Here is my entry for my brand new flash fiction challenge, Turn-a-trope Tuesdays! I invite all of my flash fiction writing friends to give it a shot! And so without further adieu, here’s “Born Wrong”
My name is Tommy Malone. That may not mean anything to you now, but I’m sure my father’s name would.
Big Jim Malone?
Yeah, thought it might ring a bell.
It’s hard to forget the guy who solved the Dillwenger Kidnapping, the guy who found the stolen Ruby of Aru-gern, the guy who fingered the rat bastard that killed old Mrs. Fathingham and ran off with her hidden fortune. For a while there, Pops was front-page news at least once a week. Yeah, his methods were unorthodox, a little rough, but he got things done that the local beat cops couldn’t. For a while, he was all but a celebrity. And now he’s dead. Most likely a result of the last case he was working.
It made sense, I guess, for them to come to me. I mean, not just because I’m his next of kin. I guess that part makes a lot of sense. Jesus, I’m bad at this.
Ok, look, here’s the deal. Yes, I’m Tommy Malone. Son of Big Jim, who himself was the son of Jack “Hammerfist” Malone, who in turn was son of Quincy “Thunder” Malone. Every single one of them a force of justice and the law. Quincy, the Texas Ranger turned bounty hunter, who single handedly took down the last of the Red Hat gang in Arizona. Papaw Hammerfist, the WWII vet with the brass knuckles who turned became a ruthless cop on a ruthless beat and cleaned up the city like he owned the place. Pops, retired cop turned PI, turned sensationalist detective. All of them good, honest men. Never tell a lie, never flatter a lady, Pops always said.
And then there’s me. Tommy.
Who couldn’t deduce a shoe size even if I was wearing it.
They didn’t know that, of course. Hell, if they were better cops they’d have known better than to come to me in the first place. There’s a reason I didn’t go into the family business, see? You know that old adage, about a black sheep in every herd? I’m a sheep so black that shadows tremble at what might be hiding in me.
I just didn’t get the good cop gene. My powers of observation? Terrible. My ability to logic out clues? Fuck, I can’t even logic out my cable remote. My ability to find things? Maybe my ability to figure out that remote would be better if I could find the fucking thing. But the kicker is this. The one good thing I am good at? It’s the one thing they weren’t at all.
I lie like I was born to it. Utterly fucking convincing. I could make a priest swear I was a saint while robbing the poor box. I could charm a miser out of his last penny and convince him it was his idea from the start. I know I can do these things because I have done these things. The bigger problem, though, is that sometimes I can’t help myself. And when someone comes to me and asks me a question, the lie is out before I even knew I was saying it.
Which is why, when the cops asked me if I was going to look into my Pops’ murder, I said yes.
And oh, what a show I made of it. I may not be able to detect but I can certainly deceive. I put on my best attempt at a gumshoe’s garb. Wasn’t hard. I just raided dad’s closet and picked the pieces that looked the most worn out. I grabbed a notebook, went to the scene, made copious notes that were really just babble on the page, random scribbling that I could call code if someone looked too closely. I listened to the cops on the scene, nodded thoughtfully, asked vague questions that seemed to satisfy their curiosity.
But the truth is this. I don’t have the skills to solve your murder, Pops. I don’t even know where to begin.
But what I do have is a large gambling debt, owed to a very bad, very powerful crook. And thanks to this, I’ve got a death penalty worthy crime I can hang on him.
I know it’s not justice, but at least it’ll take a bad man out of the world. Yeah, yeah, and get me out of that bad man’s debt.
So sorry, old man. I can’t detect, but I can deceive.
Time to go tell the lie of the century.