the business office. For appointments.
I cut her off. I was told by my friend, Jan Van Reydner, to ask for
Simon. She said Id get a little better treatment.
There was an eerie pause. Just a moment. She was gone. In her place
was a recording of some joker
measure, describe cause and effect. The dead retained their personalities
and most of their senses depending on a simple equation of gray matter.
Basically, they were dead people with the same desires and needs as the
livingas long as they retained the mi
seaweed and plankton that could be spiced, formed and colored to order.
When I ordered hotdogs I was really ordering plankton and seaweed
They werent bad with mustard and onionslets say they werent worse.
Also driving the price of meat and farm prod
the wild and the dead.
Like most of the cities that remained, Greasetown was insulated around
its inland perimeter by a thirty-foot tall barrier. This allowed the good
citizens to worry about their own doomed existence without the
Elmo pointed a lifeless finger. Thats what its like being dead.
I grinned, pulled out the office bottle. How about we pickle ourselves
Elmo laughed with a sound like crumpling cellophane. I poured two
drinks and Elmo took one. He said it sometime
skyscrapers. Three short cedar trees had somehow managed to root
themselves in the gravel and refuse, and it was among them that I
stars one night peeking out between the clouds like naughty children at
cracks of bedroom doors.
The gangsters r
real job if Mr. Tobias was an example of their work.
Im sorry I came in makeup, but I put fingers to my cheek. My
complexion underneath is sowell, disfigured.
He nodded, smiled sweetly under a Peter Pan nose, and then laughed
with cherubic vigor. Oh, I un
Of course, I said, smiling.
Cane started for the door, then stopped. Oh, Wildclown. This doesnt
have anything to do with that stupid baby case. I guess you were just
clusterfucking us around before.
Its related, I said, mainly for a reaction.
I left him and entered the room. Its corners were lost to me in black
shadows. I followed a tender glow from ceiling lamps until I saw the
of a man behind a huge desk. It grew out of the darkness like an oil
It was so big he would have to wa
produced a wallet and a .357 magnum. More for the collection. Tommy
pocketed both then let Pigfaces body continue its crawl into oblivion.
He walked over to the Chrysler and hopped behind the wheel with a
crunch of shattered safety glass. He began laughin
G. WELLS TAYLOR
to tell you.
Get off it! I snarled. Youve already admitted as much. Why else
would you allow a fictitious, dead mime to see you? Am I a fool or did you
get all this wealth from being sloppy? You knew I knew something about
questionable heredity when hes just a nice old taxpaying businessman.
dead mens wallets had provided little more than a few small bills in way
information; in fact, they were buying me a round. I hadnt expected to
find anything. Nobody carried iden
to Russia. Post-democratic China massed its troops on the border. Civil
wars raged across the African continent. Capetown had been made the
capitol of a newly formed AIDS victims republic. Things were getting
I flipped past the headlines to the
from my new vantage point, I first saw the gangsters who now sat on
G. WELLS TAYLOR
side of Tommy like Darwinian bookends. They had been lurking in the
shadows during my interview and had stepped forward and nailed me on
the back of the head wit
I finished my breakfast then good-morninged Elmo where I found him
sitting motionless in my office. He was entranced by his umpteenth
sunrise. Odd, because the eternal cloud cover allowed only a gradual
lightening of the constant gray.
Tell me, Elmo, I as
Leave it with me, Wildclown. Cane walked to the window, peered out
through the blinds. Its not what Id call an iron-clad case. Christ, all you
have is a cigar butt for physical evidence. Id think long and hard before
you charge Mr. Adrian with anything. H
I see. I had to keep my bluff going. Your fotog.you see I didnt
know about that.
Yeah, poor guyhed only been hired the week before. Then to
have to see the body. Cotton was quite a mess. You know that much.
Yes, he certainly was. I jotted the name on the
guardrail like so many Heathcliffes baring their souls to the biting
of nature. Part of me wanted to join them out therebut I knew theyd
go for my eyes. The highway wound in and around granite outbursts
rising onto pedestals only in those areas th
ancient truck burst into yellow flames down the street. A dead wino
at me with frightened eyes. I gave him a quarter and stumbled up
steps under a neon sign that throbbed the word Berlinz.
Shortly, I was curled around a pink marble bar. So
chewed his brass toothpick.
Lets hear it, Wildclown. I dont have all night. I could see a double
reflection of my lamp, ashtray and hand in his glasses.
Want to sit? It might take a while.
No. His eyes were fixed on the back wall of the inside of my skull
Wildclown, I drawled, slowly puffing smoke in an effort to seem in
control. Im a private detective.
And the purpose behind that ludicrous outfit?
Detective disguise number 118. The dead mime costume, Im
surprised no one has used it on you yet.
Dont be fli
the bar, and whispered through a door at the back. He waved a finger to
signify that it would be just a minute, hour, day or monthpossibly a
It would just be one of something.
G. WELLS TAYLOR
I scanned the bar while I waited. Most of the waiters
would do her best with what the good lord had given her.
We stayed there about three weeks, drinking ourselves into oblivion in
a cozy fishermans lounge where stuffed trout cavorted in varnished glory
for the guests. Tommy had quite taken to Mr. Loxley, w
An elephant sat on the back of my head. Tremendous pressurejust
as my skull was about to explode a wave of black covered me.
We were in the Chrysler. Tommys head lolled drunkenly; spittle hung
in a slender strand from his lip. It swung and b
Blacktime on his own. Im certain that if things had gone right, Van
Reydners big breasts would have been resting on him when he came to.
She would have steered him toward Simpsons Skin Tanning and
WHEN GRAVEYARDS YAWN
Preservation for the Deceased befo
nerves firing. The clown quickly pulled his feet under him, then kicked
legs out from under the gangster on the rightwho dropped immediately.
Tommy collapsed with the other on top of him. He growled and spat. His
The auto-shotgun roared
Its my theory that she was working with whoever wanted Billings dead.
accessory, to be certain. I acted on a lead from the night clerk: A Mr.
Douglas WillieboyI have his address written here. I tossed him a
On that tip, I arranged to meet a man w
him out of his trance. I had finished my umpteenth cigarette. So had
The air around us resembled a heavy Scottish mist. I resisted the urge to
walk to the window and open it to replace the sour air within with the
air without. Then, with extrem
I know about the Billings murder. But I wonder if you could tell me
about the other killing.
A pause, then. There was no other killing.
G. WELLS TAYLOR
Well, what was the other story you covered?
The fire. She was becoming hesitant.
But, I pointed out,
was exactly as Mr. Adrian had stated. He, like most powerful people in
history, was above Authority. What that meant was he owned a piece of it.
That was probably why Billings had wanted me to kill his murderer
outright. The lawyers professional pragmatis
office for that purpose. It was spectacular. Breakfast can be like a wet
from God to the disembodied. There was simply nothing like having a
tongue to taste food with. Even if the exigencies of the Change had made
the meat parts of the meal synthetic
pleased to talk to me. I had her address, 333 Sea Heights. I told her it
would be late in the day. She said that would be fine.
The neon drives you crazy after a while. Vicetown at night is a
menace to the light sensitive. A steady drizzle fell. I complim
Witnesses on the scene reported the murder arose from a quarrel
between the unnamed lawyer and his mistress.
Authority refuses to speculate on the motive for the killing and will
not comment while the crime is under investigation.
I looked at the byline:
WHEN GRAVEYARDS YAWN
Gingold the Sublime, the dead mime, I had smeared gray makeup onto
hands until they were sufficiently ghoulish. I had also done my best to
introduce curlicue crispness to my clown makeupan understated
of the avant-garde.
panic. Tommys breath came in gasps. He threw a rock into nearby
A tree was blasted to twigs.
Suddenly, Tommy froze. He looked up. His eyes seemed unfocused, as
though he were moving his attention from cloud to cloud. He stared
directly into the spa