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by Mel Waldman

Sam Stone, a crippled, rotund private eye, walks with a cane. Hunched over, the shrinking man seems small. But although he was shot in his right leg ten years ago and has a permanent limp, he remains in good spirits.

A sick man, he is moon-faced. And of course his nickname is Moony. His round pockmarked face is bloated from daily ingestion of prednisone. He breathes heavily. Still, he is frightening with his piercing blue eyes jutting forth from his creviced face. With grotesque pleasure he wears a big fat grin.

Yesterday, Karen Wilson, a statuesque blonde, hired him to find her missing husband Jack, a tall, monolithic Wall Street broker. Wilson vanished a week ago. The police can’t find him. But Stone will.

The anonymous author stops typing. His face is a mask of joy. The mystery story is a labyrinth with infinite possibilities. He has delineated his characters. Yet he is a phantom. And his chimerical self is a lightning rod charged with magical electricity. He’s almost ready to make big decisions. Soon, he’ll conquer the universe he just created.

Of course, he hasn’t figured out all the details. But he knows that the private eye is not really a private eye. He is someone else, as is Karen Wilson. And when this impostor finds Wilson, who is also a phony, secrets will be revealed, kaleidoscopic rockets will shoot into the chimerical sky, and an iota of truth may emerge momentarily before being buried in a wasteland of deception.

Something inevitably will happen. And whatever it is, it was supposed to be. Indeed, it is the real purpose of this conspiracy.

The anonymous author is not a writer. He is someone else. An impostor too, he is in hiding. Years ago, he witnessed a heinous crime. Or was he the victim? And now the other is coming for him. Too late. He can’t run anymore.

Nearby, a slick, black gun sits on a round table, like a majestic black bird sitting on a throne, almost ready to fly away and be free. He gazes at the omnipotent bird. The glorious shiny object is perfect. Yet is it real?

The doorbell rings. And suddenly he grabs the precious thing that is more than a gun or bird. He caresses it. Kisses the magical piece of metal.

The doorbell rings again.

“Father, is that you? Have you come to confess after all these years?”


“Father, have you come to die?”

A very deep silence covers him, ricocheting into an abyss.

“Why did you kill Mother? Why, my familiar stranger?”

Kissing the glittering gun once more, he removes it from its throne, buries it in his right hand, and saunters to the door. Perhaps a crime was committed years ago. It is one possibility in the infinite labyrinth of the mind. In any case, a crime will be committed now, or at the very least, madness will seal one man’s fate.

A big, fat grin spreads across his face, a bleak landscape of wartime devastation. And the doorbell rings again.

“Yes, I’m coming! Be patient, stranger!”

He points his lonely companion at the door and pulls the trigger. After the explosion, a gaping silence swallows him, devouring his imploding soul. Yet through an open window, a black bird flies away, vanishing into the vacant, anonymous universe.

Copyright © 2007 by Mel Waldman

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