a Jim Qwax Mystery

Chapter One ;Chapter Two ;Chapter Three ;Chapter Four ;Chapter Five ;Chapter Six ;Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight ;Chapter Nine ;Chapter Ten ;Chapter Eleven ;Chapter Twelve ;Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen ;Chapter Fifteen ;Chapter Sixteen ;Chapter Seventeen ;Chapter Eighteen



Midnight in the City. A thick cloud of sulphurous yellow smog descended on the mean streets full of late-night thieves, pimps, hot-dog salesmen and other unspeakable felons and creatures of the night and whatnots like that there. In the distance, sirens wailed. In the foreground, dingy sodium lights just failed to illuminate the damp cobbled streets winding between buildings that should have been condemned before the French Revolution. Yes, the City was mean at night, and through it all walked the one person who could eat that amount of meanness for breakfast and not even get indigestion. In a scene reminiscent of the best ones from Bogart movies, the mists on Bleak Street parted , and through them walked that person - James Archibald "Jim" Qwax, private detective, film noir hero and sexiest man alive.

Jim Qwax walked these streets as mortal man, but he was legend too. He was famous in the creepy underworld of the city for solving any case - even the unsolvable ones, which usually got that way because serious looking men with large baseball bats wanted them to stay that way. It wasn't just that he solved him, but that he was neither dead, behind bars nor a vegetable yet that made the name "Qwax" feared and respected whereever two people gathered together to mug a third. Down the mean street walked Jim Qwax, puffing on the biggest joint you ever did see, clad in the kind of hat and trenchcoat that are almost the uniform of the true detectin' genius. Streetkids gathered round paper bags filled with glue flattened themselves against walls as Jim Qwax walked past.

Qwax took a huge drag on his marley. "Creeps," he said.

Through the City's waterfront slums walked Jim Qwax, towards the sad excuse for a roach motel that was his apartment. With his kind of sleuthin' skill, he thought, he should have had a seventy-three room mansion on top of the Harbour Hills, with a swimming pool and a jacuzzi and everything. Unfortunately, certain things stood in the way of this dream. One was that Qwax, unlike most cynical hardbitten private eyes, took cases that interested him - usually hunting down insane hotdog salesmen on a murderous ketchup rampage, or those which involved a lot of undercover work in brothels. The kind of people who hired him for this work didn't usually pay big bucks. Secondly, what bucks he did get paid usually went straight into the pockets of the landlord, the power company, buying new equipment for Sharleen's band, the back pocket of the Police Chief, who also doubled as his dope dealer, or expanding his collection of erotic Etruscan poetry. So, here he was, broke but at least pleased with himself, as he turned out of an alleyway into the doorway of his apartment building. "Dead Rat Mansions" probably wasn't its real name, but it had stuck. The master detective mounted the stairs up to his grotty apartment.

At the very top of the stairs stood a dingy front door with the number "5.13" on it. Jim Qwax kicked it open - the lock had been busted for a month, and the landlord was out of town until the middle of next year, but Jim really didn't have anything worth stealing, so it was alright really. He removed his trenchcoat and hat, revealing himself to be naked underneath, and hung 'em on a hook on the back of the door as he shut it and wedged a chair under the door handle. He strode past the broken refrigerator, around the piles of dirty laundry, into his darkened bedroom, where he collapsed exhausted on the bed.

"Hey, sexy, what kept ya?"

"Sharleen, if I wanted to talk I would ring up a talkback station or something, okay?"

"I was worried. You usually manage to get home from work before 11 pm most nights."

"This ain't most nights, cutie. None of those missing teenagers have turned up, the Mayor still thinks he's Napoleon Bonaparte, and the liquor store are thinking of revoking our beer tab. If you don't start getting some

gigs soon, we're up Shit Creek with no toilet brush."

"Never mind, sweetie," said Sharleen, deftly removing Jim's shoes. "Wanna fuck like crazed weasels?"

The couple then proceeded to do just that until the windows rattled and the deaf woman downstairs started thumping on the ceiling.


Down those same mean streets as the night before, but in the opposite direction, walked Jim Qwax. He'd bought a newspaper from a disreputable-looking street vendor, but not to read - he used it to hit street urchins who were attempting to steal his bootlaces as he stomped by. In the light of what passed for day in the City, it was easy to see that Jim Qwax wasn't exactly the hunkiest individual on the face of the planet - he still had a finely-toned body from his previous careers as bricklayer and bouncer at Sharleen's gigs, but the word you'd use to describe him wouldn't be so much "Olympian" as "killer nerd". The straggly goatee didn't help much either. Nevertheless, the lead guitarist of the Lost City Mad Dogs didn't just decide to shack up with anyone, Jim told himself every morning as he looked at his bloodshot eyes and generally scrawny physique in the mirror.Yes, Jim Qwax had perfected the art of being well-muscled and scrawny at the same time. He put it down to malnutrition, himself.

About ten minutes walking got him out of the waterfront slums of Tackville and into the fringes of the Central City. Down Seven Sisters Street walked Jim Qwax, towards the 1950's converted chicken warehouse where

his office was. Entering the lift, which appeared to be working that day, he went straight to the fourth floor and marched into his office. With weary resignation, he nodded to the fiercly copulating couple on his secretary's desk.

"Morning, Kitty" chirped Jim. "Cold out, innit?"

Jim stomped into his inner office and hung his coat up. Since it was a cold March day, he'd decided to wear clothes to the office today - black jeans, a keen white pirate shirt and a blue waistcoat. He sat behind his desk, put on his grimmest face and started counting.

Before he'd reached forty-three, the door opened and in walked his secretary, Kath Katzenjammer, professional name "Kitty Cattz", part-time hooker and full-time pain-in-the-ass. Red-faced and stammering in her woolen business suit, she hurriedly shut the door.

"Look, Jim..." she began.

"Save it, Kitty," interrupted Qwax, opening his desk and extracting a can of McHeady's Old Disgusting Ale. "This is the nineteenth, count 'em, nineteenth time I've had to walk in on you. Now, of course I'm all for you using the office for your other job, it sure beats having to pay you, but I mean, you could at least make sure you're done before business hours. I have a corporate image to keep up here, y'know," he stated, sculling the beer in one go and burping loudly. "I don't want you scaring the customers."

"What fucking customers?" retorted Cat.

Qwax chose not to answer that. "And what's more, not the desk, okay? It's fragile as anything! Why do you think I paid for that perfectly comfy sofa?"

Kitty shrugged. "Some guys are just kinky, I guess."

Jim chose not to even think about that. "Okay, so what have I got to do today?" he asked, throwing the empty beer can out the window.

Kitty extracted a notebook. "Okey-dokey," she said, "In a quarter-hour a Ms Boraman is turning up to talk to you about a kidnapping."

"Uh-huh," said Jim, rolling a joint and looking for the lighter.

"At 10 you gotta go down City Hall to pay off the Police Chief…"

Jim Qwax groaned. Although he knew perfectly well he couldn't continue to operate in his own special... *unorthodox* style without some protection, he'd taken a quick dislike to Silas O'Doobie upon first meeting him. It wasn't that he was *that* corrupt, only with 23 kids to support a policeman's wages weren't that hot. He sold good dope, though.

"And after that, we're back onto the missing-teenager treadmill."

"Hold on a moment," yelled Jim, hit with a sudden thought. "Where have I heard the name 'Boraman' before?"

"The Odor-Eater fortune," replied Kath, not missing a beat. "Sophia Boraman took over her parent's shoe repair business, turned it into a multi-million dollar deodorant empire, and proceeded to throw about a dozen wild parties with the proceeds. She seems to have settled down a bit lately, though."

"Hmm...", thought Qwax. His thoughts were disturbed, however, by the crash of an opening door in the outer office, and a light alto voice shouting in impatience.


"Just a minute!" yelled Qwax, motioning his secretary out of the room to deal with the intruder. He quickly hid his beer, put his fake diploma from Detective School on the wall, covered his empty desk with several sheets of scrap paper and started writing furiously. "Send her in, Kitty", he yelled.


No sooner had the sexiest detective alive spoken those words than the door to his office burst open, just failing to shatter the frosted glass in the window, and in walked a whip-wielding love temptress. Two possibilities immediately crossed Qwax's mind as he tipped back on his chair and crashed to the floor. Firstly, as the balance of his chair just started to go, he wondered why Kitty had changed back into her other work clothes. By the time it had reached a thirty-degree angle backwards, his brain had pointed out to him that this present apparition was not tall, dark and warm-looking, like Kath, but short, blonde and looked like she meant business. And not funny business at that, judging by that scowl. Secondly, as Qwax began to seriously panic that he'd go arse-over-tip out the window to crash to his doom upon Seven Sisters Street, he wondered whether Chief O'Doobie had been putting something funny in the hash this month. These reveries were interrupted as he hit the floor, lightly denting his oh-so-cool fedora.

The apparition sighed in impatience. "Get up, you sad excuse for a man," she barked, in a surprisingly cute voice. "My name is Sophie Boraman and you have an appointment with me."

Jim Qwax, his head swimming with beer and suspected concussion, managed to struggle back onto his chair. He glanced up at this frankly terrifying individual clad in a black tuxedo and high heels, looking like a refugee from a 1920's music hall chorus line. "Of course, of course, I've been expecting you, only in about a quarter of an hour's time..." he stammered.

Boraman snorted. "I wouldn't want to speak to you if you were the kind of man I thought wanted to waste time. Word on the street, Mr Qwax, is that you're supposed to be some kind of a supersleuth. I wouldn't want you to disappoint me."

Jim Qwax, at that moment, would rather have mud-wrestled the Abominable Snowman naked than disappoint his new client. He pulled himself together quickly, leaned forward on his desk and gave her his best hard-boiled detective stare, practised in many hours before the bathroom mirror until Sharleen wanted to know what he was doing in there, and whether she could join in. Unfortunately, his next choice of words were not wise.

"So," he said, "what's the problem, toots?"

It was a good thing that Jim Qwax possessed a measure of clairvoyance, so he managed to dodge the almighty slap in the face that came his way in the next half-second.

"Call me that again and my custom goes elsewhere. Either that, or your balls go in two different directions", said Boraman, recovering her balance quickly.

"Heh," said Qwax, stubbing out his joint before he did anything else stupid. "If anyone but me could solve this problem of yours, I think you would have gone to them first, wouldn't you?" Acting cool in the face of the unexpected was another thing Jim Qwax practised in front of the mirror.

"Indeed, Mr Qwax," said Boraman. "Hell, just coming into this neighbourhood has driven my personal fortune down a million. But I need the best, and unfortunately that appears to be you."

Jim Qwax was never adverse to a bit of mindless flattery. "Okay, so what is it you want me to do?" he asked, cracking open a McHeady's to steady his nerves.

"You mean you don't know?" asked Sophie, surprised. "What, you don't read the papers or watch TV?"

"I don't have a TV," said Qwax. "It hurts these keen detectin' eyes." (Actually they did have a TV, but he only ever used it to watch Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Babylon 5 and videos with titles like Revenge of the Teenage Blood-Licking Ghouls. But he wasn't about to spoil his image.) "And I don't *read* newspapers," he added, leaning back in his chair and looking cool. "They lose their stopping power when you unfold them."

Sophie obviously didn't want to pursue that. "Well, let me just tell you then." She extracted a photograph of a fairly mousy-looking young man and gave it to the master detective. "This is my brother, Fred Boraman. He went missing about a week ago, and I want you to find him."

"Now hold on there just a cotton-picking ass-wiping moment there, Ms Boraman," said Qwax, swigging his beer. "This City has a police force, we pay good money to support them, I know I do at least, why haven't you gone to them first?"

Sophie coloured slightly. "In the fast-paced world of international finance, Mr Qwax, there are certain decisions that have to be made that... well... let's just say our loyal boys and girls in blue wouldn't be too happy to hear about, and I'd rather they stayed well out of this."

Ah, I should have guessed, thought Qwax. The shady deals and cut-throat competition of the Odor-Eater world. I wonder why they haven't made a mini-series about *that* yet, he thought?

"The thing is... Fred went missing in the Inner City a while back talking to a man called Binky the Shrew. Have you heard of him?"

Jim Qwax spluttered his beer across his desk and nearly went arse-over-tip out the window again. "Binky Rabotnik?" he croaked. "BINKY RABOTNIK?"

"Oh, so you have heard of him?" asked Boraman.

Jim Qwax threw the now-empty can out the window and started mopping the beer from his desk. "Ms Boraman, if your brother's been dealing with Binky Rabotnik, then I'd suggest you start looking at the bottom of the river. If your corporation has been dealing with the man responsible for 90% of gun-running, theft, assassination, bad drugs, crooked gambling and television sitcoms in this City, I'd suggest you deserve everything you get."

Sophie sighed, reached into her purse, extracted a cheque book and scribbled on it. "How does an advance of $10,000 against your usual daily rates sound to change your mind?"

Jim Qwax's mind boggled for about three seconds while he pondered the cheque in front of him. "It sounds very nice indeed," he said. "Um, my daily rates?" He grabbed his calculator, mopped the McHeady's off it, entered a random three-digit number, doubled it, multiplied it by its own square root, subtracted the day of the month and the number he first thought of and showed it to his client. "That's my usual daily rate," he said. (This was how he always calculated his bills.) "You'll realise, of course, that that doesn't include

expenses - cab fare, a life-endangering premium, bribes, bar tabs, fancy swimwear and whatnot."

"Money's no object, Mr Qwax," said Sophie, leaving her business card and walking towards the door. "Find Fred for me within the week, and you can have anything you want."

Jim wondered for a second whether Sophie was making a cheap sexual innuendo there, but decided not to pursue it. "Well, that'll be all, Ms Boraman. Your brother will be back safe and sound in under a week. Um, incidentally..."

"Yes," said Sophie, pausing and turning.

"What's with the whip?"

"Just a fashion accessory, sweetie," said Sophie, grinning so wide Jim was worried that the top of her head would come off. She opened the door and walked back out through the outer office, saying "Excuse me," to the fiercely copulating couple on Cat's desk.


The instant that Sophie Boraman walked out of the door, Jim Qwax ran towards the window and waited for her to exit onto the street. The instant she had done so, he picked up her $10,000 check and started dancing around the room.

"I'm rich! I'm rich!" he laughed. "D'ya hear me, I'm rich! I'm ten thousand smackers up!" he sang, dancing on top of his desk. "I'm rich! I'm... going up against Binky the Shrew again," he suddenly remembered, calming down all of a sudden. "I'm... DEAD!"

Binky Rabotnik! The Lord of Lightfingers, the King of Cut-Throats, the Sultan of Sleaze, the mastermind behind the Kennedy assassinations and the true cause of World War II (or so it was said). The man who used his personality not only as a contraceptive, but as a bodyguard, the man whose criminal tendencies had been so apparent from youth that his high-school guidance counsellor had given his probable future occupation as "Gangland Mastercrook." Jim Qwax had seen enough of the Rabotnik Gang to last him a lifetime during his investigations into the Mercantile Guild counterfeiting case. He'd managed to send a few of Binky's goons up the river on that case, but at the price of about three months in intensive care after the master criminal himself had personally run him over outside his office in a brand-new BMW. He knew that if he messed with Binky's business again, he'd be lucky to get out of it with his brains safely on the inside of his head. They didn't call him the Shrew for nothing. Definitely not to his face, anyway.

Dismally, he examined the check. Just as he suspected - post-dated two weeks, so there was no possibility of a quick plane ticket to Rio de Janiero. It was either go after Fred Boraman, and be lucky to get out with his life, or turn down the case and eat at the foodbank for the next three months.

This dilemma so perplexed Qwax that he resorted to the time-honored detective method of dealing with difficult problems. He got out three six-packs of McHeady's and started drinking himself into an alcoholic stupor.

When Kitty walked into her boss's office about half an hour later, she was not entirely surprised to find him halfway through the second six-pack and just about face down on his desk. Jim had actually stopped drinking for a few months a while back, but she'd persuaded him that mainlining vodka wasn't exactly any healthier.

"Come on, Jim," she said, pulling him into a sitting position. "It's time to go see the Police Chief."

Jim focused unsteadily on his secretary. "Aww, to hell with Doobie. I think I'm just going to sit here and drink myself unconscious today."

"Whasamatter, Jim," said Kitty, perching on the side of his desk and crossing her legs in the approved manner for a sexy secretary.

"Alcohol poisoning is a far more enjoyable way to die than having every single bone in one's body, including the three little ones in each ear, ground into pulp by a Rabotnik goon with a jackhammer," said Qwax, reaching in vain for a can of McHeady's which Kath pulled out of his way.

Kitty wasn't having any of this. Jim was an old college buddy of hers - they'd been next-door neighbours in the hall of residence, and they'd even fucked like crazed weasels once - and she wasn't about to let him blow off the biggest paycheck he was ever likely to get. Not while she had three more payments to go on her bondage gear, anyway. She reached over the desk, slipped her hand under Jim Qwax's belt, grabbed hold of the master detective's testicles and squeezed. Hard.

If there is one way to get a man out of a fit of self-pity, Kitty had found it. It was marvellous the way Jim leapt out of his chair, pain and adrenalin fighting a strong battle against the alcohol in his bloodstream.

"AIEEEEEE!" commented the supersleuth Jim Qwax. "You didn't need to do that!" he said, comforting his poor abused gonads.

"Oh come on, Jim," said Kath impishly. "I have guys who pay me cold cash to inflict pain on them. You got it for nothing."

Jim Qwax said nothing, whimpering slightly.

"Jim, this is serious," said Kitty. "Surely your code of detectin' ethics won't allow you do let poor Ms Boraman down just because of a pathetic fear of grievous bodily harm?"

"Oh, of course not," said the master detective, laying on the sarcasm with a bulldozer. "Not that I *have* a code of detecting ethics, of course, but I'm sure you'll make one up for me. What am I going to do with you, Kitty?" he rhetoricized.

Kitty was far too smart, of course, to let a feedline like that go begging. "Well, there's the $100 basic rate," she began, consulting a list, "then there's the $150 contortionist special..."

"I don't want to hear about this!" yelled Qwax.

"Aww," pouted his secretary. "Why not?"

"Fear of syphillis," said the sexiest man alive, poking his tongue out.

Kitty laughed. "Wonderful!" she said. "We've got you on your feet and making abusive comments again. Now you can go down to see Chief O' Doobie!"

Qwax laughed too, outsmarted by his secretary. "Okay, okay," he said, putting his trenchcoat and insufferably cool fedora on. "Don't wait up for me, and tell the parents of those missing teenagers to come back tomorrow. After I've paid off the Chief, I'm going down Whiskey's Tavern to check things out."

"Be careful, sweetie," said Cat, handing him $500 from the safe. "That's a real mean and violent place..."

"Heh. I'm a real mean and violent guy," said Qwax, grinning.

He blew his secretary a kiss and stepped out the door. Walking down the steps toward ground level, he passed three furtive looking gentlemen in trenchcoats going into his office. Obviously Cat's clients. Among them, Jim thought he recognized the North Korean Deputy Ambassador. "Christine Keeler eat yer heart out," chuckled the supersleuth Jim Qwax.

On the steps leading down from his office building Jim Qwax paused to breathe in the ozone. This turned out to be a mistake, for when he continued his walk he ran straight into the person he'd been hoping to avoid - Malcolm Nitts, the owner of the local hot meat pie cart, which just about ran the master detective off the road as he was lighting up his first joint of the day

"Oh, *hello*, Mr Qwax!" said Nitts, his face contorted into a severely ironic grin. "I believe I have something of yours!"

"Um, you can keep it, Mike," said the master detective nervously, putting his lighter away. "In fact, I'd like to buy a..."

Nitts reached into his pie car and pulled out four objects - two empty cans of McHeady's and two severely squashed pies. "I ask you, Mr Qwax, does my cart look like a recycling bin?" he hissed.

"Well, now you come to mention it…" grinned the master detective, but his attempt at wit fell flat before Nitts' stony demeanour. "Well, you shouldn't have been standing underneath my window, should you, you silly bastard!" concluded Qwax lamely, looking for an escape route.

"Not so fast," said Nitts. "You're taking your rubbish away with you, and you're paying for these pies, or I'm taking you to City Hall for littering. And you *know* what the Mayor thinks of that."

Qwax groaned. Mayor Blackadder might well be insane, but he kept the city clean. He reached into his wallet and extracted a two-dollar coin. "I might as well have the pies while I'm at it," he said, taking the objects off Nitts's hands.

"It's a pleasure doing business with you, Mr Qwax," said the hot meat pie salesman, pushing his cart away yelling "HOT MEAT PIES! HOT MEAT PIES!"

"Creep," muttered Qwax, munching on a pie and heading off towards Police Headquarters.

The baroque monstrosity that was the headquarters of the City Police Force always struck Qwax as architectural overkill. It had been built something like twenty years before, when drug crime had been running rampant in the city and the vastly overgrown Police Force ran the city like a personal fief. However, in the last five years, with Mayor Blackadder's decriminalisation of drugs and prostitution and the forbidding of handguns within city limits, the Police had found themselves overpaid and overstaffed, with very little to do - especially since they were included in the firearms ban. Most cops these days kept themselves busy catching rapists and murderers, and the rest (who'd always seen that sort of thing as the dull bit of policework) spend their time approving crooked casinos, taking cuts from the organized robbery syndiCates and - like Police Chief O'Doobie - selling drugs.

Qwax always felt nervous entering this nasty-looking monument to civic-sponsored thuggery, and his demeanour was made none the happier by the surly looking reception cop who led him into a secure elevator that would lead him to the Chief's office on the tenth floor. The master detective was definitely planning to vote for whoever promised to wipe out police corruption in next year's civic elections - it would leave him far more money to buy mind-dissolving chemicals with.

As Qwax left the elevator and entered the overfurnished office at the top, both literally and figuratively, of the City Police Force, a huge man with a silly grin emerged from behind a big desk and shook him by the hand.

"Jim! How's it going?" said Chief O'Doobie, for it was he.

Jim was surprised - last time he'd been up here he'd only just evaded defenestration after an attempt at a joke about the Pope had fallen flat. "Um... just dandy, Chief. And yourself?"

"Oh, you know," said O'Doobie sitting back behind his desk and motioning the master detective to sit down. "The triplets are sick again."

"Which ones?" asked Qwax.

"The older set," said O'Doobie, taking out an even bigger marley than Qwax's of the night before and lighting up. "Like one, Jim?"

"Not while I'm working, please," said the suspersleuth Jim Qwax. "I find it hard enough to concentrate as it is."

"Suit yerself," said the Cheif, taking a huge drag. "I believe you have something for me?"

Qwax sighed and extracted the five hundred dollar bills from his wallet. O'Doobie snatched them greedily, counted them and threw them into a huge wall safe, slamming it shut and grinning. "That gets you a Stay-Out-Of-Jail card for another six months, and," pushing a plastic bag over the table, "a free ounce of hash. With my compliments."

Qwax was stunned by this generosity. Doobie was never known to be especially generous with his merchandise - was he trying to seduce the master detective, or what? He thanked the Chief moodily, secreted the dope in his detectin' satchel and wandered over to the window. Looking out, he saw a pacifist street battle going on. The McGillicuddy Highland Army, clad in Scottish kilts and plaids, were attacking a group of Hare Krishnas with paper swords and flour bombs. The Krishnoids, however, were cheating and wouldn't die properly. Damn Condomheads, thought Qwax.

"Uh, that reminds me, Chief," said Qwax. "I've come across a rather difficult case I might need some access to your records on. I've been hired to look into the disappearance of Fred Boraman, and..."

Jim Qwax turned around from the window only in time to see the suddenly thunderous face of Police Chief O'Doobie leap over the desk, grab him by his lapels and lift him off the ground. The Chief looked Qwax square in the eye - or at least tried to, because he was, as usual, stoned, and kept seeing big black spiders crawling up the walls.

"You leave this Fred case to the police, understand???" he yelled.


Although he was hanging approximately three feet off the ground in the grip of a 250-pound, six-foot-four policeman with truly impressive halitosis, Qwax felt no fear. Doobie occasionally... *got* like this, but usually calmed down within the minute. Rumours abounded that his suppliers were cutting his coke with PCP, and Qwax could believe it. He decided to stall for time.

"Oh wow man, like, what is this shit?" said the master detective, slipping into the phony hippie idiom that always seemed to have a tranquilising effect on Doobie. "Like, what's with the bad vibes and the heavy agression, dude?"

It worked like a charm. The small red lights went out in Silas O'Doobie's eyes and he lowered Qwax to the floor. "Never you mind, you low-life piece of elderberry," ["Elderberry?" thought Qwax] "it's official police business. Now beat it afore I book you for loitering and murder."

Qwax didn't need to be told twice - he'd thought Doobie's good mood was too good to last anyway. As he scurried out the office door, he thought he heard the Police Chief take his chair and throw it out the window. Ah yes, thought the master detective as he hurriedly rushed into the elevator, my impeccable timing has saved me again!

The guards showing the supersleuth out were even more surly than those who'd shown him in, and wasted no opportunity to trip him up, mutter insults at him and even batter him around the head and neck with a broken bottle, but Jim Qwax was oblivious to all this. He was too busy wondering what was going on. Originally this had seemed a simple case - Binky Rabotnik had obviously murdered this Boraman guy, or was holding him for ransom, and all that Qwax would have to do is find out which and report back. However, it didn't seem that simple any more. What could be going on with the Police Chief? Why was he so interested? Qwax debated the idea of what kind of interest Doobie could have in odor-eaters, but gave that up as unrewarding. He'd never got close enough to Doobie's feet to know one way or the other on that score, and never intended to. Obviously this case wasn't as simple as he'd first thought.

The master detective landed in a heap at the bottom of Police HQ steps, the words "And stay out!" ringing in his ears. He picked himself up and knocked the dents out of his fedora. "Creeps!" he yelled, once the cops were out of hearing range. He made a mental note to see about the possibility of buying his dope elsewhere, and headed off downtown.

The police HQ stood on the cusp between the shiny, skyscraper-ridden central business district and the depressing low-rise sprawl of the Inner City, the old part of town where Jim Qwax had his headquarters. Twisting and turning in a network of tacky alleyways full of garbage and dead encyclopaedia salesmen, the master detective headed towards Dockside. This part of town had a bad name for itself - sailors coming in off the wharves looking for a good time, clashing with the obnoxious families of European immigrants who tended twelve to a room in the surrounding flophouses, the inhabitants of the sundry brothels along the way hanging out of second story windows and cheering on the pandemic street battles. But strangely enough, it wasn't really that tough a place. If you didn't look like you were either rich or puny, which Qwax wasn't, you'd get through unmolested ninety-percent of the time. Of course, the other ten-percent was at Whiskey's Tavern, which was where the master detective was heading.

Whiskey's Tavern was the bar which gave all the Inner City's other low-rent, high-octane booze barns a bad name. Built seven years ago between a glue factory and a funeral parlour, only built because some dickhead developer had bribed the planning officials to abolish the law for twenty-four hours, Whiskey's Tavern was notorious for three things - the strength of the beer, the strength of the stink in the toilets and the strength of Whiskey himself. The epynomous manager/owner/ bartender/bouncer/executioner of the bar was known to have a short temper, especially when soon-to-be-bleeding people asked "Is that your real name?". But he was a nice guy underneath - Jim Qwax had worked in the bar as kitchenhand, busboy and corpse-disposer just after leaving university, and had gotten to know that under the bushy beard, studded leather jacket and rippling pectoral muscles, Whiskey was a kind-hearted sort with a passion for sausages, TV wrestling and firm female buttocks. Due to that straight yuppie predilection for trying to appear tough and street-wise whilst still eating $25 hamburgers, the tavern which had originally become famous as the drinking place for hookers, dope dealers, petty thieves, private dicks, public dicks (like the City Council) and all the rest of the criminal element now had half the cool people in the city drinking there too, and rumour had it that Whiskey was now rather a rich man. If anyone knew what was going on with Boraman and Rabotnik, thought Qwax, it'd be him.

Squeezing between the dank concrete walls, Jim Qwax found himself at the door of the tavern, where one of Whiskey's cousins, commonly known as "Diesel Fuel" was filling in on the door.

"You donts gets in less youse properly dressed," uttered this walking monstrosity through three-inch thick lips, barring the master detective's way.

Jim Qwax cursed - Whiskey's warped idea of a dress code specificed black jeans, fluffy moccasins and a Metallica T-Shirt, and he was fucked if he was going to wear that kind of crap just to drink. He pointed back down the alleyway which he'd just come across. "Look!" he exclaimed. "An ice-cream truck!"

Instantly, the bouncer's piggy little eyes lit up, and he bounded away down the alleyway, already drooling. It was almost too easy.

The smell of sweat, vomit, spilt beer and sundry other essential bodily fluids hit Jim Qwax's nose a millisecond after a 1000-watt amplified heavy metal guitar solo hit his ears. Yes, Whiskey's Tavern was buzzing even at this early time of the day.

It was almost pitch black inside the bar, but even in mid-morning it was crammed full of serious drinkers. A three-piece thrash-metal combo whose bass drum proclaimed themselves to be "The Piss-Drinking Motherfucking Asslicking Chicken-Stomping Blues Band" did a passable Black Sabbath impersonation, including, as Qwax was gratified to note, a live bat. Making a mental note not to invite any of his SPCA friends here, he pushed through the hordes of metal heads of both genders towards the bar. Yes, this place was like a cross between the Seventh Circle of Hell and a truck-driver's convention. Jim spotted the man we was looking for and waved.

"Jim!" said Whiskey, cracking the heads of two patrons together. "Be with ya in a second, just gotta take out the trash, y'know."

Qwax nodded and looked for a seat at the bar. Finding one which was unoccupied, he made the mistake of sitting on it before checking why this might be the case. Oh well, he thought ruefully, his trousers had needed dry-cleaning anyway. Whiskey finished with the troublemakers and threw them out into the alleyway, where Diesel Fuel, icecreamless and in a bad mood, would no doubt deal with them in his own special way on his return. He wiped his hands and returned to the master detective.

"Well, Qwaxie, whadd'll ya have? On the house."

Qwax was impressed. "Get me one of those incredibly expensive cocktails with a dozen different kinds of booze in it, plus bits of fruit, whipped cream and a little umbrella. I've always wanted one of those."

Whiskey shot him a Look.

"Okay," sighed the master detective. "A McHeady's".

Whiskey drew off the pint and slid it in front of the master detective, who sculled it almost instantly. "So, what brings you here, Jim? Haven't seen you here in weeks?"

"Well, I've been busy, y'know, man," said supersleuth Jim Qwax. "The missing teenagers just keep going on going missing, and while it pays the rent when Sharleen's in a rough patch, it's deathly dull. Plus, almost getting defenestrated by the Police Chief every coupla weeks isn't exactly the most fun way to spend a lifetime."

"The Chief, eh?" said Whiskey, motioning some poor broke student to go serve the customers who were in danger of breaking up the bar, and to tell him what "defenstrate" meant later on. "He still peddling wacky tobaccy?"

"Hell yeah," said Qwax. "Hey, he gave me some on the house this very morning!" He took out his plastic bag to show the barkeep.

Whiskey whistled. "He can afford to give that much away? Gee, either that's pretty low-quality shit or he doesn't need the cash anymore. Which doesn't sound much like Doobie. You hear his wife's pregnant again? I do hear it's twins."

Jim grimaced. That'd explain the Chief's bad mood, of course, but what do you expect from taking the Pope seriously?

He turned back to the barkeep, and slid three bucks over the bar. "Throw me up another McHeady's, willya? My head hurts."

Whiskey nodded, drawing up another pint. "Good band, eh?"

Qwax didn't had anything nice to say, so he said nothing. Instead he said, "Listen, man, I didn't just come down here to drink myself silly. I need some info on what Binky Rabotnik might be up to."

Whiskey almost dropped the beermug in shock. "Oh shit, Jim, you're not messing with Binky again, are you? After what happened last time?"

Qwax grabbed his beer out of Whiskey's hand before anything nasty happened to it. "Heh, when Sophie Boraman is paying me $10,000 in advance, I'd mess with Beelzebub's minions..."

Whiskey looked puzzled. "You said Sophie Boraman?"

"Yeah, the odor-eater bigwig. You know her?" replied the master detective, sculling his beer.

"Not so much, but I was under the impression that Binky did. About a couple of weeks back, he came in here with some short babe with a whip who he kept calling 'Ms Boraman'. All over him like a cheap suit, she was. Of course, I couldn't hear what they were talking about - they were sitting in a far corner surrounded by his goons. But I did notice one thing that impressed me very much..."

"What? What?" asked Qwax, pushing his mug back for a refill.

"That woman put away twelve double Kahluas and didn't even stagger!" said Whiskey, admiration in every syllable.

The master detective was not prepared to deal with that sort of information sober. Gratefully receiving his third pint, his thoughts began to chase each other around the inside of his head, mewling softly. Not only was the Police Chief in thick with his quarry, but his client also? What in the name of Dobbs was going on here?

"Word on the street, though, Jim," said Whiskey, leaning forward to whisper conspiratorily and in the process treating Jim to his second dose of halitosis in so many hours, "is that Binky's planning the biggest thing to hit this city since the atom bomb, and then some."

Now that *really* didn't do anything for Jim Qwax's piece of mind. A criminal genius allied with the power of legit finance capital? Hell, they could probably foreclose on the city, like in Robocop 2. Jim Qwax didn't find a future full of scum like Binky and insane women like Boraman a friendly prospect. He thanked Whiskey moodily for his help and turned around, just in time to see Diesel Fuel come flying past his face.

Qwax instinctively ducked, but the huge bouncer wasn't out for revenge. In fact, he was out for the count. He crashed into the stone wall at the end of the bar, lightly denting it, and stayed there. In walked the people responsible, large individuals in tailored Italian suits. Ten of them. Only one person in this city could afford ten well-dressed thugs to hang around them, and he was standing in the centre of them. Yes, dear reader, it was Binky "The Shrew" Rabotnik himself.

Except for the obligatory gangland shades, you could have mistaken the Shrew for a staid executive at some television network. Which, indeed, he was. Quite apart from all his illegal activities, Binky Rabotnik owned a television network, notorious for buying up the crappiest shows around, sticking them with a 40% advertisment component and then shooting straight to the top of the ratings by generous exposure of tits-n-ass programs during ratings sweeps. On top of all that, the creep had the temerity to screen sitcoms that made "Punky Brewster" and "Small Wonder" look like laugh riots. Most citizens of the city were prepared to tolerate gunrunning, bad drugs and even judicious assassination, but TV sitcoms had made Binky Rabotnik an unpopular man. He pulled up to the bar and ordered a pint of tequila. Yes, a pint. That's the other thing Binky was famous for - an indestructible liver, and the money to carry out destruct-testing on it.

He turned around, and appeared to notice the master detective for the first time. "Well, well," he said, his weasly face splitting in a huge grin. "If it isn't good old Dogfood Qwax. Got the tire-tracks off your head now, I see?"

Qwax grimaced, not only for the use of his forbidden college nickname, not only for the memory of the last time that Binky had run into, or more accurately, *over* him, but for the third wave of halitosis to sweep over him that morning. "Apparently, Binky. Hey, I like your prime-time schedule these days. Topless Bullfighting and Naked Twister Challenge must be packing them in, no?"

Binky grinned. "We give the people what they want, Dogfood. You gotta problem with that?"

"None whatsover, Binky," said the master detective, starting on his fourth pint of McHeady's. This might well have been making him more foolhardy than usual, which would explain why his next words were "Tell me, is it true that your parents were brother and sister, or do you just have six toes on your left foot for some other reason?"

Instantly, the master detective regretted it. Or, more accurately, he regretted the ten pistols suddenly held to his neck. Binky waved his goons back, leant over the master detective and spat in his face.

"Looking for trouble are we, Qwax?" he hissed.

"Well, I dunno about you, but I'm looking for some clean trousers," said the master detective, deciding to cut to the chase."And some information. Tell me, are you hanging around with Sophie Boraman for a business reason, or is it just that you dig chicks with whips?"

That seemed to enrage Rabotnik more than the 'inbred' gag. "Oh really? And just how, pray, do you know about *that*?"

Qwax gulped. The man had just used "pray" in cold blood - he'd be lucky to get out with no broken limbs. He kept silent - somehow, he sensed that revealing his client's identity would not be a bright idea.

"You told him, didn't ya, you creep?" yelled the master criminal at poor Whiskey, cowering behind the bar. "Well, I'll show ya how we deal with stoolies in this town!" He sculled his tequila, eliciting gasps of amazement from the assembled patrons, and motioned his thugs. They dropped Jim Qwax, already pretty far gone from all that beer, on the bar, surrounded their boss and headed for the door. As they reached it, Binky turned around and yelled:


"It really isn't my day, is it?" thought the master detective, slumping forward onto his face as everyone else rushed for the exits.


Jim Qwax's own personal world was getting very hot and uncomfortable, as three of Binky Rabotnik's hired goons scurried about the bar, spilling the contents of gasoline cans that must have been kept in the back of Binky's limo for just such an eventuality. Through the pervasive McHeady's fog in which his brain was now lightly pickled, the master detective could only just hear a little voice yelling "Get *out* of there, Qwax, you bozo!"

Qwax, who was well used to taking orders from little voices in his head, got up, tottered towards the door, slipped on the flammable material now covering the floor and fell flat on his face. He stayed there a moment.

"Oh shit! Jim, get your bony ass *out of here*! I don't want you in the way when the shit starts to hit the fan!"

Strange, thought the well-pissed master detective. When did the little voices in my head start sounding like Whiskey?

"Ah, to hell with it."

Qwax felt a light splashing as one of Binky's goons decided to see if supersleuths burned any faster than disreputable taverns. The master detective, who didn't really have the same interest in the subject, crawled towards the door on his stomach, Binky's goons kicking him in the head as he inched past.

Suddenly, the most heinous noise heard since the last time the Qwax household had had beans for dinner ripped through Whiskey's Tavern. Binky's goons turned around just in time to see Whiskey himself, toting a crowbar in each fist, smash them upside the head. He had two out for the count before the other knew what was going on. Jim Qwax turned around as he reached the door, just in time to see Whiskey pick up a large match, the kind one used to light gas ovens.

"How would the *rest* of you like to burn, shit-for-brains?"

The remaining goon appeared to take a quick decision, and pulled out a match of his very own. Ah, thought Qwax, almost out the door, the classical Mexican standoff. How sad that I'm not going to be around to watch it!

The master detective pulled himself into the alley, dragged himself to the door and tottered rather unsteadily towards the sunlight. Expecting to see the twenty-yard-long limo of Binky Rabotnik still parked outside, he got the shock of his life. There instead were three City Police SWAT Team cars, bristling with armed cops. Qwax raised his hands automatically as three of the creeps came across, threw him against a car and frisked him.

"You stay right where you are, unnerstan'?" hissed a cop who appeared to get his image from re-runs of "CHiPs".


Isn't that just like the Shrew, thought the master detective, face down in the paintwork on the roof of a squad car. Prepared to sacrifice his own goons to make sure no blame attaches to him? This man makes Lex Luthor look like a bleeding-hearted liberal!

Slowly and reluctantly, Binky's goon emerged, dragging his two fallen comrades behind him. After them staggered Whiskey, helping Diesel Fuel who was still a big groggy to walk. He was attempting to explain.

"Look, fellows, you've got it wrong - "

A single round from a police shotgun punctured the concrete just above Whiskey's head. "Don't speak till yer spoken to," shouted a cop who appeared to get *his* image from "The Dukes of Hazzard".

Jim Qwax had just about as much of this as he was prepared to take. "Um. Doobie? S'me, Qwax. I'm all paid up for the fortnight, so kindly tell your goons to cease and/or desist, okay?"

A slam of car doors and the faint odor of underarms told the master detective that the Police Chief had emerged from his squad car and was coming over to talk to the master detective. "Book those other bozo's for disturbing the peace," he yelled to his men. The five large individuals were quickly surrounded by cops who appeared to get their image from the Germans on "Hogan's Heroes".

The police chief leant down so he could hiss in the master detective's earhole. "And just what might *you* be doing here, Mr Qwax?"

"Getting a drink, Doobie, what else do you think I get up to in bars? Lapdancing?"

Doobie signalled, and the cop hit Jim Qwax on the back of the head with his nightstick. "Watch yer words, Qwax, or you'll have other charges to add to disturbing the peace, public drunkenness, and... oh *yes*, drug trafficking!"

Qwax was at a bit of a loss about the last one. "What?" he said.

The cop, whilst still holding down the supersleuth's head with one hand, reached into his detective satchel and pulled out the plastic bag the police chief had given him earlier in the day.

"You can't bust me for having hash on me, you nimrod!"

"Hash, eh?" chuckled the police chief. He signalled to his cop, who pulled the master detective up by his hair so he could face the police chief.

Silas O'Doobie emptied the bag onto the pavement, revealling what had been hidden in the midst of the fragrant green weed - a small bag of highly suspicious looking white powder. Doobie dipped his finger in, tasted some and grinned. "Looks like pure white Colombian to me, farmboy."

"You're *crazy*! Possession of coke isn't even illegal anymore!"

"Trafficking in it is, Qwaxie. You got far too much here for personal consumption. Going to sell it to schoolkids were you, you double-dyed bastard?"

Qwax was really angry now. "You gave me that yourself, you overbloated, pseudo-Catholic, lard-assed corrupt son of a motherless GOAT!"

Doobie signalled and the cop hit the master detective upside the head with his nightstick again. "Add those to the charges against him: slanderous accusations, and use of foul language!"

Qwax struggled to break free, but it was no use. As he was shoved into the back of a squad car, he thought to himself: I've been pissed off my skull, almost defenestrated, almost barbecued, abused both the Police Chief and the City's meanest gangster, and been arrested, and it's not even eleven a.m. yet. Now that's what I call a full day, he thought ruefully as he was driven away.


It was still only 12:30 pm on that cold March day when Jim Qwax finally completed all the formalities of being arrested - fingerprinting, mugshots, hanging around in dirty corridors next to rapists and murderers, being hit in the kidneys with a weighted broom-handle - and was finally flung, head-first, into what he was provisionally prepared to declare was the deepest, dankest holding-cell in the utter shit-pit of the myriad of mostly-disused tunnels under police headquarters.

"What about my one phone call?" yelled Qwax to the hulking behemoths who had carried him there.

"All lines outs is busy," chuckled one of them, who made Diesel Fuel look like a seven-stone weakling. "You gets phone call later, Mr Master Detectiff. Hur hur hur."

"Hur hur hur," agreed his cohort, clearly not the intellectual of the two.

The two pachyderms in blue uniforms slammed the cell door behind them and stomped off. "Creeps!" yelled Jim Qwax after them, sotto voce.

Looking around him at the greasy concrete walls covered with obscene graffiti which did nothing to cheer him up, the supersleuth sat his detecting ass down on a vermin-riddled mattress and took stock of his situation. Okey dokey, he thought to himself. Let's be at least semi-logical about this. Boraman suspects Binky of hijacking her brother. Boraman was, at least until recently, in league with Binky. Doobie got way mad when I mentioned Fred Boraman to him. Binky's goons try to trash the Tavern - Doobie's goons turn up and arrest them, and me, and presumably Whiskey while they were at it. Doobie doesn't want me to make contact out. Now, if I were prepared to suspect our loyal boys and girls in blue of being corrupt, power-crazed weinerbrains, which they are, I'd think that our dear Police Chief didn't want me finding Fred, or messing with Binky. But why? "BUT WHY???" he yelled out loud.

"Keep the yelling out loud down!" shouted something which Jim Qwax had assumed to be a bundle of dirty rags on the top bunk. "Some of us are trying to concentrate on masturbation up here!"

"Sorry," muttered the master detective glumly. He debated whether to engage in conversation with the foul old man, just on the grounds of something to do, but decided against it. He needed to get the rest of this McHeady's out of his system so he could think clearly. He curled up on the mattress and attempted to get some sleep...

On the other side of town, on the third floor of the Potts Chambers on Seven Sisters Street, the North Korean Deputy Ambassador was struggling not-too-strenously against the silken ropes that tied him to Jim Qwax's office desk. The fact that he was also naked and oiled should not cause you too much surprise. Beside the desk, tickling the Stalinist functionary with a fly whisk, was Kitty Cattz, dressed in a plain grey khaki suit.

"Again! Say it!" she barked in a clipped accent.

"I admit it!" he cried. "I've been a capitalist tool in the pay of the Americans, Russians, Yugoslavians, Fijians *and* the Luxembourgians! I've said bad things about the Party, forced my own mother to eat Big Macs at gunpoint and bootlegged tapes of amoral imperialist musicians like Michael Bolton in the People's Democratic Republic! Oh, I've been a *bad* boy!" The last phrase had an edge of pleading to it.

"You're a disgrace to your uniform!" barked Cattz, removing her top. "As Functionary of the People's Corrective Agency, it is my duty to punish you by spanking with a copy of the collected works of Kim Il Sung!"

"Oh mercy, Comrade!" said the Korean, grinning from ear to ear.

Just then there came a loud knocking at the outer door. Cattz froze for a moment, hoping like hell Jim hadn't come back from the Tavern early to find her using *his* desk. If he had, her ass was surely green and growing.

"Wait here, you foul traitor," she said, putting her top back on and heading towards the door. The Korean nodded, strangling in the S-M equivalent of coitus interruptus.

Kitty entered her outer office and closed the door. Through the glass into the hallway she could just make out a figure in trenchcoat and fedora. Oh shit, she thought, hurriedly thinking up a good excuse.

She opened the door. "Look Jim, I'm really sorry, but he offered to pay extra and WHO THE DING-DONG FUCK ARE YOU?"

The thin, nervous-looking cop on the other side of the door blanched a bit under Kitty's abusive assault, and fished out some ID. "Detective Inspector Cameron Fenn, City Police," he tried to bark, but ended up gurgling. "We have a warrant to search these premises," he said, gesturing at the two goons in blue uniforms standing behind him.

Kitty, flushed and worried, grabbed the many-times folded piece of paper from the cop's hands and studied it. "What the hell's this supposed to mean? Is Jim in trouble?"

"With a capital T, I'm afraid, Ms..."

"Cattz," said the sexy secretary, sensing that revealing her real name wasn't such a hot idea at this juncture. "Kitty Cattz," she added defiantly, expecting the obvious reply.

"Really? He-he-he," said Fenn, chuckling lewdly. "I suppose you give really good pussy, huh?"

"Great. I haven't heard that particular joke in, oh, twenty minutes," growled Cattz, in no mood for low humour. "If you'll just give me a moment to tidy a few things up, I'll be right with you."

"I'm afraid not, Ms Cattz," said the cop, motioning the two uniformed thugs behind him to barge past her. "I don't want you doing anything like, say, throwing filing cabinets out the window, would we?"

Damn, thought Kitty, plan A down the tubes. "Look, um, Cameron, can I call you that?" she said, trailing after the cops into the outer office.

"No," said the cop, motioning his goons to rustle through the papers on Kitty's desk.

"Okay, Inspector Fenn, would you mind telling me what's going on?"

"Simple, Ms Cattz, or whatever your real name is," said the inspector, as papers flew around the room like confetti. "Your employer, Mr James Archibald Qwax, is suspected of trafficking in narcotics without a licence, cutting it with Drano, selling it to blind under-age boy scouts, that sort of thing. We suspect him of being in league with a certain odor-eater heiress name of Sophia Boraman, and we're looking for evidence of such an association."

Kitty really began to worry about what was going on now, as the cops took the drawers out of her desk and emptied them on the floor. "Look, officer, I'm sure I can sort this out," she began, as the goons ran through her private papers with big thick clammy fingers. "Is Jim in jail?"

"I'm not at liberty to reveal that," said Fenn, stiffly.

"Okay, then, I won't give you a blow job," said Kitty, sweetly.

"On second thoughts, maybe I am," said the cop hurriedly. "Jim Qwax is indeed in police custody, along with sundry other conspirators we picked up at a disreputable tavern in the Docklands area. Bail is set at $10,000 each. Now, what was that you said about blow jobs?" Kitty sighed, and hoped the cops wouldn't smash her mouthwash while they searched.

Fortunately, one of the huge cops picked that time to interrupt. "Boss? Dere's another room thru here!"

"It'll have to wait till later," said Fenn to Kitty. "What's through that room?"

Kitty grimaced at the thought. "Uh, that's Jim's private office, but there's nothing of interest in there..."

"Really? Well, we'll be the judge of that," said the cop, all thoughts of oral gratification gone from his mind to be replaced by promotion fantasies. "Where's the key?"

"I swallowed it," Kitty lied.

Fenn didn't have time to argue even with incredibly cute half-Greek secretaries. "Smash that there door open!" he ordered his men. One of the huge cops grinned, and pulled out his nightstick. Taking a reasonably large run-up, he ran at the door to Jim Qwax's office and smashed it open. The other three ran through after him, to be greeted with the sight of the North Korean Deputy Ambassador, naked, oiled, tied to a desk, and getting rather cold and impatient. As he was also built like a sumo wrestler, this was probably not a sight that the cops were prepared to handle so soon after lunch.

"Are these people going to spank me too?" he asked.

Kitty turned to Cameron Fenn, who appeared to be going several different shades of crimson. "Well, big boy?" she asked. "You want to spank him too? I'm sure he'd love you too..."

"That... won't be necessary," stammered the chief cop. "Well, Ms Cattz, I think we've gotten all we came for. The initials SB in your appointment diary for this morning look like sufficient evidence to implicate your boss in the biggest coke deal this year. I... think we can let things rest for now. Um... carry on..." He motioned to his men, and they scurried back into the hall, slamming both doors behind them.

"What, no blow job?" called Cattz after them, grinning.

"Ur... excuse me?" asked the Korean.

"Oh, right. Sorry to keep you waiting. No, actually, I'm not! It's what you deserve for being an enemy of the people! Now BEND OVER!" she barked, picking up a very thick book.


Leaving aside the gratuitous sex scenes for a moment, we return to the deepest, darkest cell in the whole Police Headquarters, where the master detective is being prevented from sleeping by the creaking on the springs of the mattress above him. "Oh! Yes! Do it again, Cindy!" the hellishly filthy old man muttered to himself as his manustupration reached a crisis point.

Jim Qwax, probably much like the reader, was rather disgusted by this, and had only managed to Catch a couple hours shut-eye. Fortunately, this was as much as he needed to get his fine detectin' mind up to full speed, free of the depredations of McHeady's. In this state of heightened understanding, he could see the patterns of the case so far stretching out behind him.

Doobie wanted him out of the way, that was sure - it was also sure that he had some vested interest in Fred Boraman not being found. Or, at least, not being found by Qwax. Was he in on the deal that Binky and Sophie appeared to have been cutting, before someone decided to up the ante by means of kidnap? If not, did he *want* to be? What was that deal, anyway?

The master detective's musings were interrupted by a clanging at the cell door. "Qwax!" barked an ugly cop. "The Chief wants a word with you!"

Oh no, thought the master detective, struggling to his feet. The third dose of that oh-so-special O'Doobie halitosis in one day!

"And stop that, you little creep," barked the cop, "you'll go blind."

"Only if it hits me in the eye," cackled the dirty old man.

Quick as a flash, the cop marched across to the top bunk and pummelled the onanist into unconsciousness with her nightstick. "Only way to deal with these creeps," she snorted, handcuffing Jim Qwax and leading him out of the cell, up the stairs.

Judging by the air in this place, thought Qwax as he walked along, I'm not going up, so much as along. His suspicions were confirmed as he was frogmarched into a small, dank room lousy with cigar smoke and forced roughly into a chair. Any illusions that this was going to be a civilised chat were dispelled as he was bound hand and foot.

Around the room stood three large and ugly looking cops, the ugliest of which was Police Chief Silas O'Doobie. He chuckled as the master detective was restrained. "Didn't I *tell* you to leave this Fred case to the police, Qwaxie?" he cackled, puffing on a cigar that looked like Madonna would not be ashamed to use it as a stage prop.

"I dunno. Didn't you?" asked the master detective, not in the mood.

Doobie signalled, and the cop who'd brought Qwax in hit him over the wrists with a rubber hose. "Rule one, Mr Qwax, you answer my questions quickly, quietly, thoroughly, and honestly, is that clear?"

Jim Qwax, howling in pain, managed a nod.

Doobie smiled, stood up, and went to sit on the desk. "Right, now, Mr Qwax, would you like to make a formal confession?"

"To what crime?" muttered the master detective.

"Illegal narcotics trafficking, attempted arson, the kidnapping of Fred Boraman, murder, rape, high treason, the sacking of a major city, being a wise guy, listening to progressive rock music, bad dress sense, malicious lingering... you want me to continue?"

Qwax felt a glimmer of hope. Doobie was obviously blitzed off his face, as usual, and thus Qwax had the upper hand - intellectually speaking. On the other hand, the man was a fucking nutter, and he was currently surrounded by several thugs just panting to beat the shit out of the master detective. Jim Qwax chose his next words carefully.

"Go and get fucked, tosspot," he politely replied.

Doobie signalled and Qwax got the garden hose over the knuckles again. "Oh, and use of foul language," he added, grinning as the master detective yelped. "I have a confession all ready here for you to sign, Mr Qwax. With luck, you won't get more than 10 years, and you'll be out in three if you play your cards right. That'll teach you to mess with me."

"Well, it wasn't as much fun as messing with your wife," said the master detective happily, thinking if he got Doobie mad he might do something stupid. Like what, he had no idea.

Doobie sighed, reached over and pulled Jim Qwax, chair and all up level with his eyes. "Qwax, you know too much about Fred!!!" he bellowed.

"I don't know shit about Fred!" the master detective replied, dangling three feet off the ground and wondering whether his strategy was a good idea after all.

"DON'T CONTRADICT ME!!!" yelled the police chief, throwing the master detective across the room, to lie dazed in a corner. Doobie seemed at a loss as to how to follow this up for a moment. The master detective was glad of the relief.

Doobie stood stock still, as if listening to little voices in his head for a moment. Visibly calming down, he sat down and smiled. "Okay, Jim, we can be civilised here. Physical violence won't get us anywhere."

"It got me all the way across the room," groaned Jim Qwax, as his stool was put back upright by the cops.

Doobie chuckled. "Bring out the syringe," he said. One of the cops reached into a medical kit and extracted the aforementioned article, and approached the master detective.

"What's that, Doobie?" asked Jim Qwax warily. "Some kind of truth serum? You expect me to talk?"

Doobie cackled. "No, Mr Qwax, it's actually liquid LSD. I expect you to go completely insane! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" he added, trying to sound evil, but not suceeding.

"HELP! HELP! SHIT!" yelled the master detective as the needle came near his arm...

A long, green and exceptionally sexy Mercedes pulled up in front of Police Headquarters - or, at least, tried to. The chauffeur, who'd been hired from Student Job Search, hadn't actually mastered the concept of braking yet, and ended up driving straight up the steps of the law enforcement building and through the front door. Cops of various descriptions screamed and dived for cover, much like the people at the train station at the end of Silver Streak.

As broken glass and masonry tinkled to the floor, and cops emerged from their hiding places all muttering variations on "what the fuck was THAT?", Kitty Cattz, the sexy secretary of the master detective Jim Qwax, emerged from the rear door and sashayed round to the driver's window.

"Okay, sweetie, I think that's enough for one day. Why don't you take the rest of the day off, hmmm? Here's $100 for bus fare." The grateful student clambered out of the wreckage and headed for the hills. Kitty turned with a smile and wandered over to the reception desk, whose attendant cop was still starting slack-jawed at the chaos in his lobby.

"Hello, Officer," she started pleasantly, "sorry about the mess, I rang before. My name's Kathleen Katzenjammer, and I'm here to bail out Jim Qwax."

"Huh? Oh, right," muttered the cop, snapping out of her trance and getting down to business. She tapped a few keys on the large computer terminal in front of her. "Um, I'm sorry, Ms Katzenjammer..."

"Doctor," said Kitty, brusquely. She had never in fact finished her PhD, but it paid to impress functionaries.

"Uh... okay, Dr Katzenjammer, but I'm afraid that bail has been denied in the Qwax case."

Kitty looked sharply at the cop. "What? But I spoke with the bail sergeant on the phone before, and she said..."

"I'm sorry, but it appears to have been overridden. On the orders of the Police Chief himself. It appears that Mr Qwax has been declared a menace to public security, and he'll have to remain in custody until his court hearing, tentatively scheduled to next week."

Kitty wasn't taking this kind of shit - she'd studied law at varsity, but had found it unrewarding as a profession, not least because of having to wear a business suit and silly-assed robes. "Oh, and I suppose that you've never heard of the right of habeus corpus, then?" she said, smiling sweetly.

"The Public Security Act overrides that, Dr Katzenjammer," said the cop, apparently on the verge of losing her temper.

"Wasn't that repealed last month?" asked Cattz, beginning to worry.

"Still in force till the *end* of the month, Dr Katzenjammer," said the cop, turning towards her papers and pointedly shuffling. "Until then, I'm afraid that Mr Qwax is a guest of the City."

Kitty was plenty mad at this stage. She launched herself over the table and grabbed the protesting cop from the lapels. "Look, you, I'm sick and tired of having to take shit from corrupt functionaries! The greatest detective this city has ever known is probably down in a cellar somewhere having to fend off big hairy guys called Bruno, and I for one am not going to stand here arguing with the likes of you while his anal virginity is at stake! UNDERSTAND???"

The policeofficer thought quickly. "Um, look, Kathleen - may I call you that? - um, what I can do is immediately release a couple of Mr Qwax's acquaintances that were arrested with him at the Tavern. If you come back early tomorrow morning, I'm sure we can have it sorted out with the Chief. Will this content you?"

The sexy secretary subsided, and unhanded the shaking cop. "It must, of force," she sighed.


Jim Qwax, also, had no time to bandy words with morons, but for a subtly different reason. This was because he was 30,000 feet above sea level, on a rocky ledge in the Himalayas, locked in mortal combat of arm-wrestling with Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. Things were going badly for the master detective - every time he came near to winning, Skippy would hit him upside the head with a sharpened glacier.

"Again! Say it!" barked the apparition.

"Okay! I am Elvis's love child! Will this satisfy you?"

Skippy grinned, turning into an elephant. "Excuse me," it said, "I gotta make a couple of trunk calls."

Even Jim Qwax could tell something bad was going on. "Look, this is really beginning to piss me off," he said to the multi-coloured aardvark on his shoulder. "Why is everyone around me turning into a bad pun? And how the ding-dong fuck did I get into the Himalayas in the first place?"

"Ah, Grasshopper, you have much to learn," said the aardvark sagely.

"Figures," muttered Qwax, as Skippy the Bush Elephant swung a glacier past his head again.

Back in the real world, a couple of cops sat beside the twitching, gibbering and drooling body of the master detective, occasionally whispering weird little things in his ear to set him onto an even worse trip than before.

On the other side of the room, Police Chief O'Doobie was discussing the case with the doctor who had performed the injection on Jim Qwax.

"You sure you gave him enough?" asked the Chief, popping a pill.

"Absolutely," said the doctor. "By the time it wears off, it will have left no traces at all on him - except that he will be utterly, totally and clinically insane. Not able to molest any more poor schoolgirls!"

"Eh? Oh, right," muttered the Chief, remembering the bullshit story he'd told the doctor to get him in on the scheme. "Or to conduct any sort of rational thought, am I right? And no way of telling how it happened?"

"Of course not," glowed the doctor, secure in Doobie's promise of a recommendation to the Forensics Coucil for this. "Your secret vigilante work will remain a mystery, Chief!"

"Yeah, well, I ask no gratitude," smiled Doobie, inwardly cackling at the gullibility of some people. He marched over to the master detective and pulled one eyelid open. "Everything all right in there, Qwaxie?" he chortled.

Jim Qwax attempted to focus on the large statue of the title character from Robot Monster which had just lumbered up his peak. "Hey man, you're beautiful," he muttered, unsteadily.

Doobie let the eyelid fall. "Beautiful, just beautiful!" he yelled, doing an impromptu jig. The master detective gave up even trying to think as the drug took him deeper, and deeper...

An alarm clock rattled out its shrill buzz as Jim Qwax was jerked out of the blackness into which he'd fallen. Strangely, he appeared to be neither in a dim and dingy cell in Police Headquarters, nor on any sort of mountain. He felt cool sheets beneath him and a warm duvet atop. He risked opening one eye, wondering if the aardvark had gone yet. He was more than midly surprised to see the roof of his own room. He flipped over on his side to see his alarm clock still going - the time was seven a.m., on that same dismal March morning. He struggled upwards to see Sharleen, clad only in her flimsy nightgown standing at the door of his room, carrying breakfast on a tray. The master detective was befuddled as to what he'd done to deserve breakfast in bed, let alone as to why his favourite song, "Told the Judge to Suck My Dick" by Doktors for "Bob", was playing on the stereo.

"Hungry, Jim?" asked Sharleen?

"Great Goddess, yes!" cried the master detective. "Oh great, so it was all a dream!"

"What was, Jim?" asked his lover, putting down the food on the bedside table and sitting beside him.

"I dreamt I was in a police cell being injected with LSD!" the master detective grinned, tucking into scrambled eggs on toast with gusto.

"Um, Jim?" said Sharleen nervously.

"Uh-huh?" said Qwax, his mouth full of scrambled egg.

"Actually, *this* is a dream. You're still in the cell."

"Oh FUCK." muttered the master detective, pissed off to the max. He chewed his eggs, thinking for a moment. "Really?" he asked.

Sharleen nodded, sadly.

"In that case, I'd better make the most of it before I wake up. Wanna fuck like crazed weasels?"

"I thought you'd never ask," grinned the imaginary Sharleen, grabbing the master detective and pushing him down onto the bed.

Back in the real world for a moment, as the early afternoon sun coasted its way above the city, Kitty Cattz led a slightly bruised and battered Whiskey and Diesel Fuel out of the slightly wrecked entrance to the Police Headquarters, down to her Mercedes - now driverless, thankfully. Cattz ushered her charges into the back seat, where they gazed around in awe.

"Nice wheels, Kitty!" said Whiskey, suitably impressed.

Cattz blushed. "Just rented, Whiskey - although they do give me the option to buy in another month or two..."

"Qwaxie paying you enough, then?" grinned the tavern owner.

"Heh," said the sexy secretary, getting in the front seat and starting the engine. "Bugger all. This is on cash from my other occupation."

Whiskey nodded, sagely. Kitty had been one of his best customers when she'd been a law student, and they'd been good friends with each other for almost as long as they had been with Jim Qwax. Diesel Fuel was already asleep, sucking his thumb.

"So," said Kitty, "Binky tried to burn the place down when he heard that Jim was taking the Boraman case, and tried to put the blame on you two?"

"Yup," said Whiskey, "and I think the Police Chief wanted nothing better than to have Qwaxie behind bars, as well."

Cattz thought briefly. "But Doobie and Binky can't be in cahoots - they've hated each other since Adam was a cowboy, surely?"

"That's the wierd bit, all right," said the tavern owner, scratching his beard thoughtfully. "But listen, Kitty, I think Jim's in real trouble. I heard a couple of cops talking, and they were saying that the Chief was planning to deal with Jim once and for all. What can we do?"

Silence for a moment. Then:

"We have no choice," said Cattz, turning towards the ruins of the Tavern with a flick of the wrist. "We've gotta break Jim out."

"I hoped you were going to say something like that," grinned Whiskey.


Six o'clock on a fine City evening. The reddish sun coasted just over the horizon, reflecting off the mildly polluted waters of the rivers, as the honest denizens of the City finished their day's work and prepared to go home. Shop windows were shut and barred, packed trains, trams and buses carried shitloads of weary commuters home. Yes, it was a typical evening in March, and in a basement at Police Headquarters the mastersleuth Jim Qwax was going insane.

The police officers, like all the bad guys in bad action flicks, weren't hanging around to make sure their prisoner didn't escape, and that's never been known to be a good move. Jim Qwax, therefore, was alone in a police dungeon, quietly hallucinating. However, at this precise moment he was having the wet dream to end all wet dreams, and didn't appear to want to be rescued. "Oh Sharleen, you're a love albatross!" he burbled.

Obligingly, the imaginary Sharleen turned into an albatross for him.

On the other side of town, way over in Docklands, Diesel Fuel stood behind the bar of Whiskey's Tavern, looking uncomfortable in his hellishly undersized bartender's apron, vainly trying to remember what went into a screwdriver. The bar was beginning to fill up again, the local patrons finally realising that the place had not, despite all indications, burnt to the ground. On the floor, under the direction of Diesel Fuel, a gang of dirt-poor students were mopping up the petrol on their hands and knees. Actually, it was probably one of the least toxic substances that had been spilled on that floor recently.

"Make sure you gets all of it," chortled Diesel Fuel, adding a quiet curse as the vodka bottle slipped between his chubby fingers and hit the floor. "Fuck," he said eloquently, motioning a student to gather up the broken glass. "Where's dat nogood cousin of mine gone?"

Where Whiskey had gone, indeed, was someplace very special. Down in the dank storeroom of the tavern, he was looking behind a group of antique liqueur bottles for something. The sexy secretary, Kath "Kitty Cattz" Katzenjammer, stood behind him and shivered.

"Found it yet?" she asked. "It's bloody cold in here..."

"Nothing my patrons like less than warm McHeady's", muttered Whiskey, "except for the Police, dope shortages and soap. Ah! here it is!"

He picked up a rather large green-looking key. "Now," he grinned, "prepare to be amazed!"

Loping over to the other side of the storeroom, he singlehandedly shoved a huge stack of beer kegs out of the way, revealing a musty old door that had been completely hidden. Unlocking it with the key, he opened it up to reveal a completely pitch-black room. He motioned Kitty over, an insane grin on his face. Kitty followed him towards the doorway of the room, pulling her pink jacket tightly around her. Whiskey grinned at her once more, and switched the light on.

The sexy secretary had really not known what to expect. The Batmobile, perhaps, or an antique distillery as an outside chance. What she had really not expected was the biggest cache of arms and ammunition she'd ever seen, even on Chuck Norris movies.

"Ta-dah!" shouted the greasy bartender.

Kitty stared around her, dumbstruck. There were not only pistols, rifles and shotguns, but machine guns, flamethrowers, bazookas, hand-grenades, molotov cocktails and what she really hoped wasn't a small tank up the back.

"The fights in here get pretty aggro once in a while," said Whiskey by way of explanation. "It pays to be prepared."

Kitty finally found words. "How the hell could you afford all this stuff?" she stammered. "And why aren't you in jail for it?"

Whiskey walked over and casually tested an ammo belt for weight. "I got an uncle who's minister of defence in a South American banana republic - he gets it to me under the table. And it's all legit, too."

"What about the gun control laws?" asked Cat, still dazed.

"I draw your attention," said the bartender picking up an AK-47, "to the section in the Public Safety Laws that allows arms caches to be kept by officers in the City Militia to be handed out to members in case of a threat to public order. You didn't know I was a Section Commander, did you?"

Kath shook her head dumbly.

"No, well, with all the fights we get in here I thought it a good idea to get some firearms training. Anyway, in this place no-one's really going to question me if I requisition a couple of hand grenades to calm things down a bit." He threw Cattz a flamethrower, and she caught it deftly. "And if Jim Qwax, the sexiest master detective alive, being held illegally in jail isn't threat to public order, I dunno what is. Let's go."

Cattz began picking up ammunition, grinning.


Speaking of the sexiest master detective alive, he was experiencing his first taste of consensual inter-species love making. Sharleen had gotten tired of being an albatross, and had gone through crazed weasel, amoeba, Yeti and octopus, before going back to human - well, more or less, since Jim Qwax had asked her to keep the eight arms. The master detective was currently being erotically Catered for by something that looked very like one of the more esoteric Hindu goddesses.

The master detective began realising that being completely psychotic could have its upside. Sharleen held him in all eight arms while he watched the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (in which they now were) turn paisley and psychedelic in turn. Jehovah himself had stopped giving Adam his finger and was now giving the finger to Jim Qwax, who gladly returned it.

"I don't believe in you either, you creep!" he chortled.

Suddenly a knock came on the door which had apparently just materialised in front of him. Jim Qwax turned and smiled at his lover obligingly. Sharleen grinned, and extended one of her tentacles to open it.

The door opened and in walked a whip-wielding love temptress. Since Jim Qwax was lying on an exceptionally comfy futon, he couldn't go arse over tip out the window again, but there was no doubt that it was Sophie Boraman again, appearing just as she had that very morning.

Sophie sighed. "Get up, you greasy male naked bastard," she barked. "I'm Sophie Boraman and we have an appointment!"

Jim Qwax scrambled to his feet and wrapped a duvet around him. "Of course, of course," he muttered, getting a strange feeling of deja vu, "only I was expecting you..."

"No you weren't," chuckled Sophie, sitting on the bed and removing her hat. "I wanted to know what the fuck you're doing hallucinating disgusting perversions when you're supposed to be looking for my brother!"

The master detective wasn't prepared to take that kind of shit from (what was probably) a hallucination. "I dunno, I mean, I didn't ask to go on this trip, you know!" he said in a hurt tone. "Oh, by the way, this is my lover Sharleen. She usually has only two arms."

"Hi," said Octo-Sharleen, turning a friendly orange.

"Charmed, I'm sure," said Sophie Boraman. "Anyway, Jim, I didn't come here to bitch at you."

"What for, in that case?" asked the master detective, although he had a sneaking suspicion of the answer. This suspicion was confirmed as Sophie Boraman quickly stripped naked.

Jim Qwax was really not prepared to deal with this. "Um, yeah, cool, well gee I'd *love* to, but Sharleen's very monogamous, I'm pretty sure she doesn't want to share me..."

"Jim, haven't you been paying attention?" said the tentacled monstrosity on the bed. "I'm not the real Sharleen. I'm your *fantasy* of her. I'd be more than happy for a threesome!"

Yes, thought Jim Qwax, as he happily under two warm bodies, a lot indeed can be said for insanity.

At exactly the same moment that Jim Qwax was running through all of his seediest fantasies, a green and amazingly sexy limousine parked itself across the street from Police Headquarters. It was now closed to the public, so there was no way anyone could get inside. Anyone who didn't have a rocket launcher, that is.

A window slid down and a rather ominous looking turret poked out. A shell came whizzing out of it and exploded against the hastily repaired door of Police Headquarters, destroying it utterly for the second time that day.

"Nice shooting, Kitty!" said Whiskey.

Grinning, the two leapt out of the car. Probably none of their best friends could have recognized them, so loaded down with ordinance were they - together, they looked like Sly Stallone in Rambo and Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, except that they were both wearing balaclavas. They sprinted across Cowtrack Avenue and into the building.

"Right," said Kitty, spraying bullets around her amid screams. "We've got to think of a sneaky way of getting them to tell us where Jim Qwax is." Whiskey nodded.

After-hours cops who'd come running to the scene ran away again rather quickly when they saw this advertisement for Soldier of Fortune come running towards them. One who didn't run quite fast enough was collared by Whiskey.

"WHERE'S JIM QWAX???" he bellowed into the poor underling's face.

Kitty grimaced - so much for subtle plans.

"Room 102, sub-basement level, don't kill me please," squeaked the cop.

Whiskey grinned at Kitty. "How's that for subtle?" he asked.

Kitty let that slide and motioned Whiskey towards the stairwell. As she followed him, she turned to yell at the bemused cops. "We are the Hookywalker Liberation Front!" she yelled. "We are here to strike a blow against the capitalist state and not to release any specific prisoner by any manner of means!" That should work, she thought.

The two of them had already planned to create a mass jail-break to cover their plans, and as they scurried through the cellblocks beneath the Police HQ they did just that. Fortunately, none of the holding cells contained real psychos - mainly people caught throwing empty Coke cans in the river, just being held under the Civic Pride Bylaws for a few hours to teach them a lesson. Whiskey and Kitty methodically shot the locks off the doors, letting these psycho litterbugs loose on the streets, as the police stayed the hell out of their way.

"You handle that weapon of yours pretty well," said Kitty, fluttering her eyelashes through her balaclava. "Up for a freebie afterwards?"

Whiskey sighed as he let a flasher out of the last cell on the basement level. "No time for that, woman," he bellowed. "We've got to you know who! Thingy!"

Kitty nodded as they burst down the stairs, throwing bemused guards to left and right. The sign on the door said "SubBasement" before it disappeared in a hail of gunfire. The two pseudo-revolutionaries let the poor guy in Room 101 out, removing the ratcage from his head, and kicked open the door of 102. Large and ugly cops appeared, then disappeared just as quickly. This was more than their job was worth.

Jim Qwax was interrupted from his erotic reverie by Sly Stallone and Linda Hamilton bursting into the Sistine Chapel, toting huge guns that looked exactly like penises.

"Cool! Hi guys, the more the merrier!" he chortled.

"Jim?" said Linda Hamilton. "What have they done to you?"

"Fucked the living shit out of me," said Jim Qwax cheerfully, before Sharleen stuck a tentacle in each of his orifices.

"Sounds like Doobie, all right," said Rambo darkly.

"No, shut up, Whiskey," said Sarah Connor. "I think something's seriously wrong... Jim? How many fingers am I holding up?"

Jim tried to focus. "Sometimes there are five," he said finally. "Sometimes there are three, or four. Sometimes there are all of the above."

"They've drugged him!" screamed Linda Hamilton, turning confusingly into Kath Katzenjammer for a moment. "Let's get him out of here!"

"Nah, guys, why don't you join in? Sophie here gives great head!"

Back in the real world, Kitty untied the master detective while Whiskey rummaged through the objects on the medical table. "Here," he said holding up a syringe. "It's Thorazine, apparently. What's that?"

"A tranquiliser. Used to bring people down from... bad acid trips! They've given him acid?"

"Free? Heh, doesn't sound like Doobie," said Whiskey, unrolling Jim Qwax's sleeve and injecting him.

"Right," said Kitty, "you carry him out of here, and I'll cover him."

Back inside Jim Qwax's head, the Sistine Chapel and the two willing love-slaves waved sadly bye-bye to the super-stoned sleuth as the now-empty cellblocks of the Police Headquarters slowly faded in to replace his wildly aesthetic hallucinogenic décor. All in all, it wasn't an improvement.

Back on the ground floor, the police were too busy trying to stop all the litterers, petty thieves and flashers escaping to worry about the masked couple carrying the master detective out. As they left the building, Kitty turned and threw another tear-gas grenade at the milling policemen.

"I'll be back!" she yelled, happily.

Whiskey shot her a Look.

Cattz had the grace to look defensive. "Well, I've always wanted to say that!" she muttered.

Quickly, Whiskey threw Jim Qwax in the back seat and started the motor of the Kathmobile. Kitty threw herself inside through the passenger window, just like one of the Duke boys, just as it speeded away across town to Jim Qwax's place.


"Left! LEFT! Great balls of fire, are you deaf, woman?"

"Down a one way fucking street? You are insane!"

"No shit, Sherlock, but I don't really think that matters at this stage, does it? Now step on it!"

Jim Qwax, the sexiest supersleuth of all, huddled in the back seat of Cat's Mercedes while Whiskey the tavern owner shouted directions at his sexy secretary. The colours were just starting to return to normal, although the distant police sirens didn't really help a man coming down from the mother of all acid trips. Strangely enough, it appeared that Police Chief O'Doobie's plan had backfired dismally - far from destroying the master detective's keen deductive mind, it had opened the neural pathways in the right hemisphere of his brain, turning it into a keen inductive mind as well. Waves of intuition literally surged back and forth across Jim Qwax's neural pathways as the pieces of the Fred Boraman case began slipping slowly into some recognisable order.

"Don't you think you're over-reacting just a tiny bit, man?"

"Over-reacting? AIEE, woman, are you insane as well as deaf? We've just pulled off the most daring jailbreak seen in the City for years, and about a dozen screaming squad cars will be out looking for a bright green Mercedes driven by two hot love objects in no time flat and you find time to worry about TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS? Right! Right here!"

Jim Qwax was thrown violently across the back seat as the Mercedes screeched around a corner into Disley Street (or "Dismal" Street, as its inhabitants called it), just up from the master detective's home. As the last rays of the City's smog-filtered sunlight died away, Cattz pulled an impossible 270-degree turn, squeezed into an impossibly tight alley next to a glue factory drove around the back and instantly threw the car into Park. Whiskey hit his head on the dashboard as the car stopped suddenly.

"Ouch!" he yelled.

"Wear yer seatbelt next time, Chucky," said Cattz, leaping out the front door. Instantly the car's airbags started inflating, and Whiskey followed before he was trapped by them, like he'd seen on 60 Minutes.

"Come on, Jim, we're home now. Time to go!" called Cattz sweetly.

"Fneh," said the master detective opening the rear door, "how long do you think they'll take to trace us here?"

"Quite a while," said Whiskey, "if Diesel Fuel did what I asked of him at the police motor pool..."

At precisely that minute, the evil Police Chief Silas O' Doobie was standing in the middle of his motor pool, ranting and raving at a bunch of new recruits. All around him were police cars with flat tires.

"You MORONS! You simpering BUFFOONS!" he yelled, his eyes bulging out like billy-o. "How could you have let this happen?!"

"B-but Chief," said a flunky, "he had the correct ID and everything!"

Doobie stopped, walked over to the gibbering flunky and hoisted him in the air. "Didn't you stop to think for a moment, you IMBECILE, that there is no such thing as an AIR-IN-THE-TYRES INSPECTOR???"

"Don't we have to change it every week or something?" asked another cop. Doobie threw the first one at him.

"No we fucking DON'T!" he screamed. "For fuck's sake, get off the ground and start PUMPING!"

A lieutenant ran up to the police chief as he stood watching the recruits manhandle the air pumps. "Sir? We've got evidence to suggest that the breakout wasn't political after all. Sergeant Quirke reports that one of the terrorists asked him where Jim Qwax was, and room 102 was one of the first places they searched."

News like that really wasn't what Doobie needed at this time of the day. Calmly he drew his pistol and shot the lieutenant in both his kneecaps.

"Damn," he muttered as the inferior officer lay on the ground screaming. "I knew I shouldn't have left him alone to go watch Oprah. Where the fuck is he now?"

Where Jim Qwax was was walking up the steps of Dead Rat Terrace. What he was doing was laughing insanely at what Whiskey told him of his cousin's major feat.

"Air-in-the-tyres inspector? Even cops aren't that stupid, surely?" chortled the master detective.

"Hey, do you see any squad cars out there?" asked Whiskey, grinning.

"Here we are," said Cattz, a note of uncertainty in her voice as they reached the top of the landing. "Apartment thirteen, fifth floor. Uh, Jim?"

"That's my name," said the master detective, searching his pockets for McHeady's. "Wear it out and you'll have to buy me a new one."

"I think I'd better not hang around long. You know Sharleen really doesn't like me..."

Jim Qwax had been through this all before. He sighed and took his sexy secretary off to one side.

"That's all past history, Kitty," he explained to his dubious secretary. "I've explained to Sharleen that we're friends. Nothing more. She might be jealous but she's not irrational. I'm sure you two will get along just fine. Oh, but make sure you keep your top on, all right?"

Kitty grimaced and punched the master detective in the arm.

"All right," said Jim Qwax, giggling, "in we go."

"All right," grinned Qwax. "In we go, then."

Jim Qwax pressed lightly on his front door. As he'd expected, it swung open with almost no resistance. Still no lock.

"Fuck that landlord to hell and back with a rusty razor blade," he commented.

"Jim? 'Zat you?" called an incredibly sexy voice from the next room.

"Apparently," said the master detective, walking inside and motioning his friends to follow him. "I hope we've got something to eat in this place, because I've brought a couple of friends home."

"Jim? This isn't to do with that silly-assed group sex idea, is it?" said Sharleen (for 'twas her), giggling.

"Oh shut up, you," laughed the master detective. "Come out here and give me a big kiss, I've had a fuck of a day. How about you?"

Jim Qwax's closest friend and semi-permanent shagging partner, Sharleen Climer, emerged from the bedroom, clad in a blue dressing gown and towelling her hair dry. Jim Qwax had always had a thing for tall women with long black hair and take-no-shit attitudes, and Sharleen filled these qualifications to a T. It hadn't been so much love at first sight, as being very impressed - the young Qwax, fresh out of university with a degree in Classics and Criminology, had of course been completely broke and was working as bouncer/busboy at Whiskey's Tavern when a jazz-rock band called the Lost City Mad Dogs had played their first ever gig. The yet-to-become-master-detective had instantly "stood to attention" (so to speak) on his first sight of their way-cute guitarist, and had been even more impressed after the gig when she polished off seventeen McHeady's in an all-night drinking session. Jim Qwax that night had decided to become Sharleen's personal groupie, and had finally gotten his desire three months later at their record-release party in a night of passion behind the amplifier stacks - during the encore. They'd been an item ever since - it had been a tough few years for the two of them, both with their own careers and permanent money worries, but the fact that they hardly saw each other these days probably meant they got on better than ever.

Sharleen wrapped herself around the master detective and gave him a vigourous tonsil massage with her tongue.

"Ahem," coughed Whiskey, slightly self-consciously

Sharleen looked around. "Oh, hi, Whiskey, long time no see. Oh, hello, Kathleen," she added, a little more coldly.

"Hi there!" said Cattz, in her best cute-little-schoolgirl voice.

Sharleen looked back at Jim, reproachfully. "And to what do I owe the pleasure of these charming individuals' company?"

Jim Qwax broke away from his babe's clutches and hung his cool detectin' trenchcoat up on the back of the door. "Would you believe that we're on the run from the police?"

Sharleen snorted. "Again? Wassamatter, Doobie get bored again?"

Jim, wandering into the kitchen to look for McHeady's, moaned. "It's a long and complex story, and I really don't have the nerve to run through it right now. Why don't you tell me about your day first?"

Sharleen paused. "Same shit, different day," she sighed, sitting on the couple's rickety couch and motioning the visitors to do the Same thing.

"That stoned keyboardist of ours just about strangled herself with her own amp lead again, and the drummer thinks he's a frog. If we ever get tight enough to go on tour, I think I'll be an old woman."

Whiskey and Kitty sat next to one another on the other couch, grinning nervously. Both of them were mildly put off by Jim Qwax's lover. Kitty was always conscious of the fact that Sharleen regarded her as a rival, even though Jim had expressed no interest in her since he'd met Sharleen. Whiskey, on the other hand, just couldn't take his eyes off her tits.

"Kitty," called the master detective from the kitchen, "we're going to have to go back to the office to get my files. The cops will be all over it in no time, and I don't want them taking notes on my personal affairs."

"You been having affairs again, Jim?" asked Sharleen, playfully.

"Shut up," retorted the master detective. "Well, Kitty?"

"Already done, Jim," smiled Kitty sweetly, brandishing a Macintosh floppy disk.

"Excellent," said the master detective. "Did you prime the self- destruct mechanism as well?"

"Sure did," said the sexy secretary.

"Self-destruct?" asked Sharleen, nervously.

At that precise moment, the third floor of Potts Chambers in Tackville was rocked by a massive explosion. Clouds of smoke billowed out of the door marked "J. Qwax, Private Eye; Kitty Cattz, Private Attentions". Out of the wreckage walked Cameron Fenn, Detective Inspector, and a few junior cops. All had smoke-blackened faces.

"How the *hell* can paper explode like that?" Fenn wailed.

"Yeah, self-destruct," said Jim, cracking open a McHeady's and sitting down. "My mates at Swadling Labs know all sort of neat stuff about explosions."

Sharleen let that pass. "Great, so, what shall we do now?"

Jim Qwax paused for thought. "Right now, some of us have to go out and get some takeaways, because I'm starving, and there's no damn food in the house. Secondly, we've got to find Fred Boraman, and fast. If I know right, Binky will have him holed up at his headquarters - unfortunately, I only have a vague idea where that is. But we have to find him, and tonight - by tomorrow, not only will the cops have caught us with us and sent us all to jail for a thousand years each; but if my keen detectin' instincts tell me right, by this time tomorrow Binky will have carried out his master plan."

"His master plan?" gasped Cattz.

"Indeed. I don't have all the pieces to the puzzle yet, but I'm beginning to put twelve and twelve together, and if it's what I think it is... here, take a look at this. I picked it up off the street as I got out of the car."

The three others crowded around the sexiest man alive. He was brandishing anadvertising flier for Boraman Products. "NEW! SUPRA-ADVANCED ODOR-EATERS GO ON SALE 9 O'CLOCK TOMORROW! BUY 100, GET ONE FREE!"

"Yeah, I seen those," said Whiskey. "Been all over the town. Hey, you don't think this has something to do with Binky's plan, do you?"

"Indeed I do," said Qwax, polishing off the McHeady's. "I'm not sure quite what yet, but we have to get in touch with Ms Sophie Boraman. She can probably help us find her brother - more than she herself knows..."

"Right, then. What are we waiting for? Let's go," said Sharleen. "Oh, and Whiskey? Please stop staring at my tits."

"Who me?" said the barman, having the grace to look guilty.


"We can't go yet, Sharleen," said Jim Qwax, coming back in from the kitchen and opening his wallet. "For one thing, I'm hungry as anything, and I've got the nasty feeling we're broke. Secondly, it's still light out, and there's probably a hundred screaming squad cars roaming the streets just itching to pump more hallucinogenic drugs into my veins. Capiche?"

"Jim," said Cattz, slowly and calmly, so as not to alarm the master detective who was going through his pockets for small change, "what are you talking about?"

The master detective looked up and grinned. "I'm talking about two hundred words to the minute, Cat, why?" he said impishly. "And have you got an extra ten dollars? I wanna order pizza."

"Um... no, Jim, I'm flat broke. The money I got from that North Korean guy I had to give to the Rent-A-Car company for the dents in their Mercedes."

"Hell and blast it," swore Jim Qwax, supersleuth. "And the local fish 'n' chip shop was closed down for killing alley Cats last week. Well, there's nothing for it. I'm going to have to..." he grimaced, "go out and buy some hot meat pies."

Sharleen turned green, a colour which didn't really suit her. "Oh no, Jim, do we have to buy from that Nitts creep? Why can't we just lick the fungus off the inside of the fridge?"

"Because we did that last night," said the Master Detective, fetching his hat and coat, "and we need more variety in our diet. Right, well I've got about ten dollars here, which should be enough for four hot meat pies and a bottle of something fizzy with too much caffiene and sugar in it. If what I think is right, we've got two hours before we have to make our move. Who's coming with me?"

"I usually do, Jim," said Sharleen with a sultry chuckle.

Jim Qwax raised his eyes to the heavens. "Why has the Great Goddess afflicted me with a girlfriend with a filthy mind?" he asked.

Sharleen sidled up behind him and pinched his bum. "That *is* what you prayed for, wasn't it, big boy?"

"Okay, okay, enough public displays of affection," said Whiskey, who had to slap himself around the face every so often to distract himself from Sharleen's cleavage. "Cattz and I will go with you, Jim - we've got all the ammo, and we know how to use it if we get jumped by ruffians or something. I think Sharleen should stay here, so she can feed the cops some bullshit story if they come looking for Jim."

Sharleen thought for a moment. "He's been kidnapped by Middle Eastern terrorists, waving pots of Vaseline and yelling 'Qwax, we love you in the Rubh al-Khali'?" she came up with.

"That should work," chuckled Jim.


The time was approximately eight p.m. when the master detective disentangled himself from his woman's clutches and made his way around the Tackville "Inner City Residential Area" (read: pile of semi-condemned warehouses holding squatters, students and techno DJ's), looking for Malcolm Nitts and his Hot Meat Pie cart. To either side of him walked Kath Katzenjammer, the sexy secretary, and Whiskey the tavern owner, each toting a .45 Magnum and watching out for police. Streetkids, muggers and rapists took one look at this crew and headed for home, where it was nice and warm. The City's mildly smoggy twilight wrapped itself around the three adventurers, making them shiver.

"If I know Nitts," said the master detective, "which I do, he'll be plying his wares up Threadneedle Street at the moment. Which should be... right around *this* corner..."

Sure enough, the master detective was right. The distant sound of a bell ringing and a voice calling "HOT MEAT PIES! HOT MEAT PIES! THEY'RE HOT, THEY'VE GOT MEAT IN THEM, AND THEY LOOK SORT OF LIKE PIES!" was heard upon the mists rolling in from the river.

But that wasn't the only thing that the master detective and his friends heard. The staccato chatter of a machine gun was really not what they expected to hear coming from the direction of the hot meat pie cart.

"What the fuck was *that*?" said Whiskey, instinctively pulling out his weapon and running up the street.

"Why do you think any one would run *towards* machine gun fire?" muttered the master detective, chasing after him. "It's against all logic."

Cattz sighed. "Jim, for the master detective of the whole city, you can sometimes be a real wuss, you know that?"

Jim Qwax ignored this comment, but he couldn't ignore what he saw as he rounded the corner. No sign of Whiskey, who appeared to have run off into the mist. But there, slumped against a wall behind his blood-splattered hot meat pie cart, lay Malcolm Nitts - alive, but with serious chest wounds.

"Oh FUCK." said the master detective. That seemed to sum it up nicely.

Luckily, the master detective had had some first-aid training, and ran forward to Nitts's aid. "Kitty! Phone the ambulance!" he barked. The sexy secretary didn't need to be asked twice, and skedaddled round a corner.

Malcolm Nitts, just about at death's door, was wakened out of an approaching coma due to blood loss by a strange sensation. What he saw when his eyes refocused was the master detective, Jim Qwax, bandaging his chest with strips torn off his hot-meat-pie-vendor's apron, and coincidentally stealing the pieman's wallet while he did so.

"Oh Jesus..." he groaned.

"Good guess, but not quite right, I'm afraid, Nitts," said Jim Qwax, who was riding the crest of an obscene adrenalin rush, in which state that actually seemed like a funny joke. "It's all right man, you're going to be all right. What did you do, sell a dodgy pie to Binky the Shrew or something?"

"Surprisingly close, Dogfood," said an all-too familiar but extremely nasty voice behind the master detective. "Maybe you are a super sleuth after all!"

Jim Qwax felt that oh-so-familiar sinking sensation in his gut as he turned around. There behind him, clad in the same clothes he'd been wearing in the tavern that morning, was Binky Rabotnik and two thugs. Interestingly, neither of them was toting a machine gun. Jim Qwax was too busy to really think through the implications of this, however, what with staring down the barrel of a bazooka and everything.

As a brief sidebar, it may be interesting to note that due to a misunderstanding by "Kitty" Kath Katzenjammer, it was not the City Free Ambulance that had been alerted to the plight of Malcolm Nitts, but the Morgue. Thus, the almost-dead Malcolm Nitts, after the standoff between Qwax and Binky was resolved, was taken away to the Morgue, who rejected him on the grounds that they didn't take "almosts". The only reason this is being mentioned at this stage is to reduce speculation as to the fate of the Hot Meat Pie salesman - who will, as a matter of fact, not only survive, but play a pivotal role in upcoming chapters. Satisfied? Okay, back to Qwax.

"Heh, Binky, ol' son," said the master detective. "If you couldn't kill me with a dozen litres of petrol and a lighted match, or with the tires of a BMW, what makes you think you can kill me with a bazooka?"

The evil television executive groaned, and motioned to his goon with the bazooka. The goon aimed it at a tugboat on the river, and fired. The tug instantly sank without trace.

"That," said Binky, chuckling. "And don't think the cops are going to save you now, Dogfood. I'm pretty damn sure ol' Doobie would like nothing more than to see you go up in smoke at this stage."

"Um, Binky, look," said Jim Qwax, beginning to panic. "Since I'm going to die anyway, why don't you tell me all the details of your plot now, since I'm never going to reveal them?"

Binky signaled, and his other goon floored the master detective with a punch. "Get up, you stupid bastard," he spat. "I've seen James Bond movies too, you know. The instant I tell you the plot, you commit some daring escape and instantly thwart my best laid plans. You really think I'm stupid, don't you?"

"Well, you did spend five years in kindergarten, Binky," said the master detective, getting to his feet with the insane cheerfulness of the truly doomed.

Binky sighed, and floored Jim Qwax with a punch himself. "Get up, you stupid bastard," he spat. "I think I'm just going to kill you NOW!"

"JIM!" yelled an incredibly sexy female voice from the other side of the street. "What's going on?"

"None of your concern, sugar-tush," said one of Binky's goons, leering.

Binky turned around and floored his goon with a punch. "Get up, you stupid bastard," he spat. "Don't you know it's not right to talk like that to a lady?"

Cattz, for it was her, came clattering across the intersection, her .45 pointed straight at the gangland mastercrook. "Let Jim Qwax go free, you son of a suitcase, or I blow your Armani suit to kingdom come!"

Binky grinned. "If even one bullet whistles through the air, my dear, my compatriot here will bazooka your cute behind to bollocks and beyond."

Jim Qwax, now that death didn't seem to be all that imminent, groaned. Not another Mexican standoff! How many of these could fit into one day?

"Of course," continued the owner of Bink-TV, "there is one way you could make sure that your friend Dogfood here goes free..."

Cattz grimaced. "Let me guess. This is going to involve me coming back to your gangster HQ, wearing a leopard skin bikini, feeding you grapes and letting you have your wicked way with me again and again?"

Binky chuckled. "Uncanny! We're certainly running into the psychics tonight, aren't we, guys?"

"Hur hur," chortled Binky's goons, obediently.

Cattz dropped her gun and walked over to Binky. She paused to lean down to the master detective. "It's all right, Jim. I know what I'm doing."

"Great," groaned Jim Qwax. "I wish I did."

"Okay, macho man," said Cattz, putting on her best sex-bitch-goddess voice and rubbing up against Binky, "I'm all yours."

"Excellent. Hold on a moment?" asked Binky. He bent down to Jim Qwax, who was trying to inch away backwards on his behind as quickly and humanly possible.

"A word of advice, Jim," muttered the gangland mastercrook " - drop this Fred case. You're just so lucky your little friend here has bailed you out. If I see you even outside the gates of your house before nine a.m tomorrow, I'm going to cut you up and feed you to my pet chihuahua Stanley, is that understood?"

"Yes Sir Mr Binky Sir," said the master detective, trying to put as much sarcasm into it as possible while still avoiding a bazooka in the face.

"Great," said Binky, smiling with a mighty smile. "Let's go, dudes."

Cattz waved back to the master detective over her shoulder, as Binky wrapped his hand around her and started groping her behind. The two goons followed, obviously disappointed with the lack of slaughter.

Jim Qwax was so pleased to be alive that he almost didn't notice the sound of running feet coming up Sturdy Street.

"Jim! Jim! Looky what I've got! It's the bastard what shot Nitts!"

Jim Qwax looked around, into the face of an evil he'd hoped he'd never have to deal with again...


The dishevelled figure in the puke-yellow and snot-green uniform that the massive bartender Whiskey was dangling from the end of a bemuscled, tatooed arm was not unfamiliar to Jim Qwax, supersleuth. The machine gun it was toting was, but what the hey.

"Well, well, well," said Jim Qwax, searching in his pockets for a joint. "Haven't seen you around in ages, Humphrey. Keeping bad company, I see?"

The paramilitary snotrag thus addressed starting wriggling furiously. "Unhand me, you subhuman!" he whined in a pathetic, weedy voice. Whiskey responded to this request by slapping his prisoner around the face a few dozen times. Whiskey's foot-wide hands soon had the prisoner swinging to and fro like a side of beef in a freezing works.

"Know this punk, Jim?" asked the bartender between slaps.

"Humphrey 'The Organ' Morgan? Sure I know him," muttered Qwax, lighting up. "We were in the Same first year philosophy tute at university. He got thrown out for torturing kittens in class. Tried to set up a branch of the FFFF on campus. Last I heard, he was living off the earnings of a whore on the other side of town. Why?"

Jim Qwax cursed as he searched for his lighter. The Fascist Federation of Forces for the Family, started by an ex-laundrette operator named Peter Winstone about ten years back, was the biggest bunch of brownshirts to ever roam the streets of Jim Qwax's city. They had a political plan worked out calling for discipline, flogging, repatriation of undesirables "back where they came from" (usually the suburb where Jim Qwax lived), nice clean uniforms, making the trains run on time, traditional family values, pornography controls on the Internet and other such extreme-right bullshit, but what made them a force to be reckoned with was their military aims of "beating the shit out of whoever gets in our way". This cunningly worded call to humanity's baser instincts had struck a chord with the white-trash underclass that inhabited the area of the city around the Civic Stadium so as to hear heavy metal bands for free when they played there. Humphrey Morgan, probably the slimiest little ferret Jim Qwax had ever met, had been ideally suited to high rank in that organisation, on account of his festering resentment of anyone who was better than him (that is, everyone), and his complete inability to fight, which meant that he couldn't be a "Street Soldier" (ie, a crop-headed, flag-toting neanderthal). Qwax had clashed with the FFFF on several occasions, and had found their combined intelligence to be somewhere near that of a Central Bank economist, which meant that Humphrey Morgan was an intellectual by their standards. That is, he could read.

"Living off the...? I'm a subway clerk, you bastard!!!" yelled Morgan, still wriggling.

Jim Qwax walked up to the struggling prisoner and breathed out, slowly and deliberately, in his face. "The Subway Company's virtually a prostitute anyway, Morgan, don't argue. Now, why were you shooting at Malcolm Nitts the hot-meat-pie salesman?"

"None of your business, you degenerate Jewish Communist homosexual, you," said Morgan. "All enemies of the People will be dealt to in this way!"

Quick as a flash, Whiskey floored him with a punch. Jim Qwax stepped over the groaning brownshirt on the pavement and removed his wallet.

"*Now* are you going to talk, Humphrey?" he asked.

Humphrey Morgan lay on the ground, cursing and muttering.

"Whiskey? Break out the nunchucks!" grinned Qwax. "This is going to be *fun*!"

"No! No! I'll talk!" yelled Morgan.

Qwax smiled - it was good to have unbelievably strong friends with short tempers sometimes. He reached into his leather detectin' satchel and pulled out a tape recorder.

"Into this, Morgan," he ordered.

Humphrey Morgan, the paramilitary prat, looked sideways at the murderous bartender and quickly began to talk. "All right. It was a contract job. The FFFF needs some more money to buy armbands, banners, spotlights, replica Lugers and so on, and our traditional sources of income have collapsed since that mad old rich woman on Threadneedle Street found out we weren't the Boy Scouts. Plus, my pet pit bull has the flu, so we couldn't even run our regular Friday night dog-fight betting circus. So, about a week ago, we were surprised to receive a visit from Binky Rabotnik. He's been feuding with us for a long while - he wanted the contract to run our street appeals, but we found out that his great-great-aunt once went out with a Pakistani, so we weren't going to collaborate with any mud-race scum. He promised us funding and... well, other forms of assistance if we were to do a series of small jobs for him. This was to be the first."

Jim Qwax nodded briskly. "Okay, did Binky say *why* he wanted Nitts dead? Or why he couldn't get his own goons to do it? And what are all these other small jobs?"

Humphrey Morgan opened his mouth to respond, suddenly stiffened and stared wild-eyed over the master detective's shoulder. "Look over there!" he yelled.

Both Whiskey and Jim were fooled for just enough time to look back and see the snot-green uniform of Humphrey Morgan disappearing down a back alley.

"Shall I go after him, Jim?" asked Whiskey, whipping out his nunchucks.

"On an empty stomach? You're kidding," grinned the master detective.

"But JIM..." whined Whiskey.

"No buts, man. Morgan has told us just enough to make another piece of the puzzle slip together in my mind. I get a strong feeling that when we go after Binky, we won't find the FFFF too far away - forewarned is forearmed. Now, let's find some food. I'm hungry, and we've suddenly got the contents of two wallets to spend."

In fact, for some strange reason there seemed to be a real drought of food vendors on the streets of the City that night - it took Jim Qwax and Whiskey another half hour to find one that didn't look like alley cat comprised more than 20% of the pie's filling. Thus, it was another hour before they staggered back up the stairs of Dead Rat Terrace, through the busted door.

"Where's Cattz?" asked Sharleen, as the two grim-faced men walked over to the couch and collapsed.

"It's a long story," said Jim Qwax, wiping sweat from his forehead, "and I'll tell you while you go to the kitchen and get me a McHeady's."

Sharleen gave him a Look.

"Okay, Whiskey, *you* do it," said Qwax. I really should have known better than to say that, he thought.

As Whiskey fended off the fungus in the fridge, Jim Qwax told his lover the story of the attempted murder of Malcolm Nitts, the standoff with Binky, Cattz's great sacrifice, the testimony of Humphrey Morgan, the number of zits on the guy who served them at the other hot meat pie stand, the weather, the poor performance of the City soccer team, and anything else that crossed his mind. Eventually, Whiskey got him a whole six-pack just to shut him up, and went across to listen to the radio.

Sharleen was confused, and said as much. "I'm confused, Jim," she said. "Binky's in league with both Boraman *and* the FFFF? What they hell have *they* got in common?"

"Slightly more than most people would think," said the master detective, getting into his second can. "All of them want to dominate the City, for example. But I get the feeling that Binky's taking all of them for a ride."

"So, what happens now, Jim?" asked Sharleen.

Jim Qwax finished his second beer, and cracked open a third. "Tonight's little ruckus has had a positive spinoff, guys - we now have a person on the inside of Binky's organization, and if I know Cattz, which I do, she'll be working as hard as she can to get back some useful information to us."

"Speaking of useful information, Jim..." said Whiskey, pointing to the radio. He turned up the volume dial, so that the others could hear the ten o'clock news.

"A sudden wave of random assassination attempts has been made across the city. The victims, all but one of which are now dead, include a street porter at a Dockside nightclub, a hot meat pie salesman, three prostitutes, an encyclopaedia salesman and the rhythm section of a famous heavy metal band. Responsibility for these outbreaks of violence has not been claimed, but suspicion has been laid at the doorstep of the Fascist Federation of Forces for the Family. FFFF Supreme-Leader-in-Chief-for-Life, Peter Winston, denies any such allegations and has called upon Mayor Blackadder to declare martial law to stop what he calls 'this communist-inspired wave of terror'. Mayor Blackadder's response was "cluck cluck cluck", as he now believes himself to be a chicken. Further bulletins as events warrant. In other news, the fugitive master detective Jim Qwax is still on the loose, although police forces are rapidly..."

Whiskey switched off the radio and stared at his friends.

After what seemed like an eternity, Jim Qwax sighed. "I've said it before, and I'll say it again - hell in a handbasket. We've got to get out of here, and fast. To the Cattzmobile!"


10:30 pm in the City, once again. It was a cold night for March, so cold that it was even keeping the hot meat pie salesmen off the street. Hookers congregated in shop doorways to swap tips on thermal fishnets, drug dealers applied hairdriers to their syringes to prevent their merchandise from freezing. It was a night like this that Jim Qwax and his companeros decided to make their move.

Out of the alleyway at the bottom of Dead Rat Terrace walked the master detective, carrying his heavy duty detective satchel; Whiskey the bartender, carrying enough heavy ordinance to make Rambo jealous, and Sharleen Climer of the Lost City Mad Dogs, carrying Jim's beer.

"The way I figure it, is this," said the master detective, debating with himself whether to light a joint or not and deciding against it. "Binky is going around killing people at random, funnelling it through the FFFF so it can't be traced back to him. For why? Why would anyone want to institute a reign of terror?" He looked expectantly at Whiskey.

The bartender thought. "Fucked if I know, Jim."

"To *terrorise* people, you dodo-brain!" hissed the supersleuth Jim Qwax. "And why would you terrorise people? To increase, fear, uncertainty, and demand for products that create certainty. What could be more certain than the feeling of having clean, fresh feet?"

"Yeah, right." said Sharleen. "You think that Boraman and Rabotnik are holding the city to ransom just to increase sales of a deodorant product? That's the most silly assed thing I ever did hear, including the FFFF manifesto!"

Jim Qwax stopped in his tracks, and turned with a resigned expression on his face. "Sharl, Sharl, Sharl," he intoned, "do I tell you how to play jazz guitar? No? Then I'll thank you to leave the master detecting to me!"

"Don't take that tone with me, boy, or I'll kick your ass," said Sharleen sweetly.

"Okay, you two break it up," said Whiskey wearily. "We'll all be in the bowels of Binky's HQ or Police Headquarters quicker than one can say Elvis impersonator if we stand here arguing. What's the plan, Jim?"

Jim Qwax, the master detective, had been dreading that particular question. His first thought was to ride around aimlessly in the streets until they saw Binky and then kick his ass but good, but that lacked a certain something in the subtlety department. Anyway, there were still a few loose ends to clear up. He had no clear proof that Boraman was still involved with Binky, or what had really happened to Fred Boraman. Anyway, he had to admit that Sharleen had a point about odor-eaters really not being worth terrorising an entire city for.

The master detective said nothing as he walked over to Cattz's car and went to unlock the door. It was good that he did so, because otherwise he wouldn't have heard the tiny, tiny voice of his sixth sense telling him to run backwards as quickly as possible. Jim Qwax turned tail immediately, not questioning the instinct, and ran like billy-o in the other direction, dragging his two startled companions with him. It was a bloody good thing, in fact, because the Cattzmobile chose that particular moment to explode.

Yes, dear readers, your eyes are not playing you tricks. The bonnet of the green Mercedes erupted in a huge orange fireball, taking the rest of the car with it. Jim Qwax and his friends were knocked backwards by the explosion into a huge pile of dustbins that were piled up on the streetcorner for some reason. They stayed there for a moment, face down, listening to the remnants of the car quietly burning away, wondering whether maybe they should give it all up and go off and live on an island somewhere.

Slowly, the three extracted themselves from the pile of aluminium and stared at the wreckage. Whiskey was the first to speak, and, as usual, summed up everyone else's reaction nicely.

"Well, fuck me up the arse with a blunt stick PLEASE!" he uttered. Jim and Sharleen nodded their agreement, even though neither of them wanted to take him up on the offer. The car was so utterly totalled it wasn't funny. Bits of green paint melted and dripped onto the sidewalk from the burning wreck.

"Cattz is going to kill me when she finds out," said the master detective morosely. "And then the Car Rental Company are going to kill Cattz! That's the third Mercedes she's wrecked in as many years!"

"Perils of working for a master detective?" asked Sharleen, still ashen-faced.

"What? No, she just hires really bad drivers. Well, what the fuck are we going to do now?" asked Jim Qwax, the sexiest man alive.

"Get the fuck into this ALLEYWAY, you sad excuse for a man!" said a new, strangely familiar voice.

Qwax had no time to wonder where that specific voice had come from, as he was dragged backwards into a dank and smelly alleyway. His companions followed, curious as to whether he was about to be beaten up or what.

The question of whether the master detective is going to be beaten up or what will have to wait a few minutes, as we have other pressing matters to resolve. For example, what has become of Cattz.

The scene, dear reader, is the secret headquarters of Binky Rabotnik's criminal apparatus. His legitimate, though morally scandalous, businesses were housed in a big ugly black office building smack dab in the middle of the Central Business district, but he only discussed his truly evil plans in this specific hideout, known only as "the Binkcave". Yes, we are dealing with a truly cheesy individual here.

Binky Rabotnik sat in the jacuzzi he'd had installed in his office space so that he could relax as he ordered people murdered and stuff like that. He was butt naked, as was the poor sap sitting beside him giving him a vigourous shoulder massage. Guess who.

"Wow, gee, Binky," said Cattz, for it was her, smiling, "I never knew you were such a sexy hunk of man until I saw you naked!" The sincerity in her voice would have fooled anyone who hadn't heard her say exactly the same thing to three clients a day in the front room of Jim Qwax's office.

"Yeah, well, I gotta lot of hidden depths most people don't see into," said the gangland mastercrook, grinning his toothy grin and shifting to a more luxurious position. "Lower please, honey. That's it. Aaahhh..."

Cattz grinned and bore it as her expert fingers needed the tension out of the shoulder muscles of the nastiest person in the City. She hoped that Jim and Whiskey were on their way to bust the Rabotnik Corporation wide open soon, because she was smart enough to realise that when Binky was well and truly relaxed he'd demand more out of her, or more accurately, out of him, and she wasn't even going to get paid for it. She grimaced, hoping she'd brought her mouthwash with her.

"Mmm, I'm so glad I decided to come home with you, macho man," said Cattz, inwardly cringing at the drivel coming out of her mouth. "And I bet I know what you want to do after we're done in here, hmmm?"

Cattz's expert schmoozing was working well, as Binky Rabotnik relaxed in the delusion that he was attractive in the slightest. "Maybe a bit later, honey. I got some work to do tonight, but tomorrow, you're going to be all

mine. And I mean all." He turned around, grabbed the sexy secretary and forcefully stuck his tongue down her throat.

Kath Katzenjammer was saved from utterly throwing up then and there by the entrance of a figure that Jim Qwax, had he been there, would have kicked in the nuts as hard as possible. Humphrey Morgan, his FFFF Obergruppensteppenfuhrer's uniform ripped, ragged and sweaty, marched into the room and saluted.

"Hail the White Race!" he uttered, sticking his right arm straight up into the air as if asking permission to go to the toilet.

The gangland mastercrook extracted his tongue from Cattz and turned around wearily. "Oh! So it's you, Morgan! Finally decided to grace us with your presence, did you?"

"I had no choice, Rabotnik," said the juvenile fascist, wearily. "The detective Qwax and his barbarian subhuman friend apprehended me and interrogated me most ruthlessly."

Binky punched the hottub water in disgust, splashing Cattz's perfect hairstyle and thus ruining it. "What the HELL? I turn up to pull your arse out of the fire, fire a bazooka, scare the creep Qwax half to death and you still get caught? You sure you really are the master race?"

"Don't take that tone with me, you greasy wop criminal, you," said Morgan, really getting mad now. "Come the revolution, we'll have inferiors like you shipped out to the Solomon Islands to bury bodies!"

Binky gave one of his trademark nasty chortles. "Yeah, and back in the real world, maybe you won't. All right, so what did he get out of you?"

"Not much," said Morgan, colouring slightly. "All he knows is that the assassination of Nitts was paid for by you..."

"Yeah, and I didn't get my fucking money's worth. You know he's still alive? This bimbo here managed to drag him to an ambulance before his worthless ass was good and dead. Heard it on the radio. Still, he won't be out of there before nine tomorrow at least, and that's all the time we need."

Cattz mentally jotted down the fact that Malcolm Nitts, the innocent-looking hot meat pie salesman, suddenly seemed to be important to Binky's plan. This could prove interesting if Jim turned up. *When*, she silently corrected herself.

"So, any other state secrets you spilled to that creep?"

"No," said Morgan, keeping a rein on his temper. "I managed to get away by means of a simple ruse. All the other details of Operation Gangbang are utterly secret." [Gangbang? thought Cattz.]

"They'd better be," said Binky, leaning back. "Honey, turn on the radio. It's almost time for the Death Metal Show."

Obediently, Cattz moved over to the huge expensive MIDI stereo system and turned it on. Instead of death metal, it appeared to be a newsflash of some description.

"Police have found a burnt-out car, believed to have been used in the get-away of the fugitive detective Jim Qwax, on the streets of a Tackville suburb. Three charred corpses have been seen inside, although it is not known yet whether any of them are Qwax. Further developments as events warrant."

Cattz switched off the radio, ashen-faced. Not because she thought Jim was dead - he was far too smart and lucky to let death slow him down just yet - but because she was in shit with the car rental company again. Beside her, Binky was swigging tequila straight from the bottle and cackling.

"Carbombing? Excellent idea, Morgan!" he said. "I wish I'd thought of it first! I take back all the abuse. Now we've finally got rid of the creep once and for all!"

"But I didn't..." Morgan began, but quickly changed his tune. "Oh. Oh, that carbomb. Yep, we've taken out that scum once and for all. Hah hah."

"Well, I suppose that means there's nothing in our path. At nine am tomorrow, I take over this city, and you guys get to keep the streets clean for me. I'll finally buy you that Panzer division you keep asking for!" Binky leaned back and cackled.

Cattz saw her chance. "Well, macho man, does this mean that you and I can go off somewhere and get a little more friendly, hmm?"

Binky turned around and gave her an evil leer. "It sure does, sweet stuff," he dribbled. "Morgan? Go away and beat up some queers or something. I'm going to be busy for at least the next ten minutes." Binky latched on to Cattz with all the circumspection and romance of a lamprey as Humphrey Morgan walked out of the room, limping slightly.


Back in a certain alley off Disley Street in an unsalubrious part of the City, the master detective Jim Qwax was reeling from the impact of another unlikely plot twist. By the light of Cattz's green Mercedes burning merrily away outside the alley he could see who had dragged him in there. He wasn't pleased with what he saw.

"MS BORAMAN?!?" he exclaimed incredulously, his sense of reality battered by all these manic plot twists.

"Apparently, Mr Qwax," said the odor-eater heiress (for it was she), absently picking bits of alley garbage off her stylishly-tailored skulking jacket. "You were expecting maybe the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?"

At this stage of events, Jim Qwax was sorely tempted to answer yes. He resisted the urge, however, and instead focused his keen detectin' stare on his client who had mysteriously appeared at this juncture in the case. Instead of her Folies Bergere outfit of that morning, she was dressed in a black jacket, pullover and jeans - admirably suited to sulking in dark alleys. Exactly what she intended to gain from such an endeavour was what Jim Qwax aimed to find out.

"Okey-dokey, Ms Boraman," he said, "so would you mind telling me what you're doing skulking in a dark alley outside my apartment? And did you see the creep that detonated my secretary's car?"

"Indeed I did, Mr Qwax," said Sophie Boraman, a strange smile on her face. "Well, it would have been difficult not to. It was me."

Jim Qwax suddenly thought how great it would be to go inside right now and finish drinking himself to death. Through a heroic effort of will, he resisted the temptation. Instead, he reached down and pulled his client up into the air by her lapels until they were seeing eye-to-eye.

"You want to explain that last statement?" he said sweetly.

"Not particularly, Mr Qwax, but I will anyway," said Sophie Boraman in a strangled tone. "Think logically, man. The streets of this city are currently swarming with police of all descriptions seeking to lock you and all your friends up on a trumped-up charge for twenty-five years. They're looking especially for that green Mercedes. What better way to get them off your case than to make them think that the car has exploded, taking you and both your friends here with it?"

Jim Qwax could not argue with that logic, so he instead resorted to sarcasm. "Oh really? Well, *thanks* for not giving me any warning, Sophie! Jesus H Christ on a Yugoslavian water buffalo, woman, the car's not even MINE ! It belongs to my secretary, and she hasn't even finished paying for it yet! Can you imagine how PISSED she's going to be when she finds out it's in little pieces up and down Disley Street? She'll cause me SERIOUS BODILY HARM! You might as well shoot me in the leg right now!"

"Not a bad idea, actually!" said Boraman, fumbling inside her jacket and pulling a gun.

It may have gone ill with the master detective at that point if Sharleen, who had been watching proceedings from the other end of the alley with rapt astonishment, had not then sprung to the defence of her lover. She jumped forward, grabbed Boraman and wrestled her to the ground. The resulting tussle was more than intriguing to the bartender Whiskey, who stood there wishing that the two women currently duking it out before his eyes were naked and covered in oil.

Jim Qwax spotted his friend the bartender drooling in a corner. "Uh, Whiskey, when you're finished masturbating over there, could you possibly come and help me?" he commented drily.

Reluctantly, the bartender trundled over and helped the master detective separate the two women. Luckily, no serious damage had been caused.

"Right, have we all got that out of our system now? Maybe we can talk like rational adults at this stage" he said.

"Fat bloody chance," muttered Sharleen.

At this juncture, the master detective's keen ears picked up the sound of a police siren in the distance. "Take cover!" he hissed.

The four ill-assorted individuals took cover behind a large rubbish dump, kicking a homeless person out of the way as they did so. The sirens got closer and closer, until they heard what sounded like two police cars pull up at the mouth of the alley.

A policeman was heard to get out, and wander over to inspect the burning wreck. "This look like the car?" he said.

"Hell yeah," said another voice. "Looks like one of Qwaxie's other enemies got to him before we did."

"You sure that's him in there? Could be a trap or something."

"We'll let the coroners handle that. Let's just report in and wait for everyone else to turn up."

At this point, Sophie Boraman motioned to the assorted company to follow her. The odor-eater heiress turned a swift corner into what looked like a dead end and followed it for at least a minute. Not having any better ideas, Jim Qwax and his friends followed her. Eventually, they emerged into the clear night air at least half a kilometre away from where they started.

"You know your way around dark alleys well," said the master detective, nastily.

"My parents made sure I could always defend myself if I found myself stranded in a shithole like this, Mr Qwax. Well, it looks as if my plan worked. Those three fake bodies I stashed in your car before detonating it will fool the cops long enough for us to get where we're going."

"All right! Hold it! Time out there!" said the master detective, rounding on his clients. "We're not going anywhere, Ms Boraman, before you answer us some questions. Number one: what's really going on with you, Binky the Shrew, and Police Chief O'Doobie? Number two: why? Number three:.. um..." Stuck for a third question, he turned to Whiskey for inspiration.

"What are you doing Saturday night?" asked the still-drooling bartender.

"Yeah. What are you... NO!" said the master detective. But it was too late. Sophie Boraman had wandered over to Whiskey the bartender and headbutted him in the bollocks.

"That'll teach you to treat me as a sex object, you sad excuse for a man," she said sweetly.

As Whiskey rolled on the ground in agony, Jim Qwax buried his head in his hands and wondered how the evening could possibly get worse.


Leaving aside this charming domestic scene for a moment, we return to the headquarters of Binky "The Shrew" Rabotnik. This isn't the Binkcave we're in anymore - this is the business office above it where the gangland mastercrook carries out his evil schemes in the daytime. It's dark and silent at the moment - except, that is, for the shadowy figure creeping through the office holding a flashlight. The intruder moves through the office, past endless portraits of "stars" from the cheesy sitcoms that Bink-TV broadcasts day and night, and of Binky himself, towards the office marked "B.S. Rabotnik, Supreme President for Life. Keep the Fuck Out". Jangling through a set of skeleton keys, the figure finally finds one that will open the door.

Inside, the office is large, spacious and decorated with pornographic artwork of all descriptions. Making a mental note to steal some of those if it gets the chance, the intruder hurries over to the computer terminal on the large desk facing the window. Hurriedly switching on and logging on to the main computer - Binky's password, "TITS", is not difficult to crack - the figure searches through the files until it finds "GANGBANG.TXT". Hurriedly routing it to the Laserprinter on the desk, the figure reads through the contents of the file with rapidly mounting horror. Ten pages of densely written text later, the file is down in hard copy. The figure grabs it and makes for the window -

- as the light came on. The sexy secretary, Kath "Kitty Cattz" Katzenjammer,

stood blinded in the 200-watt flourescent light, the GANGBANG file still clutched in her impeccably manicured hands.

"Well well," chuckled an obscenely oily voice. "If it isn't Miss Kitty the whore. What would you be doing here, pray?"

As Cattz's eyes adjusted to the light, the figure of the FFFF Obergruppensteppenfuhrer Humphrey "The Organ" Morgan, stood revealed in the door, toting a rather large revolver. Cattz, who could spot an inferiority complex a mile away, began wondering how best to approach this.

"Well, Humphrey," she said in her sweetest voice, "Binky-darling told me to come up here and get some files for him. I hope that's all right with you?"

Morgan chuckled. "I wasn't born yesterday, you tart," he barked. "If you're authorised to be here, why are the lights off?"

"I operate best in the dark, big boy," said Kitty impishly. "Ask Binky if you don't believe me. Unless, of course," she said, sashaying with her sexiest sashay over to him, "you'd like a free demonstration now..."

Morgan cocked his gun and stopped her in her tracks. "You should know better than that, woman," he chuckled. "We soldiers of the FFFF are sworn to resist sexual manipulation by women."

"Oh," said Cattz innocently, "you mean you only have sex with each other? Gee, I always wondered what was with all the uniforms and leather..."

The plan worked. Like most fascists, Humphrey Morgan was intensely homophobic, and wasn't going to take that kind of insinuation lying down. Well, definitely not *face*-down.

"You shut your filthy mouth, you slut," he yelled, advancing on Kitty with his gun shaking. "I'm as straight as the next man!"

"Yeah, if the next man's Freddie Mercury," grinned Cattz.

"Right. That's IT!" yelled Morgan, throwing his gun to one side and rushing at her. "I'm going to hit you *so* hard..."

Unfortunately, the evil, juvenile fascist never got the chance to finish his sentence, as Cattz deftly moved forward and kicked him in the nuts as hard as possible. Morgan went down, gurgling quietly.

"That'll be the only thing hard about you for a while, Humphrey baby," said Cattz, knocking him cold with a swift kick to the head. Quickly, she stuffed the file inside her jacket and amscrayed back into the depths of the office building.


"All right, guys, that's ENOUGH!" barked Sharleen suddenly as her lover, the master detective Jim Qwax, buried his face in his hands and the odor eater heiress Sophie Boraman buried her boot again in Whiskey's groin. "Great Goddess, don't you morons have anything better to do than feud amongst yourselves? Binky Rabotnik is about to take over the city in a hellish criminal conspiracy and you guys are spending your time kicking one another in the nuts! WHAT'S WITH YOU MORONS!!!"

Jim Qwax was the only one of the assembled company who already knew what an accomplished ranter his squeeze was - and he had been thinking the kicking-in-the-nuts motif was getting a little tired, anyway - so he was the only one of the assembled company not struck dumb by the sight of Sharleen Climer in an angry mood. Meekly, Sophie put on a sheepish grin and helped Whiskey back onto his feet.

"RIGHT! So, we've got to get moving!" said Sharleen, calming down a tad. "And since the delightful Miss Boraman has detonated our wheels, this appears to be not as easy as first thought. Any ideas?"

"Yes, one," said Sophie Boraman, putting two fingers to her mouth and blowing a piercing whistle. Nothing happened at first, and Jim Qwax wondered whether she'd just seen someone cute across the street. But no, it was indeed a summons. A vague clip-clopping started away in the distance, air travelling quickly in the City fog. By the time it was audible as a clip-clop, it was also visible as a horse-drawn carriage. A dapple-grey mare with a red plume on its head, harnessed to an authentic-looking 19th century hansom cab, driven by a flunkey in a top hat, clopped to a halt in the street in front of them.

Jim Qwax wondered for a moment if he was having a rather nasty LSD flashback. But no, it was soon proven to be all too real, as the mare lifted its tail and dropped quite a pile of excrement right in front of him.

"Satisfactory?" grinned Boraman, smugly.

"Uh..." said the master detective, for the first time in a long while completely lost for words.

"Hell yeah!" said Sharleen, grinning from ear to ear. "I've always loved horses, ever since I was a girl!"

"Oh? I thought it was just the saddle leather you were into," said the master detective, his sarcasm glands back in working order.

Quick as a flash, the jazz-rock guitarist struck out and knocked Jim Qwax's neat detectin' hat off. As he bent over to pick it up, she kicked him in the arse. The master detective fell flat on his face, reminding himself never to make that particular joke again.

"If you're quite finished being silly, Mr Qwax", said Boraman testily, "maybe we can get going?"

"Ah. Sure," said the master detective, still not entirely happy with the way the initiative in this case had been wrested away from him. "We're going to outrun the combined forces of the City Police and the Rabotnik gang in a bloody horsedrawn carriage? And back in the *real* world for a second..."

"If you'd think for a minute, Qwax, you'd realise that a horse-drawn carriage would be the *last* thing they'd expect to see us in," said Boraman haughtily.

"Well, no, actually," smiled the master detective, "that would be the next Sylvester Stallone movie, wearing pink frocks. Ha-ha."

Nobody laughed.

Oh well, thought the master detective, can't win 'em all. "You're right on that count, Boraman," he sighed. "Okay, let's move."

The master detective was saying this to empty air, as everyone else had already gotten aboard.

"Who's supposed to be the master detective around here?" asked Jim Qwax as he and his compatriots rattled down the cobbled streets of Tackville. "It seems that Boraman here has her own agenda that we're expected to dance to, like so many Thunderbird puppets."

"Yeah, but the hand that writes the cheques writes the rules," said Sharleen, settling back in the plush velvet chairs.

"That's not the point. I'm trying to emphasise that instead of conducting a worthwhile and painstaking investigation of the disappearance of Fred Boraman, I've become the pawn in a massive geopolitical chess game, and I don't think either of the players are entirely human. I haven't actually done any detecting since this case began. I haven't had time, what with being harrassed, arrested, beaten up, injected with LSD, sprung from jail, sexually abused, had a bazooka pointed in my face and lost my secretary as a sex slave to an underworld gangland mastercrook. It's beginning to PISS ME OFF!"

"When were you sexually abused?" asked Sharleen incredulously.

"What? Oh, that's just hyperbole, ignore it," muttered the master detective, moodily staring out the window.

Sophie Boraman stuck her head back through the hatch in the front where she'd been giving instructions to the driver. "What's beginning to piss you off, Qwax?"

"You are, for one, Ms Boraman," said the master detective through clenched teeth. "You hired me to investigate the disappearance of your brother without telling me that the main suspect was actually your business partner. Isn't it true that Binky the Shrew has been working with you for quite some time in the launch of that new brand of Odor-Eaters which go on sale at 9 AM tomorrow?"

Sharleen and Whiskey looked on shocked as Sophie held down the master detective's keen detectin' stare with equanimity. "And how exactly do you come to that conclusion, Mr Qwax?"

"Elementary," sneered the sexiest man alive. "Not only have you been seen all around town with Rabotnik for the past couple of weeks, Binky ordered me specifically to lie low until nine a.m. tomorrow - coincidence, or conspiracy?"

Sophie Boraman sat very still and looked into the master detective's eyes. "Didn't I tell you, Mr Qwax, that this case involved shady dealings?"

Jim snorted. "The Police in this city are the shadiest bunch of creeps you could hope to meet in a month of Sundays. You're rich enough to be able to give them back-handers coming out the ears. I think the real reason you didn't want them involved is that someone in the Police Department - probably Chief O'Doobie himself - is involved in these crooked shenanigans as well. Am I not right?"

Silence from Boraman, and from the two other inhabitants of the cab. They'd had no idea how quickly the master detective's intuitive mind had been working. No ticking sounds, no smells of wood burning, no nothing.

Finally, the odor eater heiress sighed. "Why don't I tell you the story from the beginning, Mr Qwax?"

"Please, go on," said the supersleuth, relaxing back. Something told him this was going to be a tale long in the telling.

"As you may know, Mr Qwax," said Sophie Boraman, "my brother Fred and I inherited our parent's city-wide chain of shoe repair shops after their bizarre death in a freak wallpapering accident. According to our respective talents, we split up the company equally - Fred, with his three doctorates in different and contradictory sciences, moved into product development, where I handled the accounts, faced down rabid bank managers, did those cheesy advertising campaigns, etcetera. With the combination of our expertises, Boraman Enterprises quickly became a very large company, and we branched out from shoe repair into cosmetics, personal hygiene products, manufacture of dope-smoking equipment and fake Jimi Hendrix bootlegs. That was mainly my idea, I'm afraid - Fred, being a huge Hendrix fan, considered it sacrilege, but since he's as weak-willed as tomato pure'e I managed to face him down. Anyway, as you probably already know, I used my share of our suddenly massive wealth to enjoy myself - and that's how I met Binky Rabotnik.

"I was sweating off a massive hangover in the local Turkish Baths when Binky Rabotnik approached me, clad only in a towel. My first instinct was to vomit, but it soon became clear that he had more on his mind than cheap sex - which surprised me, as it no doubt would you."

Jim Qwax nodded glumly, not finding the prospect of cheap sex with either Sophie or Binky very appealing.

"Binky had heard rumours on the underground grapevine about a revolutionary new brand of odor-eater that we'd developed. He wanted to do a deal with us - he'd mass-produce them in his factories, sell them in his store and advertise them heavily during the smuttiest game shows on his TV network, in return for an even share of the product. Well, sir, that was exposure and venture capital beyond my wildest dreams - I accepted on the spot. Of course, I knew full well what kind of a shady dealing Binky Rabotnik was, but I believe that the best way of reforming criminals is to deal with them honestly on the Free Market."

Jim Qwax, as a lifelong socialist, could not very well approve, but he motioned his client to keep speaking. The cobbled streets of the City rattled past outside the window, and Whiskey was beginning to look a little motion-sick.

"When Fred heard about the deal, he went ballistic. He didn't trust Binky one bit, and he was damned if he was going to let his mighty discovery be used to enrich the scum of the City. Of course, I reminded him who was in charge of the business dealings in this organisation, and he subsided."

"Hang on there," said Jim Qwax, getting a very nasty feeling indeed. "Exactly what was this miracle discovery that Fred had come up with?"

"Sorry, can't say," said Boraman, primly pursing her lips. "Trade secret".

Jim Qwax sighed. "You're really asking to be thrown out the window, you know, and Sharleen would probably do it. So if you really want our help in finding your brother, answer my questions. I promise I won't tell your competitiors," he added sarcastically.

Sophie glared, but continued. "Fred had discovered a revolutionary new form of deodorant chemical, that didn't just absorb sweat but was actually absorbed through the pores of the skin, stimulating the nerve endings and fooling them into believing it was actually nice and cool, thus stopping the sweat altogether. Fred called his discovery 'The Footman', and I was absolutely sure it would make us another million dollars to buy ivory backscratchers with within the first week. Of course, Fred wanted to give his share to the poor, but he's always been a bit thick. Anyhoo..."

"Hold on there," said Qwax, his face draining of colour, "did you say this chemical actually absorbed itself into the body?"

"Yeah, something like that," said Boraman dismissively, "I find the technical details entirely devoid of interest. Anyway, soon after we signed the deal we received a demand from the Police Department that we cease and desist all production of Footman, pending official tests of product safety. Of course, this was bullshit, as we already had all the necessarily safety requirements - obviously that greedy slob Doobie just wanted his finger in the pie. I went along to Police Headquarters to cut him a deal, but Binky had got there before me and was in a screaming argument with the Chief when I arrived. Binky was saying how he knew where all twenty-three of Doobie's kids went to school, and how he'd better keep his trap shut or someone called 'Nitts' would get to hear everything. Doobie tried to throw him out a window when he heard that, but Binky had about twenty hired goons hiding behind the potplants and Doobie couldn't do a thing. Binky then went on to say that he had a deal going with those neanderthal creeps, the Fascist Federation of Family Forces, and that the only thing causing them from having a revolution and putting Doobie's fat carcass up against the wall was his say-so. At that point, I began to get a little bit of Fred's moral principles into me."

"You mean, you got scared?" said Sharleen.

"Well, DUH," grinned Boraman briefly. "Crooks I can stand, but my family are Polish in heritage, and hating Nazis is bred into us from the cradle."

"You're Polish?" interrupted Whiskey.

Sophie Boraman coloured. "On my mother's side. Her maiden name was Wojcziechowski. Can I please continue, or do I have to give you the rest of my family tree?"

Jim Qwax motioned her to continue her story.

'Well, I hauled ass out of there, rang Fred and told him to go down to BinkCorp headquarters and call the deal off - there was no damn way I was going to set foot within a hundred miles of the creep again. I haven't seen him since."

Jim Qwax, who still looked as if he'd seen a ghost, lit a joint to steady his nerves. "If you'd only told us this shit earlier, Boraman, you could have saved me a lot of trouble. I think it's safe to assume at this point that Binky has his own, nefarious purpose in mind for your odor eaters, and Doobie is just trying to muscle in on the deal. Obviously he doesn't want anyone rescuing Fred before he does. Which explains why he's been picking on me. The question is, how can we do so and ruin both Binky and Doobie's day?"

Boraman snorted. "I was wondering, Mr So-Called Master Detective, when you were going to ask where this horse-drawn carriage was going."

The master detective looked sheepish. "Uh, yeah, I suppose that would be a good question to ask."

Sophie Boraman reached into her black sidebag and produced a grimy piece of paper which looked like it'd been used as toilet tissue by a mad spider with dysentery. "Take a look at this, Mr Qwax," she said.

Jim Qwax, with the utmost revulsion, took the paper and studied it at arm's length. The puddles of suspicious substance were revealed to be letters, of a sort. They spelt out "HELP I AM BEING HELD PRISONER IN A DRAIN FRED".

"This missive, Mr Qwax," said Sophie Boraman, "was tied to the back of a sewer rat which emerged from one of our company lavatories this afternoon and bit one of our senior executives in an embarrassing place. No matter, I'll give him a pay rise. This proves that Fred is still alive. More - it gives us a vital clue to a riddle which could solve a mystery which has perplexed the underworld of this city for ages. Namely, the location of Binky's secret hideout."

Jim Qwax made a wild stab in the dark. "Down a sewer?"

Boraman beamed. "They obviously taught you well at the Pinkerton College of Master-Detectin', didn't they? Yes, down a sewer. A quick perusal of the City sewer system maps reveals an ancient disused storage chamber right beneath the Janor Hypercleats Memorial Sewer on the east end of Tackville. I believe that that is what Binky Rabotnik has his hideout - and where he is keeping my brother. We go there."

Jim Qwax was just about to ask once more who the master detective was around there when his chain of thoughts was interrupted by a hail of gunfire. The horse neighed in fear as the driver spurred it into a gallop.

"RESISTANCE IS USELESS!" came an all-too-familiar voice, sounding through a megaphone, from behind the carriage.

"Fuck fuck, exclamation mark, me!" swore the master detective. "How the living shit did *he* find us?"

"Who? Who?" asked Whiskey.


"Who do you damn well *think*, you sack of spuds?" shrieked the master detective, dropping to the floor of the cab and dragging Sharleen with him. "That great fat oaf Doobie! He must have gotten at least one squad car back on the road!"

"Looks like a bit more than one, Mr Qwax," said Sophie Boraman, staring out the rear window and grimacing. "I'd wager there's a dozen of the buggers out there..."

Sure enough, the horse-drawn carriage containing Jim Qwax and his orchestra was being tailed down the narrower reaches of Tack Avenue by a single file of about a dozen screaming squad cars. Police Chief Silas O'Doobie was leaning out of the passenger window of the foremost car, as much as his massive girth allowed, clutching a megaphone and repeatedly bellowing "RESISTANCE IS USELESS!"

"Hell and blue blazes," swore the master detective. "You should have gotten Diesel Fuel to put sugar in the gas tanks while he was at it!"

"Well, it's a little late for recrimination *now*, Jim," said Sharleen, from her muffled position. Usually she didn't mind behind underneath the master detective, but she'd prefer it if he wasn't wearning his trenchcoat. "What the hell are we going to *do* about it?"

"Can't you go any faster?" pleaded Whiskey of the cab driver.

"Faster? Haha! You mad fool!" shouted the cab driver, whose name, incidentally, was Andrew Hime. "We're going at least 20 miles per hour already! What do you think I feed these horses, plutonium? I'm not being paid ENOUGH for this! I usually make a few dollars taking tourists around Midland Park, at a leisurely pace so as they can snog in the back seat! I don't WANNA be outrunning no police cars!"

"Shut the fuck up," said the master detective, tersely.

"RESISTANCE IS USELESS!" shouted Doobie.

"It's a good thing this street is so narrow," said Sophie Boraman, rummaging inside her satchel for something. "As soon as we get onto Hookywalker Avenue, those cars will be able to overtake and surround us. We've got to do something to stop 'em now!"

"Ah-ha!" said Whiskey, extracting a decent sized bazooka from his jacket. "Think this'd help?"

The master detective Jim Qwax began to seriously suspect that this whole horrible situation really *was* an LSD flashback. "Have you been carrying that shit on you all day, Whiskey my man?"

"Just in case of emergencies," beamed the tavern over. "If you'd like to get out of my way, Ms Boraman, I'll show those simpering subhuman goosestepping bastards a thing or two."

Sophie Boraman did as was requested of her, surprised. Quick as a flash, Whiskey shattered the back window of the cab and stuck the bazooka out, aiming directly for the radiator of the front police car. To no-one's surprise, he missed totally, taking out an innocent dry-cleaning store and two lampposts.

"Oops!" said Whiskey, sheepishly.

"Oh, fuck," said the master detective, quietly.

"RESISTANCE IS USELESS!" shouted Doobie, distortedly.

"Get out of my way, meathead," said Sophie Boraman, clambering up onto the back seat and pulling out the dirty great .45 Magnum that she'd just found in her purse. Jim Qwax noted with trepidation that they were just about to emerge onto Hookywalker Street.

Sophie Boraman, aiming with pinpoint precision, took out Chief O'Doobie's megaphone with her first shot, and the front left tire of his squad car with the second shot. Now out of control, Doobie screamed and struggled to get back inside as the car swerved and careered back and forth along Tack Avenue, finally skidding out of control and, fortuitously, coming to a dead stop exactly at right angles to the road. The next two police squad cars smashed into each other - none, unfortunately, bursting into flames. The street was well and truly blocked, and the rest of the police convoy ground to a halt.

Whiskey stared at Sophie Boraman, his jaw hanging open.

"I'm impressed!" managed Sharleen after a few moments.

Sophie Boraman blushed, which was actually quite fetching. "Like I said, my parents always made sure I could look after myself in a sticky situation. I was out on the rifle range almost before I could walk!"

"That doesn't surprise me, no, not in the least," grimaced the master detective. "Okay, it won't take those cops long to find an alternative route round to Hookywalker Street, and we'll be trapped by the waterfront when that happens. What's the dealings now?"

"The dealings, Mr Qwax, are as follows," said Sophie, restashing her mighty Magnum. "We make our way into the City Sewers, find my brother and bust our way out of there. Clear enough?"

"Oh, clear as foetus urine itself, Sophie," said the master detective with just a hint of sarcasm. "Would you like to tell us how you're going to have any chance of finding the Binkcave in the mazes of this city's waste disposal pipes? Or are we just going to wander around kneedeep in shit for a few hours?"

"You're the master detective, Qwax," said Boraman in an icy tone. "I pay you to figure these things out!"

Jim Qwax wasn't prepared to take that kind of shit at any time of day or night. Quick as a flash, he picked up Sophie Boraman by her lapels again until they were, for only the second time ever, seeing eye-to-eye.

"Let's get this straight, Ms Boraman. I am putting my freedom, my life, my sanity, my self-respect and my bank balance on the line so that we can find your ridiculous brother who got lost through your own stupidity in dealing with scum like Binky. This entitles me to a little RESPECT. Got that, you short blonde elephant's scrotum?"

For once, Sophie was speechless.

"I'll take that as a yes. Okay, well, I'd like to suggest that for our first trick, we get the fuck out of this horsedrawn carriage and hide our asses in a convenient dark alley. Got that?"

Sharleen and Whiskey quickly amscrayed out of the cab before something exploded. With the minimum of neck movement available to her, Sophie Boraman nodded her head.

"Good. Now, let's be civil to one another," said the master detective, putting his client down.

Jim Qwax stalked off in the other direction quickly while Sophie Boraman plied the cab driver with hundred dollar bills to keep his mouth shut and to tell the police that they'd been dropped off on the other side of town. The master detective desperately needed a joint, but that really wouldn't have been a good idea at this stage of affairs, and besides, he didn't have one. What he really wanted was to be at home with Sharleen, the first three Roxy Music albums and a huge stack of McHeady's cans, but instead he was facing incarceration, death or worse in a back alley. He wished he smoked cigarettes, so he could have one of those right now. In all, he was not feeling like doing the Happy Master Detective Dance.

His musings were interrupted by a poke in the back. The master detective froze, but it was only Whiskey. The well-known bartender and shady character had a big stupid grin on his face, which struck the master detective as totally inappropriate.

"And what's the dealings with you, Whiskey?" he asked snottishly.

"Uh... well, Jim, I could use a bit of advice. Y'see, I think I'm in love."

The master detective nodded sagely, getting that oh-so-familiar sinking feeling. "And the object of your unholy desires is...?"

Whiskey grinned sheepishly, and pointed back at the horse-drawn carriage, where Sophie Boraman was waving her Magnum under the cabbie's nose in what could only be called a provocative manner.

Jim Qwax, who'd been thinking that his night couldn't possibly get any more surreal, now had to revise his opinions. "Please, PLEASE, Whiskey old son, tell me that you've fallen in love with the cab driver! Or even the horse!"

"Ah, Jim, you knows I likes a girl with spirit!" said the master bartender, elbowing Jim Qwax in the ribs and propelling him across the alley.

"Has it escaped your attention, my friend," said the master detective, hissing in case she heard him, "that she's a vicious, greedy, cold-hearted, violent, psychopatic terrier from hell, and not even that cute to boot?"

Whiskey coloured slightly. "Well, when you put it like that you make it all sound like a bad thing!"

Jim Qwax was really not prepared to deal with any of this without the aid of mind-dulling chemicals. "Look, Whiskey, I'm not prepared to argue with you. I know that true love is blind, but I didn't know it was stupid as well. If you think you have a chance of true happiness with a woman who's kicked you in the balls not twenty minutes ago, I suggest you pursue it with all your little heart."

Whiskey actually appeared to take this as some kind of approbation.

"Thanks, Jim!" he said, slapping him on the back. "You're a real mate!"

Jim Qwax, who could see Sophie coming back out of the corner of his eye after having bullied the cab driver into submission, just gave up and headed around the corner to see what Sharleen was doing. But he really wasn't prepared for what was waiting for him...


The shit-begrimed figure flattened against a wall in the dank alley didn't look much like the buffed, hairsprayed and spandexed secretary who Jim Qwax had coitally interrupted that very morning in his office. Nevertheless, it appeared to be her. She was talking to the master detective's love interest, Sharleen Climer, in a hushed tone, when Jim Qwax stomped around the corner into the alley and almost tripped over the two of them.

"Evening, Cattz," said Jim, suddenly feeling a lot better about events. "I was wondering what had happened to you..."

"Not a hell different from most days, Jim," said Kath Katzenjammer (for it was she), brushing her hair out of her eyes. "Had sex with some creep who I didn't like, and bandied words with morons a bit. You may be pleased to hear that I kicked Humphrey Morgan in the balls very hard, though."

For the first time that day, Jim Qwax's face split in a bonafide shit-eating grin. "Thanks, Kitty," he beamed, "that almost makes this whole damn day worthwhile!"

"Kathleen here's come out of the sewer," said Sharleen.

Qwax sighed. "Sharleen, even if you can't respect her occupation, at least be nice about her..." he began.

"No, you silly-ass, literally," replied the jazz-rock guitarist snidely. "She's escaped from Binky's HQ, and with any luck she can lead us back there."

At that moment, Sophie came around the corner, replacing her .45 magnum in her purse, followed by Whiskey who still wore a look of moronic devotion on his broad face. "Call that a getaway driver? Hah! Last time I patronise *that* company. Uh... what is that smell?"

"Me," said Cattz simply.

Sophie peered at the foully bedecked figure of the sexy secretary with barely concealed distaste. "Ah... the secretary, yes?"

"Hasn't she got a great memory?" said Whiskey, beaming.

"Shut the fuck up, you," said Jim Qwax, not in the mood.

"I've spent the last half-an-hour wandering around the sewers of this city, so excuse me if I'm not my freshest," said Cattz modestly. "However, in the next few minutes we're all going to be pretty stinky, if we're going back to Binky's headquarters to bust Fred Boraman out."

"So he is there?" said Sophie, hopefully.

Cattz shrugged. "Where else? Binky needs him close at hand for the final work on his evil scheme - oh, speaking of which," she added, taking a large wad of computer paper from her begrimed cleavage, "you might want to have a look at this, Jim. The full details on Binky's evil plan."

Jim Qwax took it gratefully, and started to skim through it.

"GANGBANG?" he asked, ponderingly.

Cattz shrugged. "Who can tell? Binky has an evil sense of humour."

The wail of a police siren in the middle distance made all the assembled party jump. "I suggest we get our asses down there now, then," said the master detective, galvanised into action. "Ms Boraman, I assume you have your map of the sewers on you?"

"Never without it," said the odor-eater heiress.

"Then between your map and Cattz's recollection, we should make it down there in relatively quick time. When we get there, I suggest that Whiskey lets off with his bazooka in wild, uncontrolled bursts, and we just rampage around killing anyone we see until Fred is safely in our hands. Satisfied?"

Whiskey whistled. "That is a cunning plan indeed, Jim! Wish I'd thought of it!"

Sophie sighed. "I have no time to argue with you, Mr Qwax, unless it's in a police cell. Can we get down that sewer now, please?"

"Of course," smiled Cattz sweetly, "just as soon as you tell me what the hell you plan to do about that car of mine that you exploded?" Jim Qwax groaned - he'd really hoped that Cattz wouldn't have found out about that until much later.

Sophie sighed. "All cheque signing will be done at a later date. Right now, we get our asses down that manhole before we're all locked up. Do we have consensus here?"

The master detective had little enthusiasm for scurrying back down the grimy, foul-smelling manhole which his sexy secretary had emerged from, but he had no choice. Whiskey went down first, bazooka at the ready, followed by Sophie and Cattz. Jim Qwax followed, and Sharleen went down last, pulling the manhole cover over her head - luckily, exactly six seconds before twenty policemen ran into the alley, brandishing bloody big rifles but puzzlingly not finding anyone.

Jim Qwax had thought he'd smelt bad stuff before, that summer he worked in an abbatoir, but the Janor Hypercleats Memorial Sewer made that place seem like the Glade Air Freshener plant in comparison. The excrement of half a million complacent city dwellers milled around their feet as the raggle-taggle crew stomped on in the darkness.

"According to this map, the storage chamber is about half a kilometre thataway," called back Sophie Boraman from the front.

"Oh fucking great," muttered the master detective, who really was not enjoying himself. It wasn't just the smell, or the anticipation of having to deal with the entire Rabotnik Gang without even one thermonuclear device on his side, or even the unedifying sight of Whiskey out in front of him looking as macho as possible to try and impress Sophie. As he leafed through the Gangbang file, he realised with a sinking feeling that all his worst-case scenarios about Binky's real evil plan had been hopelessly optimistic.

A friendly hand pinched his bum. "Not happy, Jimmie?" said Sharleen impishly.

Jim Qwax grinned sarcastically at his lover. "Well, I'm not about to start dancing around this sewer singing selections from Abba's Greatest Hits, if that's what you're implying. If this file is correct, then we have approximately nine hours before a death worse than fate engulfs the City we all know and love. Other than that, I'm just peachy keen."

Sharleen smiled bravely. "Well, I have faith in you. And even more in that bloody big bazooka..."

With all his natural impulsiveness, Jim Qwax picked Sharleen up and gave her a big hug then and there. "Where the hell would I be without you, Sharl?" he asked, really meaning it.

"Still waiting tables at Whiskey's tavern?" she replied, extracting herself with difficulty. "Speaking of which, Jim... I was talking to Kathleen just before..."

Jim Qwax's bad mood suddenly redescended as he imagined all sorts of note-comparing that the two most important females in his life could have gotten up to. "And?" he asked morosely.

"I wanted to know once and for all from her whether she has designs on your body or not," said Sharleen, primly.

"Well, she's definitely got designs on her own," said the master detective, deliberately being obtuse. "A red devil on her left buttock, if I remember right, and... what? I keep walking in on her screwing clients in the front office, of course! Kindly release my testicles!"

Sharleen did so, reluctantly. "She still wants you, you realise that?"

Jim Qwax groaned. "You know perfectly well, Sharl, that what happened between Kitty and I was the result of a few too many ciders at the first-year's piss-up at the University hostel. She know you're the only one for me now, surely?"

"Well, yes," said Sharleen, guardedly, "...but I still don't trust her. Apparently you still make her slide off her seat when you talk in that sexy master-detective voice."

Jim Qwax said nothing, quietly gratified that he still had it.

"She has sworn to me that she'll do nothing about it while we're still together, though, and I trust her." said Sharleen, stomping along.

The master detective looked at his lover amusedly. "And you believe her? What, has she prepared to put up bond money on it or something?"

Sharleen grinned back. "Woman's intuition?" she offered.

Jim Qwax groaned, and playfully punched her on the arm.

"We're there!" shouted Whiskey from up ahead in his best Rambo voice.

Hurriedly, Qwax and Climer scuttled up around the corner, where they found Whiskey, Sophie and Cattz clustered around a large metal airlock.

"This the place?" asked the master detective.

"This is where I came out, all right," said Cattz, "but I don't know if we can get back in. It wasn't locked on the inside, but there's a bloody big swipe-card combination thingummy on there, and I don't think I can crack it."

Sure enough, there was a big-ass lock on the door.

"I know what can crack it!" said Whiskey, hefting his bazooka and aiming.

"You really are as stupid as you look, aren't you?" said Sophie Boraman, reaching up and grabbing the tavern owner's ear. "You let off a bazooka in here, and you let the entire Rabotnik Gang know we're here, if you don't make this fucking sewer collapse on our heads! Put that thing down!"

Whiskey did as he was told, sheepishly.

"So..." said the master detective. "How the fuck are we supposed to get in there? No, don't tell me, I know there must be a way, let me put my keen master-detectin' brain to work on it..."

"EVERYONE PUT THEIR HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE THEM!" shouted a loathsome and familiar voice. The assembled party turned around to see an entire squadron of Fascist Fuckwits' Fighting Force goons, armed with machine guns and billy-clubs, leap out of a neighbouring sewer and surround them. Not surprisingly, Humphrey "The Organ" Morgan himself was at their forefront.

"Well, that's one way," said the master detective, as he raised his hands above his head.

The master detective was indeed right that this was a way to get inside Binky's HQ. However, frogmarched inside under the custody of a bunch of neo-nazi neanderthals headed by one of the most despicable people on the face of the planet wasn't high on Jim Qwax's preferred list of entrances.

Jim Qwax's insane cheerfulness in the face of doom asserted itself once again as they were led through the grimy tunnels that led to the Binkcave. "Tell me, Humphrey," he asked nicely, "do you get a huge hardon from bossing people around, or what?"

"No talking amongst the prisoners!" shouted Morgan, who did indeed.

Jim Qwax, sighing, made a certain gesture. "Swivel on this," he suggested.

Quick as a flash, one of the FFFF goons decked the master detective with a punch. "Get up, you stupid bastard," said Morgan, cackling, "and if I hear any more lip out of you, I'm going to disregard Rabotnik's orders and execute you right here and now."

"Mr Rabotnik wants us alive?" asked Cattz, before Jim could say anything that would get him in any deeper shit.

Morgan chuckled the sly chuckle of the true bastard. "For the time being. Ms Boraman and this ape-man here," he said, pointing to Whiskey, "are of more value alive than dead to the New Order. You're too nice a piece of ass to be necrophilia-fodder just yet. And I get the feeling that Mr Rabotnik doesn't want Qwax or his cheap slut here to die *too* quickly." He cackled evilly - or at least, attempted to. In reality, he cackled stupidly.

Jim Qwax, still just able to see out of his swollen right eye, was understandably even less happy at this late stage. He really didn't like the way Morgan pronounced "New Order" with capital letters, nor was he pleased at the prospect of him or Sharleen being slowly, and perhaps sexually, tortured to death. But quite honestly, if the GANGBANG file was accurate, he didn't really want to live in a City run by a coalition of Binky and the FFFF either.

After several more twists and turns, conducted in gloomy silence, the assembled party emerged into Binky's jacuzzi room. The master detective and his friends were rudely shoved onto the bare hardwood floor before the hot tub. Binky was no longer in it, however. He was prowling around the room in a bathrobe, barking orders at sundry goons who kept walking in and out of the room with big boxes marked "FOOTMAN". Jim Qwax groaned as his worst suspicions were confirmed in front of him.

"Morgan? If any of them make a move, shoot 'em but dead," said Rabotnik, burrowing around on his desk for some piece of paper.

"What if we have to scratch our arses?" asked the master detective.

Quick as a flash, an FFFF goon kicked the master detective in the head.

"Shut the fuck up, Dogfood," said Binky Rabotnik, turning around and puffing on a large meerschaum Sophiee. "I'm still trying to decide whether to have you cruelly tortured to death, or what. On the one hand, it'd be fun. On the other hand, you'd still be wisecracking all the way through it, and I'm not sure I can handle that."

"I'll make you a bet, Binky ol' son," said Jim Qwax, struggling to his elbows. "If I can run down every last detail of your dastardly little plot correctly, you'll let Sharleen go. That fair enough?"

Binky considered this for a moment. "All right, I'm a gambling man. Besides, I don't really want to have to kill her. I'd only ever do it so I could piss you off severely before I kill you. But I can forgo that pleasure." He said down on his office chair, smoking.

"All right," said the master detective, gearing up for what might well turn out to be the final rant of his life. "Sophie here filled me in on a few details which made everything make sense. What would a major gangland mastercrook be doing co-operating in a legit business venture like odor-eaters, when the profits from drug-running and cheesy sitcoms are several orders of magnitude greater? Simple - the revolutionary nature of Fred Boraman's new "Footman" odor eaters. Releasing deodorant chemicals straight into the body, eh? Quite ingenious. But could he do the same with *other* chemicals?" Sophie Boraman went white as she finally saw how thoroughly she'd been sucked in. Whiskey noted how fetching that colour was on her. Sharleen stared with admiration at her lover, while Cattz just nodded - she'd read it already.

"A sneaky plot all round, Binky," continued the master detective. "Get the whole damn city hooked on these new odor-eaters by putting HEROIN in them! Why, they'd be queuing up for more! They just couldn't get enough! Of course, you had to give Doobie a cut - no way you could operate otherwise - but then you just got too greedy, didn't you? You didn't just want a captive market that would keep buying your evil product until they OD'd - you wanted to see if you couldn't take over the whole city while you're at it! So you got these monkeys here," he motioned towards the FFFF troops, "in on the deal. Great double edged weapon - send these thugs out to murder random people, and of course the police being too busy chasing me around the place to stop them, and thus make people more paranoid, and more ready to buy your crap. And of course, the more they bought your crap the easier it would be for the FFFF to take over. Bet you didn't tell Organ here, however, that once they've overthrown the legitimate City Government, you intend to turn your own goons on them, like Hitler did to the SA in '34. Put yourself up as Saviour of the City. Supreme political and financial power. Nice."

"What the FUCK?" said Humphrey Morgan, staring daggers at Binky, who was going bright red in the face.

"However, you fucked up. Just couldn't offer Doobie a big enough cut - with your goons running things, the Police's little empire was finished. So he got wise to your little deal - maybe he planned to kidnap Fred Boraman and make him work for the cops? And then, of course, Sophie Boraman here got cold feet and pulled out of the deal. But with the whole thing working so well to plan, you couldn't let it slip away at the last moment. So you kidnapped him *yourself*, so you'd be able to get the drugs into the odor-eaters and the odor-eaters into the stores at 9 am. And it would have worked, too. Unfortunately, Sophie Boraman turned to the Master Detective of the City to help her out of her jam. That being me, of course. Well? Do I win?"

Binky sat very still, his face now the colour of a stoner's eyeballs.

"You BASTARD! You double scum BASTARD!" yelled Sophie Boraman rising to her feet and running at Binky. "You're going to use MY company and MY brother to take over the City and ruin us all? I'm going to rip your head off and shit down your neck!"

Quick as a flash, one of Binky's personal goons hit her upside the head with a truncheon. "Settle down, Ms Boraman," said Binky, soothingly as she collapsed to the ground. "After the Revolution, when the forces of order are restored in this city and that creep Blackadder is safely behind bars, we'll need a council of eminent people to run the city. I was hoping yourself and the bartender here would be on it?"

"Like FUCK!" said Whiskey rising to his feet - no fucker was going to do that to his beloved and live to tell the tale. Unfortunately, his grand attack was foiled by Sophie tripping him up.

"Getting yourself killed won't help anyone" she whispered as he hit the deck face-first.

Binky chuckled. "You may well change your mind later. Well, Qwax, you are right about most of the details. Except, of course, that I'd never in a million years betray my close allies in the FFFF. Would you have believed that for a second, Morgan?"

"Well..." began the fascist lieutenant.

"Of course not," said Binky brusquely. "But in the broad outlines, you are indeed correct. Any other questions?"

"Just one," asked the master detective. "Why GANGBANG?"

Binky chuckled. "Because we're going to fuck the entire City, Dogfood," he replied. "Wasn't that obvious?"

"Oh yeah," said Jim, chagrined that he missed that one.

"Well," continued Binky, "by the terms of our deal, I am compelled to leave your cute young lover here alive. However, since I'm a notorious liar, I won't. She's seen and heard far too much - and there's no place for her in the new order. Jazz is decadent, anyway."

Jim Qwax had had just about enough of this lying, murdering, junk-pushing bad-tie wearing rat-impersonating sewer dwelling creep who kept calling him Dogfood. "You touch a hair on Sharleen's head," he began, "and I'll have your ribs for a xylophone!"

Quick as a flash, an FFFF goon floored him with a punch. "Get up you stupid bastard… Binky began.

"How many times have you said that by now?" said Qwax through a swollen lip, lying on the ground. "You're severely unimaginative, Binky, you know that?"

"Yeah," said Cattz, warming to the subject. "Why can't he call you a no-good layabout, or a moronic inbred or something?"

"Maybe he left school before they got up to long words like that," chuckled Whiskey, determined to be as macho as possible in front of Sophie, who smiled despite herself.

"WILL YOU ALL SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!" yelled Binky. He nodded to the FFFF goons, but Humphrey Morgan was still thinking deeply about the whole SA parallel and motioned them to stay still. With a sigh of exasperation, Binky clapped his hands to summon his own goons. Ten machinegun barrels quickly surrounded the head of the masterdetective, who lay grinning into the face of death.

"There ain't no way you're getting up from this one, you bastard," hissed Binky. The goons tightened their fingers on the triggers...


"Now hold on just a cotton-picking ass-wiping minute here!" said FFFF Obergruppensteppenfuhrer Humphrey Morgan, stepping over the prone bodies of Jim Qwax and his friends and rudely pushing the guns of Binky's goons out of the way. The master detective breathed a sigh of relief for what appeared to be another few minutes' stay of execution.

"What?! What the fuck?!" barked Binky the Shrew, strangling in a ghastly SM version of coitus interruptus. Metaphorically, he'd been just about to come when he gave the order to kill the master detective, and this wasn't a good time to argue the toss with him.

Humphrey Morgan didn't appear to give a fuck, though. "My mother always told me not to trust part-Jewish mud race scum like you, and it appears she might have been right. What assurance do you have for us that you're not planning to doublecross and scapegoat our movement right at the moment of our greatest triumph?"

"Are you high or something, Morgan?" said Binky, making surreptitious hand signals to his goons. "That bastard Qwax is the biggest liar on all the seven continents and twenty seas. If you believe anything he says for a moment, you're twice as stupid as I thought you were, which makes you four times as stupid as an avocado. Can't you see that he's using this as a diversion to try and make his escape?"

Diversion? thought Jim Qwax, still lying prone. Good idea!

Humphrey Morgan took a second to consider this, which was his big mistake. Quick as a flash, Binky marched over to him and felled him with a punch.

"Oh, sorry, Humphrey, did I BREAK YOUR CONCENTRATION?!?" he yelled, well and truly in a ranting mood now.

"Now that's a bit more imaginative!" said Sharleen, grinning.

The FFFF goons might have been scum, but loyalty to their commander was one virtue they did profess. Hoisting their replica WW-2 lugers out of their holsters, they aimed on Binky the Shrew. Almost instantly, Binky's goons turned their guns away from Jim Qwax and onto the FFFF goons. Yes, it was another Mexican standoff - but this time, the master detective thought with relief, he wasn't one of the targets. Goody!

"Whiskey?" he whispered across the floor. "Any chance you could get that bazooka loaded in the next few minutes?"

"No chance, Jim," said Whiskey sadly. "They confiscated it and all my ammo. That Rabotnik goon over there is pointing it at Humphrey right now."

"Hell and double blast it," said Jim Qwax. "There's nothing for it, then. Everybody wriggle on their backs towards the exit, now!"

"Have you been Catching stupid germs from hanging around Morgan or something, Qwax?" hissed Sophie. "They'd forget their differences and plug us full of holes within the minute. Our only chance is to hang loose, and maybe they'll get into a gun battle and forget about us."

Jim Qwax said nothing, simultaneously grateful to Sophie for saving his ass and annoyed that he hadn't thought of that first.

Meanwhile, at the centre of the Mexican standoff Binky was standing over the prone and gibbering form of Humphrey Morgan, yelling up a storm. "Are you going to throw away your ONLY CHANCE at any power at this late stage, you moron?" he ranted. "Your pissant little squadron of inbred white trash couldn't overthrow an ANTHILL! You're doomed to a depressing lifetime of slow irrelevance unless you WISE UP and do what I SAY! Now, call your goons off, I'll let you up, and we can get back to the serious business of torturing Jim Qwax to death, alright?"

Humphrey Morgan lay still, debating his reply to himself - did he want the revolution to suceed, if it meant having Binky Rabotnik calling him a moron for the forseeable future? Jim Qwax and his friends lay with bated breath, wondering how this standoff would be resolved.

As it turned out, it was resolved in a way none of them suspected for a moment. A grinding, shrieking noise like a steam engine being given a vasectomy without anaesthetic burst the air in Binky's hideout, forcing all the assorted parties to cover their ears. At that moment, an enormous metal drillbit appeared through the ceiling of the underground bunker, spraying concrete chippings in all directions. As it made its way through the ceiling it was possible to note that it was painted in the blue and green of the City Police.

Binky stood dumbfounded over Humphrey Morgan, a word slowly forming on his lips. "Doobie...?" he muttered.

The gangland mastercrook was indeed to be proved right. The mighty police special-issue megadrill crashed through the ceiling, pulling a rope ladder after it down the hole. That rope ladder was soon swarming with City Police, each dressed in riot gear and carrying Uzi's, yelling for everyone to put their hands up and drop their weapons. From sheer surprise more than anything else, the Rabotnik Gang and the FFFF both complied. Jim Qwax and his friends were just too amazed to do anything.

The swarm of cops, now numbering more than a hundred in the small room, quickly surrounded, disarmed and handcuffed both competing paramilitary forces. Down the rope ladder after them, holding a bazooka in one hand and a box of doughnuts in the other, came the corpulent figure of Police Chief Silas O'Doobie, a look of obscene triumph on his face.

"EVERYONE IN THIS ROOM IS UNDER ARREST!" he yelled, spraying bits of dough and what looked like icing sugar in all directions.

"Oh, goody," said Cattz sarcastically.

Appearing to notice them for the first time, a beefy cop came over and aimed his machine gun at the small group. "That goes for you too, whoever you are. Stand up!" The master detective and his friends did as they were told, and were quickly handcuffed.

"Don't hurt them! I'll talk to them in a minute!" yelled Doobie, waddling across the hardwood floor of Binky's den to where the mastercrook and his erstwhile ally were reaching their hands to the sky. Jim Qwax groaned inwardly as it became clear that they'd slipped out of the frying pan and into another frying pan.

Doobie stuck his fat nose into the face of Binky Rabotnik, who had gone white at the sight of all his mighty plans gone to ruin. "You didn't think I could find you, did you, Rabotnik?" barked the police chief, scarfing down another doughnut. "And neither I could, until your little friend Qwaxie led us right here. Good for him, eh? I *told* you not to mess with the Law!"

Binky coughed sickly. "If you're going to yell at me, Silas, could you at least take a few breath mints first? It smells like you've been giving head to a rhino!"

Quick as a flash, the Police Chief hit the master crook upside the head with the butt of his bazooka, although his own butt would probably have been more effective. "Get up, you bastard," he scarfed, "and get up that ladder. You and all your little friends are going up the river for a long, long time. Hah!"

The dazed mastercrook was dragged to his face by huge cops and carried up the rope ladder to where a paddy wagon awaited. All his goons and the FFFF were forced to follow, hands upon their heads. Humphrey Morgan was the last, and as he left he shook a fist at the master detective, still standing sort of bemused on the other side of the room.

"We'll get you for this, you enemy of the White Race Qwax!" he yelled. "If it's the last thing we ever - OW! Stop hitting me!" This last was directed to the escorting cop who was getting in some truncheon practise on his skull.

The room was now deserted of both rival evil factions, and filled with equally evil cops. Doobie surveyed the destruction around him with a satisfied grin.

"Nice place the Shrew had here. Think I might move in here! Okay, squadron F," he barked, "comb this building, flush out any remaining goons and find Fred Boraman for me! He's working for the Police now."

Quick as a flash, the cops scurried about their business. This left the room empty of all but the Qwax party, handcuffed, and Police Chief Doobie, who took up most of the room on his own.

"Well, well, well," he said, avuncularly, "it's all turned out nice hasn't it?"

"Speaking of turning out, Chief," said Sophie respectfully, "do you suppose you could let us go now?"

Doobie stopped, a look of amusement covering his wide face. "Let you go? What for?"

"Because we haven't done anything?" Sharleen volunteered.

The smile disappeared from the Police Chief's face as soon as it had appeared. "Haven't done anything? Boraman's as much a part of the Gangbang Plot as Rabotnik and Morgan!"

"No I'm not!" said Sophie hotly, her faith in the Law quickly eroding. "They kept me in the dark about the whole thing!"

"And I'm supposed to believe that?" asked Chief Doobie, rhetorically as it turned out, as Whiskey was shot a dirty look when he started nodding. "Jim Qwax," continued the Police Chief, "is still wanted on all the charges he was arrested for this morning, plus escaping from police custody. It seems obvious to me now that he and Boraman were in cahoots to keep the scientist Fred Boraman out of the hands of the law, and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if they engineered this whole kidnapping thing to cover up their own evil involvement in the plot to take over the city. The rest of you, of course," he said, nodding curtly to Cattz, Sharleen and Whiskey, "are aiding and abetting a fugitive from justice. You should only get about 10 years."

"Only?" asked Sharleen. "Gee, thanks, Mr Ossifer! Who the hell do you think you are, Judge Dredd?"

Doobie, not prepared to take that, marched over to Jim Qwax's lover and shoved a grimy finger in her face. "Two more for lip, bitch."

"Oh, you do think you're Dredd!" said Jim Qwax, his cheerful insanity reappearing. "Well, I'm sorry to burst your little bubble, Doobie, but we actually have courts of law in this city, and none of them will let this case stand up for a minute!"

"Oh, they'll believe anything I say, Mr Qwax," said Doobie, chortling, his belly happily flopping up and down. "I've just saved the city from a hellish criminal conspiracy, remember? And you will go along quietly. See, or otherwise you won't get any years at all. Instead, I aim this here bazooka at you and say I had to wipe you out for resisting arrest!"

"You can't be serious!" yelled Sophie.

"Yes he can, sweetie," said Whiskey, his voice devoid of colour. "That ain't icing sugar on those doughnuts, you realize..."

"Cocaine?" said Sharleen, surprised.

Jim Qwax nodded. "Yeah, Doobie's taken that whole doughnut thing one decadent step forward. Now you *know* why he's so nuts!"

"All right, enough chat!" screamed Doobie, swinging his bazooka in their face. "Do I splatter you all across the sewer system, or do you come quietly?"

"Well?" said Jim to Sharleen. "Do I?"

"Usually, unless you want to impress the poor guy next door who's not getting any," said his lover impishly.

"Alright, Doobie..." sighed the master detective.

"Wait a minute, sweetie," said Cattz, who up until that point had remained absolutely silent, intently thinking. "Isn't there something I could... do for you, in exchange for you forgetting some of these silly charges, hmmm?" She batted her eyelids in the approved manner.

"Oh, no," said Jim Qwax, his tolerance stretched to breaking point. "Kitty, I love and respect you as a person, but I'm not going to let you degrade yourself just to get us a few years off!"

"Who said anything about you, Qwax?" said Cattz, sticking out her tongue. "I'm doing *this* for myself!"

Jim Qwax was about to just break down and sob at this stage at the malevolent incompetence of fate. However, if he had done that he wouldn't have caught the barely perceptible wink that his sexy secretary threw his way. Jim subsided a tad, thinking that just maybe Cattz had a cunning plan that would save all their four skins.

"That's the attitude, sugar-tush," leered the grotty police chief, wandering over in front of the master detective's secretary. "And exactly what would that be?"

"If you let me out of these handcuffs, I can show you," said Cattz impishly. "If I remember right, you like custard and feathers, hmmm?"

"Someone get me a bucket," muttered Sharleen, "I'm going to be violently and copiously sick!"

"Don't sweat it, Sharl," muttered the master detective right back. "Odds on she has a cunning plan! All he has to do is let her out of those handcuffs..."

"No, I'm not going to do that," said Doobie to Cattz.

"D'oh!" said the master detective.

"You can do something for me just fine with just that ruby-red mouth of yours," said the police chief, reaching down and undoing his flies. "Come on... down on your knees..."

Cattz grinned helplessly as Doobie dragged her away from the utterly repulsed group, pushed her down to groin level and directed her towards his open fly.

"You going to need some tweezers, Cattz?" called out Whiskey.

Doobie swung his bazooka up and pointed it directly at the tavern owner. "One more word out of you, fatso, and..."

But the slimy police chief had no more time to call the kettle black, as Cattz had taken advantage of his momentary distraction to headbutt him in the balls as hard as possible. Doobie howled, dropped the bazooka and dropped to the floor, so that Cattz could headbutt his nuts again as he came back up. As he finally crashed to the ground, whimpering, Cattz rolled him over onto his stomach, extracted his handcuff keys from his back pocket with her teeth, stood up and kicked him in the balls once more, for good measure.

"Just be thankful I didn't use my teeth, scumbag," she said sweetly, if a little indistinctly.

The master detective was understandably gratified at this turn of events, but sort of worried too. As Sophie, Whiskey and Sharleen jumped up and down and cheered, Jim Qwax was wondering just how much use this feat of astounding bravery - that is, going anywhere near Doobie's crotch - was going to be.

"Er, Cattz?" said the master detective over the top of the noise of cheering. "Exactly how are you going to use those keys before Doobie is able to stand up again?"

The sexy secretary grinned, twisted her wrists in a surprisingly fetching manner and the cuffs fell to the floor.

"Oh, impressive!" said Sharleen.

"Thanks, Sharl," said Cattz, impishly. "Just for that, you get unlocked first!"

"Where the fuck you learn that stunt?" asked the master detective, pretty damn impressed.

"In my line of work, Jim," said Cattz, releasing Sharleen and heading towards Whiskey, "you sometimes need to get out of handcuffs without the key. I've done special wrist-suppleness excercises for years!"

Figures, thought Jim Qwax as the sultry secretary unshackled him and all his friends. "Sophie?" he barked, massaging his poor abused wrists. "Keep Doobie covered while Whiskey goes for his bazooka!"

"With absolute pleasure," said the odor-eater heiress, lifting her magnum at the groaning figure of the Police Chief.

As the mighty tavern owner lumbered towards the bazooka, two minor police flunkies emerged from the back passages forcing a short, bespectacled, mousy-haired man wearing dirty jeans and a T-shirt saying "THE INTERNET IS FULL - GO AWAY!".

"We got 'im, Chief -" they started, but stopped as Whiskey pointed the bazooka right at them.

"FRED!" screamed Sophie. The mousy-haired man looked up, appearing utterly bemused at the sudden change in his fortunes.

"Drop Boraman or you go home in a shoebox!!!" the ultra-violent tavern holder yelled, not in the mood for pissing around.

"Uh... okay..." said one of the cops, as they both dropped their weapons. Cattz quickly ran forward to pick them up and take over the job of covering them. The other policeman seemed more transfixed with the sight of their feared Chief lying on the floor, vainly trying to get back to his feet.

This didn't last long, however, as Sophie laid him unconscious with one kick to the back of the head as she ran towards her long-missing brother, still kneeling on the floor massaging his bruises. "Oh Fred, poor baby, what did they do to you?" she shrieked, grabbing him in a massive bear hug.

"Beat the living shit out of me, actually," said Fred Boraman, in a confused tone of voice. "How the hell did you find me?"

"I hired the best damn detective in the city," said Sophie, helping him to his feet. "That's him over there, with his girlfriend and his secretary."

"Hi," said Jim Qwax absently, searching in his trenchcoat for a McHeady's to celebrate with. Sharleen and Cattz waved as they held the gormless policemen in the sights of their own rifles.

Fred Boraman nodded, obviously not too convinced about the reality of this situation. "And the meathead in the Metallica T-Shirt holding the bazooka is...?"

Sophia Boraman turned around, a dreamy smile on her face, and the master detective could have sworn he heard a bloody big string orchestra starting an arpeggio. "That's the man I love," she smiled.

"Duh...?" said the master detective, convinced that he'd missed something big here.

Whiskey chuckled. "Wanna hold this for me, Jim?" he grinned, handing the master detective the bazooka.

Jim Qwax was now well and truly convinced he was in the middle of another nasty LSD flashback, as Sophie Boraman ran across the floor of Binky's hideout straight into Whiskey's large, enveloping arms. The imaginary string orchestra struck up something that sounded like Tchaikovsky as the heiress and the bartender engaged in a long, passionate soul kiss. The master detective watched with disgust as Whiskey's hands roamed up and down Sophie's buttocks.

"Someone get me a bucket!" yelled the master detective. "Now *I'm* going to be violently and copiously sick!"

Fred shook his head sadly. "Never had any taste in men, that one," he sighed ruefully.

"Well, that's a turnup for the books," said Sharleen philosophically, coming over to her lover's side. "Sophie was complaining just before to me how she wouldn't have a hope in hell with him after kicking him in the nuts before..."

Jim Qwax snorted a cynical chuckle as he continued to ransack the pockets of his mighty trenchcoat. "You mean that *she* had the hots for him too all this time?'

Sharleen shrugged. "Violence is apparently how she expresses her deepest feelings towards men…"

That sort of disturbed Jim Qwax, but he let it slide. "It's just that I just got through telling him he had no chance with her…"

"Weird, isn't it?" said Sharleen. "Who can tell why people get attracted to one another for any reason ever?"

"In our case, sheer persistence," laughed Qwax as he kissed his lover firmly on the cheek.

The two new lovers might have gone on snogging for all eternity if a commotion from the manhole above them hadn't disturbed them. Jim Qwax suddenly realised that there were still a squadron of Doobie's cops roaming the building ransacking Binky's files, and probably a bunch in reserve up above, and he made for his bazooka to try to hold them off. As it turned out, however, he needn't have worried. The only City cops who came down the hole were unconscious forms which fell to the ground with a sickening thud, and the figures which suddenly started pouring down the rope ladder were cops, all right - but instead of the blue and green insignia of the City Police force, they were wearing black and white.

"Feds?" said Jim Qwax wonderingly. "What the hell are *they* doing here?"

"Police Corruption, Qwax," said a scarily familiar voice. "We've been on Doobie's case for ages, and you've just led us right to him!"

As the crack Federal units took over guarding the prisoners and disappeared into the depths of the building, Jim Qwax turned around with the sickest of sickening feelings in his stomach. There, being helped down the rope ladder, heavily bandaged but dressed in the uniform of a Federal Chief Inspector, was none other than...

"MALCOLM NITTS?!?" yelled the master detective, his sense of reality well and truly fucked to hell by now.

"One and the Same," said the grinning mustachio'd figure who Jim Qwax had last seen bleeding nigh unto death in the back of an ambulance. "I've been working undercover as a hot meat pie salesman in this city for two years, collecting evidence on all of Silas O'Doobie's scams - hanging around you, of course, I got to know about far more of them than I could have hoped. But I would have never suspected him of being in league with the FFFF and the Rabotnik gang if I hadn't followed you here..."

"So..." said the master detective slowly, swearing to never touch acid again as long as he lived. "Binky got wise to you, which is why you were the first of his wave of attempted assassinations?"

Nitts nodded. "He may be evil, but he's not stupid. But thankfully, you and your friends saved my life, in addition to helping me crack the case of the century. You'll all be recommended for national medals of commendation!"

The erstwhile fast-food salesman was helped over to the prone form of the City Police Chief, where he directed his lieutenant to drag Doobie to his feet and slap him awake.

"You've disgraced your badge, O'Doobie," he spat into the fat psychotic's face, "and I'm going to make sure you go up the river. In fact, I'm going to make sure you share a cell with your good friends Rabotnik and Morgan. Won't that be fun?"

Silas O'Doobie focussed unsteadily on his nemesis. "I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn't for that meddling Qwax," he muttered.

Quick as a flash, Nitts's lieutenant hit him upside the head. "Shut up, you bastard," said Nitts. "You two over there, get him into the paddy wagon. As for you guys," he added, turning towards the master detective and his friends, "I'll be in touch within the next few days to talk to you about this medal thing. Oh, and Jim?" he added.

"Yes?" said Jim, who'd found a can of McHeady's in his inner pocket while Nitts was speaking and was opening it with glee.

"You don't get your medal until I get my fucking wallet back," grinned the Federal cop as he was helped back up the rope ladder.

On balance, thought the master detective as he drained the McHeady's with a single gulp, it probably wasn't such a bad day after all.

It was 3 am on the waterfront of the City. The Feds had rounded up all the City cops and the remnants of the Rabotnik goons, and put them in secure confinement while they worked out what to do with them. Now, as they watched all the loose ends of the case work themselves out, Jim Qwax, his lover, his secretary, his client, her brother and her new lover were sitting on a concrete pile next to the river, passing round a joint and getting absolutely shitfaced.

"So..." said Jim Qwax taking a mother-huge drag and passing it to Sharleen. "What are you going to do now, Ms Boraman?"

"Well, right now I'm going to pay you," said the odor-eater heiress unsteadily, fishing out her chequebook and scribbling maniaclly. "Here you go, Jim - I hope that's to your satisfaction?"

Taking the cheque, Jim Qwax was astounded by the figure written on it. "What's this, your telephone number?" he coughed.

"It's what we agreed upon, Jim," said Sophie, taking the joint from Sharleen and sucking down. "I always pay my debts! Speaking of which," she said, scribbling out another cheque, "this is for you, Ms Katzenjammer. Enough money to pay back the rental company for that car of yours, and to buy a new one of your very own."

Cattz blushed, and secreted the cheque in her bosom. Jim Qwax debated with himself briefly whether to tell Sophie to forget all about that expenses bullshit that he'd spouted, but thought better of it. "Thanks," he said, pocketing it. "I'm going to get us a new apartment, a snazzy car, and," he added, examining the figure on the cheque one more time, "probably have enough left over to mount an America's Cup bid!"

"That's the spirit," said Sophie, passing the joint to her brother Fred, who eyed it suspiciously and took a small toke. "Myself, I'm going to diversify Boraman Industries into the Tavern trade!"

"No shit?" asked Cattz as Whiskey grinned like an imbecile. "Yes indeed," said Sophie over the sound of her brother coughing like a demon. "We're going to rebuild Whiskey's Tavern as seedy as it ever was, only twice as big, and Julius and I are going to run it together!"

"Julius?" laughed the master detective, looking at Whiskey who was turning a bright red. "Is that your name, then? Julius?"

Whiskey/Julius was just going to advise the master detective exactly where he could stick his trenchcoat, but as Fred passed him the joint he thought better of it. "Now you know why I call myself Whiskey," he muttered, taking a gigantic puff and passing it to Cattz.

"As for the rest of our empire," said Fred Ballatine, a trifle unsteadily, "Nitts says we'll have a good chance getting the contract to supply the Feds with odoreaters for the next five years. My God, this is good shit, isn't it?" he added, grinning like a loon.

"Only the best for the Qwax Corporation," said Cattz, taking the last toke and putting the roach into a special container.

"Oh, speaking of which," said the master detective, turning to his sexy secretary, "this means I'll be able to pay all the money I owe you tomorrow!"

"What, all of it?" said Cattz, surprised. "Great Goddess, Jim, that must be a big-assed cheque! That means I'll be able to rent my own premises as well as getting a new car! Bet you'll be pleased not to have me, uh, entertaining clients in your office any more..." she added, poking Jim in the ribs.

"Fuck," said the master detective, downcast. "Does this mean I'm short one secretary? I won't pay you, then!"

Cattz, laughing, leaned over and kissed her boss on the cheek. "I can have two jobs," she tittered.

Sophie Boraman rose unsteadily to her feet. "Well, it's getting late, and I've got to get back to the office and frantically cancel the launch of the Footman line. I guess we'll all meet again at the awards ceremony, then..."

She stuck out her hand to shake with the master detective. However, Jim Qwax was so stoned by this stage that instead he picked up his client in a huge bear hug. Surprisingly, he didn't get kicked in the balls.

"See ya, Sophie," he said, dropping her and waving goodbye to Whiskey and Fred. "We'll be at the opening of the new tavern, with bells on!"

The master detective, satisfied with a job well done, put one arm around his lover and one around his secretary, and moved towards the taxi stand.

"Jim!" called Whiskey as his new lover stood shaken, her limousine pulling up behind them. "What are *you* going to do now?"

The master detective grinned back at his friend. "Now that's a stupid question," he laughed as he, Sharleen and Cattz walked off into the distance.

What he did, of course, after dropping Cattz off, was to go back home with Sharleen and fuck like crazed weasels until plaster dropped from the ceiling and the rats in the wall cavity started howling..


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