“Nothing Doing” by Carl Robinette was originally published in Mystery Weekly Magazine

In “Nothing Doing,” a booze-fueled, windmill-tilting Daisy Belle is armed with nothing but brass knuckles and a misled sense of justice as she gets to the bottom of nothing. Hold on to your drink and watch Daisy bust open the criminal underbelly of her Southern California beach town as she leaves a trail of empty bottles in her wake.

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You can’t do nothing. I mean if you’re doing, then it’s always something. And I’m pretty sure that it isn’t a double negative either because I think in this case, nothing is a positive. But I’ll leave that for the English majors to sort out. All I’m saying is, you can’t do nothing, but that morning I was doing as close to it as humanly possible. Then the phone rang.

carl robinette fiction online noir pulp nothing doing coverMy dad’s voice came over the airwaves through the hazy hiss of his favorite fifteen-year-old wireless earpiece. “Hey spaz. Why haven’t you called?”

I said, “Hi, Dad. Sorry.”

And Dad said something along the lines of, “I’m starting to feel like you don’t love me anymore.”

I laughed and said, “Shut up, you goof.”

“Oh gee,” he told me. “Now you’re making me feel all warm and fuzzy.” He goes, “Listen, Poopernickel, I know you’re just sitting around doing precisely nothing and I know that you could probably use some bread in your pocket.”

I told him he was making me sound like some kind of freeloader.

“Well aren’t you?” he said.

I told him, “Yeah, but.”

“Yeah,” Dad said. “Well, as luck would have it, somebody stole something from me. Something precious.”

I said, “Oh no. What?”

And he told me his collection of skin mags had been stolen. He said, “I thought I could pay you to come down and help me get them back.”

“Good one, Dad” I said. “You hire me to find your old dirty magazines.”

He swore he wasn’t kidding. I was thinking maybe he was losing it.

I said, “Dad? This is your daughter, Daisy…”

“Well Daisy,” he said. “This is your dad telling you to get your lazy butt down to the marina before I die of old age. I need your help.”

I had a pretty lethal quip to fire back at him, but he’d already disconnected.


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