1. Pop Fiction

From the recording The Last Guitar

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It all started when I got word from Conscience Black, a crazy singer I knew that a stiff called Mr Memory and his dame Nostalgia Brown were blabbing about a contract taken out up at Tin Pan Alley. Memory said he’d seen it all before and had worked out the whos and the whys all by himself. Conscience said he was beating his gums about how it ain't right, while Nostalgia turned on the waterworks. So I used up a whole lot of shoe leather on their trail, but everywhere I had them tagged they’d checked out when I come knocking.

Didn’t take long to figure the hit was going to be on Little Miss Music. Everybody knew her - I even picked her up myself a couple of times. She was the sort of dame you could cut it up with good, but never really tame... used to be quite a player back in the day, running with the company, some say she even ran the whole show for a while, 'til she fell in with the video boys and lost her edge. Last I heard she was doing tricks up at Spotify &Vine with a small time punk called Ad Jingles. For old times sake I wanted to keep her in the clear, but I knew I didn’t have a case to take upstairs. All I had was this dumb riff going round my head..

In all the squawking I kept turning up one name: Green. It figures he would want to bump her off cause he was the bankroll behind the whole shebang and she kept stepping on his action. He had boy bands up at the plaza taking plenty of dough, but they were just the front. Down on the street was the real muscle - tribute acts working their hustle in juice houses all over town. Another operation called Muzak cleaned up in the flophouses and diners. Green’s prints were on that too. He even had a split with the syndicate who drip fed downloads to kids through their P C s. He got roughed up once, by a player called the Napster who made the jump up fast, but in the end Green had him greased and he copped a drop.

Then the case went into overtime when I clocked The Piper at an open mike night. Piper was a pimped up troubadour hit man. Sometimes he ran with the rats but mostly he was a lone gun. Conscience had him tabbed on Green’s payroll all along. She said he must have been in town to cancel Music’s ticket. Now I knew I had to find Music fast, but all I had to go on was this dumb riff..

So I ran a few checks up in the Myspace district, where everyone wants to be your friend, but no one's got the lowdown. I left there and paddled downtown and who should crop up, but Memory and Nostalgia Brown. I knew him from way back. She was kind of soft focus but a tad long-faced. They were both soaked and yapping about music and how it used to be and how Green was going to rub her out and it was everyone’s fault and we should all make amends. I was giving them the shove when a street light flickered on and lit up a porchway and there she was - Music. She smiled that smile, looked up at the light and then back to me. “Miss me?” she said. Memory made toward her.. that's when the shots rang out. Music slid back into the portico, but Memory fell on to the steps and laid dead in a pool of blood. I looked up to where the shots had come from and figured the case the moment I saw a shape I knew well, Conscience.
Turns out Memory was the real mark. He was always broadcasting the dirt around town and Conscience was always in the frame, but wouldn't take the rap. She wanted things all sweet and in the end she flipped. She knew how Memory was hot for music and talk of the hit would flush him out and with Memory out of the picture Conscience could go about town all free and easy.
She fed the Piper to me as the fall guy after she told him about a rat problem at the open mike night. Greens role in all this? Well that’s for later, but let's just say the stink goes all the way up to City Hall..

Music took a slug but she was ok. She said she knew a few places out of town she could hole up at til it all cooled off and then she slipped into the night. “Where will I find you?” I shouted. “I’ll be around” she said.
I didn’t even get a chance to thank her for the riff