An Original Concept
The rain dumped down by the gallons, outside, washing away the heat of a lonely night. I stood under the awning of the International Inquisitor, listening to the soft roar of the falling drops. I leaned on my knee, waiting for my last knock to draw some attention. A small hole in the door slid open, and a mean-looking pair of eyes glared at me, just begging me to start some trouble.
The gruff gorilla behind the door bellowed at out me, snorting betwixt his own words. It took me a minute to piece together what he was saying, like a badly made jigsaw puzzle, but I got the gist of it, “Whatcher business here, Jack?”
The name wasn’t Jack, it was Murphy, Joe Murphy, “Name’s not Jack, Mister; it’s Murphy. I believe that your boss is waitin’ for me inside?”
He slid the peep-hole shut, and I could hear the clank of the locks. The door creaked open, moaning like a… well, just moaning a little. The door could use a good oiling, and I knew just the fellow that could take care of that.
“You got a creaky door, there, Mister. I know someone who can fix that right up.”
I just got a grunt. He certainly was a gorilla. Large, hairy forearms bulged out in a funny sort of way out of a prime-tuxedo. Tears along the elbow tell me his tailor wasn’t the brightest fellow. He had a face that looked like it was beaten in with a sledge-hammer. His forehead and chin protruded out, but the center looked pushed in. I almost felt sorry for the oaf; best he could do with his life was guard the door of some tabloid paper’s offices.
One hairy arm lifted up and pointed me towards a stair case, which I began walking to, with a tip of my hat, of course. The stairs creaked underneath my steps a fair bit as I clambered up slowly. In that slow ascent, I reflected on how I even got into this position. Well, it started after I lost my last job…
I used to be an investigative reporter for the Dim Street Tribune; I was a star reporter, too. I got to the bottom of all my cases and provided all the right facts. But there was a time I had went too far. Jimmy “Two-Fingers” Johnson has not had the most pristine of reputations. In fact, he was quite well known as a gangster. In my naïve pursuit of bigger stories, I tried to finally link the fellow to a number of crimes. But when I finally delivered the paper on deadline, my editor was rolling on the floor with laughter, telling me no one would buy that heap of story. Apparently I got my facts mixed up, and my job taken away…
…At least that’s what I was told. And that brings me here, standing in a grungy staircase of some run-down building in the middle of Chicago, cursing myself for getting in this mess. And more so for only being able to get a job at a tabloid.
Should be a cush-job, though. Just make a few things up, turn it in, and let these nobodies pay my way through the rest of my life, while I retain some shred of decency.
…At least that’s what I thought.
So I headed up those grungy stairs, and was met with a lot of fellas in hurried moods. They was rushing this way and that, trying to meet their deadline no doubt. I was surprised at how serious some of these fellas took this job, to be honest. Little did I know at the time, but still…
A scrawny fellow brushed past me, carrying a stack of papers twice his size. “s’cuse me mistah” he chirped at me, then he kept bumbling along. I tilted my hat back, folded my arms across my jacket, and just took it all in. A large fellow with gargantuan fingers sat pecking at keys as gingerly as anyone with logs for fingers could. It seemed to do him little good, as all he ended up doing was cursing and backspacing and trying again.
He got two clicks out; I was impressed. He had a bit of a dazed stare as he looked over his computer screen; big glossy eyes reflecting the dim monitor. His lower lip drooped out a bit, and his forehead was gargantuan. Hair grazed his knuckles, and poked out of his shirt at random locations. He seemed like a nice fella, just a bit of an oaf as well.
Next to him was the scrawny fella that was carrying all the papers. Now this was a pair if I’ve never seen one before: the little guy was a fireball of energy with buggy ey…what’s that? A Cliché? Nonsense! I swear it, the Tabloid office really had this. Fine, don’t believe me, but I’m pressing on anyway.
Anyway, he had buggy eyes amplified by his rather gaudy glasses. He wasn’t necessarily a nerdy fella, but definitely annoying in his presence. The surprising thing, though, is their conversation.
“Borees, cuhld you type mine for meh nixt perhaps?”
“Oh baht Borees…”
Doesn’t seem that troublesome, right? Well, how about the way I heard it:
The big guy turned to the little guy, but the little fella said, “Borees, cuhld you type mine for meh nixt perhaps?” Then the little fella shook his head, and the big fella’s head drooped. But then the big fella said, “ItoldyouSeniorEduardoIhavedozensofarticlestowrapupmyself,” And this is where I started getting confused, ‘cause the big fella began to pout, and the little fella replied, “Oh baht Borees…” Then the little fella whacked the big fella all while the big fella shouted, “dontgimmenonnathatSeniorIcanhelpyoushortly.”
I pieced together that something wasn’t quite right about those two, so I just wandered off, listening to some sort of banter about body swapping or some nonsense. It actually inspired me to write my first article on the dangers of body swapping. Should prove interesting.
Around this time I realized I should probably talk to the Editor: my new boss. I realized I didn’t even know where to start looking. Then it hit me over the head like a big sack of potatoes; a door right in front of me with big bold letters that said, “Mr. Butler: Editor.” I felt I was on the right track.
I gave a light knock, letting the rhythm echo a bit around the room. The busy patter of keys pressed on; no one really bothering to look at the new fellow join their pathetic ranks.
The door creaked open, but to my surprise there was no one there. I stepped inside and nearly tripped. I had found the editor, all right, literally fell right on the poor fella.
“Gerroff of me!”
I got up.
“Sorry Chief, didn’t see you there.”
“How astute! Get in here, and shut the door”
He yelled at me for the better part of an hour. Likely not even realizing I didn’t quite work for him yet. I wanted to point it out to him, but every time I put a finger up, he just got louder. He was a short fat man, his nose kind of crooked, and his ears a little jagged. If I had believed in fairy tales, I’d likely mistake him for a goblin. His skin was a sort of sickly colour, and his eyes very beady. He had a rather disturbing scent about him, but other than that, just seemed more of an irritance than a threat.
“You listening under that hat of yours, Gumshoe?”
“Can’t really say I have; can’t really say I haven’t”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Means I was listening to what was relevant to me. Name’s Murphy. I’m your new reporter”
To my surprise, he got rather ecstatic. He leaped up and shook my hand, and I couldn’t help but notice that he left something behind. I knew my hand likely reeked of whatever he was, and I certainly wasn’t bold enough to check. I simply shoved my hand in my coat pocket, and carried on talking to him.
He told me about how excited he was when he heard about my report on old Two-Fingers, and expressed his deepest disappointments that my paper let me go. He told me that, though he himself could never publish the work, he knew that I was a star reporter, willing to go where no others would. I was tempted to ask him what this had to do with anything; that all I had to do was a little imaginative writing, but I let him live in his grandiose little dream.
We talked. Better part of another hour passed, and he welcomed me aboard. Told me my deadline for my first story was a week later, and that if I had any questions, I could ask around the office.
“And if you have any questions, just ask ‘round the office. Looking forward to seeing your stuff, Murphy. NOW GET TO WORK”
The door slammed behind me. I hadn’t even realized I had been shown out. The room seemed a lot friendlier after that. A few nods here and there were tossed in my direction. I was a part of their demented little club, now, dealing out poison to people’s minds, and feeding on the fantasy-oriented. I strolled out dragging my dignity behind me.
The moonlight danced on my paper like a seductive woman on a hot night. It teased me with sleep, but deadline was fast approaching. Tabloids are harder to write than you’d think. Took me an hour just to come up with a concept whacky enough to work. My fingers were cramping, but I kept hammering away on those keys; beating out a rhythm to the moonlight and the stars.
The bustle of late-night traffic and noisy neighbours was somehow soothing in my purusuit of words. I heard old Scott McScott, the Irish fellow who was born and raised in Scotland, ranting about the Loch Ness monster again. That’s when it hit me. Like a ton of bricks from the back of a pick-up truck that was moving too fast: The Loch Ness Monster! The click of my keys rattled out into the night, and by the next morning, I had a full article on the Loch Ness monster moving itself into the far more suiting Lake Eerie and eating a few locals. I even completed it with a crude little picture I said a little seven year old girl drew of the beast.
My poison in tow, I made my way quickly to Betsy. I started the ole girl up and floored it to the office. I was speeding, and speeding is a good way to get noticed. Since I wanted notice, I sped. No one noticed.
I raced through the front doors and into Mr. Butler’s office. I slapped the paper on his desk and he bolted upright. He gave me one of those quizzical looks, pondering the moment, then he glanced down at my hard-worked pile of…
“This is absolute garbage! We run a professional paper, Murphy, and I can sniff out Bullshit right off the knocker!”
“Look Mr. Butler, you run a tabloid, there ain’t stories for you other than bullshit ones.”
I just noticed him get read in the face. I told him something he didn’t really want to hear, and I could tell.
“That is not something I am happy to hear, Murphy. You’re a non-believer, and you keep that up and you’ll be out of a job!”
Now, I needed the money something fierce, and I was willing to even put up with this crap heap of a job a little while longer at least.
“Wait wait wait, is there anything I can do to keep the job?”
“There might just be. Head out and talk to Gilligan MacGhillacutty. You’ll be his deputy for a few weeks, ‘til you’re more suited to our type of work. If he signs off that you know what you're doing, you can keep your job. Now GET OUT!”
A non-believer. That’s what he called me. I couldn’t believe it, but what choice did I have? I had to keep the job, of course, and as long as I keep the boss happy, who cares if I really believe in what I’m writing about? Well, that’s what I thought anyway. What Gilligan showed me, however, opened my eyes completely. But I better stick to the order things happened, eh?
Gilligan MacGhilliacutty--Star of the International Inquisitor; guy was a real ace investigator by their standards. I walked over to his office to see it littered with pictures of a large, blurry silhouette. They were all over the floor and the walls and even in frames on his desk instead of a wife and kids.
“Ah, Murphy, have a seat”
I sat down. Gilligan was a sharp looking fella; he had slicked back hair, mounting a clean-shaven face, chiseled features shaded by a pair of signature sunglasses, all topped off with a black suit of high quality. He took things very seriously, you could tell, and his demeanor was always relaxed and analytical. He noticed me glancing at his pictures, however, and jumped right on that.
“I guess you’re wondering about all the pictures here. I guess you could say it has been my passion hunting the creature known as Bigfoot.” He picked up a frame, heart shaped no less, with a shot of Big foot inside. “You’ll be helping me. We’re going to New Jersey in a few days to snap more shots of him…”
At the time I thought he was crazy, but I know the truth now. I stared at the picture in my hands while Gilligan booked our flight.