The Fulkerson Fiasco

This is a sample of the short story, "The Fulkerson Fiasco" by author, William F. Powers.

Another Wacko

"That is against the law, Miss Cantor. I am sure you realize that as a licensed private investigator, I am obligated to refrain from illegal activity." Max Harold Palmer spoke with a mid-western accent but somewhere in the background was a touch of New York. Or maybe it was Jersey—he wasn’t sure which. In 1964 during his junior year at Woodward High School, he became friends with a guy who had just moved to Cincinnati from the Bronx; that was probably where the accent came from.

After he graduated from a two-year college, he started as an apprentice to a PI in the Queen City. The next year, he moved to Matashaw County which was named for local Revolutionary War hero Clive Matashaw. Now, Max hung out his own shingle in the outskirts of the county seat.

"I'm sorry, Ma'am. I just can't do anything like that," he reiterated.

"Okay," she replied, "but there must be someway you could get my necklace back." Her accent was decidedly from Chicago . "I can get money if that's what's bothering you."

"Money is not the issue, Ma'am. If your boyfriend took your necklace, then you really need to go to the police."

"Ex-boyfriend!" she snapped. "And I can't."

"Can't what?"

"Go to the police."

"Why not?"

"I just can't, that's all," she insisted. There was a hesitation, and then, more softly, as if she were suddenly distracted, "I just ... can't."

He stood and walked around his desk to where she was sitting and stood there leaning against the edge of the huge, dark wooden desk, arms folded across his chest. She sat in the hard, wooden chair, it too being made of a dark hardwood. It was perfectly good office furniture for thirty or forty years ago, but for a promising but rather inexperienced private eye in the seventies, secondhand or even third-hand furniture was all that the budget supported. Besides, it fit right into the dark décor of the five-story building which had been constructed just after the Civil War. Max occasionally chuckled that the architect had obviously picked an Early Medieval motif.

After a moment, she looked up at him again. The expression on his face was sympathetic but resolute. When she realized she was wasting her time, she picked up her purse and mink stole and headed toward the door. As she reached for the knob, she looked back. "Are you sure you can't help me?"

"Yes, Ma'am, I'm sure. Sorry."

"Yeah, I bet," she said, yanking open the heavy door, deliberately letting it bang against the coat tree, knocking it against the wall and crashing to the floor. She scowled back at Palmer and walked out, leaving the door open. He watched as she left. The sound of her high-heels clicking on the marble floor echoed down the hallway as she headed toward the stairs.

"Crazy dame." He spoke softly not wanting an encore of her dramatic performance. He pushed his way up from the desk and crossed the room. Closing the door, he picked up the coat tree, then brushed off his jacket and top coat, and hung them up. He wondered what it was that drew this kind of people his way. He didn't hang around with rough characters, never stepped outside the law. "Well, not too far outside anyways," he thought as he walked back and sat down behind his desk.

He was just a simple PI trying to make a living. And where did most of his cases come from? "Loonies!" he said aloud. "That's all I get for clients is loonies … and people with no money. If they are halfway normal, they don't have any bread; if they do have dough, they're wacko!"

He shook his head, leaned back with his feet on the desk, and shook out the newspaper to see what was important enough to make it into tomorrow's birdcage liner.

Stopped in His Tracks

"Come on, Billy; the train is comin'." Thirteen-year-old Billy had gone across the tracks because he had seen something glint in the bushes.

"Okay. I just gotta …" Billy stopped in mid-sentence and slowly began to back toward Mike, still staring into the bushes. After several steps, he stumbled on the rail and fell down in the middle of the tracks. Quickly he jumped up, clearly afraid of something other than the hundred tons of train that was about to push him into the next life.

The train was getting closer and louder. The diesel engine rumbled a menacing warning of its pending arrival. The horn had stopped sounding its warning honks and was emitting one continuous blast for the last five seconds of its approach.

"Billy!" Mike screamed and ran up onto the tracks, tackling his lifelong friend moments before the engine rumbled over Billy’s previous position. Both of them tumbled down into the bushes on the far side as the locomotive flew past, horn blaring.

"What is wrong with you?" Mike screeched above the din of the passing train.

"GetOffaMe. GetOffaMe. GetOffaMe…" Fourteen-year-old Mike had landed on top of Billy, and the younger boy was struggling to get free.

"What is wrong with you?" Mike asked again, this time in a more agitated tone as the deadly train hurtled past just a half dozen feet away.

Finally, Billy struggled free and scrambled out of the brush. The tackle had brought him to his senses; he was now aware of the huge procession of railroad cars. Nevertheless, he ran down the track twenty or thirty feet before turning back to look at his buddy still collapsed in the brush.

Mike was just now starting to understand what was wrong with Billy. His friend had seen—and the tackle had landed them both on top of—a human body!

{End of Sample}

Thank you for your interest in "The Fulkerson Fiasco". The complete story is available now for Kindle and Kindle Apps on all platforms.



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