Swimmin’ With The Fishes

Diary entry: The idea of eating under-the-books, under-cooked squid came up this morning, in more ways than one, I was on a stake out last night at Panda Express, my usual booth, Saki and squid with slippery noodles, and a few won ton, just a heads up, if a small weird looking Oriental man with a Mohawk tries to give you his “Slippery noodle special”, don’t bite, his smooth words bespeak a sandpapery desire, anyway, the place was dead quiet, like a morgue after the last body had been shipped out, I had much thinking to do but the silence was intimidating, like the silence of the school principal as you sat before him awaiting your fate for using some of your favorite words, and old Mrs. Jenkins was within earshot, I just couldn’t think, so I ordered another Saki and inquired of a tall, very pretty, dark haired, soft voiced Oriental waitress if she had heard of, or seen, a particularly ugly Oriental man from China who wore one jade ear and one regular ear, she whispered a soft “No” in my ear and quietly cleared the dishes from my table, the man I was after is the distant cousin of Mr. Kim, Mr. Kim is the most feared and powerful man in Shing Dong Prefecture, he runs a diner, slash, opium den in a dirty harbor town in Southeast China, the only man in the world Kim fears is his distant cousin, a man called Foo Key Yoo, I got his name from a friendly dark haired Oriental waitress one night when she whispered it in my ear, anyway, the amount of time I have put into this investigation is staggering, staggering like the drunk guy on that May Berry television cop show staggers on Saturday night and the cops run him in and work him over so as to not leave marks, Paulie hasn’t had it as good, no, Paulie has had his chop sticks broken several times, there are scars and bruises to prove it, but Paulie still stands, at least for now, I decided I needed a better place to think, somewhere where the silence wasn’t so threatening, so I headed over to one of my usual watering holes, The Floating Fish Bar and Grill, my good friend Kim Eel Dung runs the place, maybe a few drinks would loosen up the thought muscles a bit, anyway, the Floating Fish was dead, a few scavengers were playing pool in the back room, a couple of jellyfish in a booth were slurping chili from bowls, two pretty little snail darters were slow dancing by the juke box as they shared a white cardboard container of popcorn shrimp, a shaggy barnacle sat stuck to his bar stool perch desolate as a stone, at the end of the bar; it was as if all the bodies in the morgue had been shipped over here, like it was the place where dead people go to get some rest and relaxation, I called to Kim Eel to refill my drink, he brought scotch and abalone sandwiches, pickled sea cucumbers on the side, the sound of a ruckus outside in the alley rung in my ears, an orange roughy was picking a fight with a sardine, he was schooling him in front of a grouper of bystanders, the whole thing smelt, it smelt bad, then the fog moved in, everything got hazy, my head was swimming, some one must’ve slipped me a Mickey Finn, I grabbed on to the nearest light pole and I clutched it like it was the last Champagne cork on the sinking Titanic, I don’t remember much of anything after that except waking up in a bed in the back room that smelled like kelp, the beast that this murder investigation has become may be too much for a small shrimp like me, maybe I should just hug the coral for awhile ’til the current situation blows out to sea, well, this is Paulie, rowing his little skiff back to his home dock, as he does, he shouts out across the water a hearty “Ahoy and shalom” to his dear loved ones, to the rest of you, Paulie shouts his usual crabby “Go to hell”…

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