Invasion Of The Building Snatchers
a Fix It Upper Mystery starring Jewel
with special guest Cock Johnson, Private Detective
Cock needed help on this one. That’s why he tracked down Jewel. The fictional building contractor/mystery solving character she played in a number of made for Hallmark Channel movies, as opposed to the real life singer/songwriter of such hits like Intuition and You Were Meant For Me.
Not that there’s any goddamn difference. This pop-dead world’s too far gone to destroy any more time trying to kid ourselves.
In those Hallmark movies, Jewel is just acting like Jewel.
Cock put on a nice shirt, cursing ontologically because he’d intended to wash his pants before she got here. His pants cursing the predictability of another broken promise. An anniversary attended by old paperbacks and the 12th day of Cock swearing like hell that he was going to do laundry again.
The kind of tragedy that almost gets to third base with Opera.
Another sad TidePod alone, stood up again.
Hamper knows how much those pants really wanted a goddamn bath.
“This is going to be one hell of a crossover!” Cock said to the car radio, driving like mad(ame bovary) all the way to the airport. It was already 6:58 and some parking meter change. Her flight was scheduled to arrive at 7:02.
“You’d better stop, STOP, using me up!” the car radio said back.
Bic Lighter Twenty Seven.
Magnifying Glass Lighting Her Cigarette 2002.
Cock found Jewel waiting at baggage claim. Her suitcase looked weird.
“Do you like it?” Jewel asked. “It’s from my Songlines Jewelry collection. We make luggage now too.”
“It looks like a cat.” Cock said, while in his head he was thinking:
Jewel makes jewelry?
That’s like a guy named Frank making Frankenstiens.
Or a sentimentalist named Heartbreaker making sledge hammers and hearts.
“It is a cat.” Jewel said. “It’s my cat. Isn’t she adorable?! She’s eco-friendly too. Most suitcases are made out of whale teeth and plastic. Cat’s don’t come with that kind of ecological baggage. That’s why when I travel, I carry Fluffles instead of a suitcase.”
“Where do you put your clothes?” Cock asked “Or your poetry journal? Or your toothbrush and your soul?”
“I shove them in Fluffles.” Jewel said, while giving her suitcase a little scratch behind the ear. “Everything except my building contracting skills.” tapping the side of her head, finger first, “I keep those up here. Now what’s this mystery you’ve told me almost nothing about?”
“I’ll tell you when we get there.” Cock said, “It’ll be more dramatic that way.”
Cock was right. They walked out of the airport, where he threw the cat in the trunk, and a math-related number of minutes later they were standing outside the Mercury Cafe, where the streets were paved with drama instead of ordinary pavement or gold. Only then did Cock tell Jewel everything.
“Wow, that sounds dramatic as hell.” Jewel told Cock, “So there’s what? Something wrong with the building? I’m a contractor. I can fix that.”
Coincidence, or was she misquoting Coldplay? I guess we’ll never know.
“I don’t know.” Cock said, lighting a cigarette like a tired pilot avoiding the sky because he didn’t smoke anymore. “Wrong might be the wrong word, because everything seems to be walking around feeling wrong these days because everything else is walking around feeling so goddamn right. Let’s say it’s different.”
“Yes. The building’s been, different.”
“How’s it different?” Jewel asked, as she pulled a tape measure out of her pocket and started measuring the sidewalk for clues.
“The long-time owner sold the place a few months ago. The suspicious activity moved in immediately after that. It started with the menu. This place used to serve stuff with interesting names like Roman’s Holiday and the October Tiger. Sunday Night Spaghetti and Susan Jane’s Chicken Fried Tofu. And then one day I walked in here, and all of that was gone. Nobody’s seen a Roman Holiday in months. The restaurant side of the place has de-evolved into an overpriced Taco Bell, serving stuff with unimaginative names like enchiladas and nachos and quesadilla.”
“I like nachos.’ Jewel said.
“We all like nachos, Jewel.” Cock said. “That’s not the fucking point.”
The side door of the Merc smashed open and a disgruntled Jake E. Lee exited the building, barking like hell at the concrete beneath his feet.
“Fucking Oligarchs!” Jake said. “You could spend All of your money in there.”
He was either quoting one of the bloodhound tattoo guys from Hostel or he was being deadly serious. Cock assumed he was doing both.
“What’s wrong with him?” Jewel asked.
“Jake runs a monthly Wednesday afternoon open mic for disgruntled musicians who used to play for Ozzy.”
“Not any more I don’t.” Jake E Lee said. “The new owners of this creepy place wanna start charging me five hundred bucks a night. Either I pay up, or I can’t host my reading series here. I can’t afford that, so I’m gone.”
“Why don’t you just pay the extortion fee using some of the royalties you earn from writing the Bark at the Moon album?” Jewel suggested.
“Not everybody gets properly credited for writing their own songs, Jewel!” Jake said. “I’d stay out of there if I was you. It’s not the Merc anymore. It might look like the Merc, but it’s acting like a completely different building. It’s Invasion Of The Building Snatchers in there. I think the goddamn thing’s possessed.”
From inside the building they could hear the sounds of a microphone being tested. The monthly Fbomb was about to begin.
“We’ve got to go inside, Jake E Lee.” Cock said. “It’s the only way we’re going to get to the bottom of this to-be-continued-next-month’s 2 part mystery. Also, I wrote something to read tonight. I’m dedicating it to Chis Martin and Dakota Johnson. It’s called 50 Shade of Yellow.
To Be Continued!
Written for the October 2021 FBomb.