Tacks and McGee: The Life of the Party, by Steven Ormosi

Anyone who thinks a minotaur is a mythical beast clearly never had to measure one for a tuxedo.  I mean… neither have I, but I believe in ‘em and fairies and trolls and hobbits and giants.  Not dragons though, they just don’t exist, damn physical impossibility.  Anyway, the particular minotaur I’m referring to was wearing a tux on the night I’m about to tell you about, which is why I bring it up.  He likes to look his best, but I can’t help feeling bad for his tailor.

Sorry, where are my manners?  I’m McGee.  Joseph McGee if you gotta know my whole name, which almost nobody except the damn government does. You’re not working for the feds are ya?  Nah, you’re ok, just forget about the Joseph part.  I’ve always liked to think of myself as old school.  Sure I carry around a cell phone and I got a laptop back at the office, but technology doesn’t make up for having a feel for what you do.  My job gets me into some sticky situations and every extra little device I don’t have in my pockets is more room for a gun.

My partner, the afore mentioned minotaur, goes by Tachsen, I guess minotaurs don’t have last names.  Anyway, everybody calls him Tacks, and he’s always been sharp as one.  You’d think he’d be even more old school than me, given that he’s been around for almost 200 years, but he loves gadgets.  I think he likes to pretend he’s a bigger, stronger, uglier version of James Bond.  No shit, he’s got a pen that could level half a block.  I usually make him leave that little dandy at home. 

We’ve been working together for years.  Always been a great team, and it never hurts to have the muscle that a minotaur can bring ya.

On the night in question, we were hitting a high class party uptown and my partner thought the tux would help him blend in.  My argument, that he was a damn minotaur, failed to convince him otherwise, so I said screw it, put on my fedora and we headed out.

I had expressed previous concern to Tacks about this job.  Namely, the client was like every bad cliché I’d ever seen rolled into one. You know, the blond bombshell who’s dressed like she’s coming straight off a red carpet into the detective’s office.  These things just don’t happen in real life.  I saw that and my first instinct screamed that it was some kind of set up.  My partner on the other hand has a real soft spot for the dames so of course he invited her to sit down and tell us her story.  I still wish I’d have just listened to my gut and kicked her to the curb.

“Hi, I’m Amy,” she said as she walked in.

“You can call me McGee and this is my partner, Tacks.”

“You got a real name or is it just McGee?” said Amy.

“He’s Joseph, but he’s not too fond of the moniker.  You should probably just call him McGee, ma’am,” I shot him a dirty look.  One good lookin’ doll strolls in and he’s about to give her my social security number.

“What about you, Tacks?  That your real name?”

“No, I’m Tachsen, but I like Tacks.”

“Tacks and McGee it is then.  So you two do detective work?  How do you do any sneaking when half your agency is eight and a quarter feet tall?  Not to mention, you don’t exactly look like you’d fit in with—well anything human, really.  No offense.”

Tacks looked a bit frustrated, but kept it out of his voice, 95% of humans can’t read a minotaur’s reaction just by looking at them, “Well, McGee usually does the sneaky stuff.  As for fitting in, sometimes it’s better to stand out.  It helps to know how people react to something they weren’t expecting.  I assure you we are both consummate professionals and can handle anything and everything our clients require.”

“I hope so,” she said, “Because I can’t afford anything getting fucked up, this is my life.”

“We understand, ma’am.” Tacks assured her.

“Why don’t you tell us what your problem is and we’ll let you know if we can help out or not,” I interjected, just a bit fed up with the pussyfooting around.

And she gave us the whole sob story about her rich husband cheating on her and this and that.  It would be something like that, to make this whole damn ridiculous story perfectly unbelievable.  She wanted us to follow him, see if it was true, see if we could catch him in the act.

“Of course,” I heard Tacks saying, “Of course we’ll help you, that’s our job, right McGee?”

“Yeah…yeah that’s our job,”

So we went to the party.  It was onna those rich folks’ parties, you know, everyone’s in a suit and tie.  The broads all wear fancy dresses.  Some jerkoff in a rented tux brings cheese and crackers and caviar and all that other fancy shit that they eat around on a tray.  People try to impress you with their stories about yachts and private jets and blahblahblahblah.  These people bored the hell out of me, the grub wasn’t half bad though.

My partner was getting a lot of looks, but starting up conversations too.  Fantastic humanoids ain’t unheard of, but I’d bet none of these folks had ever laid eyes on one.  Minotaurs especially, tended to stay away from homosapiens for the most part, Tacks was an exception to the rule for reasons he never fully explained to me. I think it had something to do with his penchant for embracing anything new and exciting.   Most fantastics didn’t like change; he didn’t like staying the same.

So people were asking him what made him decide to come live here in the city, how people treated him in everyday life, all that garbage that everybody asks anyone who’s different.

His tux plan was working out after all, keeping people’s eyes off me by putting them on himself.  With the guests distracted, I scoped the place for our mark.  He wasn’t in the main parlor so I started checking the rooms.  I worked my way upstairs, pulled out my trusty Beretta and opened one door after another only to find empty rooms.  I got to the last room on the left and opened the door slowly, gun drawn and ready.  I was welcomed with the sensation of cold steel on my left temple as soon as my head passed the threshold of the door.

“Hello, Mr. McGee,” an unfamiliar voice said to me, “I’ve been expecting you.”

“Let me guess, the husband,” I said, slowly putting my hands up.

“You got it, first try. Amy, tell the man what he’s won.”

And wouldn’t you know it, from behind the corner walked our very own blond bombshell, still looking fantastic, still turning my stomach inside out.

“Hey Joey,” she said to me as though nothing was out of place at all, “Good to see ya again.”

I growled, “That ain’t my name you who–”

Then head pain.  Then more head pain.  Then blackness.

I came to in a daze, vision slowly aligning, head pounding, and of course hands tied behind my back, “You have got to be kidding me.  Did you just friggin’ pistol whip me?  What was I holding my hands up scarily?  And you couldn’t even knock me out the first time, you filthy asshole?  Where am I?”

“Shut up McGee, don’t fuck with me right now.  We’re in the attic, no one’s gonna interrupt,” it was a different voice, not the husband; it was a voice I recognized very well.

“Jimenez, you lowdown piece of—“

“Yeah, yeah McGee, save it for when you’re groveling for your life.”

“You gonna kill me Jimenez?  What’d you off the broad and her husband too?”

“Off them?” he laughed, a deep, throaty, undeniably annoying laugh, it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, “I paid them.  What do you think I am a monster?  The monster is your friend, the one who found out about the drugs, the one who put me out of business.  That’s not me. I don’t ruin people’s lives. People ruin their own lives well enough for me thanks. I do business.  I provide a service.”

“You been thinking that speech up all night Jimenez, you prick?”

“Yeah, you like it?”

“Nah, it sucked.  So you gonna keep me tied up here forever or you gonna shoot me, or what?”

“Yeah, I’m gonna shoot you McGee.  But first I’m gonna find and shoot your partner, the fucking half breed that fucked my life.”

“I don’t think he’s gonna take kindly to that, Jimenez.”

“What?  The shooting or me calling him a half breed?”

“I don’t take kindly to either one to be honest,” Tacks appeared in the doorway with his gun trained on Jimenez, he waved at the ground, “The gun.”

Jimenez put the gun down slowly, “Now take it easy big fella, you don’t want to shoot anyone here.”

“Kick it to me,” Tacks spoke cooly and slowly, but I could see the rage building up behind his eyes.  I could tell he was battling to control it.

Jimenez kicked the gun across the room.  Tacks bent slowly to pick it up.

“Now untie my partner,” he said deliberately.

Jimenez untied me and I was about to turn around and slap some cuffs on him when he put the knife up to my throat.  Stupid mistake.

Using me as a shield, Jimenez said, “I got your partner now you son of a bitch, looks like we got us a standoff.”

Without hesitation Tacks said, “What do you think McGee?  Should I shoot him anyway?”

Jimenez laughed, “You think that tux makes you a superhero you bull fuck?  Don’t do anything stupid and get your friend here killed.”

“Tacks, you got that crazy look in your eye, and I don’t like that when I got a knife to my throat.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about McGee, I’m always calm and collected.  Don’t worry, I only had a couple martinis downstairs.”

“No you crazy bastard, don’t you dare shoo—“

The bullet was through Jimenez’s brain before I could finish my sentence.  He stiffened, which brought the knife into the top layer of skin on my neck, it stung.  Then he collapsed.

Tacks was on him in a second, punching his face to a pulp, “YOU DON’T…” smash, “FUCKING…” smash, “THREATEN…” smash, “MY FRIENDS.” Smash, smash, smash, smash.  I tried to pull him off, but it wasn’t much use.  He eventually just stopped on his own.

There were bits of Jimenez everywhere.

I rubbed my neck, the trickle of blood stained my hands, “Bastard almost killed me.”

Tacks was slumped against the wall, “Are you referring to him or me?”

“Funny pal, real funny.  You know, the cops ain’t gonna appreciate you turning his head into rice pudding.”

“Yeah.”

“How’d you find me anyway?”

He held a small monitor towards me it had a dot in the center of it, “GPS tracker on your phone, I tagged it so that I could find you if I had to.”

“Without tellin’ me?  What is this communist Russia?”

“Sorry for saving your life McGee, it’ll never happen again, I swear.”  Tacks grunted as he pulled himself to his feet.

“Eh, he was after you anyway, wasn’t gonna kill me till you joined the party…So, you think we should call the cops?  We got DNA all over this place.”

“Let’s just get outta here.” And he walked out the doorway.

I chased him, “You want to get pinched for murder?  We gotta repor…”

That’s when I saw the cabinets next to the stairway.  There were automatic weapons everywhere, turns out the guy who owned the house was a gun runner.  We left that night and we didn’t hear shit about it for weeks, our host must’ve just cleaned everything up and not said anything to anyone.  Luckily, he didn’t know who turned his attic into a scene from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, we snuck out the window.

A month later we made an anonymous call to the fuzz from a “neighbor” about hearing gunshots in the house.  They found the stash and that dirtball got sent up for a long time.

“…Yeah well, next time, let’s do a little consulting with each other before we just take a job, whataya say?”  Me and Tacks were sitting in the office drinking some coffee, just bullshitting.

There was a knock at the door and I looked at him, “I’m serious about this you big galoot.”  Another knock.

“Sure, sure McGee, I know the game, equal partnership.  COME ON IN.” 

A gorgeous redhead walked through the door, she was wearing tight jeans and a sweater at least two sizes too small, “Oh, I just know you’ll never take this job, but I didn’t know where else to go.”

“Nonsense,” said Tacks, “No job is too difficult for Tacks and McGee Detective Agency.”

#  #  #

Submitted for the 10/09 challenge, “Minotaur”

This story was written in response to the prompt, Anyone who thinks a minotaur is a mythical beast clearly never had to measure one for a tuxedo.