The entire book appears at this link with chapters added after appearing online:
Chapters 1-10: https://www.escondidograpevine.com/surveillance-pelicana-full-book-chapters-added-as-they-appear-online/.
Chapters 11-20: https://www.escondidograpevine.com/surveillance-pelicana-part-ii-chapters-11-to-20-chapters-added-as-they-appear-online/
Chapters 21-30: https://www.escondidograpevine.com/surveillance-pelicana-part-iii-chapters-21-to-30-chapters-added-as-they-appear-online/
Joe Fine, the Super Sleuth, former Israeli
agent and president of IRS Inc., arrives at New Orleans
International Airport. Tyger meets and greets him. They go to
Dorothy’s house where Joe Fine demonstrates the secret video
surveillance system that is constructed in a car baby seat with
remote controls etc. Operation of the system is explained along
with some of Joe’s other plans for the company.
“Super Sleuth’s Eye of the Tyger”
Imagination fancy free take flight. Dawn stalks beyond the
wild blue yonder and behind the green door.
Who cares what’s wrong and who’s right.
Another day has landed squarely on Tyger’s shoulders.
In this case, zut and ehe’. Time passes along points unknown
motor control guided this fabled way.
There alights the Super Sleuth by himself so-called.
This, comrades, is Joe Fine who is totally into the
detective motif. His business card is emblazoned with a classic
picture of detective Sherlock Holmes blowing on a curved wooden pipe.
You’re in somewhat good hands with Joe Fine, a mensch
formerly of the Israeli Defense Force code breaking department,
currently plowing the Gulf Coast for fraudulent insurance claimants and
whatever unsolved mysteries vageries of fate devises.
Tyger walks through the terminal at New Orleans International Airport
that is festooned with Mardi Gras commercialism crass,
and pseudo-Louisiana shopping opportunities-selling
the likes of crawfish mugs, Superdome ashtrays,
and cheesy city skyline postcards.
A couple of airport cops languidly patrol. From time to time,
an airplane ascends or descends depending
on the tower’s instructions or perhaps pilot whim.
The coffee shop charges a million dollars for a cup of java.
Amusing Mardi Gras Indian exhibit at one end of the terminal and
at the other a salute to the Saints. Don’t they know
both seasons ended poorly?
Tyger arrives at the welcoming area. Joe Fine is a tough act
to miss. Description: White male, 40 years old, married,
two children, 6’2″ tall, 190 pounds, shaved bald head.
Stop. OK, on to Kinderhook
approaching the sacred detective meeting ground.
“Joe Fine. Hey,” and communications, or “commos” as they say
in military parlance, is established.
Joe carries two heavy black suitcases.
“These got atomic bombs or something?” Tyger jokes.
“What do you mean by that?” Joe Fine reflects.
Joe Fine pops pops open one of the suitcases as they stop in the
terminal for a moment before trekking to Tyger’s sorry vehicle.
“Holy cow, is that what I think it is?” Tyger asks.
“Yeah, you right,” Joe replies, “TV transmitter.
My man in Mobile made it from components.
Believe it’s illegal to build these now.”
“Probably,” Tyger says.
“This sucker was messing up,” Joe continues,
“but we can set up a remote unit, operate it
from a safe location using this control mechanism.”
He waves at a neat corner of the black box.
Sure, enough, it is a made in Mars looking, remote unit.
“Still working the bugs out. These suckers are finicky.”
Magic carpet guides the newly former alliance past
baggage carousel and black porters, then across the airport
cross-street. A tow-truck from the welcome your screwed
wagon society hauls an unsuspecting tourist’s car towards oblivion.
Welcome to the Big Easy, folks.
Joe Fine has the gig down. He tells Tyger about his
experiences cracking codes in the Army of the Galilee coming over
the good ole’ USA to make some equally good gelt. And thusly,
he had become Florida Man, a creature of the Redneck Riviera
at the inappropriately named town of Niceville.
Embarking on shop talk, Joe Fine tells a funny story about
setting up one guy to go deep sea fishing. Everyone else on the
boat was an operative. Got the guy on great home video hooking a
giant tuna despite an incapacitating back injury.
He guffaws at the makeshift memory.
Then, there is the one about the phony softball game that
stung a guy who claimed to be blind.
“He hit a home run, then we hit a home run,” Joe Fine laughing.
Topics include: Fire investigations, the state of world
affairs — Joe is conservative but
strongly believes in civil liberties, and where
to find the best bathrooms while on a stake-out.
(Motels usually fit the bill.)
Joe Fine touches on a variety of interesting and essential
concepts. He is kind of like a detective guru, which is good for a
Tyger getting his feet wet in the business.
“That Super Sleuth thing is pretty damn good,” Tyger sez like pez.
“You would be surprised how many people
remember me for that,” remarks Joe Fine.
Joe provides additional information about various near death
experiences hanging out with the Army of the Galilee on the
Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur War. He mentions hobbies of
sky and deep sea diving. He likes the Grand Cayman Islands for
both. Maybe, he will make it to northern Australia some fine day.
Meantime, I-10 is the usual near death experience.
Tyger weaves his mother the car between traffic crazed Yat
ladies and steamed million-wheeler long-haulers.
Hopefully, Super Sleuth Joe Fine isn’t noticing.
Then, past the Metairie cemeteries where the dead are
buried above ground. Beware them voodoo ya-ya witches.
Wouldn’t you prefer eternity down under in a casket?
“Nice work if you can get it,” Joe Fine concludes.
“Did Dorothy mention that I’m going to have you use the system?”
“She had kind of sort of I guess maybe might have mentioned it.”
“Good. You’ll enjoy this.”
Continuing along I-10 towards Downtown and the West Bank,
Joe is, well , fine. He continues to regale his newly recruited
junior associate with picaresque and picturesque verbal daguerreotypes.
“That’s what I hate about this place,” Joe says, “the people.
Dunno. Some of them are idiots like anywhere, but some of them
venture beyond idiocy into lunacy. They don’t care much for
serious business. Get lots of cases around here. I guess it’s the easy
peasy money party mentality. Talk about the city that care forgot.”
No shit, Sherlock.
“It’s hard to get stuff done sometimes,” Tyger says,
“because everyone’s in your face with Mardi Gras or sumthin.
“Slackers slackville,” Joe Fine adds. “All these guys figure
they can get away with anything.
Tangipahoa, St. Tammany parishes, and north of Lake
Ponchartrain — I have so many presumed arson cases it’s funny and
pathetic. All in the family type business, burning down your
house or the neighbor’s Wild stuff.
No wonder insurance companies paying us
good money to investigate.”
Hum-baby, this narrator seems cooked. A final message from
Joe Fine about sports; he likes soccer, not football and
cooking; Louisiana food is too hot and spicy; Edwin Fucking
Edwards, everyone knows that guy is a crook. Hopefully, he won’t
return in the next election a’la Richard Nixon’s ghost.
All this is expressed in tightly metered word bite clips.
“That’s precisely what I mean,” Joe notes, veering nonetheless,
“How do you spell that boat. You know the Cajun canoe
they have on the bayous?”
“You mean a pirogue?” Tyger asks
“That’s it. How do you spell that?”
“Pirogue: p-i-r-o-g-u-e, I think,”
“Yeah. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I never could figure out that one.”
Downtown canoodles stage left alongside the expressionless way as the
dynamic duo careens towards old man river going West Bank proud.
“Actually it is a beautiful skyline and all, the riverfront,
here at Yatville,” Joe finally observes.
For some reason, a large blimp hangs suspended limply near
the Superdome. “I like watching the barges roll along,” Joe pines.
There crosses the Greater New Orleans Bridge, pre-toll days,
single span with the companion Crescent City Connection, so-called
rising as a hallucinating parallelogram companion.
Over and under, winding around the declining exit ramp,
Tyger takes the serpentine asphalt road to the West Bank overpass,
emerging at Marrero.
The yellow brick road leads to Dorothy’s house.
Cut to interior, living area in front divided into a family
room and kitchen with large dining table. The small poodle dog
with pink ribbon around her head is barking in excitement.
Is that well manicured mutt called Spunky, Sparky, Barky?
“What the hell is the dog’s name again?” Joe Fine finally asks.
“l always forget.” Maybe it’s Blinky.
“Get going girl,” Dorothy says, leading away the noisy
creature with nary a care. “That darn pooch, Poopsie.”
Dorothy exits stage left, returning with a baby seat for a
car. She places it gingerly on the kitchen table.
Joe Fine watches his pride with joy.
“There it is,” Joe Fine presents. “Our little beauty.
What ya think? How you like it? ”
“Ahh,” Tyger takes a wild stab in the living room heart.
“Baby seat, I guess. What you mean?”
“Yes,” Joe says. That’s what I’m talking ’bout.
That’s the beauty of the system.
Looks just like a baby seat.”
Dorothy smiles by the sink.
“Okee-dokee, here is how it works.”
Joe Fine demonstrates as if making a training video.
Take the automobile battery and put it on the car floor.
Take the jumper cable electrical switches.
Plug in the video recorder and camera.
A small board disguised with cloth supports the VHS camera.
A motor control unit also is plugged in, using that the
investigator can move the camera into position
without actually touching the unit.
The picture is centered through a monitor on the floor.
Camera proper, draped with blue bag cover, appears
quite innocent to the naked eye.
Everything else is covered by towels, old clothes, and
newspapers so that the intricate wiring remains invisible.
Tinted windows in Tyger’s car will provide an extra modicum of security.
“They can look right at that sucker as close as you are to
me now,” Joe remarks to Tyger, sitting about an arm’s length
across the table, “and not suspect a thing. In fact, I have taken
some very nice in your subject’s face shots myself.”
Objective is to arrive at the subjective’s home around
dawn, then set up a shot covering the areas at the residence
most conducive to activity. Preferably, this
includes the front door and any garage areas.
Tyger is to run a six hour VHS videotape on the system in
his parked car and make himself scarce, usually leaving the area
although circumstances might dictate hanging around the abandoned vehicle.
“And oh by the way,” Joe Fine adds, “if you think Andy
Warhol made weird movies, you should get a hold of some of our tapes.”
No shit again, Sherlock.
Dorothy and Joe Fine issue the gear then, making special
note of each object — camera, recorder, monitor, remote control,
tapes, battery. Oh yes, don’t forget the Sears Almighty battery
recharger. Check. Check. Check already. That’s a lotta lotta stuff.
And don’t forget this big picture of a component,
the ultimate in car baby seats.
No sub rosa surveillence system would be complete without it.
Final instructions and plans for next week’s cases are laid
lovingly bare on the kitchen table for all to appreciate.
“There should be some good hunting these next few weeks,”
Joe knows “Damn fine missions. Full speed ahead.”
Joe ends the research and development meeting with a few
rapid fire miscellaneous requests of the new recruit. He wants to
make an instructional video about the system and market it to
other agents. He wants to draw up brochures, maybe branch out
into other areas. Tyger might be able to help with all this.
“Getting cases is not that hard.
Takes a lot of bullshit, schmoozing with attorneys,
insurance adjusters to get that business,” according to the gospel by Joe.
“And then, they never understand how tough it is to carry
out assignments. They think everything is Starsky and Hutch or
whatever is the current popular detective show.”
(Joe Fine acknowledges that he doesn’t really know for he
doesn’t watch television. Or so he says.)
“This is a results business,” Joe continues. “Clients
are very impressed when I tell them about the system, show
some good results. Lately, I’ve been getting more work than I can handle.”
“People go neighborhood watch crazy if they see a guy in a
parked car,” Dorothy adds. “If no one is inside and all you
can see is an innocent baby seat, if that, we’re home free.”
Joe and Dorothy have been using the system for about six months.
They “know” Tyger can do a great job with it.
“No problem,” Tyger says. “Looks like fun.”
Fun indeed. Everyone smiles. Successful secret surveillance
business meeting. Tyger loads up his vehicle, hands shaking
all around, blasts off for known points Uptown.
“See you when I see you,” Joe Fine says.
“Be thinking about that instructional video.”
Yeah, right; as if…If Tyger hurries home, he can catch the
“All My Children” opening credits. Theme song.
They must follow the tide
Where the seabirds fly
Until they find me…
Retracing the usual steps — time, and ass backwards in this
case, Tyger drives into the future. He has a joint in the
glove compartment, goody goody gum-shoe-drop.
Tyger lights up, and over the bridge weaving between semi-insane
semi-truck gravel-head drivers and sporty tin cans filled
with nuclear families or brain-dead cement-head sundry
recreational vehicles with sports van turnip faced pilots.
Damn it. “All My Children” just started.
Expressway lane blocking assholes. Tyger fears the worst.
Just missed Erika Cane fucking a tractor.
Tyger’s mother the car gets off on Camp Street descending
like a Marcel Duchamp nude those strange stairs. It fruit loops
to Tchopitoulas Street somehow. It takes him on a magic carpet
ride past the Stonehenge that surrounds a mind’s eye.
The abandoned 1984 World’ s Fair site flies by over here.
Over there stretch more wharves: Thalia Street Wharf, a bright red;
Robin Street Wharf, a burnt orange.
Mystery car cuts across abandoned debris, burnt out
vehicular wreckage, sundry fascinating architectural relics
maybe still standing, over to lower Magazine Street. Then,
slower, for derelict trucks fall in to the right, damn fume monster
busses clogging the northern front. Fight on, dude.
Magazine Street follows, as it must, the river’s bend. So
does Tyger trailing behind the noontime sun. Church bells ring.
Cajun blackened redfish run down Jackson Avenue.
It’s time. It’s time. Tyger is missing “All My Children.”
Tyger pounds an angry beat on the car horn, yelling
expletives deleted out the car window, throwing paper temper towel
tantrums in the car bitch, at the car bitches,
turning up and down car radio volume.
All these measures fail to move the bus blocking soap opera
access in front. Said trip takes fooorrreeevvverrr.
And then some. Fuck them already.
Then, a few quick who dats thrown down Nashville Avenue,
surprisingly light traffic around the park,
of course too little, too late, and presto, home at last.
Tyger jumps through the door, out the car, turning on the
television set in one fluid motion taking approximately one
nanosecond unreal time. Immediately settling in like an old story line.
A minor flunky Rosencrantz of a character is dying as a major
player comments, “life must go on,” but for the commercial break.
Get ready for the future. Easy for him to say.
“Fuck you Erica Shame, you slut,”
Tyger, or maybe Guildenstern, shouting
displeasure at the blinking television set.
“No Daytime Emmy for the zillionth consecutive year for you.”
(Typical talk back to your television generational humor. )
Tyger troubles. “Oh no, what is it this time.
Another wedding? Another amnesia victim?”
Nah. Just the usual fleeting passions.
After all, ratings sweep not until February.
Passes the rest of the show with actors merely rehashing
details over endless cups of coffee. Tyger joins them with a
couple styrofoam cups worth of P.J.’s coffee, black, no chaser.
Reefer consumed. More soap opera. Quick walk to the store.
Back tor more home life. Checking out the secret
surveillance system. Quite impressive actually, believe it or not.
A map to look at the roads down in the bayou.
All systems check. All Tygers go.
Cut to Tuesday January 19, 1988 at
“Some day, we’ll be together again. One of these days.
When we’re together again, I’ll say that I love you.
Some day. We’ll be togeth…”
Slam. Bam. Wake up man. Here we go again.
Some crazy co-ed rides roughshod over the WTUL-FM airwaves.
“It’s 4:30, what is it, p.m.,” a thin girlish voice swings and misses.
“No wait, that’s wrong. It’s 4:30 a.m. So hard to keep track
when you been up all night.”
Wham. Slam. This time her voice registers as does Tyger’s
alarm radio bash.
What time is it actually? It’s dark but the red clock time
sings out 4:30 a.m. Shit, it really is 4:30. That is early.
The cold slaps Tyger’s body flinging it like a sumo wrestler
out of the bedroom ring, into the bathroom where he turns on the
heater, standing next to its eerie orange-red glow. Wake up.
Wake up. Wake the F UP! Time to begin the beguine .
Why bother with certain parts of the ritual? Why indeed.
After all, who is going to know if our boy stinks like a rotting
tuna or looks like a blackened catfish?
Tyger gets as far as shitting, shaving and maintenance
grooming before latching on the line. He blows off
traditional shower. All systems go, stars yet aglow, Tyger
puffs off last night’s nearly abandoned pipe
beginning a new tradition this brave new morning.
He loads the vehicle with surveillance gear unusual.
Holy cow, time to hit a homer in the gloamin’.
Batter up. You’re next, insurance scam creep.
This is your most unlucky moment.
Eye of the Tyger has escaped to rope-a-dope you.
Growls agent he-man glowing.
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