Tami Parker Other Duties as Assigned

Finish the Story – Reporters


As always, beware the comments section if you plan on writing something, so as to avoid being influenced.

I look forward to seeing your responses!


Reporters are trained to develop a sixth sense, a nose for when a story smells fishy. And something about this one wasn’t right. First of all, …


  • Reporters are trained to develop a sixth sense, a nose for when a story smells fishy. And something about this one wasn't right. First of all, the flower shop literally smelled like fish.

    Secondly, the florist hadn't committed suicide. He'd been murdered.

    Sure, there was a suicide note, and sure, he'd had the knowledge to turn those gorgeous blooms into a deadly tea, but that didn't mean he'd done it.

    And it sure as hell didn't explain the smell of three-day-old haddock hiding in the roses.

    Like most good stories, it all started with a dame. A dame with legs up to there and a face that could stop clocks, if clocks had eyes to see it. Her lips were red as poppies and her hair fell across her shoulders like thunderclouds in a clear sky.

    In short, she was dangerous.

    She was also my boss, and when she told me to write up the obituary as a clear case of self-axing, I couldn't help but feel my suspicions rise.

    The florist didn't have any family and no friends either, from what I could tell. Everyone agreed he was a right bastard, but nobody seemed to have a motive for killing him. He was the fastest flower arranger this side of the south side, so he stayed in business. He mostly worked in last-minute apology bouquets or forgotten anniversary arrangements picked up by overworked businessmen on their way home.

    His shop was in the train station, so my first question was how that fish got in the flowers.

    I followed the answers to the Stoolio Family business. Well known mobsters, so smooth not even a jaywalking ticket would stick to them.

    They worked the docks and if they hadn't offed the florist, odds are they would know who did.

    Knocking on the door all polite-like didn't get me anywhere, but the kitchen staff at the back entrance were more than happy to let a bedraggled traveller in out of the snow … particularly when that traveller offered to share the bottle of aged brandy she just happened to have on her person.

    Nobody ever questioned the brandy, which was good since I sure as hell couldn't afford good brandy. I could, however, afford an empty brandy bottle and a steady supply of rotgut so potent it would burn the hair off a sailor's chest and make it regrow again twice as thick.

    Kitchen staff always knew more than they should, and warm tongues wagged faster than an old dog welcoming their owner home.

    The florist had done some jobs for the Family. Mostly small stuff, but the last one had been a week ago and it had been a doozy.

    A wedding between the Families was as celebrated as a Royal Wedding and as dangerous as a pit fill of snakes surrounded by a ring of fire in the middle of the Mojave.

    Needless to say, it hadn't gone well, and it seemed the blame was placed directly on the florist.

    He'd been instructed to make the bouquet out of white daylillies, but had substituted white calla lillies instead.

    Turns out the bride-to-be was the superstitious type.

  • (continued from above)

    But why wait to kill the florist? And why leave a fish behind?

    This story was starting to smell worse than a liver and limburger sandwich on a humid day and my deadline was in a few hours.

    I went back to the office, half-prepared to write the damned obituary the way I'd been told, when everything changed.

    Fishing for the keys to the back door of the newspaper, I dropped my pencil. It rolled behind a dumpster next to the wall. If it'd been any other pencil, I'd have left it and I'd be so much red jelly on the side of the wall behind me.

    It wasn't just any pencil, though. It was my lucky pencil, marked by over a decade of nervous teeth-biting, eraser worn down to a useless black nub. I'd written my first article for the school newspaper with that pencil.

    I scooted behind that disgusting dumpster and just as I picked up the pencil, the newspaper building exploded.

    I sat there for a few stunned moments, ears ringing and hot bricks crashing into the dumpster and wall behind me nose filled with the unmistakable scent of 3 day old haddock.

    No way I was going to let this story go now.

Tami Parker Other Duties as Assigned