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Smokey Grey, Private Lie

Smokey Grey, Private Eye – foto by Smith

Here’s the first Smokey Grey Private Eye short story. I’d forgotten how odd and silly it was. Stay tuned for Smokey 2 and the Pod People (my favorite of my 3 . . . Lady also wrote 3).

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Smokey Grey, Private Lie

Grey looks out at the cloudy unfocused day. He has vagina juice on his glasses, but he’s not sure if the smear is inner or outer fog or last night’s lady. It wipes off, so it must be lady. The day’s still gray.

Smokey lives alone in a dark room illuminated by two strips of red and green neon and the lonely glow of a computer screen somewhere deep in the dead steel city. He is rumpled, weary. He used to have friends, but drove them away. Used to have dreams, but they died – dreams of external fairness, internal peace. He no longer expects peace in this life, or even reason.

He does have one friend left, an alien he recently met at a bar, even though he no longer drinks. The alien has an expandable head which accordions out to give thought more room, but he does this only at night so no one sees. He’s not sure he believes.

Smokey knows no one tells the truth – only a truth, their truth, and even so they always lie. He also knows that flesh fails, always, but can be fun until it does.

He is lazy, stubborn, persistent, odd, old, his voice gravelly from forty years of smoking grass. He’s never solved a case. He’d unsolved some though: proved an honest man wasn’t; showed an untrue woman true; found a dead tree lived.

His office on a vague, nondescript road in a nowhere building with no desk, no secretary, no case load, no debt job to jab, just piles of old files unsolved and unsolvable, was being detoxed, so he sits on a bent bench in a neglected park and lights his last joint, taking his first slow toke of the day while watching the squirrels play with a dog, the dog play to a man, the man playing in shadow like dead smoke.

Something in the interplay of the dog and man reminded him of the Lost Whisper Tribe, the way they kept things unformed, never vocalized wire to strand, mean to maim, or lean to lame. And that reminded him he needed more grass.

The stuff he was smoking now was three-time-running grass. Yesterday, grassless at his kitchenless table, he’d said “Marijuana Marijuana Marijuana” three times quickly, evenly, then rapped once on the wood table with his knuckles and said “There, I’ve manifested it. It will come.” He’d looked about in mock seriousness and whispered, “Well, where is it?” Smokey talked to himself a lot; answered himself too.

Today while walking to the park, someone shouted “Grey!” When he stopped and turned, a dude he’s met at last night’s Urban-Jellen Test concert stepped out of an internet door, so Smokey asked, “Any chance of finding some smoke?” The guy reached into his pocket and said, “Here, somebody just gave me this. It must have been for you,” and handed him a small gold-green bud.

Three-times-running was an old metamorph breath trick he’d learned researching the Lost Whisper Tribe legends. If you whisper softly same phrase right way same way same rhythm same roll three times spaced slightly, three heart beats later the words will form themselves in the air and you could hear them softly speak themselves. The same logic worked with reality – project three quiet visions out into the Universe and watch them unfold. Anything can happen if you’re Jung at heart . . . especially if you’re too Jung to be a Freud.

Trouble is, you couldn’t do it twice, or even count on it working the first time because reality gets prickly when taken advantage of, and starts playing tricks, unnice ones. He’d learned that from Sham, his alien friend who claimed he used to be a reality adjuster, had sold unreal estate, but he’d given it up to come to earth to play right cheek in an acoustic buttocks band.

Sham was the only one besides himself he could talk to anymore.

The dog came up and sat at Smokey’s feet, sniffing his smoke. “Ganja,” the shadow man called, “Come here, girl.” The dog stayed, staring at Grey while Grey watched the shadow man, intrigued. He got up and walked over. The dog followed.

“Ganja her name?” Smokey asked. Shadow nodded and said, “I was wondering if you could help me with something.” Smokey nodded back, trying to get the man in focus, but the shadows kept moving. “Depends. What you need?”

“I went to see the Quantum Mechanix production of Chopin last night, expecting a piano recital. But all that happened was a man came out on the stage with a large pie pan and showed it to the audience. Then an amorphous individual came out with a negative review of the previous night’s performance and waved it at the audience. A third person came out dressed in a tuxedo and went to the piano to play, but was prevented by a woman with an ax, which she then used to chop the piano into small bits. Never did hear any Chopin piano music.”

“What’d you think of it?”

“Different, sort of interesting actually. And the sound the piano wires made while being destroyed were rather special. Reminded me of an old John Cage performance. What did they mean?”

“Well, the Quantum Mechanix is a comedy group; they deal in the surreal, dada, science. They were playing with Quantum Physics and the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle which states reality is all states, all things at once – it doesn’t become any one thing until you ask it something, and then it collapses into the answer you expect. Like Schrödinger’s Cat experiment: put a cat in a closed box with a bottle of poison gas and a radioactive isotope. If the isotope decays and an electron hits the bottle, it will break, releasing the poison, and the cat dies. But the isotope may or may not decay, so until you actually ‘ask’ the question ‘is the cat dead or alive’ by opening the box and looking, the cat is both dead and alive and every state in between. It’s your asking reality to give you an answer that reduces the cat to the single state of dead or alive.

“The Quantum Mechanix were playing with Chopin’s name, showing it to you in all of its states. The word Chopin looks like choppin’ but sounds like show-pan. The first man was ‘showing you a pan’ – and since it was a pie pan, there were overtones of showing a pie at a fair, and of course harmonics of the mathematical pi as well. The next person produced a pan – a negative review – of the previous show, so it went from ‘show pan’ to ‘show the show pan’ or ‘show pan of show.’ The potential piano player was stopped from playing by the chopping of the ax, so his ‘would’ of playing was chopped short. And of course the lady chopped the wooden piano, so you have her ‘choppin would’ as well as ‘choppin wood.’ It’s all absurd, surreal nonsense.”

Shadow stood, silent, looking at Smokey, then said, “Rather a long way to go for a short distance.”

“Oh I don’t know,” Smokey replied, “it is rather interesting. Take Quarks for example… Quarks create all the building blocks of the universe – protons, neutrons, electrons, voltrons. But, when they’re not creating stuff to build us, they disappear, go away, cease to exist in this universe. When they’re required to make more stuff, they come back. So where do they go when they’re gone? How do they know when to come back from wherever they aren’t? Fascinating stuff.”

“Where do you think they go?”

“Decatur, Illinois.”


“Why not? They’re caterers of a sort. Must make noise. Have to be somewhere when they’re nowhere, and Illinois is as close to nowhere as I know.”

They watched Ganja take a crap.

Shadow said, “You should check that out. I know you’re almost out, and that’s good shit.” Then the sun came out, banishing the shadows, and he vanished.

— © Steven B. Smith
written in Krakow Poland 2006
rewritten Cleveland Ohio 2011

Smokey’s world – foto by Smith

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