Thursday, April 12, 2012



CHAPTER 3  Three Feet Under

Nothing cheers me up faster than a dame pointing a heater at my melon. Crystal was still sporting that dead smile, and the way she handled her piece I knew she’d had plenty of experience with guns. I was as nervous as Marvin Shanken at a harpoon factory. But I was having a change of heart about not wanting Crystal Geyser for a client. I was also definitely needing a change of underwear.

“Please, HoseMaster, I need your help. If  you don’t help me, I don’t know what I’ll do!” And with that, she aimed the gat at herself, the barrel gently pressed against her temple. I didn’t think she’d actually pull the trigger, splatter her brains all over my walls like a Jackson Pollack label for Mouton. But I wasn’t going to take any chances.

“Put the gun down, Crystal. I’ll take your case. I know I’m going to regret this. The whole M.W. game stinks like orange wine. But, hell, I’ve got nothing going on right now, maybe I can finally nail some of those pompous bung sniffers.”

I slowly stood up and walked over to Crystal. She let me take the gun from her hand. I could see in her perfect brown eyes, the color of 40-year-old Tawny Port, 20-year-old per eye, that she hadn’t planned on killing herself. There was a lot going on behind those eyes, a cold calculatedness that sent a shiver down my spine, like watching a sommelier walking toward you with a wine list. You want to run, but you don’t. And you end up enduring a long speech about the wonders of Grüner Veltliner, how versatile it is with food, which it is, if your dinner of choice is Tender Vittles. You should run. I should have run.

Crystal put her arms around me and pretended she was about to faint. I could feel my Tender Vittles tingling. She pressed herself against me; it was a very gentle press, and I was briefly fearful I’d release some free run juice. I could smell her skin, it had lovely minerality, like a Grand Cru Chablis, or maybe not, it was Les Clos call. She pulled me closer and I knew she wanted me to kiss her. Her lips were slightly parted, moist and beckoning. I knew it was wrong, but I kissed her. Her tongue threw out the Welcome mat and invited me to her tonsils. I explored the inside of her mouth like a lingual spelunker. My meat thermometer was harder than a barrel sample of Madiran. I could have taken Crystal right there in my office, but I have a rule about sleeping with clients. Not until the middle of the book.

“Thank you, HoseMaster, thank you. I knew you’d help me. When can you start?”

“Start? Hell, I’m almost finished.”

“I meant on my case.”

“Oh, I guess I can start right away. What was your friend’s name? The one who was murdered?”

“His name was Larry Anosmia.”

I was shocked. I knew Larry Anosmia. He was an M.S. I’d run into in an earlier case. Ran around with midgets. He even got shot because of me. And now he was dead, six feet under. I wondered what happened to the midget. Maybe he was dead, too. Three feet under. So Larry had decided to pursue an M.W., somehow met up with Crystal, was undoubtedly spraying his gunite in her wine cave, and ended up getting his throat slashed. Can’t say I’d miss him. Though at least now he’d finally become a good M.S. But I didn’t want Crystal to know I’d met Larry Anosmia before. I still didn’t trust her. I just hoped she was still going to be around in the middle of the book. Crystal was better endowed than Stanford University, and had probably received as many incoming freshmen.

“And this Larry Anosmia, where did you meet him?”

“At one of my wine tasting parties. I invite men who are studying for their M.W. over to my house and open rare wines for them. To help them study. It’s how I met all my friends who were murdered.”

“How many ‘friends’ of yours have been killed, Crystal? What kind of madness is going on with the M.W. program?”

Crystal’s eyes began to moisten. This time I didn’t think she was faking it. Had she really loved Larry Anosmia, and all the others? What kind of pathetic soul would fall for a bunch of wine dweebs? And how much could it be simple coincidence that Crystal had been involved with so many victims? And, why, I wondered most of all, was she so insistent about the HoseMaster being her private dick?

“Larry was the fourth.”

I didn’t want to be it, but I needed a fifth.


Marcia Macomber said...

It's always so difficult with these HoseMaster pulp (cap) fiction stories to decide what my favorite line is. There are sooooo many to choose from! But--if I had to choose, it's: "Crystal was better endowed than Stanford University, and had probably received as many incoming freshmen." That's classic. That's HoseMaster!

It's funny too how whenever I start reading one of these Harlem Nocture starts playing in my head! Why is that?

Waiting eagerly for chapter 4!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Marcia Love,

That's funny, Marcia, when I write them I hear "It's A Small World" in my head. But, then, that's been in my head for thirty years now. And virtually nothing else.

Thanks for sticking with my Pulp Fiction nonsense. I may be writing Chapter Four tomorrow. I wish I knew what the hell I was doing.

Thomas said...


You tell Cristal for me that Mumm's the word.

And yes, I agree with Marcia: that Stanford line is right up there near the top. "harder than a barrel of Madiran" was close.

Ron Washam, HMW said...


It's always odd for me to reread these chapters about three weeks after I wrote them. Most of the jokes surprise me even though I wrote them.

My favorite line, since that seems to be the theme so far, is

"She pressed herself against me; it was a very gentle press, and I was briefly fearful I’d release some free run juice."

Stupid to have a favorite joke you wrote yourself, but there it is.

Samantha Dugan said...

I liked the "so three feet under" bit best. Just in case you were keeping track.

Anonymous said...

The "free run juice" line was my favorite too.

I'm glad I discovered this blog. The wine industry needs some humor.

Thomas said...

Oh, this is humor? I thought it was a real case that Humphrey Hosemaster took on from his Union Street office, and that we would soon find out that his partner had been rubbed out by a stray Champagne cork that made its way from under a trench coat when it was pushed by an overzealous Cristal lover with vivid imaginings and rising capacities.

Joe said...

'Bout time we got some "fiction noir" around these parts. Or is it "fiction nero"? Actually, let's go with "spätfiction"...

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Yeah, midget jokes always kill. I may have to bring back Fugly and Tiny again. I miss those guys.


No need to be anonymous, but thanks for commenting. I'm glad you discovered this blog, too, I just wish I hadn't.


I steal jokes, not plots. And are there still Cristal lovers? I thought it was all about Moscato now.

Hey SubHuman Wino,

Where you been? In honor of my beloved Gruner, I prefer "smaragdfiction." After all, it stinks just as badly.

Free Run Daddy said...

Somehow, Larry Anosmia was one of my favorite characters. An MS candidate, turned MW candidate who has no ability to smell the wine is just too rich. sorry to see him go, but that is how it is with MS and MW candidates.

Its amazing how many candidates there are and how they sling around their candidacy like it was some kind of accomplishment.

Hell, at that level, I am a major league centerfielder.

So many good lines this time out. Three feet under and welcome more freshmen than Stanford are my faves.

Ron Washam, HMW said...


I guess the whole fun of my pulp fiction classics is killing off various MS and MW types. I had a fondness for Larry Anosmia too, one that parallels my fondness for Avril Cadavril. But I hope there will future characters to know and love and kill.

Is that free run juice, or are you just happy to see me?

Dean Tudor said...

I're going up against Garrison Keillor and his Gamay Noir character.

But then, you have a wider audience and do not have repeated performances. Coming once is enough for your 4.5 peter....