by Art Arduous
CHAPTER ONE:
MISSING IN ACTION

 

 



outhern California was always golden outside of the Spanish Colonial Revival mansion in Los Feliz, the swank hilltop community that floats above Los Angeles. Legend and real estate listings have it that Cary Grant, the old school film actor, used to live here. The spread is called Silver Rio because the guy who built it in the Teens had made his fortune in Colorado silver.

Muk McKaylee the artist and his studio crew have been squatting there for over nine months now. The period-furnished pad with pool and tennis court played out like the Alcalde's palace in a Zorro picture. McKaylee's galleon crew was becoming well acquainted with the luxury lifestyle, a pleasant change.

 

The kitchen was palatial. An industrial espresso maker was singing a morning song. Pedro Gin sat at the long Catalan table and was alternating his attention between the Korean Times, the LA Times and the flashing screen of his laptop.

Blu Wosakowski stood over the stove and blew a lock of hair out of her eyes. The slight nineteen year old liked to cook. Truthfully, she loved to cook in this pro chef's kitchen with every gadget and chopper and skillet that imagination and ease could conjure. She was making Huevos Revolucion when the phone rang.

 

Blu answered the cell phone, "Studio!"

            "Blu. It's Vicki. I'm coming over," said the husky honey voice, "Business."

            "We're here," said Blu, "Leadership is M.I.A."
           "Got it. See you soon."

            Blu snapped her phone closed and turned to Pedro, "Tricky is coming over."

 

Immediately, the doorbell rang, a chorus of deep, leisurely tones. The church bells had once pealed the attention of a small town near Monterrey Mexico in 1822.

 

"And that must be Tricky!" said Blu clapping. She was fascinated by Tricky and thought of her as an older sister. She studied every gesture and idea. Somewhere deep in the household, a dog barked twice.

"I'll get the door," she untied her apron, "You watch the eggs."

 

Pedro stood to his six feet and sauntered over to the skillet on the stove. He had absolutely no idea what to do with the problem at hand. This guy could fix everything and make anything but cooking food was a technological mystery. He looked down at the skillet of tortillas, scrambled eggs, spicy red sauce and burping cheese. He was horrified. He really didn't know what to do. Pedro broke a sweat, a very uncommon occurrence. Logically, he was about to turn off the heat or shake the pan when Blu and Tricky Vicki Waters entered and rescued him.

 

"Where's the dogs?" asked Vicki, "It's so quiet."

"Don't do that to me again!" pleaded Pedro.

"Look at you baby!" Blu grabbed the spatula and pretended to whack him with it.

Vicki smiled coyly at Pedro. "How's my Muscle Man? She tweaked his bicep.

Pedro smiled like a goof. He was built like a brickhouse but he was shy to her teasing.

They called Vicki Tricky because she was an attorney, a good one. She could be a better one, but her focus was split between re-starting a law career, raising two toddlers, paying the bills and wrapping her head around an unexpectedly nasty divorce.

 

Vicki floated, "I take it the Prince has yet to arise?"

"He drank his dinner last night," Blu answered.

"Ah! Trouble!" replied the attorney, looking around, "I can get him up. The dogs shut in with him?"

Blu laughed and nodded "Yes."

Vicki cupped her hand and spoke clearly, not loudly, in the direction of the west hallway. "Nicky!? Nora!?" Then she added some cotton candy to it. "Bay-bees?! Bay-bees!"

 

Far off down the hallway, dogs began to howl behind thick closed doors. Each bark was a hard sharp report, like the fast crack of an automatic rifle. It sounded like there could be three or four feral dogs running amok in that distant bedroom.

 

Everyone was smiling. They knew something funny or strange would be happening soon. "We'll see how long Muk can take it" was the general consensus.

 

"What smells so good?!" said Vicki,  "I came at the right time. I'm starved. I fed the kids but I forgot to feed me."

"Huevos Revolucion."

"Huevos not soon enough. I'm starving," added Pedro, "Who wants juice? Tricky, a con leche?"

The barking down the hallway grew louder and more frenzied.

"Nah, thanks." Vicki asked, "How you kids been?"

"Busy with the Freemani commission," said Blu, speaking up over the canine din.

"We install the sculpture day after tomorrow," offered Pedro.

"That's why I'm here. There's a kink in the link."

 

Blu and Pedro looked at each other with dread. The Freemani commission was a much-needed gig at a really bad time. The Freemani Brothers of jewelry fame had recently purchased a sculpture. Installation of the two-ton bronze would be difficult and expensive.

"How big a kink?" asked Pedro warily.

 

"A hiccup. We have to do a favor job first. A little grease on the handshake." Tricky had a certain style. No-nonsense and breezy. So Cal preppie and proud of it. With her shoulder-length hair, patrician features and tailored suit, you might expect her to talk with a Northeast Ivy League lockjaw. Instead, she sounded more like Malibu Gidget, happy with a hot tamale and a can of beer. Vicki Waters glanced in the direction of the barking and smiled.

 

"No way." Pedro was worried. "We have rental equipment scheduled. Truck and a crane. I can't cancel now. I got guys coming."

Vicki said, "There is an emergency issue that may override the installation. We'll see," as she typed into her Blackberry. "One of those crazy, silly, over-klempt, nutty things. The Freemanis are freaked!" She paused and added, "It's kinda funny actually."

 

Far down the hallway, the barking stopped and a lion roared. Something heavy hit hard, bounced and thudded. After a beat, the canine caterwaul immediately resumed and intensified.

 

"A small kink. A little quirky, murky," said Vicki,  "Nothing that Muk can't fix."

"It's a big ticket," added Blu with a shake of her head. Blu was a small town girl who had a hard time wrapping her head around unnecessary opulence. She was a Modern Minimalist.



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Vicki sighed deeply, "The Freemani Brothers are paying top ticket. We can't lose them. Especially now in this economy." With a sad, weary giggle, "It's rough on the little guy when the rich stop getting richer..."

 

Down the hallway, a door crashed open. The hounds of hell, now unleashed, howled at full volume. An angry male voice roared, "Curs! Curs!" Then a door slammed shut with the physical reverb of a 3.1 on the San Andreas.

A dog stampede was coming.

 

Vicki calmly stood and moved her chair away from the table into the middle of the room. As she sat down, two streaks of vapor, colored white, tan and black, hurricane'd into the room. Nick and Nora are two very fast moving, wirehair Fox Terriers. Both have a wild thing for Vicki. The cyclone of fur circled her and slowed to a rhythm.

"Babies!" clapped Vicki.

Like a canine ballet at breakneck speed, Nick leapt onto Vicki's lap and got scratched behind his ears while Nora ran circles around the chair. Then the dogs traded positions. This vaudeville dog-act love-fest kept repeating until Vicki was sufficiently mauled. The attorney stood up, disheveled. She cooed "Babies!" and barked "Enough!" The dogs retreated. She adjusted her skirt, tucked in her blouse and tossed the hair out of her eyes.

The dogs dove at the water dish and were not polite about smacking their lips loudly. 

 

Pedro set the breakfast plates onto the table. He grinned, "What's the difference between a terrier and a terrorist?"

"Nothing!" replied Blu. "Let's eat."

"Starved."

Pedro and Vicki made it perfectly clear that Blu had done a spectacular job with breakfast. In this life, there are few things better than a warm tortilla and a chunky fresh salsa.

 

The dogs began to squeal and stir excitedly.

"Victoria, I figured it had to be you." His voice was graveled and hoarse. Muk stood, bracing himself in the doorway. The dogs danced around him. He was wrapped in a Chinese silk comforter, heavily brocaded with color and dragons. At quick glance, he looked like Ming the Merciless. Muk's hair was tangled. His eyes were the color of the American flag. His shoulders were slack. "I shouldn't be standing."

 
 

 

Look for the next exciting chapter of Emperor Muk!

 
 

 

CHAPTER INDEX: CLICK HERE

 

Catch Muk at or

 

 
 

 


COMING SOON:


For the Love of Muk

 
Back in the Muk Again

 
Muk Fast Five


iMuk


 
All Muk'd Up


 

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

 

 

 
     
 

 

 

© Gordy Grundy, All Rights Reserved

www.Gordy Grundy.com

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