When we published the first installment of "My Gun is Warm," the stunning new Jack Hammer thriller, we could have hardly imagined the response. Readers can't get enough of Jack Hammer.
One wrote, "I've never experienced such a thrilling tale. I feel like I've been sucker punched in the gut by a team of walruses."
Another wrote, "I couldn't put it down. My old lady tried to distract me her enormous knockers, but I told her to go get stuffed."
Yet another: "Your story inspired to go out in the street and shoot commies."
Clearly so incredible a story only comes along every few years. So, without any more bull, we present the second installment of "My Gun is Warm."
I wandered into a barber shop. There were more flies than people there. I sat sown in the barber chair and threw my hat onto the rack. "Give me a crew cut," I said. "But, Jack," the barber said, "You just got a crew cut three days ago." "It's getting kinda long," I said. "I don't want people to think I'm getting' fishy."
"But, Jack, you always wear a fedora. Nobody can see what you've got under that thing anyway."
"A crew cut, I said."
"Okay, have it your way." He was old and his hair was all white. He gave me a shave too, and his hands shook the whole time. "Careful, friend," I told him. "Cut too close and I won't be the only one bleeding in this hair pit."
"As you wish," he said with a big gulp. "You won't get so much as a nick, I promise."
When it was over I put my hat back on and threw him some money, including a fairly generous tip. "Now you can buy your daughter that chastity belt," I said.
"Thanks, Mr. Hammer. You come back again, you hear?"
"You know, friend, sometimes I get the idea you're just talking to take up space."
There was nobody at the office. There never was. My secretary sometimes, but she must have gone to lunch. There was a sign on the door-JACK HAMMER, PRIVATE DICK. It was hanging sideways. I didn't bother to adjust it. I knocked on the door once. Then I jumped out of the way in case anybody should shoot at me. You never know who could be hiding in your office. I decided nobody was, this time. I pushed the door open with my foot and fired a warning shot inside, just in case. Nobody fell over, so I figured the coast was clear.
I looked through my mail. A lot of bills. I tossed them back on the desk. I opened a drawer and looked for something to drink. There was a little whisky but I didn't really feel like drinking it. Sometimes murder can make a man feel so low he doesn't even want to drink.
There was a voice. "Are you all right?" it said. I turned around. It was Greta, my secretary. "I thought I heard a shot."
"Oh, that was just me."
"I brought you a sandwich."
"Thanks, but I'm not hungry."
"I guess I'll throw it in the trash with the others." She had to be the best looking secretary in town. She had the body of a real woman and a mind that was tough enough for a man to respect. Any man tried to pull something on her, she'd brain him with the nearest flowerpot. She was nobody's fool. She was really wasted on a job like this. She ought to be enjoying the finer things in life, like fine wine and chicken that was grilled instead of fried. But I wasn't going to tell her that. I sort of liked having the old girl around. I got her from a mail order secretary service in Finland or somewhere, I forget exactly where.
"You look a little down," she said. "What's the matter? Oh, I get it. Another murder."
"How'd you know?"
"I can always tell when there's been a murder. A certain look on your face."
"Yeah. Mike Wilson. Remember him?"
"Sure. Your old buddy from back in the service. The three of us used to used to hit the bars at night. I'll bet they never forgot us."
"Yeah. Some guy'd get fresh with you and Mike would have to break a chair over his head. Nobody could wield a chair quite like Mike."
She laughed. "Yeah. Say, remember when he stuck a fork in that one guy's eye? Oh, I'll never forget that." Then we both laughed. "Whatever happened to those days, Jack? Whatever happened?"
"Gone with the wind, babe."
"Yeah." Her face got serious. "Gone like last night's bad clams." That was her. Always with a witty remark.
"You act like you never even notice me anymore. Remember when you first hired me, you used to grab my ass? Technically it was sex harassment but I used to giggle and pretend to enjoy it, just because I was terrified of losing my job and having to move back to the bus station. Maybe you could do that again, just to remind me you still care."
"Maybe so, doll. Some day."
Next: The gut-punching conclusion to "My Gun is Warm."