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.


I knew there was gonna be some trouble at the Titty Borough, a tiny not-so-gentleman’s club on the outskirts of Secaucus, on which chromium-tainted soil no Jersey City hipster dare step a Chuck Taylored foot. Unless, of course, that hipster happens to be yours truly and hot on the bloody heels of a not-so-ordinary murder case. 
These days, at a hole-in-the-wall joint like the Titty Borough, “trouble” was spelled out in all vowels –– A, E, I, O, U, and yes, sometimes Y. And each of the boys whose names started with a different one of these soft spoken letters were usually the root word of that trouble.

They were known by all the underground crime circles simply as The Vowels –– Andy, Eddie, Iggy, Ozzy, Umberto (“Bertie” for short, so as to maintain the whole long “e” motif), and Yanni. They made their way in the gritty world as freelance hit men under frequent employment by myriad members of various mafias that controlled and oftentimes fought over the under(most)belly of Hudson County. They were especially busy of late because of a string of low-profile mob boss hits done by some lunatic who gets off doing his killing wearing a Teddy bear mask. Kinda creepy, if you ask me. But I’m sure no one’s really asking.

Who knows? Maybe our paths will cross one of these days…

For the couple years I’ve been trying out this P.I. gig professionally, and ever since our fateful first meeting during what I’d affectionately call the “Curious Case of the Cantankerous Courtesan” early on in said career (more on that misadventures some other time –– it’s a little too XXX-rated for the kiddies), there’s been this strange unwritten contract or code of contact between the Vowels and I. It went something along the lines of “don’t fuck with us, P.I., and we won’t blast your head off,” or something of equal color, verve, and joie de vivre.

The majority of these goombah brothers were a tad tight-lipped, and the only one of the Vowels I could really talk to was Yanni, since he was only half Italian; the other half of him was Greek. Y’see, in his younger years, their dad, Joey Cosentino, used to work as a chef in a diner owned by a well-rounded Greek fellow named Gus Papagiroudis, who put all his thirteen daughters to work as waitresses. Well, one of ’em, the youngest one –– Cleo, I believe her name was, if I’m recalling the story correctly –– took a liking to young Joey, and so nine months later, out popped Yanni, who’s not very well-respected in the freelance killing community, nor is he well-respected by his own brothers, who consider him a bit of a bastard, like in the Edmond kind of way in King Lear. Much like the actual letter “Y” as well; sometimes hard like day old cement, and other times soft as a buttery letter “I” and just as unassuming. 
Quite symbolic, really.
But it was Yanni whom I hoped would land me a little information on the whereabouts of Gary “The Pipeman” Atticus, whose trail went all broken water heater on me in light of what was happening with Carrie. And I could always count on Yanni for information and philosophic musings.

And I always got both.

>> Continue reading: Chapter 29: A Sophist’s Kind of Hit Man >>