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Let’s Get Lost: A Matthew Scudder Story (Part II)

In our ongoing celebration of the publication of A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF, which has been called “the perfect introduction to Scudder’s shadow-strewn world and the pleasures of Block’s crisp yet brooding prose” (Time), “a book right up there with Mr. Block’s best” (Wall Street Journal) and “as rich and rewarding as it is devastating” (Pulp Serenade). To read an interview with the man himself, visit Ransom Notes.  we present part two of a Matthew Scudder short story by the Grandmaster himself. (If you missed Part I, start reading here.)

“There are a couple of problems,” I told them.  “A couple of things that could pop up like a red flag for a responding officer or a medical examiner.”

“Like. . .”

“Like the knife,” I said.  “Phil opened the door and the killer stabbed him once and left, was out the door and down the stairs before the body hit the carpet.”

“Maybe not that fast,” one of them said, “but it was pretty quick.  Before we knew what had happened, certainly.”

“I appreciate that,” I said, “but the thing is it’s an unusual MO.  The killer didn’t take time to make sure his victim was dead, and you can’t take that for granted when you stick a knife in someone.  And he left the knife in the wound.”

“He wouldn’t do that?”

“Well, it might be traced to him.  All he has to do to avoid that chance is take it away with him.  Besides, it’s a weapon. 
Suppose someone comes chasing after him?  He might need that knife again.”

“Maybe he panicked.”

“Maybe he did,” I agreed.  “There’s another thing, and a medical examiner would notice this if a reporting officer didn’t.  The body’s been moved.”

Interesting the way their eyes jumped all over the place.  They looked at each other, they looked at me, they looked at Phil on the floor.

“Blood pools in a  corpse,” I said.  “Lividity’s the word they use for it.  It looks to me as though Phil fell forward andTeeth wound up face downward.  He probably fell against the door as it was closing, and slid down and wound up on his face.  So you couldn’t get the door open, and you needed to, so eventually you moved him.”

Eyes darted.  The host, the one in the blazer, said, “We knew you’d have to come in.”


“And we couldn’t have him lying against the door.”

“Of course not,” I agreed.  “But all of that’s going to be hard to explain.  You didn’t call the cops right away, and you did move the body.  They’ll have some questions for you.”

Continue reading “Let’s Get Lost: A Matthew Scudder Story (Part II)”

Let’s Get Lost: A Matthew Scudder Story (Part I)

J. W. Dant Whiskey BottleIn our ongoing celebration of the publication of A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF, we present a Matthew Scudder short story by the Grandmaster himself.

When the phone call came I was parked in front of the television set in the front room, nursing a glass of bourbon and watching the Yankees.  It’s funny what you remember and what you don’t.  I remember that Thurman Munson had just hit a long foul that missed being a home run by no more than a foot, but I don’t remember who they were playing, or even what kind of a season they had that year.

I remember that the bourbon was J. W. Dant, and that I was drinking it on the rocks, but of course I would remember that.  I always remembered what I was drinking, though I didn’t always remember why.

The boys had stayed up to watch the opening innings with me, but tomorrow was a school day, and Anita took them upstairs and tucked them in while I freshened my drink and sat down again.  The ice was mostly melted by the time Munson hit his long foul, and I was still shaking my head at that when the phone rang.  I let it ring, and Anita answered it and came in to tell me it was for me.  Somebody’s secretary, she said.

I picked up the phone, and a woman’s voice, crisply professional, said, “Mr. Scudder, I’m calling for Mr. Alan Herdig of Herdig and Crowell.”

“I see,” I said, and listened while she elaborated, and estimated just how much time it would take me to get to their offices.  I hung up and made a face.

“You have to go in?”

I nodded.  “It’s about time we had a break in this one,” I said.  “I don’t expect to get much sleep tonight, and I’ve got a court appearance tomorrow morning.”

“I’ll get you a clean shirt.  Sit down.  You’ve got time to finish your drink, don’t you?”

I always had time for that.

Continue reading “Let’s Get Lost: A Matthew Scudder Story (Part I)”

As the Crow Flies

pitbullAndrew Vachss uses storytelling to teach, to protect, and to make the world a better place. This week, we celebrate the publication of his new novel, The Weight, with an original story and much more to come.


Alfred Hitchcock is dead. He’s lying there dead, and I don’t know what to do about it.

I wasn’t surprised when I found him dead on the ground. The woods behind our house are wild—-a country where Darwin makes the rules. I’m no philosopher to be saying that; it’s just that I’ve been in places like that myself, so I know how they work.

Alfred Hitchcock was one of those crow-raven hybrids you see around this piece of the coast all the time–too big for a crow, but without that classic thick raven’s beak. You couldn’t miss him, even at a distance. He had a white streak along one side of his head, like the fire-scar a bullet leaves when it just kisses you on the cheek as it goes by.

He hadn’t shown up for a few days, but that didn’t worry Dolly. She loves all her animals, but she doesn’t regard them as pets. “They have their own ways,” is what she always says. Continue reading “As the Crow Flies”

B & E: A Frank Armstrong Story (Part II)

Frank Armstrong is the star of Joshua Hale Fialkov’s acclaimed graphic novel, Tumor. “B&E: A Frank Armstrong Story”  follows Frank’s continuing adventures in prose, with original illustrations from Noel Tuazon. Missed Part I? Start reading here.

The address was in the canyons, and I don’t have a car, so I catch a bus up to Hollywood and Laurel and hoof it the rest of the way.   More and more people have been moving up here, to get out of the city and into the woods.  Except, there’s so many damn people that your neighbor can knock on your window to borrow a cup of sugar.

I’ll never understand people’s need to live up windy roads that are too narrow and on rock that likes to crumble when it rains.  This used to be where all the hippie fucks lived, back when I was in my twenties and cared about that shit.  We’d drive in from Glendora and try to find Jim Morrison’s house.

For the record, it’s the red one behind the little store a little ways up the hill.  He mentioned it in some song, which had we had half a brain we would’ve figured out.  I always thought he was being deep.

But most of the freaks got driven out or became adults or whatever happens to rich kids with enough money to be total fuck ups and not wind up on the streets.

The fact that this wacko lived up here didn’t surprise me.  There used to be plenty of places in the city to get a nice spread with a yard and a smidge of privacy.  Now you have to go out to the suburbs or pay a fortune and a half to live on the beach.  This guy would fit what I’d assume a serial killer would be.

Comfortable.  White.  A fucking deviant.

The hike up Laurel isn’t so bad.  It’s going up the side streets that’ll kill you.  I stop for a cigarette every few minutes, and it only takes me thirty or forty minutes to get up to the house of Leonard Malle.  From the file, I know that he’s an attorney at one of these entertainment firms, probably working to get an extra stack of cash for some piece of shit actor who already has more money than every resident of my beloved Barclay Hotel will ever see combined.  He moved out here from Texas at twenty four, passed the bar the next summer, and got a job at the offices of Cohen, Davis, Greenblatt, and Cohen (no relation).

He quickly moved up, and when one of the other Junior Partners decided to split off, he went with, and they formed Malle and Stern.

This is what I read while I sit in a shrub waiting for the son of a bitch to make an appearance.

Continue reading “B & E: A Frank Armstrong Story (Part II)”