Jack Haddock, P.I.

Flash Fiction Month 2015, Day 25

Challenge #11: Joe Wright challenged me to write a story with a sequentially numbered word count (123, 234, 345, etc.) set under an object and starring a divorcee. It must also feature three different smells, an indescribably loud noise, and a red herring.

The frosted glass door creaked as Rick Rottweiler pushed it open. “Oh,” he said. “Is Mr. Haddock in?”

“You’re looking at him, kid.” Jack Haddock ashed his cigarette, adjusted his fedora, then poured out two glasses of whiskey. It was a trifecta of Private Eye clichés. Also the neon sign hanging over the building cast artsy shadows through the half-closed window blinds.

“Sorry.” Rick sat down in the proffered chair. “For a minute there I thought you were a herring, rather than a haddock.” Even to Rick’s sensitive nose, most fish tended to smell the same: fishy.

“I am a herring.” Jack Haddock tossed back his whiskey in one gulp. Naturally he drank like a fish. “A red herring. The ‘Haddock’ name was my ex-wife’s.” He sighed. “She insisted I take hers when we got married, and it was all she left me with after the divorce.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Rick desperately tried to come up with some way of moving the conversation onto a less depressing topic. Fortunately, there was a wedding photo on Jack’s desk: it was the detective himself with his fin around one cool cat of a lady. “Still,” Rick gestured to the photo, “it looks as though it all worked out for the best.”

“What?” Jack stared at the photo. “Oh, no. That’s the former Mrs. Haddock. She got stuck with that name after her previous marriage to the famous Finnish finger model, Finn Haddock, finished. But she’s actually a cat.”

“Wait…” Rick could smell a rat. “If Finn Haddock was a haddock, how could he be a finger model?”

“Haven’t you ever heard of fish fingers?”

The pun prompted Rick Rottweiler to groan so loudly that mere words could not possibly convey its ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ no matter how many monkeys and typewriters one employed.

“Now,” said Jack, when the groan echoes finally died down and the room stopped shaking. “Am I doing the investigating here, or are you?”

“You think I’m still going to hire you after that?” Rick leapt to his feet. “I don’t even want to be in the same story as you anymore!”

Suddenly, Rick Rottweiler teleported to a different story, arriving in a puff of smoke that smelled suspiciously like singed monkey fur.

“Gott im Himmell!” cried Doctor Doomenschwarz. “What did I do wrong this time?”

“No worries, doc,” Rick reassured him. “I’m just here to use up the rest of today’s word count.”

“Ah. In that case, would you mind passing me that screwdriver?”

“Sure.” Rick handed it over.

Doctor Doomenschwarz made a slight adjustment to his bargain bucket doomsday device, which in turn made a slight hole in the fabric of reality.

“Fish fingers!” Jack Haddock shouted through the hole.

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook Cover

Click any cover to download that book in your choice of format.

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