Smell. It’s always the beginning, and from that comes the name. It needs to be done slowly, regardless of time or place, it’s that important; because once I have the smell, I have the name, and when I put a name on a file, we run like fuck until it’s done.

This one smells of damp wood, cheap rum, salted wax and stale reefers. Ivory, my new partner, is trying to silently masticate a Salami and Olive sandwich in an attempt to confuse the aroma’s. God loves a tryer I suppose. The smell of the sandwich gets stronger as I approach the dead body and I know that Ivory is in the shadows beneath the boardwalk, waving the bread in the air like she’ s guiding in a plane.

“Smell of the captains cock off your breath again Ivory”, I say as I flick a Tic Tac into the shadows.

I say no more and hunker down. The tide is out. I can hear the waves close by but no spray hits me. The posts of the pier creak as the heat begins to rise with the sun. Empty rum bottles float in the pools of trapped sea water that caress my feet and butts of cigarettes and stokies stick their sooted heads above the sand I run my fingers over. That just leaves the wax.

‘All yours Bat’, Ivory says as she comes out of the shadows. ‘Single shot through the eye, same as the others, only this one doesn’t seem to have been moving’

Ivory is referring to the other three cases we have on the go; all connected, all shot through the eye whilst moving fast. A Saturday biker filed as Talc , a fat porsche driver now under the label Dr Pepper , and a young female jockey I designated as Wintergreen. All subnames under the unimaginative media label of The Scope Killings, cue dramatic music.

‘We’ll see’, I respond as I begin to run fingers over the body. Ivory moves behind me, the hint of salami and Tic Tac not doing much to dilute the smell of Chanel, which brings me back to the drunken fuck we had on the hood of my Crown Vic the day the jockey was killed. I’m sure she’s sprayed on extra, but theres’ something else there too.
She clicks her pen ready to take notes.

The unsubs hair is long, over the ears and collar but expensivley layered to look unkept. He’s wearing a suit and tie that feels different to normal, a wrist band of woven material with a key hanging from it, and a silver ring on his thumb. His isn’t wearing a belt but has a hairpin stuck through his tie. His shoes and socks are missing. Ivory is writing it all down and sniggers as I lean over and smell the unidentified subjects knees.

‘Jesus Bat, sniffing knees? I knew you were into kink but c’mon’

‘Your Mama likes it’ I respond quickly as I feel the unsubs feet. They’re rough and cracked, the nails are chipped in places and there’s a welt on the heel of right foot. His anchor foot.

“Add this to the other three’, I say as I moan when I get up from my hunkered position. I’m doing that a lot lately.

I smell deeply and something clicks.

“But the suit wasn’t a moving target”, Ivory says as she moves away slightly.

‘He was movin alright. Got ourselves a pro surfer here Ivory. The suit is lined with neoprene and he has a hair pin holding his tie down against the wind. His feet and knees smell of board wax and the key on his wrist is probably for a car up there behind the slots. But you knew that already didn’t you?’

“What you talkin bout Willis?’ she says in her scowled homage to D’fferent Strokes”

I’d heard her on her cell yesterday checking the film schedule for a new after-shave advert, she’d known the suited surfers would sneak some early practice.

‘You smell of candy floss”

“What the fuck you sayin”

“Only place to take the shot was from that Candy Carousel over yonder Ivory. You know it and I know it”

I hear the cock of her pistol.
I drop her fast.

The waves crash and I flick out my white cane.
It nicks up some sand over Ivory’s body in a blind mans ‘fuck you’ to the now dead Scope Killer.


It’s important.

Currently unavailable for purchase

A response to a general invite from the Pulp Noir group to the Red Writing Room bubblers asking them to submit entries into a new Pulp Noir forum.

The rules of this one were max 750 words, set on a seaside pier, with the genre of crime, and had to include a ‘hair pin’ !


  • WoolleyWorld
    WoolleyWorldover 2 years ago

    vivid, and a great read!

  • Thanks Woolley, first time gavin a bash at ‘pulp noir’ and its kinda fun you know ! :) Give it a bash !

    – Cathal .

  • Lisa Baumeler
    Lisa Baumelerover 2 years ago

    You had me hooked at your words “salted wax”, and of course I had to see where this one was going…..well done on this story Cathal! Honestly, I can never predict the twists and turns your writing takes. I guess that’s what makes reading your words so entertaining! (BTW…. do you watch Criminal Minds on TV….your term “unsub” made me think of that show!)

  • just a bit of tomfoolery. The missus reads all the detective stuff so the house is full of unsubs ! :)

    – Cathal .

  • timbuckley
    timbuckleyover 2 years ago

    I have a great sense of smell, i remember reading patrick suskind book perfume thinking i could relate to this yooou bring it all back with a little thriller

  • evon ski
    evon skiover 2 years ago

    flick a tic tac into the shadows . . Oh that’s RARE. love it. You really lay out some extraordinary clues here and yank it together seamlessly. brilliant.

  • wildwomenlove
    wildwomenloveover 2 years ago

    masticate a Salami
    you’re hilarious…woo it was Ivory…didn’t see that coming…xxx

  • achambers
    achambersover 2 years ago

    you had me at “damp wood, cheap rum, salted wax and stale reefers.” You set up scented trails I couldn’t help but follow, great read

  • MissInvisible
    MissInvisibleover 2 years ago

    love it!!! your endings are always so unexpected! :)

  • KMorral
    KMorralover 1 year ago

    Ooo, I like this one. Dark and descriptive.

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait