Saturday 10 December 2022

Erin does it gangster style!


A short story that may yet get a sequel!

Welcome back.

Such was the popularity of this little add-on story to last week's book review of Sarah Todd Taylors latest story, we have decided to add it to our blog as a separate post. If you have commented before, there is no need to comment again.........



This week Mrs H and I have opted for a touch of the 1920's gangster movie . . . 

London, 1923. 

I'm standing in the fog underneath a lamppost in the seedy part of Soho's China Town. I look at my watch and sigh. My contact with the goods is late, but aren't they always when you're in a rush. The swirling light coalesces around the lamp like a shifting grimy mass of cotton wool. My best Fedora hat is shrinking to my head, and, despite the department store salescat's assurance, water seeps slowly under the raised collar of my Mack. Never buy cheap, I reminded myself for the fifth time that evening and sighed again.

Let me introduce myself. The names Shovel, Erin Shovel. Detecting and 'special deliveries' are the game. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Shouldn't it be Spade, Erin Spade? That one was taken at the Detective Society. The names actually Erin Eyebrowinkwinkski. And who'd have thought it, that mouthful was taken too! So I'm stuck with Erin Shovel. It was that or Trowel. Shovel sounds way tougher anyway, which is handy in this city. Gets you a reputation, and that brings you the meaty jobs. 

So that's why you find me here, damp, miserable, and on a job at the wrong end of town packing a piece. Yeah, this cat's tooled up, just in case.

I take one long suck on my catnip cheroot only to find it's gone soggy. I sigh, longer this time, then shove the damp treat in my pocket. What self-respecting cat would be out on a night like this? Hungry one, that's who.

The sudden sharp jangle of a trolley bus the next street sends a shiver down my back and tail that quickly doubles back and reaches the tips of my whiskers. As if in unison, Big Ben strikes 6pm. Muffled by the London 'pea-souper fog,' it sounds like someone's sat the bells in custard. Don't ask me how I know that; I just do. My tummy rumbles at the thought of food once I finish this special rush job for the Guild. I resist the urge to have a snack as it will dull my appetite and make me less alert. 

I freeze at the skittering of a stone and the rattle of a bottle over the street cobbles somewhere ahead. The silence returns, more intensely this time, and at the edge of the gloom the fog appears to lighten just a bit. Maybe it's nothing. Or perhaps it's a sign the next act is about to begin. 

I wouldn't be the first cat mugged in this neighbourhood. That's why I'm packing heat. I slowly reach into my left pocket for assurance and feel the still-warm, smooth barrel of my loaded .25 pistol. That's a .25 litre water pistol, to you. Enough to frighten the most ardent door-to-door salescats. 


Through all the thick, grimy fog seeps a scent; something exotic, spicy . . . . and cheap. Underneath it, I smell something fishy, maybe even dead. It's a smell you don't forget. It can mean only one thing: Frank the Fish is in the vicinity. 


Sure enough, the large and fish-smelling tomcat comes rollerblading across the cobbles. I can't say I am surprised or upset that he fails to stop in time and shoots past and back into the fog, leaving an almost visible trace of fish oil in the grey gloom. The sound of a dustbin being toppled by an out-of-control 25lb cat, followed by a GRUNT and swearing, means Frank has stopped. Moments later, he appears, carrying a battered and flatter-than-it-ought-to-be box. My box. 

"You Erin the Shovel?" he asks, smirking. "Digging around for work, are you?" he adds to the insult with a wallop on the shoulder with his huge paw. It's like being hit by a 10lb kipper and sends me into the lamppost, which I swear wobbles. 

"Yeah, yeah. You know I is, numb butt. Now give me the goods and I can be on my way."

Totally ignoring me, Frank pulls out a laminated card from his overalls. And, having looked furtively around, leans in far closer than a cat who eats five-day-old fish and doesn't bother with dental hygiene, should.

"What you acting like that for?" I says. "I mean, it's not like anyone can see us in this . . . soup. Plus, if your breath gets much closer, I might have to charge you for having my whiskers straightened!" 


Frank ignores my comment and clears his throat. "It says here I have to check your ID before passing over the 'STUFF'". His lips tremble in delight. "No ID, NO GOODS. I can accept a driving license," he adds, as though this will somehow make life easier. I'm pretty confident he couldn't tell a driving licence from a one-pound note, but as I've not got either, this could turn nasty.

"So, here's the thing," I says. "I need that box. My clients needed it like half an hour ago. "So, we can do this the easy way or . . . ." I pat the bulge in my pocket. 

"Or what?" Frank is suspiciously eyeing my pocket, uncertainty and cogs whirring in his eyes. "What's the easy way," he says finally.

"I can give you this here card of mine," I say, pulling out a curled-edged and damp business card and thrusting it up to the cat's face. "Here, keep it. It's got all my details. As good as a driving licence." 


Frank snatches the card and, far too slowly, scans the smudged ink. I tease the box from his grasp and check the goods. "Hey, Frank, where's the tuna! I ordered the Tuna Mayo Surprise with extra cheese and catnip! These look like sardines. You and Giuseppe trying to pull a fast one?!"

"Hey, I just deliver these things. Anyways, the boss says you can't have toona and that's that."

"He does, does he. And why's that? It was a special order, for The Detective Writers Guild, and you knows how that mob gets itchy claws when it comes to book launch party food!" 

Frank understandably backs up a pace as I reach into my other pocket. "Yeah, he does. He also said you'd get all hissy fit, so he told me to tell you that toona wasn't available in Britain until the 1950's! This here is the 1920's!" And with that, he pockets the calling card and blades off into the fog. 

You'd be expecting me to sigh again right about now, and I did. Somehow, I never ended up with the pizza of my dreams, ever. The lamp above me flickers and, with a hiss, goes out. 

"Erin, dear. Are you awake?" Mrs H gently placed a supper plate beside where Erin sat. 


"No. No, just had my eyes closed thinking about my book and the food for the book launch," Erin said, with a hint of a yawn.


"You've been dreaming again, dear. Besides, you need an idea for a book, then write it." Mrs H smiled and then asked. "Do you have a title?"


"Strangely enough, I do. 'Erin Spade, PI, and the Big Toona Rip Off'"


"The PI would be for Pizza Investigator, would it?" With a wry smile and glint in her eye, Mrs H pulled off the plate cover to reveal Erin's favourite supper. 


"Do you read minds, Mrs H?" 


"No dear, but I do read a lot of detective novels!" And with that and a knowing wink, Mrs H left Erin to her Tuna Pizza Surprise with all the toppings. 


The End

That's it, folks!


If you've enjoyed the B-Movie gangster style story!

Till laters!







  1. WOW Erin, you are quite the gangster, that was fun!

    1. Aww thanks, Brian. That was so nice to comment again. Thank you.

  2. Chaplin: "I would also like to be a Pizza Investigator! How does one get that job? Do you have to take a class?"

  3. I'm kind of curious what you're watching, ERin.