and what passes and how can they breathe with their heads up their asses?  Where do they come from – how do they live and why do they keep their brains in a sieve? “

He was flummoxed and flustered as he looked for a clue that could give him a hint why they do what they do.  Then he thought once again as he sat and he sat, just what kind of hole they might habitat.  Is there some curse-ed place, some circle in hell where child abuser might secretly dwell?  Is it dark? Is it dank?  Does it stink like a skunk? He thought and he thought ‘til he thought all he thunk.  

Then there among the bruises and bones that were broken, the concept of parents that were only a token - nestled betwixt the cracks where they fell with the strangest of names that no one could spell, an answer was lurking quiet as mouse but as big as an elephant or maybe a house.  There it sat staring him right in the face, glaring and leering, but holding its place.  Its form was disfigured, its mind was a blank, its gaze soporific its odor quite rank.  With a grin that was toothless and form large and fat it hobbled right over to where Tobe sat.  It extended a hand and in a pigeon like coo said:

“How do you do? My friends call me Stu . Stu Pidity of course if more formal is due.

I thrive on the policies that just never work.   I count on the fact that there is always a jerk who likes to hang out where unicorns lurk,who thinks that psychology is only for nerds and the worst of abuse needs only kind words and that all children can heal with a hope and a prayer and some positive thoughts to chase away scares. 

 Ideology you see, no matter how baseless, is ever so easy when children are faceless, and wishful thinking is all that it takes to over look the more predictable fate of all those kept  waiting at logic’s locked gate.  Knowledge I find is a dangerous thing and the more that there is the more that it stings. I don’t want to think I just want to feel and ignorance you see is the perfect ideal to hide or diguise what’s there and and what’s real.  I want to be liked, to be family friendly – even if things should end up – well deadly. It’s the thought that really counts -  the kind hearted words - and never at all any behaviors observed.  Who cares if their brains are working or busted and if drugs fried minds can no longer be trusted. With a hope and a smile and a quiet little prayer child welfare can go where reason not dare.”

Having spoken his piece no matter how flawed, Stu seemed now content and finally took pause.  Tobe puzzled as he wondered what Rogerian lathe could milled out a piece of so thin a gage that could so mismeassure both science and fact in favor of warm fuzzies and pats on the back.  He did not know what to say or what things to to do, or what words or what points mights get thru to Stu, so he just turned and sighed, resigned there to sit and do the best he could in the land of the twits.