Kiss of the Devil's Breath
Author: Lawrence Kelter
Here’s the scoop. Once there was Marlow, now there’s Mango, Frank Mango, a new detective doing his job in a very old fashioned way, an unlikely hero in an age of computers, gadgets, and gizmos. Two dead bodies have been discarded along the Sunset Strip, both aspiring actors, women of talent and ambition in a town renown for eating you up and spitting you out. Who really cares about these nobodies? Mums the word—with the Academy Awards just days off, the powers that be are determined to sweep the dead under the red carpet, at least until Oscar can take his gratuitous bow. There are, however, wrinkles in this finely crafted plan of deception, most notably the disappearance of yet another woman, a killer whose sniper rifle is trained on the fabled red carpet, and a throwback detective who doesn’t like to get pushed around.
Length: Full-length Novel
Available in .mobi for Kindle, .epub for NOOK and most other e-readers, and .pdf.
Kiss of the Devil’s Breath
Elmore Potter, butt ugly from Buffalo, sharp as a tack, twenty-nine years and ten months old, burnt out at work, burnt out on women, burnt out on life, and the big three oh-no bearing down on him like a freight train on a Guernsey.
What’s a guy to do for kicks?
Elmore, Jesus Christ, what kind of parents would name their kid, Elmore? I mean they had to be idiots, right? Well maybe not idiots, but hopelessly provincial. Who can say? Depew, New York, for God’s sake—it ain’t exactly the cradle of civilization.
So maybe that’s why Elmore’s finger is wrapped around the trigger of a sniper rifle. I don’t know, I’m just guessing.
Then maybe if you figure it, the human brain is the most amazingly complex system in the entire universe. Think about a goddamn iPhone: one bad soldering connection and it’s a five hundred dollar piece of junk. By contrast, the human brain is a trillion times more
complex: miles of nerves, neural transmitters up the yin yang, norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and God knows what else. One little thing goes wrong and the chances are odds on that you’ll end up a basket case. I mean, with so many opportunities for God to make even the smallest mistake, the likelihood is pretty good that you’ll end up a raving psycho, and spend your evenings baying at the moon. So it isn’t so surprising that our butt ugly friend from western New York State is gonna pop his cork at some point and take out a chunk of someone’s cranium all at the same time.
Get the picture?
Elmore wore his albatross of a name like a noose until one of the cool girls at work started calling him Elmo. I mean Elmo’s better than Elmore, isn’t it? It’s kind of cutesy, and cutesy beats socially awkward any day. So here he is, a fully grown man with an advanced degree, a corporate marketing executive, going by the name created for a plush, eighteen inch tall Muppet.
Tickle me, Elmo. Fuck me, Elmo. Marry me, Elmo. All that nagging can wear pretty thin on a lad; and all the while poor Jim Henson’s doing handsprings in his grave—forget handsprings; he’s on a high bar swinging giants.
Elmore had become quite the catch, certainly not pretty, but professionally powerful, and the high dollar net worth can do wonders for the ego of a man in his twenties, and in case you haven’t heard, women dig that kind of thing. Some of the most beautiful women in the world have given it up for butt ugly guys just like our friend Potter; think about Paulina and Rick, Christie and Billy Joel, and God, how many absolutely gorgeous women, did pock-faced Rod Stewart plow through? The face really doesn’t matter, the bank account and the holier than thou attitude are a big enough draw all on their own. Be that as it may, poor piss-faced Elmore had so much action he couldn’t beat them off with a stick.
He had become one of the power minds at Hiku, the athletic shoe giant, one of an elite group of marketing-savvy geniuses, getting paid mid-six figures by the Beavercreek, Oregon greed machine. How many different ways can you mold the same eighteen cent plastic sole, so that the money hungry shoe giant is able to retail pleather ghetto shoes at a hundred-fifty bucks a crack? Change the colors, change the name, and voilà, the new Breeze Mumbo Jumbo is born. I mean these shoes are so goddamn good that paraplegics are leaping out of their wheelchairs and slam dunking basketballs on national television ads. Put them on a three hundred pound woman from Arkansas and she’ll run a four-minute mile carrying her deadbeat husband on her shoulders while braising a lamb shank.
Just do it!
Just do it?
Just do the math.
The new Breeze Mumbo Jumbo costs $5.85 F.O.B. Malaysia, $7.20, landed, duty paid at the port of Seattle. Market it up twenty times or so to cover overhead, marketing, and endorsements to this year’s Jordan-cum-lately, executive compensation and stockholder’s dividends. Now add Elmore’s take: an additional 250 K in stock options, a $125,000 quarterly performance bonus, an unlimited expense account, and the President’s Club Recognition Award Conference held annually in Fiji. Meanwhile, 3,000 miles away, twelve-year-old kids in Washington Heights are dealing crack and giving head at $20 a throw, so they can buy a pair of sneakers manufactured in an Asian penal colony with some egotistical NBA star’s name inscribed upon them.
Not bad for a day’s work.
How many times can you sell your soul?
One time too many.
Potter rested the rifle on the roof’s ledge for a moment to pick a blackhead out of his nose. Several hundred yards away, Steven Spielberg and Kate
Capshaw paused on the red carpet for a photo op.
Elmo’s girlfriend owned the industrial building directly across the street from the Kodak Theater. Her name was Sinderella, soft porn impresario, born Victoria Himmelfarb. Sin’s claim to fame was an eighteen-pound pair of silicone stuffed breasts and bleached blonde hair extensions. You can finance a lot of schlock films on your boyfriend’s near million-dollar annual income. Elmo wasn’t so much turned on by the tremendous cans, as he was by the location of her studio. Did I say studio? I’m being kind. It was a six-story rat trap with code violations and rented video equipment—right across the street from the house that Oscar built—honest.
It sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? Well it’s true, pornography being filmed right across the street from the most hallowed of Hollywood ground, and I’m guessing you’re still having trouble getting your arms around the eighteen pound knockers, am I right? So here’s the really cool part. Sin had gone to the trouble of having her mammoth jugs weighed by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures: the Comité International des Poids et Mesures in France. I mean, could you just see her resting her giant mamaries on the committee’s official, Spanish built, Toledo scale, while an assembly of French scientists looked on, twirling their mustaches and stroking their…wait for it… sliderulers? Oo la la, or should I say: Holy Toledo. Our erstwhile pornstar was a pretty savvy business lady. She had a copy of the official certification stamped on the back of every one of her videos—now that’s some pretty slick marketing; something she picked up from Elmo. Can’t imagine what Elmo picked up from her; can you?
Elmo’s birthday was right around the corner. He’d be thirty years old with nothing to show for it but a shelf full of Plexiglas achievement awards and an eight thousand square foot condo filled with sixty-inch High-
Def TVs—apparently Elmo liked everything big. Now you’re thinking that should’ve been more than enough for any self respecting young man, but it wasn’t quite good enough for Elmore Potter—I mean the man’s a God honest overachiever.
He lifted the rifle and peered through the scope. The heavily pigmented skin of Scarlett Johansson’s areola was just peaking above the plunging neckline of her Armani evening gown. Potter had the brown skin in his crosshairs.
What a gorgeous woman, but not quite the target Sin is, he was thinking. I could hit Sin with a slingshot from Burbank if push came to shove. Yeah, they were that big. He smirked, rested the rifle again, and drank from a bottle of Poland Spring water. The Academy Award celebration was in full swing.
Patience, he thought. He’d already waited so long—he could wait a few minutes more. He reveled in the expectation of the moment that was fast approaching, the headlines and the talk that would surely take place around the water coolers back in Beavercreek—he’d be a celebrity soon; his name emblazoned on newspaper headlines and scandal sheets around the world—he’d be an actual goddamn urban legend. His face would be all over TV and the Internet. He’d be interviewed by Matt Lauer and have his pictures plastered all over TMZ. Someone would write a bestselling book about him. Crazy, lonely, women would send him love letters in prison.
Fuck John Lennon!
Fuck Mark David Chapman!
This was going to be bigger—way the fuck bigger.
What’s a guy to do for kicks?
Stop a burnout from splattering someone’s noggin like a crenshaw melon.
That’s where I fit in. I’m a private detective. My name’s Frank Mango.