Honey West: Kiss for Killer by G.G. Pickling.
Published by Pyramid Books in 1960. Cover art by Bob Maguire.

Note: Instead of a full story, I had an idea for a long time about a gumshoe-style series called Smog City. I worked on it, combining some ideas floating around and it kinda gelled together at last. So, here’s the first chapter. If you like it, let me know in the comments.


A girl and a gun, that’s how I always knew I was gonna go. My stupid sense of chivalry and my blind spot for dangerous ladies was gonna catch up to me eventually, one way or another, that much was certain.
Looking down the flashy end of a gun barrel, I raised my hands and took in her curves. Lithe, full, barely clothed, since all she had was a bedsheet held in front of her, she meant business. Her blue eyes and her blonde hair would have made her a living work of art under different circumstances.
Heck, I had even brought my stupid carcass on the hotel that was close to the water, making it easy for her to straight-up dump me into the port.
And the day had started out so well.

I was in my office, as usual. It’s nothing much, four walls and a semblance of a lobby. It has my name on it, Philippos Melas, Private Investigator. Yeah, I investigate things for a living, it’s the only thing I’m good at.
I sat down on my creaky chair. I kept things retro, because I liked the flair. Leather chair, wooden desk, wooden cabinet. I kept my computer underneath the desk, out of sight. I’m not a Luddite, I just like to keep it cool.
Leaning back and resting my back, my calendar showed up in my face, making an annoying gling that demanded attention. “Go away,” I said, swiping the Augmented Reality Object from my face. These things were so rude these days, and nobody seemed to mind. Notifications, ads, upsells, all in your face, demanding your attention, and your cold, hard cash.
Not that we used cash anymore.
Who uses cash when you can have cryptocurrency transactions? Sure, there are the proper currencies you can use, the euro, the dollar, the yen. But in the Smog City, crypto is king.
And I had a severe shortage of it. That’s what my calendar app was nagging be about like a neglected wife, the damn rent. Things weren’t like the old days, where you could beg your landlady for an extension, tell you’re sick and business is low. No, these days, it was all outsourced to building management companies that wouldn’t hesitate to press that button that would evict you and throw you out into the street.
The corporations were cruel like that. But what can you do? Such is life.
I sighed, I rubbed my eyes, then my arm. It hurt, it always hurt. Dammit, ghost limbs are supposed to be for limbs that aren’t there, not for augmented prosthetics! I needed sleep, I needed cash, I needed a damn job.
I gestured upwards on my desk, sweeping a thin layer of dust in the process. My computer showed me the ‘Gumshoe’ job boards. Yeah, we had a system for it. It sounds silly but trust me, it makes life a whole lot easier. After all, when Hermes Information Technology thinks that there’s money to be earned in some area of business, they simply develop and throw up the biggest, baddest, best computer system there is that does the job just right.
Bunch of thieves, all of them. But they knew their computers, I’ll give them that.
The job board was looking scarce like a bar at 10 a.m. I scrolled through the jobs, there was nothing there. Nothing that could get me the amount of money I needed in… Ah. Crap. Twenty-four hours? Twenty-three and fifty-two minutes, to be precise. The calendar app showed a helpful countdown on my field of view. Gee, thanks. A countdown to getting kicked out.
I went through the gumshoe listings again. Nothing, nothing that could be done quickly. I was just a level 1 PI, I had access to plenty of jobs but not the best-paying ones.
Sighing, I swiped it away. I stood up and leaned on the window, which by some freak chance had a view of the Acropolis. Okay, half of it, but I could see it. The ancient marble, the worn down columns. A monument in the middle of a city drowned in sickly, yellow smog, even in daytime.
I couldn’t give up, not like this.
I turned around and went through the job listings again. Nothing, dammit! Then I turned over to the no-gummies. A bit of PI lingo here, gummie points are what we call the awarded points from the gumshoe system. A certified PI, like me, can trade in those for extras, perks, even augmentations. But you needed a lot for that, and the level 1 jobs weren’t paying me enough. So, a job came attached with a gummie prize, plus the money.
A no-gummie job is what it says, a 0-level job for newbies that pays a pittance in cash and precisely zero gummies.
This was a disgrace, but I needed it. Heck, I should be able to finish a couple in time.
Feeling overconfident, I selected two jobs and accepted them. The system warned me of the penalties if I didn’t deliver on time, I said, “Yeah, yeah, blow me,” and confirmed.
There.
I now had two jobs, cash-only. Like a goddamn newbie straight off the boat.
The one, ‘Retrieve Miss Walsh’s pendant, she believes it was stolen by her immigrant cleaning lady.’ The other, ‘Find Joey’s headphones, he thinks he left them at the train station.’
Sigh.
I hurried out of my office and into the streets, ready to make some dough.

See also  Afterburner Sunsets Part 22

End of Chapter 1

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2 Comments

Andrea Johnson · December 26, 2018 at 10:01 am

This story has potential. I’d like to read more of it to see how it develops.

    George Saoulidis · December 26, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Thanks. The hardboiled tone is not my usual style, but the story has been rattling around in my mind for a long time.

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