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Black Lens: Part XII

Story by Ken Bruen and Russell Ackerman

Ken Bruen is one of the most celebrated crime novelists of our time.

Black Lens is his most secret project.

Read on as the unveiling continues.

Every Wednesday on Mulholland Books.

With art by Jonathan Santlofer.

Fade in…

Read Part 1, Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8, Part 9, Part 10 and Part 11.


Sundance was wonderful, the starlet’s flocked round him.

Back of his mind was the niggling thought,


But fuck ‘em.

He was a


Redford even said hello.

Chugging Tequila’s, listening to The White Stripes, he figured

‘Top of the freaking world Ma.’

Gentle tap at the door of his Grade A room.

The B-list actress who wanted to play his girlfriend in the rip off of The Hangover.

A dream of a casting couch lay if ever there was one.

Being in Sundance, he’d developed a drawl, helped by the ludes he washed down regularly.

He drawled


Laughed at his ribald humor.

Cracked open a brew, the thought being, dilute the Mexican jolt.

The door opened, but it wasn’t tits and ass on the menu.

In came Cromwell, his silent shadow trailing point.

Rhatigan wasn’t sure, it seemed like the silent one that said

‘Don’t get up.’

Which given the ludes in his system, was fine.

Rhatigan was down, drawled


Like, cool, huh?

Cromwell said

‘You didn’t make the trip to Paris.’

Rhatigan moved his buttocks as the latest three ludes kicked ass, he said

‘I was busy dude.’

Cromwell smiled, like a shark on dust, asked

‘Ever hear of Fatty Arbuckle?’


Like who?

Rhatigan read People, and Variety, like hello, what else was there?

Cromwell took out a thin cheroot, asked

‘Mind if I smoke?’

Rhatigan was relishing this, snapped

‘Step outside you wanna smoke bro, toxins not cool in my space.’

Cromwell seemed to enjoying a private joke, asked

‘Jimmy Dean, Ledger, I’m thinking you know those…Dudes?’

Rhatigan needed some munchies, began to stand, asked

‘Unless there’s something, I gotta like ..jet.’

Cromwell flicked a gold Zippo, said

‘Those guys, they, how shall I put it, turned down a similar directive to Paris.’

Rhatigan laughed, the Tequila, ludes, brews, emboldening him, sneered

‘Yeah, right, you guys, are what, like a militant scientology breakaway group?’

There was a knock on the door, Rhatigan said

‘Nicole, my date.

And did something he would have a lot of years to rue, he winked.

Added, as he saw something dark cross Cromwell’s eyes

‘You guys need to get out more, ya know, see some movies, lighten up.’

As Cromwell turned to leave, he said

‘I watched The Godfather last week, reminded me of you.’

Rhatigan said

‘Al Pacino?




The rest of the evening… more or less got away from him.

Nicole was a demanding lover.

The kind that wasn’t sapped by coke.   Lots of coke.


Emboldened and


Rhatigan not so much woke as came too in the early hours, the light from the snow streaming through the window.

He smelt something, like


He’d need to cut back a wee bit on the partying. He had a thirst that would fell Lee Marvin, see he did know his stars. Turned on the bedside lamp, figuring a tiny wake up snort wouldn’t hurt, turned to shake Nicole.


Her head was perched on the pillow, a rose jammed between her teeth, the rest of her was propped against the window,

a sign hanging on the bloodied stump of what had been her lovely neck,

it read:

……………………………………………..Paris is a Movable Feast.


Ken Bruen has been a finalist for the Edgar and Anthony Awards, and has won a Macavity Award, a Barry Award, and two Shamus Awards for the Jack Taylor series. He lives in Galway, Ireland. Learn more at

Russell Ackerman is Guillermo del Toro’s Development Executive. He is currently working on the film MAMA to be directed by Andy Muschietti, DROOD based on Dan Simmons’ novel of the same name, adapted by Brian Helgeland, and MIDNIGHT DELIVERY written by Neil Cross, all set up at Universal Pictures. He lives in Los Angeles.