Thursday, 14 July 2016
(Satire) The casebook of Jonathan McIntosh: Hard-boiled Cultural Detective
This episode: The Gay Greek!
There are a million stories in the naked city. During peak tourist season that number might run as high as 1.5 million. I don't know the exact figure. Go look it up on Wikipedia.
New York in July: The ying and the yang of it, distilled to the hot-pink neon sign of a feminist bookshop reflecting in a cooling puddle of soy latte outside an artisan bakery. I watched from the second floor window as the wheel of a passing unicycle ploughed through the centre of the mirror image, scattering the dancing light to the edges like a shoal of gaily-coloured transexual fish evading the predatory lunge of a Great White cis-gendered shark.
Everything to the north of here was a safe space. Rows of apartment buildings dating back to the Taft presidency, fashioned from play-doh by the beaten-down male allies of a lesbian queefing circle. A fainting couch on every corner. An Olympic-size ball pit where they staged the water events in the 2012 oppression games. The bulls patrolled the area with boxes of kittens and puppies. Some mugg catcalls you in the street - well here's a baby cat for the boo boos on your feels.
Downtown, the ugly face of misogyny pressed itself obscenely against the soiled windows of the soul, like a man projecting his inadequacies onto a display of Barbie Dolls in a toy shop. I've seen things here that would make you turn around on the spot and drag your wheeled suitcase across country, back to your wholefood collective in San Francisco: Men sitting on public transport with their knees three inches apart. Boy scouts as young as eight, holding doors open for women old enough to be their mothers. Hell, some of those clucks might have even been their mothers.
I turned my face away from the Venetian blinds. The dame lounging on the opposite side of the dimly-lit office was wearing the shadows like a tarpaulin draped over a 1970s Volvo. She had a figure like a squat tumbler of water. In the battle of wills between my male gaze and her gams it wasn't clear which one would quit first.
“Mr McIntosh, did you ever lose something?”
“Sure toots, I've lost plenty.”
“My former partner keeps my nads in a jar.”
She raised one painted-on eyebrow in an affected display of surprise. A real Mona Lisa this one.
“And where does he keep the jar?”
“He was a she, and that ain't a thing for a lady to be asking.”
“Oh, I'm no lady. You'll realise that when you get to know me a little better... A lot better if you play your cards right.”
“I never was very good at poker.”
“And what is your game Mr McIntosh?”
Again with the raised eyebrow.
“I've always enjoyed netball.”
“You're a smart-mouthed little egg, ain't ya.”
“You don't know the half of it doll-face.”
Lost for words, she flung a photograph onto the desk. A good looking blonde. Dark glasses. Hawaiian shirt open at the neck.
“My husband, Milo Yiannopoulos. I need you to find him.”
Sure, I knew Milo. Everybody did. The Greek gadfly. Owned a chain of Halal kebab restaurants back in blighty. A preening jasper in public but I'd seen the marriage certificates to Lena Dunham and Jessica Valenti. He played up the gay angle for the press, but behind closed doors Milo was straighter than the creases in Bill Clinton's pyjama bottoms on his wedding night.
“When did he last make contact?”
“He posted a selfie on Twitter half an hour ago. Then nothing. It's completely out of character... And there's another thing.”
She pulled something hairy from her handbag and tossed it in my direction. I had drawn my revolver and put three slugs into it before it landed on top of the photograph.
“It's' his toupee. He left it behind... I'm worried that it might be Tay Tay – I hear that she collects men.”
I returned my gun to its shoulder holster. Standing by the window I prised apart two of the slats in the blind. On the street corner below, a man was spending the extra 23 cents he had made as a result of the gender pay gap on a cronut and a flavoured coffee with whipped cream on top. My father drank cappuccino's with unicorns drawn in the foam his entire life. Thank god that he didn't live to see this.
“I'll take the case,” I said. “One hundred a day plus expenses. Five days in advance.”
I counted out five hundred dollars in notes and handed it to her.
“I'll be touch miss...”
“It's Harper. Randi Harper.”
After she was gone I sat for a while in the darkness watching the ice slowly dissolve in my beaker of apple juice. There were a million stories in the naked city and practically all of them were sexist. Now that I had agreed to take the case there were a million and one.
From across the street the cries of a white, cis-gendered male baby, who had failed to check his privilege, drowned out the voices of the oppressed.