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SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


quote:

Points accrue the further away you get from your own cultural group, which you must specify for full points.
What do I do if I'm a cultural mutt with a little bit of a lot of things?

What can I say? My family gets around.

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Capntastic
Jan 13, 2005

A dog begins eating a dusty old coil of rope but there's a nail in it.



Better to burn out than to fade away. -Diogenes

HiddenGecko
Apr 15, 2007

You think I'm really going
to read this shit?


Of course I'm in!

budgieinspector
Mar 24, 2006

According to my research,
these would appear to be
Budgerigars.



SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

What do I do if I'm a cultural mutt with a little bit of a lot of things?

What can I say? My family gets around.

Are you an albino transgendered Zoroastrian Ethiopian-Inuit?

(If so, I know a nice intersexed Rastafarian Einu-Sami you ought to meet.)

We give no shits what your ethnic background is, except in the sense that you make an effort to get the hell out of your comfort zone. There has to be someplace where one of your ancestors didn't get freaky with the locals.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


This is the best prompt. You're all gonna be the gimp strapped to the bumper this time.

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.



In on this.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Martello posted:

Bad Seafood (I guess? declare intent loud and proud, son!)
Fortune and glory, man. Of course I'm in.

I'm self-deprecating, not self-defeatist.

Bodnoirbabe
Apr 30, 2007



Aw gently caress. I've never tried Noir style writing.

Trial by fire. I'm in.

sephiRoth IRA
Jun 13, 2007

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality."

-Carl Sagan


Let me compete again, please! I'll keep churning out drivel, you keep making me feel bad for it! This is a good system!

Erik Shawn-Bohner
Mar 21, 2010

by XyloJW


I have full confidence in this latest addition to the judging team and that each story shall be carefully turned in the palm and thoroughly examined for mites and egg biding.

Mecca-Benghazi
Mar 31, 2012



Martello posted:

Check Your Cis Privilege in Swaziland

Noir detective stories set in off-the-beaten-path locales, on this planet. Mild cyberpunk allowed, nothing too crazy. Except for sebmojo, no cyberpunk for you. No able-bodied straight male Caucasian American characters are allowed anywhere in the story. All characters must come from one or more specific groups which are underrepresented in literature. If the writer chooses to write about a straight white American guy in a wheelchair, the experience of being chair-bound better come through authentically. Points accrue the further away you get from your own cultural group, which you must specify for full points. Extra points for "recombocultural" protagonists.

So basically, you're handicapping non-white writers and saying we can't write about our cultural group or white people. :colbert:

Bring it. :black101:

Canadian Surf Club
Feb 15, 2008

Word.


I'm in. If you thought the entries on women were terrible I can't wait to see the reaction to people writing on entirely different cultures.

budgieinspector
Mar 24, 2006

According to my research,
these would appear to be
Budgerigars.



Autumncomet posted:

So basically, you're handicapping non-white writers and saying we can't write about our cultural group or white people. :colbert:

Bring it. :black101:

SUFFER, HONKIES. :jihad:

EDIT: Just re-read and caught the non-white bit. You can have white characters, just not able-bodied, hetero, male, white Americans. Subtracting any of those elements will work fine.

Canadian Surf Club posted:

If you thought the entries on women were terrible I can't wait to see the reaction to people writing on entirely different cultures.

Failure to research will be severely punished. It's not as though the entire world isn't online. Having a character find it difficult to communicate in Rio de Janeiro because he or she doesn't speak Spanish is a stupid mistake. Having a character easily obtain a ham and cheese sandwich in Jerusalem is another stupid mistake. Having your character on the island of Yap pay for everything in stone Rai is a less-stupid mistake, but it's still something you could fix by reading the drat Wikipedia article.

Also: However exotic your characters' cultures may seem to you, they will not seem the least bit exotic to your characters. If you want some insight on how weird your day-to-day existence seems to the group you're writing about, try to find a message board for expats living in your country. You're the freaky foreigner here.

Erik Shawn-Bohner
Mar 21, 2010

by XyloJW


I now want to see at least one story about an Orthodox Israeli reaching the breaking point with his parents and defiantly stuffing his face with a ham sandwich in front of them.

Radioactive Bears
Jun 27, 2012

Creatures of horrid visage and disposition.


I am in.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







'Dome me.

bigmcgaffney
Apr 19, 2009


I am in. I can't stay away, even if I wanted to.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







bigmcgaffney posted:

I am in. I can't stay away, even if I wanted to.

The Thunderdome... does that to you.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Count me in as well.

Erik Shawn-Bohner
Mar 21, 2010

by XyloJW


Don't forget cis-gendered ya'll. If we even sniff a hint of being cis-gendered without otherwise being otherized by society, there will be massive point reductions.

Edit: Also, if you write genuinely racist, sexist, or anything otherwise bullshit that isn't actually comedic, don't expect kind reactions from anyone.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Actually curious about this, so this extends to every single person, period. Not just protagonists. Like not even the antagonists can fall under those categories?

Erik Shawn-Bohner
Mar 21, 2010

by XyloJW


Noah posted:

Actually curious about this, so this extends to every single person, period. Not just protagonists. Like not even the antagonists can fall under those categories?

Everyone. If you describe people on the street, they can not fall into the mentioned groups.

It's a challenge.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Nautatrol Rx posted:

Don't forget cis-gendered ya'll. If we even sniff a hint of being cis-gendered without otherwise being otherized by society, there will be massive point reductions.

Edit: Also, if you write genuinely racist, sexist, or anything otherwise bullshit that isn't actually comedic, don't expect kind reactions from anyone.

So we have to write noir, a genre where everyone is horrible to everyone, all our characters can only be female/of colour/otherised-in-some-way but any hint that they're intrinsically horrible will be punished with absolute ferocity?

ALL HAIL THUNDERDOME.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Got it. Furry-fiction incoming.

Erik Shawn-Bohner
Mar 21, 2010

by XyloJW


Noah posted:

Got it. Furry-fiction incoming.

I'm wolf-spirit irl, so any mentions of cougars are automatic disqualifications. tia namaste

Erik Shawn-Bohner
Mar 21, 2010

by XyloJW


sebmojo posted:

So we have to write noir, a genre where everyone is horrible to everyone, all our characters can only be female/of colour/otherised-in-some-way but any hint that they're intrinsically horrible will be punished with absolute ferocity?

ALL HAIL THUNDERDOME.

I gotta break kayfabe for a moment to mention that characters can be intrinsically horrible, but that's as boring as being angelic. This is an exercise in breaking out of whatever cultural circle you're in and trying something very different, and you're allowed to define what is very different for you, so we hope you take the spirit of the prompt to heart more than the letter. There will be one rear end in a top hat who writes a 4-chan style hipster-ironic racist story that's trash from all angles, and they should reconsider. The judges won't get a chance to mock them until after the fact.


Now let's get this oppression olympics started, already. I've got a jar of mayonnaise and a Dane Cook DVD I'm running out of.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Nautatrol Rx posted:

I gotta break kayfabe for a moment to mention that characters can be intrinsically horrible, but that's as boring as being angelic. This is an exercise in breaking out of whatever cultural circle you're in and trying something very different, and you're allowed to define what is very different for you, so we hope you take the spirit of the prompt to heart more than the letter. There will be one rear end in a top hat who writes a 4-chan style hipster-ironic racist story that's trash from all angles, and they should reconsider. The judges won't get a chance to mock them until after the fact.

Noted. Loving this prompt, btw.

Fanky Malloons
Aug 21, 2010

Is your social worker inside that horse?


drat, this prompt is cool, but I can't do it for reasons that I am sure you would find completely unacceptable and inadequate. I might be able to dramatically read an entry if I get time before the deadline though. Is that allowed even though I'm not actually entering?

Erik Shawn-Bohner
Mar 21, 2010

by XyloJW


Fanky Malloons posted:

drat, this prompt is cool, but I can't do it for reasons that I am sure you would find completely unacceptable and inadequate. I might be able to dramatically read an entry if I get time before the deadline though. Is that allowed even though I'm not actually entering?

I will allow it, but it will be harshly judged. I prefer effort in writing, but if you can take a turd and turn it to gold, I may look upon thine works and be pleased--sexually.

Genetic Toaster
Jun 5, 2011



Count me in if applications are still open. Love me some noir.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


Sitting Here posted:

Martello, count me in to participate this week. I dunno if it's bad form cause I just got to judge, but I'm really enjoying the prompts and practice. Plus procrastinating on my piece for the August contest.

The only bad form in Thunderdome is being a loving pansy who's scared to write, so yer good.

Genetic Toaster posted:

Count me in if applications are still open. Love me some noir.

If you actually read the Week III rules post, you'd see that applications are open until 22 2100 EST AUG 2012 :mil101:

So yer also good.

Bodnoirbabe
Apr 30, 2007



Well, someone's got to be first. 1497 words.

Control Within

The scene couldn't have been more gruesome if it had been written by Dashiell Hammett himself. Michael was chained to the wall of one of the interior prison cells. Blood dripped from his nose and ears. Deep lacerations cut through his wrists, evidence that he had struggled mightily against his attacker. His flaming sword lay in a dank puddle across the cell, guttering. Cauterized into his chest by his own sword were the words:

SHE BELONGS TO ME

"What a waste," Esphaerel thought. Being a demon, he wasn't very fond of angels per se, but Michael had been alright. They both had similar interests - the protection and caretaking of Sarah. But someone or something was making its way through her protectors. Yesterday, he'd dealt with the murder of Heero Yuy, and the week before, the double elimination of Vegeta and Piccolo. The attacks were getting more vicious and the same message was always scrawled at the crime scene.

"I'm gonna have to hunt down whatever hell-creature this is all by myself." he muttered. There were two others left but they were effectively useless. That didn't mean they wouldn't know anything, however.

He walked down the long, stone corridors of the mind-prison, his footsteps echoing in the emptyness. Somewhere, water was dripping incessantly, the sound bouncing off the walls and pounding against his head. There wasn't much light down here to speak of, but that didn't matter to a demon. They prefered it dark and even a little murky. Sure beat the hell out of sunshine and dandelions.

Exiting the prison, he looked out on a vast plain and saw a large castle looming in the sky. He knew he'd find Tifa Lockhart lounging around inside. He didn't much like her. Always going on about saving the planet and poo poo like that. Not to mention she lacked a certain sexual something he preferred. Sarah may be a woman, but he preferred men. Since he had control of Sarah, this made her a female gay man. He guessed that if she had control, he'd be a male lesbian. His ruminations on the complexities of sexuality came to a stop when he approached Tifa.

"I guess you've probably already heard about Michael." he said as way of greeting.

"Things are so scary!" she cried.

"I need to figure this out fast. Did Michael say anything to you?"

"He did mention feeling nervous. He said he felt a very powerful force looming over everything." Tifa stared at him with trepidation. She usually had a strong aura around her, gave off a vibe that she'd easily kick your rear end if you just gave her a reason, despite her chipper personality. But not today, not now. There was fear coming from her, he could smell it.

"I'm sure you'll be fine. Strong, pretty woman like you can't be beaten by anyone."

He turned from her, heading toward the dense, dark forests on the opposite side of the plains.

The walk didn't take long even though the forests looked miles away. That's the way things were here, locations were just a thought away. Esphaerel sighed with relief as he entered the darkness of the forest. The sunlight of the plains made his eyes hurt and his skin burn. Here in the shady cover of the trees he felt more like his old self. He gave a low growl in satisfaction.

"Hello to you, too, "a voice purred from the shadows. He looked to his left and saw two bright yellow eyes staring from the darkness.

"Calisto, I need to talk to you about what's been happening." The eyes blinked lazily then he emerged. A bi-pedal jaguar stepped into a beam of dim light and paused. Calisto was deeply aware of what kind of picture he made and loved the attention. When you're as muscular and lanky as he was, you drank up the adoration like milk from a dish. Esphaerel felt his nether region tighten in response to the adonis before him, his heart picking up speed. Outwardly he gave no sign of arousal. It wouldn't do to lose his head at this juncture.

"What do you know?"

"I don't know how useful my information would be to you, but if you come a little closer, I'll whisper what I know in your ear."

"This is serious. You could be next."

"I suspect I might be, but somehow I don't feel so scared when I've got you around. Stay with me, at least for the night. You know Sarah is perfectly okay with us being together."

Esphaerel tried hard to keep his steely composure but beads of sweat glistening on his forehead belied his true feelings. Calisto crept closer to him, trailing his paw down Esphaerel's chest enticingly. Esphaerel was about to give in until he felt the sharpness of Calisto's nails against his throat.

"I'm sorry, but I can't let you get in the way. Sarah and I have a plan. You've been in control for far too long and it's time we took her back." Calisto swiped his claws across Esphaerel's neck, opening a large cut. Esphaerel barely reacted before he punched Calisto full across the jaw. He hadn't seen it coming, as he'd expected the swipe to fell Esphaerel. What Calisto hadn't counted on was the amazing healing capacity of demons. No sooner had the cut opened, it had closed. Esphaerel stood over Calisto's fallen form and looked down with pity. Such a pretty face and he'd have such an ugly bruise once he woke up. Just to make sure he couldn't meddle any further, Esphaerel tied him to a nearby tree.

He then thought about what Calisto had said. He and Sarah had a plan? That was impossible. He was Sarah. He had control over her. Unless...

With a thought, Esphaerel found himself back in the prison cells. He immedietly set off for the deepest part. The light grew dimmer and dimmer, the air more acrid. Lower and lower still he went, passing branching halls and countless doors, descending thousands of steps. Finally, he came to the bottom of the stairs and stepped out into a single hallway. The door at the end had been barred and sealed, but now he found it cracked open. He slowly opened it wider and saw her, his Sarah.

"Why, Sarah?"

She turned to him and anger flashed into her eyes. The unibrow on her forehead furrowed deeply under her greasy, stringy hair.

"You've ruined me, Esphaerel! Everyone laughs at me. People think I'm mentally retarded or psychotic. My family resents that I wont get a job and support myself!" she snapped, yellow spittle flying from her chapped lips.

"Now that's not fair, Sarah. You know you have fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome."

"It doesn't matter! My life is ruined by you, by all of you. They laugh at me on the internet. They tell me to seek therapy. I can't go on like this. I have to take back over. I have to end you, all of you, if I'm ever going to be normal!"

She gave a guttural scream and flung herself at him, hands raised to scratch at his face with dirty, stubby nails. He tried to prepare himself, but was knocked off balance when her large form crashed into him. Sarah quickly jumped on top of him and scratched at his eyes. Esphaerel knocked her off and stood over her. She kicked out with a stumpy leg at his knee, bending it backwards. He gasped out in pain and then cracked it back into place. Then Sarah was behind him, jumping on his back and biting his neck with her plaque-encrusted teeth. Esphaerel backed into a wall over and over again, crushing her until he felt her release and crumple to the floor. Breathing heavily, he turned to watch her. She was heaving with hysterical sobs.

"No," she moaned. "You're not real! You don't exist! Leave me alone and give me my life back!"

"I can't do that, Sarah. We're soul-bonded. I know what's best for you and I'll keep good control over you."

Sarah whimpered and went limp, resigning herself to her fate. Esphaerel pulled her up and chained her to the walls. He made sure to use double locks and seals to keep her from escaping again. He knew what was best for her, for them. Being an Otherkin was a blessing, she'd see.

Esphaerel checked into the control center of Sarah's head and looked at what was going on. From what he saw, he was currently having an argument with her mother.

"You just don't understand because you're just a straight, normal, hetero white woman! But I'm not! I'll never be like that. You need to accept that I'm not a normal, mom! Being a demonic jaguar trans-gendered lesbian Otherkin who's married to Tifa from FFVII is who I am, so check your privilege!"

Yeah, Esphaerel thought. Things would be just fine with him in control.

Hat Thoughts
Jul 27, 2012


Well I'm in for this.

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.



I believe it's a well established fact that all decent hard-boiled noir detective fiction is narrated in the first person.

Oh by the way, my 'cultural group' is privileged heterosexual white male able-bodied Australian. Also, this week's prompt is a jerk's prompt for jerks.

618 words, to blazes with your word count.

I Still Get Paid, Right?

The dame came in at about quarter past five in the afternoon. It’s been my experience that dames are often trouble, so I count myself fortunate that I do not suffer from the affliction that seems to plague the majority of my colleagues. I understand the appeal, in a vaguely theoretical sense, and my buddy Phil had often tried to explain to me, in intimate detail, why it was in my best interest to be enjoying the company of as many different dames as I could, as often as possible without them finding out about each other, but it never seemed worth the effort.

Come to think of it, Phil was probably a large contributing factor to my experience that dames were usually trouble.

Nonetheless, into my office she walked. Our office, really. Well, mostly mine. It’s my name on the door.
“You’re Shaw?” she asked.
“That’s me. How can I help you, ma’am?”
“My husband’s missing. I’m told you’re a man who can find things.”
“You’ve heard correctly.” I got out from behind my desk, and recognised the tell-tale gasp of a prospective client who hadn’t quite heard everything about me. “Well, go on then and say it.”
“It’s just… I thought you’d be taller.”
“Indeed. I am just full of surprises. Now, about your husband.”
“Of course. Right. Now I last saw him last night… listen, you’re definitely Shaw?”
“Definitely him. Name on the door.”
“Jeremy Shaw?”
“One and the same. Jeremy Shaw, Private Eye, at your service.”
“OK, it’s just… I mean, I’ve never heard of a midget private eye before.”
Midget? Really? I mean, little person, fine, if you have to draw attention to it at all. Dwarf, even, whatever. But midget? But I digress. “Heard of me, ain’t you?" I said. "Man who can find things. That’s me. I’m the man who can find your husband.”
“Or half man, if you prefer” said Phil.

Now in my defence, I’d first like to point out that it was quite late in the day, and there’d been all the accounts to go through, and I’d had to do that, not Phil, because for all his natural sleuthing skills, he didn’t really have an eye for paperwork. And he had just referred to me, quite casually, in rather hurtful terms. So it was under these circumstances, compounded by the rather frustrating nature of the conversation with the aforementioned dame, that I addressed some rather regrettable words to my good buddy Phil. They do not bear repeating at this time, except to confess that they were uncomplimentary words regarding his ethnicity.

“You’d better watch your mouth, you jive, sight-having turkey!” said Phil. “I’ve killed a man for less!”
I gave him what I hoped was a withering stare then, remembering who I was talking to, stopped trying to use body language and said “Right. Of course you have. I expect you beat him to death with your cane.”
“Killed a man this morning” said Phil. “Just to wa… just to listen to him die. These hands are weapons, you diminutive cracker. I don’t need to see you to give you a drat good kicking.”
“Wait, really? You killed someone?”
“Don't change the subject you jerk, I'm getting ready to bring the pain! But yeah, stashed him in the dumpster out the back.”
I rushed out to the back of the offices, although the dame had an unfair advantage and got there first. Phil continued to offer threats to the empty office. When I caught up to her, I could tell from the way she was crying that we’d solved the mystery of her missing husband.

And that’s all I know, officer, honest.

budgieinspector
Mar 24, 2006

According to my research,
these would appear to be
Budgerigars.



Martello posted:

Noir detective stories set in off-the-beaten-path locales, on this planet.

set in off-the-beaten-path locales

off-the-beaten-path locales

I better see some filmed-on-location, Travel-Channel-type poo poo pretty drat quick.

As Nero Danced
Sep 3, 2009

Alright, let's do this


Just realized I better throw my hat in the ring before I do something stupid and forget to.

slothmonster
Sep 28, 2009

Mashed keyboard to write about a woman getting murdered rather than potatoes. WTF

THUNDERDOME

I'm gonna have to sit this one out, got a crazy work week coming up and more pertinent projects to attend to in what free time I'll have. I'll be back next week to be thrown to the wolves though, THUNDERDOME.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


:frogsiren: Nine and a half hours until entry closes! :frogsiren:

Enter by 2130 EST tonight.

Submissions deadline is still 25 0200 EST AUG 2012.

Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010



Grimey Drawer

I announce my intention to compete. Fresh meat for the thunderdome.

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sephiRoth IRA
Jun 13, 2007

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality."

-Carl Sagan


For the record, I am a fat white male in my 20's, living in Texas. I am affluent, educated, and over-privileged. This is my thunderdome entry, and I tried to keep my stupid white voice out of it as much as I could but I'm not so sure it worked. Anyway, here it is.

Heart of Darkness 1575 words

“No, please, no, don’t shoot me, don’t shoot!” The old man pleaded in fluent Xhosa. The three dark figures around him exchanged pointed glances. With a fluid motion, the shortest of the figures pulled out a stub pistol and shot the old man three times. The reports echoed like thunderheads across the flatlands, but there would be no one around for miles to hear it. The other two dug through the dead man’s clothes, retrieving a small package and leaving the rest. All three walked up the hill and to the car waiting by the side of the road. The body would be found in the morning, but they would be long gone before then.

****

The sun burned high and hot in the sky like one of the golden coins I handed to the bartender bringing me my beer. Even in the shade of the outdoor bar I like to frequent the temperature was close to 40 degrees; that meant I would be sipping on Joburg beer until the late evening and stumble home when it got cooler. The cigar burned in my fingers, and I savored the smoke like I would a fine meal. The new anti-smoking regulations were rumored to go into effect, and my beloved Cuban Cohibas would get me into trouble. I had been making eyes at a beautiful woman across the bar all day; her hair was cut short how I like it and her eyes caught mine like burning embers. After buying her a drink, she came over to my chair.

“Aren’t you Menzi Ncapayi? You have that office on Twist street.” The fact that she knew who I was already meant two things: I was going to have some business, and I would be getting to know her better.

“I am he!” I grinned, beckoning her to sit down next to me.

“My name is Lumka.” She sat, eyes flicking between me and my cigar. I offered her one, and she lit it with a practiced flair. This woman was trouble. Her eyes closed and she blew out the smoke with a sigh.

“I’m going to miss this. They are passing that law, did you hear?” I nodded. Her Afrikaans was perfect; was she a local, or from the south east? Her name was a Xhosa name, like mine. Curious, I switched to Xhosa and continued our discussion.

“They’re going to ban smoking outdoors. I’ll have to stay at my office to smoke!” She smiled at the use of my native language. Our conversation continued in Xhosa, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that she was from a village adjacent to mine, deep in the Eastern Cape.

When we had finished our drinks, we walked back to my office in the twilight. We passed the throngs of tourists traveling back from the bars to their downtown hotel rooms, separated from them by both our race and language.

I unlocked my office and led Lumka into the sitting room. She accepted the glass of Amarula I offered, and we got down to business.

“So what can I do for you?”

“I actually came to the bar to look for you, I knew you would be there. I’ve heard about your cases, people say you know how to find things.”

“What do you need me to find?”

“My father.”

****

Her tale was a short one. Her father had traveled from their village to Johannesburg to meet a dealer, hoping to make some money by selling an heirloom. The father never showed, and he’d been missing for three days. I told her I’d take the case. I even dropped my normal rate down to 25 euros a day.

The first place I started my searches for lost people was the morgue at the hospital school. Most people ‘lost’ in Africa met untimely deaths, usually at the hands of unscrupulous criminals. I slipped the guard a ten-euro note, passing through the locked door and into the morgue proper. They kept the temperature down, and it was a refreshing change from the unbearable heat. Rolf greeted me with a warm hello.

Rolf is a fat, old German expatriate, consistently drunk on the job but always willing to let me poke around the bodies for a few euros and some beer. His breath wafted across my face like the stench from a Pikitup landfill.

“Menzi, my good friend! It’s good to see you!” Rolf shook my hand firmly.

“Rolf, it is good to see you too. Is this a good time?”

“Of course! Please, come see my wares.”

****

It didn’t take long to find Lumka’s father. The old man had been murdered, shot three times in the chest. Rolf informed me that they had found his body on the road south of town. Questions ran through my head as I walked back to my office. Who would murder the old man? What was the old man selling to the dealer?

I needed a drink. Fetching my bottle of twenty-year-old scotch, I sat in the cool darkness of my sitting room and mulled over the case. A murdered elder and a missing heirloom all centered around a captivating woman. It was one of my more interesting cases. I was just about to fall asleep when the click of a hammer being drawn back caused me to bolt upright only like a loaded gun can.

“Don’t move”. The man was standing in the middle of my drat office and I hadn’t even heard him come in. I raised my hands as he stuck a hand in my coat, removing my .45 from its holster. It had taken me a year to get the permit for it. Now I probably wouldn’t see it again. The man continued.

“I saw you at the morgue today. I want you to stay away, don’t talk to anyone, and don’t ask anymore questions. Otherwise I’ll shoot you dead in the street.”

The man’s face was obscured in the darkness, but I could tell by his dialect that he probably came from the same village that Lumka did. I started to ask a question when another thug struck me from behind, and the last thought I had switched off the lights on its way out.

****

The next morning I found Lumka waiting outside my door. She told me she had been looking for me, that no one knew where I was. We spent an hour talking; I told her about her father and the thugs that mugged me. I consoled her while she grieved for her father, and then set about planning a talk with the dealer.

A taxi cab ride later I was standing in front of the dealer’s shop with Lumka. As it turned out, he wasn’t a dealer in heirlooms, he was a jeweler. My heart ached; somehow this involved diamonds, and while they are a ‘girl’s best friend’ in American advertisements, they often are paired with violence and death in Africa.

The thugs were waiting for us. I had a feeling they would be, which is why I stopped by the morgue to borrow Rolf’s war-era pistol. It felt strange in my hand, especially given its history, but when the thugs opened fire, I was glad I had it. I wasn’t very good with the pistol, and it took me several shots before I managed to hit one of them. Thankfully they weren’t accurate either. Before I knew it, one of the men was dead, the other wounded.

Lumka ran up to the wounded man, shouting about a package. I climbed to my feet, shedding the shattered glass from the jewler’s cases off of my clothes. I could hear sirens in the background. Lumka rifled through both men’s clothing, finally finding a brown paper package. The wounded man gasped

“Half of that is mi-“
He didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence. The pieces of the puzzle were coming together now, just as Lumka turned to point the still-smoking snub pistol in my face.

“I’m leaving, and I’ll shoot you if I have to.” She climbed over the dead men towards the rear of the store.

“You had these men kill your father for diamonds?” I knew the answer, and her silence confirmed it.

“I told him to let me sell them. They are worth millions, but he refused to listen. He would have sold them to this stupid jeweler for a pittance.”

I couldn’t let her leave.

“Lumka, what are you going to do? The police are already here.” I gestured outside, towards the now-arriving vehicles. She bared her teeth, and raised her gun.

“Then I’ll have to make sure I’m the only one to tell the story.”

I dodged out of the way just in time, avoiding the lethal bullet. She had left me no choice. I shot her between her smoldering brown eyes.

****

The police questioned me briefly and then left. I had figured that the thugs Lumka hired to help kill her father escaped with the diamonds, and she had hired me to track them down. The uncut stones were indeed worth millions, and they were immediately scooped up as evidence in the case. I’m sure they were stolen mere hours after arriving at the police station, but that’s no problem of mine. Unless they hire me to find them, of course! I even have a good lead on where one of the stones is now. I’m meeting the buyer tomorrow.