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Synopsis: A missing woman. A killer on the loose. And an Atlanta private eye who meditates his way to the truth....
Check out the Majestic Diner At 3 a.m. Look for a man named Flap and a woman named Dalliance...
Flap Tucker isn't like other private eyes. He's a mystic, a finder of lost things, a veteran of a foreign war who lives on the wrong side of town and lets his mind go freely to nirvana. Now, in the city that Sherman burned but didn't bury, where good ol' boys and transvestite hookers pass in the downtown Atlanta night, Flap Tucker is beginning the strangest case of his already strange career.
Flap's best friend, the beautiful nightclub owner Dalliance Oglethorpe, wants Flap to find the vanished wife of a millionaire scion--a half-wit who may have made the woman up in the first place. Real or not, Flap starts looking for one Augusta Donne, and finds, instead, the brutal murders of two topless dancers and a transvestite who was ritually slain. Each step of the way, the case grows more sinister, until Flap suddenly reaches that place only he can go: where all the universe is interconnected, where a Zenlike truth illuminates the path, and where Flap Tucker, the man with all the answers, is standing in a killer's way....
Phillip DePoy has published short fiction, poetry, and criticism in Story, The Southern Poetry Review, Xanadu, Yankee, and other magazines. He is currently the creative director of the Maurice Townsend Center for the Performing Arts at the State University of West Georgia, and has had many productions of his plays at regional theaters throughout the south. He is the recipient of numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the state of Georgia, the Georgia Council for the Arts, the Arts Festival of Atlanta, the South Carolina Council for the Arts, etc. He composed the scores for the regional Angels in America and other productions and has played in a numerous jazz and folk bands. In his work as a folklorist he has collected songs and stories throughout Georgia and has worked with John Burrison, the foremost folklorist in the south and with Joseph Cambell. Nexus Press published his nonfiction essay and photo collection, Messages from Beyond. Easy is his first novel.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Imagine the phone rings in the middle of the night; it's your best friend.
Check the watch. "It's two in the morning."
"I got a job for you."
"I don't want it."
"Yes, you do, you big layabout."
"What is it?"
"Dead drag queen in a pentagram; topless dancers stuffed in a trunk--a pretty blue Buick; somebody's wife is missing--maybe . . ."
"Fine, don't tell me, then."
"I'm telling you. Am I gonna see you at the Majestic in an hour?"
You don't want to, but curiosity gets to you. "Okay." It's a promise.
Mythology is what other people believe; religion is what you believe. And reason doesn't enter into it: Faith is the answer to everything. Pure reason is nothing but a phantom. Experience is the only truth. So here's what I believe; this has been my experience: I can find anything you can lose. That's my religion.
I was born Flap Tucker in a little town in Georgia; moved to Atlanta when I was eight. The best friend is Dalliance Oglethorpe--curly dark hair never looks combed, still looks like a million bucks; green eyes always a little amused; tall enough to know better. Believes neither one of us had a chance at normalcy, growing up with our names. We never argue, it's why we're best pals.
The Atlanta we grew up in doesn't exist anymore--and in most ways thank God. We were just little kids in the early sixties, but there were still colored and white drinking fountains in the downtown department stores, clearly marked. We had no idea what they were. Dally thought they meant the water in one was regular clear water and the water in the other one was root beer flavored, for some reason. Colored water. I'll never forget the way she cried when she found out what it really meant.
I just wanted her to stop crying, so we went to the store and put cherry bombs under both fountains--blew them up real good. By the time they got around to replacing the things, the replacements had no signs. They were just two drinking fountains. We thought we'd really accomplished something--but maybe it all had something to do with Dr. King. He was in Atlanta too.
Neither one of us had any money. She was an only child; her parents were divorced--something of a scandal in those days, believe it or not. Both my folks worked, still had no dough. I was the oldest of three. The brother's an actor, the sister's a dancer--I turned out to be a layabout. The folks are just sick about it.
When you grow up without money one of two things can happen to you, as I see it. You get like Dally, where you're real good about finding money and keeping it, or you get like me, where you don't think about it at all. I just plain don't care. I always have enough for what's important to me.
As the responsible half of our duo, Dalliance came to own a club on Ponce de Leon called Easy. Once it had been a quick auto-maintenance place called Easy Lube. I got up on a ladder one Sunday afternoon after I got out of the service--drafted on account of being the aforementioned layabout--and knocked down the Lube. Dally said she wasn't looking to own a place with exclusively gay clientele. I didn't laugh: The concept of easy stereotypes is one that's kept the South down, so I'd prefer just to avoid them.
My own slack desire for money got early reinforcement. When we were still in high school Dally gave me a book called The World's Religions, and I got the same problem as every first-year medical student: They think they've got every disease they read about. I was a Hindu and a Buddhist and a Taoist and an Essene all before I turned twenty, a Gnostic and a Cabalist before I hit my first divorce.
I grew up in Atlanta and let life take me where it would--that's the Taoist in me. By the time I was tall enough to know better, my path took me to wife.
Dally had tried to talk me out of it. "Now, explain to me exactly why you think you gotta marry this one."
I'd considered my response. "Well, she strikes me as a bit off kilter, and I think you'd agree I'm a little left of center myself, so I'm guessing we could be what they call "a good match,' if you see what I'm saying."
"Plus she asked me to marry her, and I think it's bad manners to say no to a person like that."
"There's gotta be more to it."
"Maybe not. It just seems to be where the path is takin' me, you know?"
"Flap . . . don't do it, okay?"
Then--completely a mystery to me--she got mad. "You are absolutely as dumb as the law allows."
"They got a law about that now?"
But the rest of what Dally'd had to say about my marriage plans had gone pretty much unspoken. I'd been stupid enough to believe at the time that it was because she'd run out of arguments about the proposed wife.
Her name was Dannen Hilliard--Neena, a big tall drink of water, long hair, a crooked grin. Had a boyfriend, a real-life terror with an eye patch and everything, something about a bar fight.
I guess it started when I had a sort of fling with her in the college days. She was smart and intense and so obviously out of her mind that I was impelled toward her and flung away from her with equal force--the way any meteor is around, say, Jupiter: You orbit for a while, then you're shot back out into the recesses of space.
The fling was brief--something of a secret from our pal Dalliance, I'm a little ashamed to admit--and then we went our separate ways. Little did I know what fiery juggernaut was headed back my way. Was there ever a Hurricane Dannen? There should have been.
On an April day, a lovely spring day, I got the fateful phone call.
"Uh . . . hi . . . um . . . it's Neena."
"Neena? My God, where are you?"
"Um . . . the Shell station?"
"The Shell station. Down the street. Can I come over?"
"God. Yes. Of course."
And there it was: the invitation. I knew better. You're not supposed to invite a creature of the night past your threshold, into your home. They can't come in unless you invite them. But that was my doom: I invited.
She came over, came in, and started to cry--actually, threw her arms around my neck and started to cry.
"I've missed you so much, you just don't know."
"Okay . . . I missed you too." Why not?
". . . I was so lonely . . ."
". . . I thought you had that guy . . . Nathan . . ."
"That bastard. He beat me, you know."
"Yes. He put me in the hospital. His mother disowned him. And now no one knows where he is." She lowered her voice. "I think he killed some guys."
"I don't know what to say, Neena. Man. I'm . . . glad you're back . . ."
She nuzzled my shoulder like a child. "I've really been thinking about you." She looked up at me with a sincerity that would have persuaded the pants off a lesser man. "You."
"I found that my life was empty without you in it, so I came back to ask you to marry me." And she looked back down.
"You . . . what?"
"Oh . . . marry me. We have to be together. It's all I could think of the whole time I was gone."
"The whole time?"
"And when you'd answer my letters with all that poetry--I knew you must have felt the same as I did."
I didn't have the heart to tell her the poetry wasn't even in the least bit directed at her. "Uh . . . I guess I must have."
"Well, then . . ." and she slung her elbow up behind my neck and pulled me into a kiss that seemed to last half an hour. When it was finished, so was I.
"So. Married, huh?"
"Will you? Say you will. I think I might kill myself . . ."
I mean, a woman comes all the way from the Shell station to say "Marry me," it's hardly polite to say no; it did seem like such bad manners.
So what could I say? "Well, you know--we gotta get a license." Beat. "Blood test." Pause. "Two weeks soon enough?"
And she began to cry, burying her face in my chest. Between her sobs I heard her whisper, "I knew you would."
We were married on a Saturday, two weeks to the day from our "proposal." We picked the name of a justice of the peace out of the phone book and called him at eight-thirty in the morning.
Within a half hour we were standing on the front porch of the very honorable Justice of the Peace Mr. Davis. He was irritated with us because he wanted to be on the lake, so he refused to let us in the house or even let go of his fishing poles. He held them in his left hand, his ceremony book in hi...
Title: Easy: Signed
Publication Date: 1997
Book Condition: Fine
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