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Plainclothes Naked

Plainclothes Naked by Jerry Stahl
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In a wildly careening plot that can only be described as crack noir, two pipeheads accidentally steal a photo of George W. Bush's presidential package and decide to blackmail the Republican Party. Before the crack-crazed thieves can follow through, however, gorgeous, whip-smart Nurse Tina, who's just offed her husband with a bowl of Drano-laced Lucky Charms, absconds with the goods. When Manny Rubert, a scarred ex-junkie turned codeine-popping detective, is called in to investigate the "foamer" hubby's untimely demise, love hits him like a wrench to the head.

Soon Manny and Tina are making plans of their own for the presidential pie -- and for their future together. But the meddling police chiefs and motel room sex-change surgeons of the world just won't leave them alone. And then there are those killer crackheads, still out there and closing in....

HarperCollins; June 2009
336 pages; ISBN 9780061956775
Read online, or download in secure EPUB
Title: Plainclothes Naked
Author: Jerry Stahl

Chapter One

Tina couldn't decide between ground glass and Drano.

She'd already sprinkled a pinch of smashed-up lightbulb -- an easy-reading 40-watter -- in Marvin's Lucky Charms, when she started thinking maybe drain cleaner was the way to go.

One of the old Jews at the home, Mister Cornfeld, came down with the blood-squirts for a week and finally died after somebody put Liquid-Plumr in his prune juice. Old Jews were always drinking prune juice, always talking about what was going on in their pants. Either their constipation or their prostates or something skanky like that. At least her granddaddy, whatever his other faults, had not spent a whole lot of time boring her with what was happening downstairs. Till he bought the mall at ninety, Pop Lee snored like an idling diesel and still liked to grab ass and talk nasty. When she found the trunk full of Moppets and Barely Legals after the funeral, she wasn't exactly surprised. But at least the old skeek didn't discuss his plumbing.

Tina could hear Marvin doing his prosperity chants from the bedroom and knew she had to make up her mind. Since he'd re-directed his energy from day trading -- which had cost them their condo -- to developing and selling his new "Millionaire Mantra," Marv had been experimenting with the perfect brand of satsang to put up on the Web. He was convinced there was an untapped pool of desperate New Agers who wanted to be rich and cosmic at the same time. His goal was to create the perfect quarter hour chant -- ten minutes for Personal Prosperity, five for World Peace and Feeding the Children -- then get himself up and streaming so folks could vocalize along with him, and send away for his line of videos, audiocassettes, and the ever-popular BUDDHA WANTS YOU TO HAVE IT ALL! T-shirts.

Unfortunately, with each minute of spiritual honking, Tina's determination to kill Marvin, sell his computers, and quit her job at Seventh Heaven was given renewed impetus. Mostly she just wanted to shut him up.

"Hungh-uh, hungh-uh, HUNGH-UH," came the turbulent sounds from their bedroom. "Hungh-uh, hungh-uh, hungh hungh HUNGH!"

No doubt he was taping himself, too. Marv had the vid-cam on a tripod in front of the bed. Which was another thing....

Marvin wasn't a petite man. In fact he was husky. Husky and soft, with a shaved head, no chest hair, and a little red moustache. Just the thought of him in there, cross-legged on a throw pillow, wearing the Gunga Din loincloth he thought made him look guruesque, was enough to set Tina crunching another pinch of glass and dipping into her bag for the industrial-strength Drano she'd pilfered from the rest home janitor's closet.

"Oh God, shut up!" Tina yelled to no one but herself. No way Marvin could hear over the din of his chants. By now he'd shifted to nose-hums, which really drove her off a cliff. It was hard to describe the sound he produced. The odd Om alternated with guttural blasts of ersatz Sanskrit and quick, bleated syllables like sneep or snerm, the kind of noise a goat might make if it tried to speak English and suffered from a cleft palate.

Marvin was always a big planner. After his Chant for Prosperity site was up and running, he told her, it was on to the next big plum: Eternal Life. If he could just cook up the right pitch, maybe mock up some phony interviews with people who looked 120 but healthy, he could charge aspiring eternal lifers fifty bucks a pop for tapes, books, and videocassettes explaining his discovery that certain sound vibrations could keep you young, possibly even ensure immortality.

"You can't prove they don't," he explained to Tina one morning, sitting at the kitchen table slathered in Indoor Sun, his artificial tan lotion, wearing the turban he'd fashioned from a floral dish towel. "As long as I'm still up on my hind legs, who's to say I'm not the one guy on earth who's gonna be here for the Trilennium, or whatever comes next?"

It was Marvin's belief that Indian heritage, India Indian -- curry, turban, memsahib -- made for an effective sales tool. But lately, for Tina's money, he'd gone too far. These days he went straight from flossing his teeth in the morning to lounging around in turban and loincloth, inventing new and different chants and mantras. A necessary lifestyle, he'd tell her, if you wanted to turn yourself into the first big On-line Money Swami. Every day the cosmos blessed him with another sanctified cash concept.

Recalling all this made Tina wince. The idea of eternity spent listening to Marvin hum through his nose was so awful that she pulled out the Drano and poured a shot in his cereal before she remembered the envelope. Plenty of residents slid valuables of one kind or another under their mattresses, and the one perk of sheet-and-blanket duty was getting first crack at whatever treasures Seventh Heaven-ites saw fit to hide. Her first week on the job, she'd retrieved a sandwich bag stuffed with clipped-out cake recipes, an autographed photo of Frank Sinatra junior, and sixteen crisp one-hundred-dollar bills wedged in a tattered paperback of Conrad Hilton's autobiography, Be My Guest.

What with Alzheimer's, general forgetfulness, and the simple fact that people who moved into rest homes rarely moved out alive, mattress stashes made for a steady and occasionally fascinating second income.

Not wanting to miss a chance to poison her husband, but anxious to check out her booty, Tina hollered that breakfast was ready. She pulled the envelope out of her purse and ripped it open. Then she tapped the contents onto the kitchen table, stared at it...

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