The Muddled Mystery of the Murdered Muse is a full-length novel, presented to you in Medium-sized chapters twice a week (Tuesday and Friday), that tells the story of Sebastian Holden, a paranoirmal investigator who solves the strangest cases this side of Jersey City and Brooklyn.

If you missed the previous chapter, read it here; if you’ve already read this chapter, read the next one here.


Joe Wyndski was a grunter.

Not in the sexual, abstract sense of the word. I mean that’s what he did for a living. He was a professional grunter, and his specialty was setting people’s minds at ease in hospitals.

And yes, this is an actual profession, much like being a muse is an actual job you can get paid for in this crazy world of we’re taking up residency in.

Being employed as a grunter was usually reserved for theater actors who couldn’t find work otherwise. It’s better than any temp agency gig. Plus, the grunters get to see the doctors they work for once a month for free, and they get half off on prescriptions, too. Better than Obamacare, by far, but certainly no Oxford or Aetna insurance plan, either.
What’s the life of a professional grunter like, you ask? Well, in the hospital, especially the ER, once you are unlucky enough to walk in or, worse yet, are wheeled in if you’re in the unlikely position of being on a stretcher at the time of admittance, the first thing you’ll hear is a grunter — someone moaning to such a dire extent that suddenly, the fact that you’re appendix is about to rupture or that gunshot wound you’ve got in your side that’s stinging up a storm of pain seems almost trite and nowhere near as awful as the person grunting about who knows what kind of serious ailment he or she’s currently in. Rest assured, the assumption becomes that it’s ninety-nine times worse than your piddling little kidney stone.
That’s the job, plain and simple. And yes, people do get paid for this job. And paid very well.
I’ve known Joe for almost ten years now, and he started working at Christ Hospital back in 2007. He spends most of his days sitting in a room with a print copy of Backstage (he’s old school like that) unfolded on his lap, a full plate of breakfast beside him, and all he’s got to do is groan and grunt for a few hours through the day every time a little red light goes on. That’s his cue, like the beeping of a water cooler to change the jug, or the alarm deep down in the hatch that alerted John Locke or Jack to type the code and save the world in Lost.

That’s how it was for Joe. Sometimes, for added flavor, he’ll belt out an “ohhhhh, Jesus H. Chriiiist!!!” for a chance to win the coveted Grunter Award. I’m kidding, of course — but if there was such an award, Joe would surely be giving that acceptance speech he’s had prepared since long before I met him.
And the reason no such award exists is because the job of a grunter only exists extremely “off the record” and especially off the books. After all, you can’t really set people’s minds at ease when they enter a hospital if they think, even for a second, that the groans they’re hearing all around them are manufactured — just another act.

Just like the rest of life.

>>> Continue reading: Chapter 11: The Sign Seer >>>