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We're in the home stretch of our 10 part flash fiction series by Rodger Jacobs...

I should explain that the Phantom Typewriter is not a person, per se. Of course, I would be getting ahead of myself if I said that so I won’t say it. According to police reports here’s what happened in the minutes between 2:53 PM, when I was laying out cold like stone statuary in the bar parking lot, and 3:18 PM when I was roused out of my coma by two of the LAPD’s finest:

Someone or some thing wielding an 11-pound Smith-Corona Wordsmith 200 typewriter suddenly arrived on the scene. The black midget who was crouched over me with the handgun in my face was the first to go, his forehead crushed into the sidewalk with the sharp edge of the typewriter keyboard. They found the amputee bludgeoned to death in his wheelchair near the dart board, the lifeless skull of the albino oozing blood and brain matter on the floor nearby. Poor Evelyn. I don’t even want to say what happened to her except to add that she had two blue eyes: one blew that way, the other blew that way. But to tell you that would be a lie. Evelyn had coal-black eyes … or haven’t you been paying attention to the narrative?

They haul me down to the East Hollywood Station with me feeling like three kinds of camel shit wrapped in Armenian bread and grilled on an open flame. They have questions. Lots and lots of questions. And I have no answers that seem to please them or make their greasy lunch easier to digest. A bunch of strange people in a strange bar in East Hollywood got bludgeoned to death by someone toting a typewriter as an instrument of death. What the hell did I care?

“Here’s the strange thing,” one of the detectives in the interrogation room said to me. “We ran the serial number of that typewriter through several databases …”

“We have some terrific databases,” the other detective chirped. Sunday school flunkie. Doing his “civic duty” as a cop. I hate those types more than the redneck Rodney King-beating bastards.

“And that typewriter comes up as a no-match,” the detective lingering in the doorway said. “That Smith-Corona Wordsmith 200 typewriter that was used to beat five people to death was, apparently, never manufactured. It’s a Phantom Typewriter.”

That was the moment I decided to buy a typewriter and become a writer. Providence had spoken. But I would be dead before I could make good on the pledge.

Part 6 | Part 5 | Part 4 | Part 3 | Part 2 | Part 1

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