Fiction Friday: Buffalo Soldiers

I stared at the screen of a modified burner phone operating off the wifi in the coffeeshop where I was sitting, refreshing an app that a few months ago I would have dismissed as some bullshit for kids. Sally sat next to me, drinking a latte, dressed like she was going to yoga class, looking a lot more calm than me. Maybe that was what being a parent did to you, forced you to compartmentalize. Or maybe just enjoy the rare moment where you didn’t have to do anything.

The app updated. Our burners were muted. Our actual phones were elsewhere. My brother put mine in his locker at work. Sally’s friend brought hers to a yoga class. I bumped Sally’s knee with mine under the table. She looked up and opened the app.

Brown Ford CT 687GTA

We put on leather gloves and I pulled the keys from my pocket. A taurus was parked on the side street, nondescript, old enough to not have a transponder, with fake temporary plates.

I drove it off the lot that morning before meeting Sally. We had met twice before. She looked like the soccer mom that she was. She was also in excellent shape and wearing loose fitting clothes today. If she’d worn yoga pants like the last time we’d met, everyone would have noticed and remembered her. Not her face, but still, they would have remembered.

I pulled out and sat at the light. She pulled up the only other app on our phones.

“They’re a little South,” Sally said pointing left, “heading our direction.”

I pissed off the driver behind us by not turning right on red. We watched a brown sedan pass by.

“That’s them,” Sally said, her eyes not leaving the screen.

We followed them at a distance. We could track them, but we had to time this right, so we couldn’t hang back too far.

They parked on the street a few miles from where we had picked them up. Nik’s was somewhere between a lunch counter and a diner and famous in the neighborhood. One of those good, cheap places that never gets written up, but has a following. It was also a favorite of beat cops and I could see two sitting at the counter through the plate glass window.

Sally used the app to send a message, tagged with our coordinates:

Nik’s on Capitol.

Seconds later, we got a reply: Go

I pulled up right behind the car, and slowly edged forward with my foot on the brake until we hit their bumper, and only then put it into park and pulled the brake. I grabbed the temporary plate that was sitting on the dashboard and Sally grabbed the paperwork from the glove compartment.

She didn’t say a word or even look at me as she closed the door behind her. Sally had opened a knife and twice stabbed the back right tire of the car in front of us. She then removed the fake temporary license plate on the back bumper of our car and stuffed the paper into her jacket pocket before continuing to walk down the street, earbuds in her ears, as though she was just out for a walk.

I locked the car behind me and pulled out a knife, stabbing both tires on the left side of the car. The first one I took care of with two quick thrusts. The front tire I pretended to bend over for some reason and made sure I went deep and could hear air escaping before I walked on.

Sally walked South and I walked North. At the corner I waited for the light to change. As I did I pulled out the burner.


A car approached and pulled up near where I had parked. It didn’t park behind me, as I had parked behind the car in front of me and people had been doing. Instead it double parked, blocking the brown sedan. A man stepped out of the drivers side who I couldn’t ID after the hazards started blinking. He locked the car behind him and began walking South on Capitol before taking the first side street. I could see Sally in the distance, who kept walking in a straight line.

The light changed and I crossed. All the exterior cameras on the block had fizzled out at the same time for one minute. They should be back on now. I hesitated, wanting to go back and watch, but kept to the plan.

There was a trash can on the corner two blocks later. I paused to untie and re-tie my left sneaker, and took a look around. Then while waiting for the light to change, I pulled out my phone and removed the SIM card. I snapped it in two and tossed one half into the trash can.

I walked a few more blocks to the bus station and standing on the corner, tossed the other half of the card into a trashcan. I only had to wait a few minutes until the 118 arrived. I paid cash and took a seat in the back. I heard a few languages from the people scattered in the bus, talking to each other or on their phones. The Spanish I could mostly understand. I wouldn’t have been able to hold a conversation, but I understood the gist of what was being said. I could hear Creole and another romance language. Two women were speaking Korean or maybe Tagalog? This was the background noise I grew up with. This was the sound of America. I wondered how long the war would last. This was just the first day.

No, I corrected myself. The war had been going on for a while now. This was just my first day. The old song came to mind: Only thing I did was wrong, Was staying in the wilderness too long.

Fiction Friday - The prologue to The Bohemian Invasion

A few years back a wrote what I had hoped would be an update of the old Ruritanian romances about odd European kingdoms and power struggles. It would also be funny and over the top and involve cults and a famous actor marrying the prince of a small nation. The first chapter takes place towards the end of the book, and then we go back to the beginning to figure out how the heck we got here. I continue to like the opening chapter.


The guards had chased us to the third floor of the castle where none of the doors had locks because under normal circumstances, the only people allowed were supposed to be there. We rushed through rooms filled with priceless antiquities that I didn’t know existed outside of museums, sliding across the polished marble floors. As part of a hastily constructed Plan B that had occurred to me while running, I was looking out windows for ivy to climb down or an awning to jump onto. Mark wasn’t.

“Are you going to help me figure out a way out of here or are you hoping to be executed so you can say I told you so?” The room was covered with mirrors, with white walls and gold trim and I was forced to scan the room twice before I was finally sure where Mark was standing.

“Escaping isn’t part of the plan,” he said, not nearly as out of breath as he should have been. He was moving items on the elaborately arranged mantlepiece. All the items fit in with the white, gold and mirrored theme of the room and likely each cost more than every building I’d ever lived in, but this was excessively detail-oriented even for him.

“The plan went to hell and Larissa is,” I struggled to think of something clever, pondering whether it would be possible to jump part way, “somewhere.”

“Plan B doesn’t involve retreat, Rose,” he said standing on a chair as if he was Henry V and this was Agincourt. Hell, maybe we were near Agincourt. My geography always sucked.

“No one told me there was a plan B.”

Mark ripped a pair of dull swords off a wall display and jumped off the chair with a flourish that impressed even me, and startled the hell out of the soldier at our heels. The Imperial Guard, which is to say the military, which is to say the police, who would find themselves outnumbered and outgunned guarding a Canadian mall, had replaced their usual outfits for formal garb and ceremonial swords for the wedding.

This kept us from being shot and when Mark attacked, it became clear that the guards had not been trained to fend off an invasion at sword point. Mark parried and thrust with the soldier at our heels, who even an ignoramus like myself could tell was embarrassingly outmatched as a swordsman. The soldier’s only advantage was that the white cult robes we’d worn in subterfuge were hell to run or fight in, not that the tunics and tights they wore were much better.

Mark drove the soldier to the wall, forced the sword from his hand and knocked the poor bastard to the floor with a hard punch to the face before stealing his sword, barely flinching. I could tell by the way he held his arm that it hurt, and made me a little sorry for the way I berated him as limp-dicked pussy who could only fight on stage that time we were mugged at the poisonous, spiky tailed end of our relationship.

Not that I’d tell him that. He dumped me.

“That was plan B,” he said holding out one of the blunt swords.

I gave him a look. I’m many things and I’m not ashamed to run away, but I was pretty certain that running with a sword would end badly.

He rolled his eyes and dropped it to the floor. “Just remember,” Mark said, “this invasion was all your idea.”

Two more Imperial Guards, or whatever the hell the purple and gold clad poofs were called, did a double take as they rushed past the room. Their clothing appeared out of place the first time I saw it and continued to make them look like refugees from a bad movie. They held their swords as if their knowledge of them didn’t extend much past which end to grab hold of, which didn’t help.

I grabbed a nearby vase and pitched it at one of them, knocking him to the ground as it shattered on his melon. It made a satisfying sound, and he almost comically felt to the ground without making a noise, causing the rest of us to pause.

“That’s probably a priceless antique and the prince is going to dock his family’s salary for generations to pay for it,” Mark said.

I shoved him towards the remaining guard. Mark recovered quickly. A sword in each hand, he screamed something in a language I didn’t know, using the sharp-edged sword to parry with the soldier while using the dull one as a baton to attack the knees and kidneys.

As he rushed around the room like some mad whirling dervish, the white robe flew up and offered me a glimpse of something fairly insignificant I hadn’t seen in years.

“Are you going commando?” I shouted over the fray.

“It’s. A. Surprisingly. Breathable. Fabric,” he grunted before finishing off the guy with a headbutt. “For a synthetic fiber, that is.”

I kicked the one I beaned in the midsection. He hadn’t moved. It just made me feel better. I was back to being embarrassed I ever dated Mark.

Fiction Friday: An Untitled Comics Script

Last week Fiction Friday featured a radio script and today, the opening five pages of a comics script of an untitled project which was set in British controlled Egypt in 1884. In which we meet three of the protagonists of the book (well, sort of).


Page 1

A splash page. There are many photographs and sketches of el-Armarna from this period. The important thing to remember is the sense of abandonment. The eerie atmosphere of a place where except for tomb robbers, people generally gave it a little distance. The hills are further from the Nile than much of the area, creating a fairly low and wide plain for the city and the villagers that sprung up since. Late afternoon, so there is both the oppressive brightness and long, deep shadows, which should convey a sense of dread. This is an unholy place, a well-preserved city that remains in such condition because it was given such a wide berth for so long. It should feel like such.

CAPTION: The ruined city of EL-AMARNA

CAPTION: Home of the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten. It was here that one man abandoned the centuries old religion of his ancestors to instead worship a single god. Who loved his wife so much that the imagery of Nerfertiti is unique amongst the wives of all the Pharaohs. Who was so hated and feared that his very name was erased from the tombs and walls of the city after his death.

Page 2

The page is divided into three panels. Think widescreen. The panels may be literally wide but we need to convey a sense of the hugeness of the story. These shouldn’t be crowded images, but should have a sense of the vastness of scale and the emptiness of the desert that is just over the hill from the populated strip of land around the Nile.

First Panel:

Three mummies. Yes, the classic image of the undead. Go with the old school horror look from those old 20s movies. Almost comic in the sense that they’re no longer terrifying, but they can barely be made out trudging their way towards the ruins in what passes for rage, or at least an almost instinctual reaction similar to that emotion.

Second Panel:

It’s not just three. There’s many of them. We pull back from those three and convey the sheer number of them which are coming over the hill, while simultaneously showing them dwarfed by the landscape.

Third Panel:

From a perspective just above the sandy floor, an image of a mummy’s foot about to trigger a lengthy trip wire placed just above the surface between two rocks.

Page 3

First Panel:

The top two thirds of the page show that the trip wire wasn’t a simple explosive, but now with a wide screen shot of the hillside, a series of seven explosive caches are triggered and erupting.

Second Panel:

A figure on horseback approaches the area where the explosions are taking place at full gallop. The perspective is from the side and rear so we can see the hillside in the distance, now partially obscured by the dust and sand raised in the ruckus.

Dressed head to tow in flowing robes. Her gender can’t be noted from the outfit. She’s armed to the teeth. You probably won’t want to make all this obvious in this particular panel but for reference she’s carrying a saif, two revolvers, one side by side action express rifle.

Page 4

First Panel:

Shifting focus to now behind the mummies. We’re looking through the hole that’s been opened up in the chest of one through our unknown rider, who we see is holding a rifle. The mummie heart has been blown to bits. The heart was one of the organs left in the mummies since that was the center of the body. The brain was pulled out because the ancient Egyptians thought smarts came from the heart, so that’s where it would make sense to shoot them if that would even do anything.

Second Panel:

From similar perspective as the second panel of the last page we see her stuff her rifle into the holster built into the saddle having no time to reload, and reach for the saif in the holster built into the opposite side of the saddle.

Third Panel:

She jumps from the horse with a colt revolver in one hand and a saif in the other, mid-air about to slash at one creature nearby.

Page 5

First Panel:

The top two thirds of the page. Two well dressed gentlemen are descending the stairs from their rooms on the third floor to the first floor of Shepheard’s Hotel for high tea on the terrace. This is one of the world’s most elegant hotels and this is Victorian opulence at its best. The men are the same age but they cut very different figures. The physically smaller of the two is Sir Jonathan Dent, CB Order of the Bath. Every bit the aristocrat and former military man he has the bearing of a man who is impeccably dressed and feels that wherever he is, he belongs there. He is also profoundly uneasy, which he rarely shows, but he would be a horrible poker player and here his expression does not match his bearing.

The other man, slightly taller and broader, is Abel Pirrip, who served with Dent in Africa and has joined him on this expedition. He is a bit more uncomfortable in formal wear and moving amongst the sorts of people he meets at a place like Shepheard’s. This is not the world he was born into.

DENT: I’m quite certain it didn’t happen in that manner.

PIRRIP: Oh no. I have it on good authority, sir.

DENT: The Howard Easton expedition, you say?

Second Panel:

The bottom third of the page is cut into two panels.

Dent does have a tendency at times to be pompous, a skill he learned at a young age and occasionally find himself doing so with Pirrip though he makes an effort not to. He owes Pirrip too much from their years at war to treat the man like that. He thinks of Pirrip as an equal, Dent is just naturally something of a jackass. Pirrip is also one of the only people in the world who can call out Dent. And so while Dent knows the answer, he tries to be careful about how he speaks.

DENT: Everyone died in that expedition.

Third Panel:

Pirrip is uneasy at this news.

PIRRIP: What do you mean everyone died?

Fiction Friday: Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar: The Wadsworth Theft Matter

February 18, 1949 was the debut of the radio drama Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. The Hartford, CT-based insurance investigator traveled all over the country and the globe looking into crimes large and small, and padding his expense account along the way. The show lasted until September 1962, which is considered the end of the golden age of radio. There were two attempts to turn into a TV show - including one written and directed by the late, great Blake Edwards - but it never transferred to other media the way a lot of popular radio shows did.

A little while back a friend proposed making a new version of the show and I wrote a few scripts. It hasn’t happened for a few reasons. Though I remain hopeful. But here’s one script of the new adventures of Johnny Dollar, for the 70th anniversary.

Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar: The Wadsworth Theft Matter

Narrator: From Hartford, Connecticut, welcome to the new transcribed adventures of the man with the action-packed expense account. America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator

Johnny Dollar: Yours truly, Johnny Dollar

Sound effect: Phone ringing

Insurance Guy: Johnny, how are you? It’s Evan Wright from Hartford Consolidated.

Johnny Dollar: [groaning, not quite awake] I’m good, but jetlagged. How are you, Evan?

Insurance Guy: I know you just flew in a few hours ago, Johnny, but I have a job for you.

Johnny Dollar: It can’t wait a day? Or at least a few hours. I’m jetlagged and half asleep.

Insurance Guy: A few hours ago the Wadsworth Atheneum was robbed. [pause] You’re only two blocks away, Johnny. We need to get on top of this. And fast.


Johnny Dollar: Tell them I’ll be there within the hour.

Johnny Dollar (Voiceover): I made some espresso and got dressed. Expense Account Item One: twelve dollars for coffee from Blue State Coffee for the uniformed officers standing out in the cold in front of the museum. After passing out the cups and giving them my name, I was ushered inside through the Main Street entrance. The museum’s director was inside the atrium. She was frazzled and needed sleep more than I did. She was also glad to see me, which was not a good sign.

sound effect: double kiss on the cheeks

Museum director: When the company said they would send over an investigator I hoped it would be you.

Johnny Dollar: Nice to see you, too. How are you holding up?

Museum director: Better than Marguerite. Will is going ballistic. Emma fainted. We’re all a mess.

Johnny Dollar: What did the thieves make off with?

Museum director: Seven pieces. Here’s the list.

sound effect: paper being passed to him.

Johnny Dollar: Hmm. This is a strange collection of artwork.

Museum director: I know. I want you to get those pieces back. I just keep thinking of Marguerite. She was in Boston at the Gardner Museum before she came here.

JD (v.o.): Everyone in the art world knows the 1990 heist at the Isabel Gardner Museum in Boston. Thieves made off with paintings by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Degas. It wasn’t just the biggest art theft in American history, but the biggest theft of any kind.

Museum director: Seven paintings were stolen at the Gardner as well.

Johnny Dollar: The thieves at the Gardner had better taste.

sound effect: snort.

Museum director: No comment.

Johnny Dollar: I’ll find them.


Museum director: I could say a lot of things about you, Johnny. And I have. But you’ve never lied to me. Don’t start now.

Johnny Dollar: I’ll find them.

JD (v.o.): She looked me in the eye and nodded. For the first time in years, she wished me well. At the far end of the hall in the next gallery, two detectives I knew well were talking with a uniform. I walked over to make good on my promise.

Espada: Well look who the cat dragged in.

Keaton: I thought you were in Europe.

Johnny Dollar: Flew in last night and I just got a phone call saying you guys can’t manage without me.

Espada: What’s this I hear about some guy bringing coffee for all the cops stuck out in the cold?

Johnny Dollar: Mommy Dollar taught me manners.

Keaton: So where’s our coffee?

Johnny Dollar: I brought you donuts too but the boys said you weren’t allowed near them.

Espada: He’s on that gluten free nonsense.

Keaton: Yeah, just rub it in. He goes to Europe, you get to eat real food. One of these people isn’t as happy as the others.

Espada: Well you may have just arrived but we’ve been here for hours. What do you say we get lunch and we’ll fill you in on what we’ve learned.

Keaton: You’re buying of course

Johnny Dollar: I expect nothing less from you freeloaders. And if you behave yourself, we won’t tell your wife what you ate.

Espada: We’ve got some time while the staff gathers. Let’s duck out and grab something.

JD (v.o.): Expense Account Item Two: twenty dollars for lunch with Detectives Espada and Keaton at the Lucky Taco food truck in Bushnell Park.

Johnny Dollar: Okay, walk me through this. How did these crooks manage to pull this off?

Espada: They grabbed all small paintings and drawings. Nothing large in size and nothing especially notable. It’s as if they were less concerned about grabbing the most expensive ones and had an eye on their escape.

Johnny Dollar: Do you think there was anything to them stealing seven pieces?

Espada: As opposed to six or eight, you mean? No idea.

Keaton: They broke in through the emergency exit that looks out onto City Hall.

sound effect of a door being pried open

Johnny Dollar: I hate that stegosaurus.

Espada: You’re not a fan?

Johnny Dollar: Not even remotely. But go on.

Espada: They seemed to know the layout of the museum just fine, though it’s hard to say how well they knew the artwork. They pretty much entered the museum and traveled in a fairly straight line, grabbing pieces off the wall as they went.

Keaton: Then they escaped out the emergency exit that looks out on Prospect.

sound effects: underneath the detectives’ explanation of how it was committed, sounds of the crooks prying open the door and grabbing artwork off the walls, the alarms going off and them running out of the museum through the emergency exit.

Johnny Dollar: And Prospect is empty after dark.

Keaton: Not last night. They hit just after the game at the Civic Center let out.

Espada: We’ve been looking at the traffic cams a few blocks away, but I don’t think it’s going to tell us anything. The alarm on the emergency exit didn’t go off when they left. We’re not sure if it’s been tampered with or it was just a lucky break. The techs are looking at it now.

Johnny Dollar: No one saw anything? Even with the traffic jammed up?

Keaton: It was moving just enough. It wasn’t an accident they picked that night.

Johnny Dollar: Then they’re close enough to the highway that they’re gone before anyone’s the wiser. It’s not a bad plan.

Espada: As long as the traffic cooperates it’s a great plan.

Keaton: You know art even better than we do. Anything stand out for you about these works? Other than the fact that they were small and in those galleries, we can’t spot anything connecting them.

Johnny Dollar: None are especially valuable. None especially well known. It suggests they were amateurs. They found a way in and a way out of the museum, and didn’t want anything specific.

Espada: Hopefully we’ll get something from the staff.

Johnny Dollar: Can I sit in on the interviews?

Keaton: Of course. As long as you sit there and stay quiet.

Espada: Unless you catch something we missed.

Keaton: Yeah we’re more than happy to take credit for your success.

JD (v.o.): Back at the museum, we stopped at the cafe. Expense Account Item Three: twenty-seven dollars for three double espressos and a sugar cookie decorated to look like the figure from Edward Munch’s Scream for our gluten-free detective. We took over the director’s office, a corner room with a view of downtown. No matter what Hollywood tells you, most museum thefts and art crimes are not committed by bored millionaires, but by employees. We met with the staff one at a time starting with those who were working last night.

JD (v.o.): The problem with police interviews is that people respond to pressure in different ways. Some people do not handle stress well. In my experience, art historians and curators are not the toughest, most hardened individuals. I’d worked property cases with Espada and Keaton before and they had their own approach to interviewing suspects.

Espada: (shouts) Did you steal those paintings?


Sound effect: hysterical sobbing

JD (v.o.): That curator didn’t actually steal it, but had let her boyfriend in to see the restoration room last week because he was a Frederic Church fan and now she felt guilty about it.

JD (v.o.): Most of the staff was just as helpful.

sound effect: a swiping sound as we move from one suspect to the next.

Curator #2: [Note: the words “drawings” and “watercolors” should be spoke with the kind of disgust and disdain reserved for only the most vile things imaginable] Believe me, I did not steal them. The very fact that the Atheneum is having an exhibition, no matter how small of drawings and watercolors just turns me stomach. Wasting wall space on such work instead of showcasing real art – that’s the real crime here!

sound effect: swipe

Sound effect: sobbing

Curator #3: How could you even ask a question like that. I could never have anything to do with stealing such work. Those drawings were my life. I would never have let anything happen to them. It’s bad enough I have to deal with the other curators who look down on such things, but now there are thieves. This theft is the worst thing that ever happened to me.

Sound effect: hysterical sobbing.

Sound effect: swipe

Docent: Last night I went out with a few girlfriends. We met for dinner at Ichiban and then had drinks at Tisane. I went home alone. What about you, Dollar? Where were you last night?


Johnny Dollar: I, uh, flew in from Europe with just enough time to arrive here without sleep.

Docent: I bet we can both make tonight a lot more fun.


Keaton: I think we’re done here.

Sound effect: swipe

Janitor: I-I wasn’t here last night.

Espada: Yes, we know.

Janitor: I couldn’t have stolen the paintings cause I wasn’t here last night.

Espada: Yes, but I’m asking about the day before and anything else you may have seen when you’re at work.

Janitor: But I wasn’t here last night.

Sound effect: deep sigh.

Sound effect: swipe

Keaton: No matter how many art cases I’ve worked I can never quite get used to all this

Espada: What do you mean?

Keaton: Half of them love the art like their own children and the other half think the world would be a better place if we tossed them in a bonfire.

Espada: You think they’re different from anyone else?

Keaton: I think they might pretend to act civilized now and again. But what do I know? I think Russ Heath was a great artist and Roy Lichtenstein was a talentless schmuck.

Johnny Dollar: It doesn’t change the fact that we don’t have anything solid.

Espada: I thought we had it when that one starting bawling her eyes out.

Keaton: No, it’s never the sobbers. They feel guilty about something but you need tougher stones to pull something like this off.

Johnny Dollar: What about that janitor?

Espada: But he wasn’t here last night.

sound effect: laughter

Keaton: He was off.

Espada: I don’t think he’s smart enough to pull off a heist. Let alone plan something like this.

Johnny Dollar: There was something about him.

Keaton: Maybe we should let them go. No reason to keep them stewing here while we try to figure it all out.

Espada: I’ll tell the uniforms everyone’s free to go but they have to check with us before leaving town.

Keaton: Just make sure you say in that bad cop tone you enjoy.

Johnny Dollar: Well if you’re letting everyone go, maybe I should duck out.

Espada: Oh really?

Keaton: You don’t want to hash out the case with us? Over dinner, maybe?

Espada: Your treat, of course.

Johnny Dollar: Of course.

Keaton: You are the man with an expense account.

Espada: You know that once the HPD gives us an expense account, you’ll be our first call. But until then...

Johnny Dollar: I think I’ll go now. No offense to you guys, but I’ll take a rain check on supper.

Keaton: We can’t compare to that docent.

Espada: Hell, if we weren’t in the room, I’m sure they could’ve gotten started already.

Johnny Dollar: Nice, guys. What makes you think I’m not going home to get some shut eye.

Keaton: Are you going home to get some shut eye?


Johnny Dollar: How about we touch base later tonight. Let me know if anything occurs to you.

Keaton: Only if you do the same.

Johnny Dollar: Cross my heart and hope to die.

JD (v.o.): I wasn’t going to get some shut eye, but neither was I going after that docent. Business before pleasure. The person I was keeping an eye on was the janitor.

sound effect: engine turning over

JD (v.o.): I tailed my suspect to a Cape Cod style house in the Elmwood neighborhood of West Hartford. He pulled into the driveway and left just a few minutes later. He took I-84 to an East Hartford exit, turning into a warehouse just off Prospect Street. I drove past and parked on a side street. He had parked in the lot behind the building and from a distance I could tell that he was nervous as he made his way from his car to the back entrance of the building. The building seemed to be divided into smaller work spaces. I kept my binoculars trained on the windows waiting for his head to appear in one of the rarely cleaned windows. There was at least one other man in there with him.

sound effect: phone ringing

Johnny Dollar: (loud whisper) This is Dollar.

Espada: I know. I’m the one who called you, remember. Where are you?

Johnny Dollar: I tailed our janitor.

Espada: Don’t tell me that.

[long pause]

Espada: He at home?

JD: He got on the highway and is now in a warehouse space in East Hartford meeting with at least one other man.

Espada: Give me the address.

JD (v.o.): By the time the pair showed up, nothing had changed.

Keaton: He still inside?

Johnny Dollar: Along with at least one other person. How are we going to play this?

Keaton: What’s this “we” kemosabee?

Espada: You carrying a gun now?

Johnny Dollar: I hate guns, you know that.

Espada: You don’t have a gun, so what do you plan to do?

Johnny Dollar: You don’t have a search warrant. And even if you did, this is East Hartford and you don’t have jurisdiction, so what do you plan to do?


Keaton: You got an idea, we’re listening.


Johnny Dollar: Hold my hat for me and call for backup. Real backup.


sound effect: three hard raps against a metal door.

sound effect: door creakily swings open

Museum Janitor: Hello?

Johnny Dollar: I was hoping we could talk.

sound effect: door creaking and then pushed open

JD (v.o.): He tried to close the door, but I put on a sturdy pair of boots this morning and pushed the door open. It was a typical warehouse space turned artist loft space, though this space wasn’t for creating art.

Andre: Who’s this guy?

JD (v.o.): Two other men were in the room and they were even less happy to see me.

Not Andre: Answer the man. Who are you?

Johnny Dollar: I’m Johnny Dollar. Who are you?

Andre: What kind of name is that?

Johnny Dollar: It’s mine. Like yours is better?

Not Andre: Don’t tell him our names, Andre

JD (v.o.): Everyone turned and stared at him for a long, cold second. No one pointed out just how stupid he’d been.

Museum Janitor: He was with the cops at the museum.

JD (v.o.): The word cops changed everything. They all took a step back, and Andre pulled a gun on me. I raised my arms.

Andre: Who are you?

Johnny Dollar: I told you, I’m Johnny Dollar. And right now I’m your best friend.

Not Andre: Our best friend?

Johnny Dollar: Because I’m not a cop. I’m an insurance investigator. That means my only goal is to get the paintings back

Andre: So you just walk in here and expect us to give you the paintings?

Johnny Dollar: Yes.

sound effect: laughter

Johnny Dollar: You give me the paintings and I walk out of here. You never hear from me again. Assuming that you quit your job at the museum immediately.

Andre: What makes you think I won’t shoot you?

Johnny Dollar: You won’t shoot me.

Andre: Why not?

Johnny Dollar: You’ve never fired a gun before. At least not this one. You’re holding it sideways cause it looks cool in the movies. But if you fire the gun holding it sideways like that, when the casing ejects, the brass will hit you in the eye.


sound effects: physical struggle

JD (v.o.): After I explained the gun’s workings, he took his eyes off me and looked at the gun, which was a mistake. Not just because I’m prettier. It took four solid blows to disarm Andre, leaving him with a broken arm and me with his gun. I stepped back and trained the gun on them.

sound effect: heavy breathing

Museum Janitor: Okay, man. You got the gun. Why don’t you just take the paintings and go.

Johnny Dollar: I gave you that option. You turned me down.

sound effect: takes off the safety

Johnny Dollar: FYI. This is how you hold a gun.

sound effect: three shots


Espada: Open up. Police.

JD (v.o.): Hearing the shots, which I’d fired into a stack of insulation piled in a corner gave Espada and Keaton probable cause to enter the room along with two East Hartford uniforms.

Espada: Gee, detective, here we are, two detectives just minding our business when we hear a gunshot. Giving us cause to enter the premises. And what do we have here, but individuals in possession of stolen merchandise.

Keaton: Yes it does. And one of them being a museum employee with whom we’d spoken just a couple hours back about the theft of this same stolen merchandise. What an unbelievable coincidence.

Espada: I guess we’re going to have to arrest them.

Not Andre: I thought you said you weren’t going to arrest us

Johnny Dollar: I’m not. They are. All the paintings seem to be here.

Espada: Dollar, you got a little something on your lapel.

JD (v.o.): Expense Account Item Four: $54 dollars for dry cleaning one Paul Smith charcoal suit and laundering one Thomas Pink white button down shirt due to my physical altercation with the suspects.

Keaton: Now we just need one of these guys to say, “and I woulda gotten away with it if weren’t for those cops and their danged insurance investigator.”

Andre: What are you talking about?


Espada: That’s the problem with thieves today, no culture.

Keaton: Hollywood gets it wrong once again.

JD (v.o.): The three men were booked at the station and the artwork was returned to the Wadsworth. My bosses at Hartford Consolidated and the Wadsworth were thrilled the case was wrapped up so quickly. I was thrilled that I could earn my ten percent for recovering the paintings in a matter of hours. Expense Account Item Five: Three hundred dollars even for dinner for two at the Firebox Restaurant, consisting of a dozen oysters, two entrees, one side dish, five Broad Street Manhattans, five Billings-Forge Cocktails and one creme brulee, plus tip, courtesy of Hartford Consolidated, as an apology for enlisting me just hours after getting back. Total claimed expenses: $413 dollars.

JD (v.o.): And with that, the Wadsworth Theft Matter was closed. Yours truly, Johnny Dollar.