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We're running a day late, but here's the latest installment of Rodger Jacobs' Flash Fiction Serial:

“Are you Mark Maker?” A man in a blue trench coat approached me as I descended the steps of the police station. He looked official, government-style official. He flashed a badge but to tell you the truth my head was still spinning from that duet with the asphalt in the parking lot and I had a bleeding tooth that was wobbling like an ice skater with a sliced tendon so I didn’t get a good gander at it.

“I’m Officer West,” he said. “I’m with the Lemuel Pitkin Department of Apologies, more specifically from Superintendent Maria Wyeth’s office in the division of Anti-Trust and Ape and Essence, if you understand.”

I smiled. “I do understand. Do you have a cigarette?”

“No. I don’t smoke.”

I squinted into the harsh sunlight. It was white and punishing on the eyes. Whatever happened to radiant gold sunshine or was that merely the stuff of novels and nursery rhymes? “If you don’t smoke then you’re no good to me, Officer West. Step aside.”

“No. Wait.” He shuffled on his large feet to block my passage. “I have a message for you from Mr. Dunne, Mr. John Gregory Dunne.”

I found a cigarette butt in my coat pocket and fished it out, lit it with my lucky red Bic. “He’s dead, died a few years ago. True Confessions, great L.A. noir book.”

Officer West snorted. “Be that as it may, he requested that you deliver a message. To his wife.”

I laughed. “Are you kidding? You got the wrong guy. I don’t know Joan Didion.”

“The message is,” West persisted, “that he’s sorry. Plain and simple, Mr. Maker: I’m sorry. How you deliver the message is entirely up to you but you have been entrusted with it and any violation of that trust is considered treason, which may or may not result in your execution. Do you understand me?”

“As clear as Kafka,” I muttered through a swirl of smoke.


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