A Darla Nyte story
My friend Victoria at Raynotbradbury tagged me with her “One Day With a Star” blogger challenge, and my immediate response to its theme meshed perfectly with the chapter of a short story I was working on at the time. This story, let’s call it “Steve’s Tale”, is itself the continuing sequel of a 3,000-word story that I and 9 other Bloggers wrote in 300-word chapters. If you haven’t already done so and want to read that original, or if you have and want to refresh your memory, you can find it here: “A Dead Man Walking“.
Liz Charnes, one of the coauthors of that tale, had so much fun with it that she started a sequel about one of its main characters, Steve. She and I have been taking turns writing “Steve’s Tale” ever since. Part 6 is below, and here are the links to part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5.
In case you don’t have time for all that reading or if you’ve already read it and just need a refresher, here’s a bare-bones synopsis of the story so far: In the not too-distant future, Darla Nyte, after a satisfying stint as a Military Police officer in the U.S. Army, is an independent private detective. Steve is her assistant. Following the Trumpocalypse that brought the United States to the brink of political, economic, cultural, social, and existential destruction and obliterated the barrier between the natural and the supernatural worlds, the ancient, raging, despotic President Trump was forcefully deposed and physically removed from the White House. Citizens drive automated vehicles and carry a PalmPal, an indispensable personal device that replaced all other smart phones and is produced by one of the megamonopoly corporations made possible under the Trump administration. Supernatural beings of all types operate freely in the natural world. Their advent and incorporation into modern society was received with more acceptance than surprise by a stunned and credulous population that had long since lost its ability to distinguish between real and fake news. In the short story “A Dead Man Walking”, Darla takes on a client who turns out to be a draugr, a class of undead being. After Darla is driven temporarily insane and shoots the draugr, she is jailed for murder. “Steve’s Story” picks up with Steve’s romantic dinner with his husband, Gary, being interrupted by a call from Darla to bail her out. Meanwhile, Steve has acquired a mysterious and very gaseous aide, a jinn named Jim. Immediately after bailing Darla out of jail, it becomes apparent that an as-yet unidentified party is (or parties are) determined to see her killed.
“One Day With a Star” Blogger Challenge
Here are the rules to Victoria’s challenge: 1) Describe a very famous person (preferably historical, or well known – to everyone!). Include the details in your story so people can guess who the star is, but do not mention the real name. 2) You can add 1 photo-detail (non obligatory). 3) The style and the genre of the writing – any. 4) Pingback to Vic’s post, so she can read and comment, and pingback to mine too. 5) Spread the word around, up to 3 – 5 blogs. 6) Readers, use the “Comments” suggestion to offer your guess as to who the unnamed star in the post is. Have fun, y’all!
Steve’s Story, Part 6
Gary went to Steve and began rubbing his back in large, slow, circles. “Shh, shh, it’s okay, hon. C’mere.” He pulled Steve into a hug, and Steve expelled a long, shuddering sigh.
Darla, standing behind Gary, held her hand out to Steve, palm up. “Okay, snowflake, pay up. If you don’t quit quitting, you’re gonna owe me more than your next paycheck.”
Steve disengaged from Gary, stiffened his spine, and tilted his chin up, hands on his hips. “I was only kidding,” he sniffed, all trace of despair banished. His eyes widened, and he snapped his fingers several times in rapid succession. “Hey, Fabulous mentioned the other day he’d been noticing an uptick in the chatter among the Red Caps! Let’s go find out what he knows.”
Gary clapped his hands and squealed. “Ooo, get me an autograph, love, please please please!” He gathered an armload of dishes from the table and walked toward the kitchen humming “Bohemian Rhapsody” as he went. “I’ll get this mess cleaned up!”
* * *
Steve, Darla, and Jim piled back into Darla’s car and headed toward the office. In the back seat, Jim’s grotesquely distended belly was rocked by a series of blows as the dwarf tried to punch or kick its way out. The furious miscreant’s faint, muffled protestations were barely audible. Jim’s eructations were long, loud, and frequent, but he was chuckling madly. “Damn if that doesn’t tickle!” he laughed.
They parked in the office garage and walked up to their floor. Quicksilver Investigations was three doors down the hall from their own agency and was open for business, though the door was closed. Darla opened it and stuck her head in. The proprietor stood on the far side of the room, his back to the door, admiring the paraphernalia of his former life prominently displayed on his memorabilia wall and illuminated with track lights: a microphone stand with mic attached; a garish, mustard-yellow leather biker’s jacket with buckles lining both lapels; a black and white-checked body suit with an open chest; and a large, gem-encrusted, velvet-lined, gold crown complete with full-length, heavy, crimson velvet cape with plush, ermine border. The tall, solidly built, hirsute man was clad only in a small white towel wrapped tightly around his waist. “Save Me” played softly over the office PA.
Darla cleared her throat and rapped on the door as she pushed it open, and the three of them walked in. Unfazed, the man turned slowly with a preternaturally sensuous grace and regarded his visitors with a raised eyebrow and a level gaze. He had thick, black hair, cropped short and immaculately coiffed; heavy, slightly arched brown eyebrows over deep-set, lively brown eyes; a prodigious black mustache that obscured his upper lip and spanned from cheek to cheek well past his deeply-carved laugh lines; and a prognathous jaw covered with a heavy but becoming five o’clock shadow.
Darla, red-cheeked and with sweat beading the fine fuzz of her upper lip, fanned herself. Steve snapped his mouth shut and wiped a string of drool from his chin with his right hand. Jim laughed and swept the beautiful man into a crushing embrace, pounding him on the back. “Great to see you back on this side, you good old-fashioned lover boy! I never tire of the mortals’ reaction to your sublime presence!”
The beautiful man stood back and regarded the big jinn. He spoke with a fetching British accent. “Jim, you haven’t changed a bit, love, how’ve you been?”
“Actually, a wee bit dyspeptic this go-round. If you’ll excuse me for a moment…” Jim walked to the bathroom at the rear of the suite.
“So, Darla dear, what can I do for you?” the beautiful man asked.
“Ahem… Er…” Darla shook her head vigorously then crossed her arms. Her fingers gripped her biceps so tightly that her knuckles were white. “Someone’s put a contract out on me. Have you heard anything about it?”
The owner of Quicksilver Investigations clenched his fists and placed them firmly on his hips. Nostrils flaring, he said, “Now what on earth makes you think—“
A series of loud, wet, retching belches from the direction of the bathroom cut him off. After a final and painful-sounding “BLLECCHHH!”, there was a thud followed by a rapid string of high-pitched sneezes.
“Actually, Fabulous,” Steve began, “I remembered you saying the other day you’d noticed an increase in Red Cap activity, and we have reason to believe they’re involved.” He retrieved his wallet from his back pocket, removed a folded slip of blank paper, and offered it to Fabulous, blushing. “Uh, would you mind signing your autograph for Gary? Please?”
Fabulous accepted the scrap of paper, removed a black Sharpie from the folds of his towel, and started to write. “Another one, Steve? How many of these does Gary need? Not that I mind of course, Gary’s a dear and a dreamboat to boot!” He handed the paper back to Steve and replaced the Sharpie. “So what makes you think the Red Caps are after Darla? They tend to restrict their activism to the political arena.”
Jim emerged from the bathroom with his giant hand wrapped around the regurgitated dwarf’s neck. The foul-smelling, slime-covered creature was flailing his arms and legs, screaming, “Put me down, you big brute! I object! That was so rude!”
Jim set the dwarf down but kept his hand clamped firmly on his shoulder. “Hmph,” he grunted, “and here I thought I was being downright hospitable!”
“Oh, you want to talk about rude, you nasty little thing?” said Steve. He turned to Fabulous. “This tiny animal interrupted a lovely dinner wearing a MAGA cap, screaming “MAGA!”, and spraying bullets!”
Fabulous retrieved a silk handkerchief from somewhere in his towel and covered his mouth and nose. He raised his left arm and, with his wrist bent downward and pointer finger extended, shot a cutting glare at the dwarf. “You,” he retched, “stink. March to that bathroom and make yourself presentable. Then you may return and explain yourself.”
Jim went to the water cooler and began downing cup after cup. “Yecchh, it’ll take days to get that taste out of my mouth!”
Fabulous returned his hankie to his towel and rummaged around in it. After a few seconds, he extracted a large, ornately carved and bejeweled carafe. He walked to the water cooler and extended it toward Jim. “Here, darling, drink some of this.”
Jim held out his empty cup. “Gladly, if it’ll get rid of this foul taste.”
“That and more, love. I daresay it will cure your awful tummy trouble.” He poured until the cup was full then returned the carafe to the folds of his towel. As he walked to the other side of the room, Jim drained the cup.
Fabulous sat down in the middle of an opulent Louis XV sofa and patted the cushions on his left and right. “Darla dear, Steve love, cop a squat. Let’s figure this out, shall we?”
End Part 6
Liz Charnes ’cause it’s her turn.
Telling Stories Together ’cause, well, isn’t it obvious?
Tales From the Mind of Kristian ’cause he’s one of the 10.
Fitful Fearful Phantasmal ’cause she is too!
Via: RDP #35, Trace
Via: RDP #36, Hospitable