Copyright 2014 Francis DiMenno



I never expected praise and adulation. Not even universal approbation. All I EVER wanted from the high and mighty was some simple human UNDERSTANDING! But did I get it? NO! I’ve been through a MILLION horrors, each worse than the previous one! Evil overlords have discarded me, simple middle class yokels stare and gossip, and jealous inferiors sabotage my dreams!!! But don’t get me wrong. I’m not bitter. Because pretty soon, everybody will know me for what I truly am! Hi-Ya! EVERYBODY!


“Why do you want to be a American citizen, Susan?” The young orphan
girl’s chipmunk face split into a wide grin. “I-I like it here,” she
stammered, to the imposing three-man panel of judges. The men in robes
conferred for a minute or two. “Citizenship granted,” said the eldest
of the three. And everyone in the courtroom stood up and cheered. That
was forty years ago. But it …was all a big mistake that was to turn
into a nightmare for Yours Truly. Because the Dame was a sleeper
agent. A Spy. One of the best. Made Mata Hari look like a Grade-A
chump. And the clock was ticking. In twenty-four hours a bomb would go
off, and only she knew how to stop it. But the very day the left the
courtroom, she vanished. My job: Find Her. But it wouldn’t be easy.
Her last known location had been a deserted horse ranch deep in the
desert. Otherwise, she left no forwarding address. In fact, it was as
though she had never existed at all. And maybe she didn’t. Maybe it
was all just a bad story I made up after a hit of brown acid.

But…maybe not.

There was a woman once. A swell dame. She taught me to hear a mermaid
singing. But now she’s missing. Presumed dead. Murdered. By things
invisible to see. I was going to find those things and make them pay.
But before too long I found myself knee-deep in a Satanic cult racket
where washed-up Hollywood Bimbos paid through the nose to kiss the
cleft feet and cloven hooves of dime-store Lucifers. There was an ill
wind blowing in Tinseltown, and no honest man could stand the gaff.
That’s where I came in. They call me Mandrake Root. I’m a P.I. Born to
see strange sights. Hair as white as a broken-down Poltergeist.

By the time it was all over, I had found my Mermaid Girl. And she was
false. Maybe to two. Possibly to three. But even one was just about
enough to wash me out of this crummy racket…and for keeps.


Listen, Eileen, will you stop nagging me about the boy? Will you stop
saying I neglect him? I’ll pay attention to him when he finally does
something that’s worthy of my respect. As it is, the Kid is a nothing.
HEAR ME! It’s high time that the Kid learns that the world is a cruel
and rotten place. How can I say such a thing? Easy! You know as well
as I do that my old man cut me off without a nickel because he said I
had a lousy temper! So? So what! Who gives a damn! I wouldn’t take so
much as a red penny from that sanctimonious bastard! Don’t shush me!
Talk about a temper! Even though he never says so much as Boo, the Old
Man is a hot-headed fool himself, only he never shows his hand
–because he’s a coward. And our son, he’s just like MY father. Never
loses his temper. Sure! On the surface, he seems perfectly calm, but
when I look into that Kid’s eyes, I see a cold burning hatred, and I’m
telling ya, Eileen, that it scares me half to death. NO! My son will
never be a rotten sneaking hypocrite like my father! NEVER! I WON’T
ALLOW IT!! I’ll make a MAN out of him YET! Even if it kills me!

Do I remember Him? Sure I do. He was the best kind of policeman, tough but fair. He was only two days from retirement, and the Chief told Him to take it easy, but He never was One to take advice from mere mortals. So down those mean streets He went. He was trying to foil a bank robbery, and He ran into a situation. Three guys, all wearing masks, and it was looking to turn into a hostage situation. Drop the gun, He cried. Two of them, knowing His reputation on the street, did as they were told. But the third, an escaped ex-con with a major grudge, turned around with a sawed off rifle and shot Him in the gut, then fled. He chased after the guy, but the minute He got outside, He collapsed. Police were on the scene in minutes. Hold on, hold on, we yelled. Oh, Me, he groaned, and then He expired. In a filthy alleyway. Just before the paramedics arrived. It was on that day that for once the newspapers reported the Truth: God Is Dead.

I’ll never forget that day. I was attending night school at the police academy, when one of the drill sergeants came in and whispered to one of the other drill sergeants and they both flew out of the room. The two of them returned, minutes later, wheeled in the television, turned it on and we watched. The first drill sergeant then stepped up in front of the class and solemnly announced, “I am sorry to have to announce the tragic news that at approximately 8:14 PM EST, God was pronounced …dead.” And then, to our astonishment, he burst into tears. The whole class grew silent. The floor literally dropped out from under me, and I felt a deep cold chill inside, God, who had reigned as the Judeo-Christian tradition’s chief Deity, was gone. What will become of us? A couple other guys got up and went to hug the Sarge. Then the police superintendent came into the classroom and told us all to go to the cafeteria, where they were sending all the recruits. I really don’t think he knew what else to do. I think most of the drill instructors were already in there, watching the news on a portable television. Most of them were too shocked to speak. Nearly all of them were blubbering. I remember peering at one, a big tough bruiser we had nicknamed “Captain Pain.” I recall with astonishment seeing big fat teardrops slowly trickling down his stubbled jaw. Shortly after that they sent everyone home. Not too much else was done that evening, and so we all went home to watch this inconceivably tragic catastrophe unfold upon our flat screen televisions. But even on my way home, my cell phone kept ringing. “Tragedy…so young…Why…God? Why Him?” were just a few of the remarks. Truly, that day will go down in history as “the last day we were young.” I will NEVER forget that day. Who did it? Why? We think we know who, but we’ll probably never really know just why.

1. Q: What does the Big Man want us to do?
A: Whatever he says. Savvy?
2. Q: Whenever I ask a question, why do you tell me to run it by The Big Man?
A: Because the Big Man has all the answers. He calls the shots.
3. Q: What if the Big Man’s not around?
A: Don’t kid yourself, Jamoke. The Big Man is everywhere.
4. Q: How can we tell what’s right from what’s wrong?
A: Ask yourself–Does the Big Man like it? Then all right. Does the
Big Man say No Likey? Then Nix. You ain’t supposed to do it.
5. Q: Why is it a bad idea to get on the wrong side of the Big Man?
A: You just don’t want to make the Big Man sore. That’s all.
6. Q: How come people do wrong when they know it’s wrong?
A: They don’t realize that the Big Man has operatives working round
the clock. That’s how come.
7. Q: How does the Big Man decide what’s right and what’s wrong?
A: Never mind. You don’t need to know how. Just listen to what the Big
Man tells you.
8. Q: If the law says something is wrong and the Big Man says it’s
right, then who do I listen to?
A: Listen up, Stupe–here in these parts, the Big Man IS The Law.
9. Q: What is morality?
A: Morality is a fancy word that Saps like you pay lip service to. But
it’s something that Friends of the Big Man can safely blow off.
‎10. Q: What if, like, by accident, I do something that The Big Man
doesn’t like, only I don’t know it?
A: You only get one chance with the Big Man, so watch your step.
11. Q: What about my conscience?
A: The Big Man is your conscience now…. Don’t make him sore.
12. Q: How do I get in good with the Big Man?
A: You don’t. You just best stay out of his way.
13. Q: What if the cops are after the Big Man? Should I lie to the
cops to protect him?
A: Listen, goof–you can always hand them snoopy cops a line of fancy
bull. But there’s no way can you outsmart the Big Man. Do I have to
spell it out for you?
14. Q: Why does the Big Man have all these rules?
A: For your own protection, Chump. Otherwise, the Big Man might get
sore. I don’t think you want that.
15. Q: Is it OK to go to a movie every once in awhile?
A: Yeah, sure. But don’t make a habit of it. The Big Man wants his
Boys to be strictly business.
16. Q: Why doesn’t the Big Man want us to have fun?
A: Who says you ain’t having fun? The Big Man says you are.
17. Q: Does the Big Man care if I have a couple of drinks?
A: Listen, Lusho–you can gamble, steal, and lap up all the bad hooch
you want. Just don’t get sloppy. The Big Man hates it when one of his
Boys can’t hold his liquor.
Q. 18: Is the Big Man angry when I make mistakes?
A: No. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone…but the Big Man. And the
thing about Big Man? He don’t get mad–he gets even.
Q. 19: How can you get back in favor with the Big Man after you goof up?
A: Glad you asked, bright boy. You can’t, see. Just try to stay out of
his way. Either the Big Man will let it go this time, or else you’re a
gone goose. If he decides to let it go, then just see it don’t happen
again. If you value your health.
Q. 20: Is the Big Man married?
A: The Big Man can’t never get tied down to a Frail. See, his enemies,
they can’t touch him, but they might try to get to him through his
Twist. But don’t worry–the Big Man gets plenty of trim, believe you
me. And how!
Q. 21: How do you get a private appointment with the Big Man?
A: You don’t call on the Big Man–he calls you in to see him. And
first you gotta see his secretary. And don’t get any phony ideas,
Casanova–she’s strictly off-limits to crumb-bums like you. And
everybody else. Except–it goes without sayin’– the Big Man.
Q. 22: Why do area businessmen have to fork over half their profits to
the Big Man?
A: Tell ’em that the next time they ask that question, the Big Man’s
rake-off is gonna be double that.
Q. 23: The Big Man just gave me a couple grand. Why?
A: What are you, a Blockhead? He wants you to buy a couple of good
suits. Shoot the works. He likes to see his boys look sharp.
Q. 24: Does the Big Man think he’s better than everybody else?
A: Maybe. Maybe not. What kind of smart aleck question is that,
anyway? But one thing’s for sure–he’s bigger than everybody else. You
best remember that, Gink, the next time you go around shooting off
your mouth.
Q. 25: Who’s the next in line in case the Big Man gets pushed aside?
A: Never you mind who. The only way the Big Man is ever going to leave
this racket is in a coffin. And he’ll sure as hell take everybody else
with him. And you can take that to the bank. Say–you don’t listen
very well, do ya, Jasper? What did I tell you about askin’ so many
smart aleck questions? Listen–the Big Man don’t cotton to loose talk
like that. And you better not make him sore.
Q. 26: No, you got me all wrong! I, I…Say–the Big Man has a sense
of humor, right? I mean, I hear he’s a real swell guy who likes to
have a laugh or two. All I’m sayin’ is, he don’t mind if we k-k-kid
around a little, right?
A: Listen, Simp, and listen good. The Big Man is at least five steps
ahead of Punks like you at all times, so nothing you can say can
possibly hurt him. Sure, he likes a laugh. But if you disrespect him,
he’ll get sore. And believe me–you won’t like the Big Man when he
gets sore.
Q. 27: Well, what would happen if some reporter, who, after all, is
only doing his job, er, what if he were to make some discreet
inquiries, and let’s just say, just for the sake of argument, that
this here reporter, he just happened to print something that the Big
Man didn’t like?
A: Never mind. The Big Man has a special way with snooping news hawks.
Let’s just say that that would be the last story the nosy ink slinger
would ever write. Hard to write after all your fingers are
broken–ain’t it?
Q. 28: I, I, I didn’t mean nothin’ by it. Honest! B-b-but, I mean,
it’s a free country, ain’t it? Where does the Big Man get off, telling
everybody else what to do?
A: Don’t worry, Sport. I know you didn’t mean nothin’. Let me get back to you
on that one. Gimme your name and address, and the Big Man will send
his Boys around to give you the complete low-down. Now amscray,
Punk–you’re startin’ to get on my nerves. And don’t forget that two
grand I put in your jacket pocket. Oh, and one more thing–don’t try
to leave town. We’ll be watching you.


I personally find it appalling that in spite of all the legitimate and
well-reasoned comments that people have made regarding killing 
all the terrorists, some people still persist in
referring to it as “murder.”–Mr. Reuben Baneberry

Since TERRORISTS want so badly to kill someone I say we kill them.
–Mr. Andrew Jellywhopper

I am one proud American
who supported President Bush and not President Hussein. And I say people who cry about the Bill of Rights are the best friends the Terrorists ever had.
–Mr.Andrew Xavier

Regarding the bill of so-called rights, I expect to see
this kind of crummy terrorist propaganda in Al Jazeera, not in your
otherwise fine paper. What’s got into you? I dare you to print this.
—Mr. Brian Redshaw

Terrorists who think they can frighten me? These are the
sorts of people whose souls deserve to rot in hell forever. –Mr. Carl

Surprised there are no laws to stop
terrorism. Intend to write to Washington to see if
something can be done.—Miss Connie Welkin

I am frankly surprised at
all the vehemence directed at terrorists. Although, one the
one hand, I abhor violence, I still fail to see what all the
fuss is about.–Mr. David Quitten

Maybe our government should offer
these terrorist creeps a one-way ticket to Red China. I wonder how
long they would put up with them there. –Mrs. D. D.Evans

Who in Pakistan or India or Towelheadistan is paying you to print such
rot, and how much? I hope for your sake you are raking in lots of
Rupees, heathens, for I will no longer pay good American money to
bring pro-terrorist propaganda into my home. Cancel my subscription at
once.–Mrs. Hazel Gabble

I say bad enough that on the radio
instead of soft music they play the Communistic jungle music by greasy
big-lipped Zigaboos morning noon and night, but when they start
talking up terrorist tommyrot in the newspapers, I want to know why. 
I WILL KILL THEM ALL.–Mr. Jeffrey Feist

The dirty beatnicks who support drugs and terrorism ought to be hanged 
then drawn and quartered then boiled in oil. Then please burn them alive 
and scatter their ashes to the four winds. If you need help, I am at the 
ready to lend a hand. I mean it. —Mr. John Mangrove

I think your rotten rag is owned and run by the big money boys who support terrorism
because they want to see this country go to hell so they can take
it over. I bet you won’t print this.–Mr. K. Oldhook

I’d rather see my babies snack on paint
chips than become terrorists.–Mona Mauger

If I ever run into your editor he’s going to need a
steak to rub on his eye after I get through with him. What kind of
smart aleck thinks it’s clever to defend terrorism? —Mr. Peter Newground

You are a bunch of terrorist rats and you ought to be horse whipped and your
families ought to be horse whipped and your newsboys ought to be horse
whipped. Good G-d, I could say much much more, but I won’t.—Mr. Steve

Terrorists “innocent until proven guilty?” This is just the sort of logic you might expect a negro
shoeshine boy to be impressed by.–Mr. Walter Oilbean

If only I still had my sniper’s rifle
and lived in the Wild West, where instant justice by strong-minded
vigilantes was still legal, you can bet your bottom dollar I would put
one right smack between the eyes of any terrorist what so much as said boo
to me.–Mr. Frank Deerplum

Why do they let in immigrants?
I am an AMERICAN that has insurance and pays his taxes. I don’t
buy codeine cough syrup at twenty different drug stores in Moochburg
then turn around and sell the bottles in Old Town for 20 bucks a pop.
As I’m sure you’re aware most foreigners are not here legally, are
paid under the table, don’t pay taxes, and are draining our economy by
using up our schools, hospitals, housing, and abusing systems that
were set up to help the tax paying legal citizens. This country is
falling apart because of these people. NO MORE IMMIGRANTS!
–Mr. G. McClellan

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