30 @StoryADayMay Extraordinary

shortstorymonthx240I’m getting punchy; I admit it. Today’s story is based on the comments of new blog reader Pete Laberge, the influence my Steampunk-writing pal Katina French, and author/pirate Ted Mark Crim, who laments that he doesn’t have his own Alan Shore. And, pursuant to that last thought, of course this story is heavily inspired by one of my favorite shows of all time, BOSTON LEGAL, starring the incomparable William Shatner.

Mr. Shatner, by the way, will be at Fandom Fest in Louisville this year, as will I (I’ll be part of the Literary Track, not one of the Big Names).


by Marian Allen

They had picked up the notion from a series of science fiction stories and had given it their own unique twist. Now, the very sight of a man in a frock coat and a feather boa caused felons to disengage from their employment and slip into the shadows.

The League of Complicated Gentlemen could have been a cadre of Evil Genii (plural for genius, in case you don’t know), were it not for the leadership of their founders, Denny Crim and Pete LaShore.

As Denny had said, whilst choosing his first boa, “Outlay versus income.” His eyes unfocused as he repeated, “Outlay. Income. Outlay. Income.”

“We’re talking about money, Denny,” Pete reminded him.

Dreamily, Denny said, “How much?”

Pete snapped his fingers in front of Denny’s face. “Why aren’t we trying to take over the world?”

“Not cost effective. Setting up lairs, paying henchmen – excuse me, henchpeople – parts for fiendish devices, getaway airships, and so on and so forth. Countless failures. Bribes. And then what? Suppose you succeed? What have you got?”

“The world?”

“Yes, but what do you do with the damn thing? If you own it, you can’t buy anything. It’s yours!

Pete conceded the point.

Denny chose a green boa (“The color of money.”) and Pete chose royal blue.

They had just paid for their purchases when the door opened and a man slipped in. He wore black trousers, a horizontally striped black-and-white jersey, a black cap and a black mask. In his hand, he carried a bag marked SWAG.

“That man is up to no good,” said Denny. “I have a feeling.”

Pete raised an eyebrow. “Really?”

The man reached into his bag and withdrew a repeating pistol.

“What did I tell you?”

“Denny, when you’re right, you’re right.”

The criminal brandished his pistol, as criminals do, and shouted, “Hands in the air! This is a stick-up! When I have stolen sufficient funds, I will – dare I say it? – TAKE OVER THE WORLD!”

“Excuse me,” said Denny, “but what will you do with it?”

“Silence, future minion!”

Denny held out his recent purchase. “Do you like this boa?”

“Seek not to buy your safety with baubles!”

“No, does it make me look fat?”

“Are you mad?”

“Well, maybe just a touch of the Mad Cow, but I’m basically sound.”

While the miscreant was thus distracted, Pete formed his own boa into a loop, cast it over the villain’s head, and pulled.


Denny drew a repeating pistol of his own and fired. A flower of red blossomed on the right-hand side of the striped jersey.

“I’m shot!”

“We can see that, Captain Obvious,” said Denny.

“How did you know my secret identity? Curse you! I am foiled!”

Pete, happy to see that the shop had one of the new telephonic devices, dialed the constabulary.

Before they could arrive, Pete retrieved his boa and trussed the malefactor with more of the shop’s stock (with, of course, the shopkeeper’s adoring consent). He and Denny left, not needing to be celebrated for their quick-thinking heroism.

That evening, as they sat on Denny’s balcony smoking cigars and drinking strong whiskey, their boas rippling in the light breeze, Denny said, “That was fun. We ought to do that all the time.”

“Shoot people?”

“Well, yes, but I meant foil crime. We could open an agency, form a firm.”

“A firm what?” This was not a question to ask Denny, for his eyes unfocused again.

“An agency to fight crime,” said Pete, bringing the conversation back on point. “I like it. We could call it,” he waved his cigar, “The League of Complicated Gentlemen.”

“Denny Crim’s League of Complicated Gentlemen?”

“No, Denny.”

“But I’m the leader, right? Because I shot the first bad guy.”

“You’re the leader, Denny.”

“Because I shot the guy.”

“You did.”

Denny considered. “I like it. It’s better than ruling the world. Less paperwork.”

The rest is history.

~ * ~

MY WRITING PROMPT TODAY: 2, Crane — Denny Crane — Who’s yer daddy?



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “30 @StoryADayMay Extraordinary

    • Author
      • Kiril Kundurazieff

        May 30, 2013 at 9:20am

        Don’t laugh, there will no doubt be some folks who say I used the word to “attract attention”, just as they did the first time I wrote te other essay and even when I did the udate and related follow-ups. 😀

        In this case I was stuck on a believable way I could get to the last part of this chapter of the story, and your reference to Shakespeare caused a lightbulb to go on, and I did a Google to confirm I could use the word in this context before going aead. 😀

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        • Author

          Marian Allen

          May 30, 2013 at 9:31am

          MOST intriguing! I hope my readers follow your link to Mr. Nikita’s stories!

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  1. Jane

    May 30, 2013 at 9:12am

    Doggone it! Now you have me missing the good old days: Boston Legal, yum.
    You have SOOO got Denny’s voice. I could hear Mr. Shatner’s mellifluous tones throughout. This may be the most fun story evah!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 30, 2013 at 9:30am

      Hmmm…. Yes, I think I’m going to have to update my Netflix queue. 😉

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  2. christine.campbell.7967

    May 30, 2013 at 9:47am

    Well done, Marian! SO nearly there!
    This one was a great bit of fun!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 30, 2013 at 11:45am

      One. More. Day. 😀 Glad you enjoyed it, Christine! Thanks for following and joining the challenge.

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  3. Jo Robinson

    May 30, 2013 at 9:49am

    LOL! Brilliant Marian! This is the kind of book I want to read all the time – 70 000 more words just like these please!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 30, 2013 at 11:46am

      70,000 more extremely silly words? Well, God knows I have them. Have you read my FORCE OF HABIT? Not Steampunk, but books don’t come much sillier. ~grin~

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 30, 2013 at 11:47am

      Thanks, Monti! I love everything Shatner does, so writing this was a treat. 🙂

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  4. Jo Robinson

    May 30, 2013 at 11:57am

    @Marian Allen – I bet you have the words – and I shall have that book! I haven’t read it yet – shoving it’s way rudely, with elbows, to the top of my list right now.

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  5. Helen Ginger

    May 30, 2013 at 12:42pm

    I miss Boston Legal. But now I have the League of Complicated Gentlemen. Yay!!

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    • Author
  6. Jen Christopherson

    May 30, 2013 at 6:17pm

    Ooh! I love this story! What great fun it would be to read as a full length novel! Let me know when its available! 😉 Hee hee hee!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 30, 2013 at 9:27pm

      LOL! Somehow, I don’t think it’s going to happen. ~grin~ But, as I told Jo, FORCE OF HABIT is possibly just as silly. 😉

      Speaking of books being available, YOUR book arrived today, and I’m looking forward to reading it!

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  7. Jen Christopherson

    May 30, 2013 at 10:41pm

    Chase the improbable and consider the impossible!!! LOL

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  8. Perry Block

    May 31, 2013 at 9:02am

    Nice! I hope Shatner doesn’t chew up half of Louisville, along with the scenery.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 31, 2013 at 9:08am

      He’s welcome to chew up ALL of Louisville, if he wants to. He’s brilliant!

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  9. Perry Block

    May 31, 2013 at 9:24am

    Oh, I like Shatner all right, but there’s no end of ego under that most conspicuous of toupees.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 31, 2013 at 12:51pm

      I don’t care if he duct tapes tribbles to his head. I’ve been watching him act since The Brothers K, and he can ACT. As long as he doesn’t order me to fetch coffee or something, we’re good. 😉

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  10. Pete Laberge

    May 31, 2013 at 10:47pm

    Well done!

    Except… I still am trying to take over the world. Or at least part of it.

    And I am still trying to get Denny (umm, Bill) interested in a “Certain Princess”. She needs help, and I like my heroes big. And of course, to me, when a Princess needs help, you send: NCC-1701. No A’s, B’s, C’s or D’s! (Well, actually, I have a half a dozen Princesses….)

    But I love the story, and the blue boa. Yes, Denny/Bill would have the green one.

    And you got his dialogue down pat.

    I will tweet this link to Mr, Shatner. I will Facebook share it, too. I may just send it out as a wild tweet.

    You can add a 3rd Member to your gang. “Mr.Mree”. This is a sort of acronym. Little is known about him. Mree is not his real name…. But is is the name he has given us.

    BUT: He drink only the best brandy, smokes expensive cigars (on occasion), and likes his hot tub.

    He has the heart of a poet (his writing skills are extra-ordinaire), speaks fluent Swedish and English, he knows a number of French expressions, but does not speak French. He knows other expressions from other languages, too.

    He likes to drag race used Soviet tanks. He is an expert in things IBM computers, and science. His Photoshop talents and artistic talents are extraordinary. He could be a forger, if he wanted to. But he is on the side of good. He invented his own religion, based on science and logic.

    He likes all kinds of music, particularly Blondie, Gaga, Nena, Abba, Bjork, and especially, Another….

    He is an ex-army guy. He likes hunting, and nature, is an expert woodsman. And for ONE person, he would even assassinate. Generally calm, and gentle, and nonviolent, you would not know that he is a veritable Bond. He is a secret agent, of…. TWO princesses, from 2 different lands…. Or is that 3? 4? We will never know. He is….mysterious.

    His Boa is probably Chartreuse! or Black….. I must ask him.

    The theme for these guys might be this, as an instrumental: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Edwsf-8F3sI

    Well, actually, they would have other music. But if I were to mention it here, that might be construed as treason. HRM’s SSS would have me shot….

    I can tell you of a few other members… Later, if you write more. They should be introduced as characters, one at a time.

    The DanMan. Joker, Wit, Book & Stamp collector, Movie, Film, TV expert. Knows all trivia. Quiet spoken. Non violent. Usually found with his noes in a book, or seated at a computer. Should have been a librarian. A fount of wisdom.
    His boa is probably White.

    The Ronster. Black belt. Can use almost any weapon made. Very peaceful and non-violent until….. Loves food. Was a chef at one time.
    His Boa is probably Gold….

    Markus Paulus, the adopted son of …….
    His Boa is Silver……

    There are others. But if you care to write more, you have enough to get started.

    Together, they are crime fighters, Equalizers (Google this TV show), and a cross between Knight Rider and McGivver. But for One Person, “The world is not enough.” And for That Person, who rarely, if ever, contacts them… What would they not do? But in the meantime, they have plenty to do….

    The are The League of Complicated Gentlemen……

    That should be enough to drive you crazy. Now all we need is for NBC or ABC, or CBS, or CBC, to come calling…….

    I have a number of wild stories, that I dare not tell……

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    • Jen Christopherson

      June 1, 2013 at 12:24am

      Oh! You are making me want to write short stories and I’m not good at them! I’m doing interviews in June. In July, I have camp NaNoWriMo. In August, I have nothing. What about August? Is there any kind of short story contest in August?
      Maybe I should just write some short stories and get it out of my system… GRRRR!!!! The confusion of being stuck in a new book while trying to let others know about the newly released book!!
      (Picture a dramatic scene in which a frustrated female clenches both fists to her chest and says, “NNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”

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      • Author

        Marian Allen

        June 1, 2013 at 8:49am

        Jen, I’m not finding any established August short story challenges. You’ll just have to invent your own. Or I’ll set you one: Every day in August, write around 500 words on a short story, completing one short story of at least 3-4 thousand words a week. How’s that? ~evil grin~ The stories can be set in one of your novels’ worlds, filling in backstory or exploring a minor character.

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        • Jen Christopherson

          June 2, 2013 at 8:39am

          Sounds good to me!! 😀

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      June 1, 2013 at 8:45am

      Pete, you ARE trying to drive me nuts, aren’t you? Between you and Holly Jahangiri, she of the purple feather boa…. Who are these Princesses of whom you speak?

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  11. Pete Laberge

    June 1, 2013 at 1:57am

    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Arthur C Clarke.
    Robert A Heinlein. Frank Herbert.
    Gene Roddenberry. Louis Lamour.

    To name a few. All wrote short stories.

    Did you ever think that a chapter in a book, is merely a short story? And that the length of a short story, can be up to 7,000 words?

    All of Louis Lamour’s books, started out as short stories. Many a fair bit shorter than 7000 words. (And I ignored him most of my life! I am an idiot.)

    Do not denigrate the short story. Star Trek started out as ONE short story. So did Dune. So did….

    You start, you write, and you write “what the story or book, has in it”. Who are you to tell a story (however long or short it may turn out to be) what length is has? They have their own lives, their own destinies. Of, foolish authoress! Playing with the muses, you are!

    Now go! Get thee to a word processor, and put forth what the muses inspire you with. And have fun with it! Else, why write?

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      June 1, 2013 at 8:59am

      You’re so right, Pete! But I don’t think Jen was denigrating short stories, just saying she doesn’t think she’s good at them. But it’s true that a book is a series of interconnected short stories, and a chapter is a series of interconnected flash fiction. Pardon my fractility, but a paragraph has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and a well-written sentence begins well, develops, and closes with a satisfactory snap.

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    • Jen Christopherson

      June 2, 2013 at 9:01am

      Marian is right. I am VERY respectful of those who can write a short story! I usually find that my “short story” has become 20,000 words before I feel it is right!

      I am getting a bit better, since I started blogging. I am glad for this! I love short stories and would love to be able to write my own!

      Playing with the muse is not what I intend, I assure you! I love my muse! LOL

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  12. Pete Laberge

    June 2, 2013 at 12:37am

    @Marian Allen

    1> Noella. Known 12 years. 20 yrs older than me, but we make a great partnership.

    2> Lesley. Known 37 yrs. Proposed 3x, turned down 3x. Still love her. Relationship has lasted longer than 80% of Hollywood ones.

    3,4,5> Sister Michelle, Daughters (Nieces) Joanne & Jeanne.

    6> Kim. Niece from Brother.

    7> “Her Majesty”. This file is so Top Secret, the CIA has not gotten into it. Has her own secret agent. Her SSS is not quite up to Bond’s skill, but he will do. To discuss further, may be treason….

    8,9,10,11,12> Holly, Diane, Anne, Cairn, Marian….
    from F/B. (DUH!)

    It is late, and I know I am forgetting a couple.
    I collect them. It is a hobby.

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  13. Pete Laberge

    June 2, 2013 at 12:41am

    @Marian Allen

    Oh, I am sure. But I was trying to encourage her, believe it or not, with a bit of “tough love”. And some horrid wit. I think I am a wit. I am about 1/2 right……

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  14. Pete Laberge

    June 2, 2013 at 9:44pm

    @Marian Allen

    They are cheaper to collect than fancy cars. They are human. They are fun. They are all good people. Must came into my little world by a series of strange coincidences! I like ladies. What can I say? And several guys and I enjoy being their …What the heck are we anyway?

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  15. Pete Laberge

    June 3, 2013 at 9:47pm

    @Marian Allen

    Well some are relatives – friendly ones!
    But most are friends.
    One… is an acquaintance. I would prefer friendship, but in her case, there are certain “diplomatic privileges owing her”… So she alone gets to determine any level of friendship. The one Princess, who is an Empress.

    Then too, I must add to the list:

    Wendy (Married! But her husband loves my weird emails! We get along, because he knows I am 2,000 miles away. “Love her all you want!”), and Susan.

    Of course, Susan is a Spanish Professor, and Rob a retired engineer. But I played the matchmaker!!! Woo Hoo! Rob is ULTRA smart, but his grammar – well, you know, engineers. Only math, computers, machines, and logic count. And in his case, he is also a pilot and gourmet chef…. Even though his vocabulary is Oxford Dictionary in size!

    Susan, was all upset over that. I told her to put a lock on her closet door, and call me back and I would solve the problem. A week later she called me back. “This $50 better well have been well spent!”

    I told her” “Oh, it is! Now take the grammar teacher, fling her in the closet, let Susan the romantic sneak out, and lock the dammed door so Mizzz Grammar can’t get out!”

    Susan laughed so hard, I was afraid she was going to have a heart attack.

    Now I can’t visit, because they have both said they’d lock me in that closet! (Apparently it is California Policy to do that to Obnoxious Canadians!”)

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