Short Story 18a of

blog post
This is the 18th in this series of those not accepted by journals for publication also has its first line from The First Line Literary Journal. First line doesn’t require a word limit, but it says it will accept a good story. Well, I’m sure they know what their readers want which is still a mystery to me.


This short is a little longer than many I’ve tried, so it’s divided into six parts.


Part One

“My life is a sham.” That’s been an opening line for me several times at parties. I even used it once at a high school class reunion and again at a college reunion. A time or two, it got a bartender’s attention before I spun my most recent yarn. Most barkeeps found a reason to leave before the finale`.

Oh, me – I’m Clayton Albert Fabulist the Third. I’m not old enough to be a contemporary of hard-boiled detectives like Sam Spade, Mike Hammer, or Philip Marlowe, but as a teen I read nearly all of their exploits. Hardcore genre fans forgive me – I’m not fiction, but I’ve intended to follow the ‘code’ as much as possible while telling about myself.

After four years of college classes categorically designed for scholarshipped running backs and linebackers, I earned a degree in history education and sports marketing. I couldn’t compete with retired professional athletes entering the same field and certainly didn’t want to be a high school football coach and history teacher. I should do an apology line here to those who do not and never did fit my snarky remark about the alleged specifically designed classes.

I dabbled in fiction trying to hit the market as a modern Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, or Dashiell Hammett. I’m not sure if I was optimistic or delusional – probably a mash-up of both, but my never selling a word was real enough for me to make a serious career decision. I served twenty years in the Army and thought I could write about what I did. Wrong! Anything that could spark interest had a 25-year security gag on it. After odd-jobbing around the country for a fist full of years after my honorable, I took community college writing classes in a serious effort to rekindle my earlier failed literary career.

I decided to take up being a PI while watching a TV episode in which Kate Becket’s boss banned Richard Castle, the fiction writer, from the police precinct. I just thought it might be a new platform to learn what my most recent night-school writing teacher told the class, “Write what you know.”

My paternal grandfather left me a monthly allowance back when I was in college. It was enough to pay monthly apartment rent at 1950s rates – fifty bucks. I saved it and didn’t spend any of it except to buy a much used red 1989 Miata roadster from a dealer who could convince a priest that a cursing man was praying.

When the PI idea came to me, I invested some of my savings on a small apartment with front room space convertible to an office on the second floor of a 1920s building on Les Paul Street. The Fenders, owners of the nearly out of business mom and pop music and guitar store on the first floor had removed the exterior steps to the upstairs to keep out squatters. It wasn’t advertised for rent, but I bought a vinyl from the couple and mentioned my need of a place to meet clients.

My card with name and occupation Private Investigator was incentive. My promise to build an enclosed exterior stairway then upgrade the space was a convincer. They’d already been through the permitting process but didn’t have the cash to finish the project.

They had no idea I’d been a shamus only since getting my license and having the cards printed the week before. I put a continuing ad in the local fish-wrappers and set up a professional web site calling myself CAF Tertius PI.

So I could learn more about the local street culture and add a little color to my stories, a nearby craft brew pub that served a reasonably priced burger became my dinnertime hangout. And I added a few blue-tenter grocery store-cart pushers to my acquaintance list.

-end of part one-

As my octogenarianism continues, my mind wanders as I wonder.
Or could it be that my mind wonders as I wander?
It is a fact that I have opinions – or is it?