“Gabe Chanterelle, Woke Detective!” by Eugene Morgulis

Apr 20th, 2021 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

I was diving into a jar of kombucha, when they came walking in. I noticed nothing about their physical appearance whatsoever.

“I need your help,” they said. “Folks tell me you’re the best.”

“Sure, I’ve benefited from certain privileges on account of my race and gender,” I replied. “What can I do for you?”

“It’s my husband, Mort. He wants me dead. You’ve got to believe me, Mr. Chanterelle.”

“I believe you, because I believe women, assuming that’s how you identify.”

“It is.” She extended her hand, consensually. “Birgitta Domino.”

We shook for an appropriate length of time.

“Alright then.” I sipped my booch. “How do you know?”

“That I’m a woman? Or that my husband wants me dead?”

“The former is no one’s business. The latter is mine.”

“Mort’s been looking around town for a hitman to kill me. He wants the life insurance so he can run away with his other woman.”

I guessed this other woman wasn’t exactly part of their consensually polyamorous throuple. I’d say it broke my heart, but that’s one shelter dog no one’s gonna rescue. “The other woman—you ever talked to her?”

“No. Does it matter?”

“Only if you want to pass the Bechdel Test.”


I tracked Mort Domino to a charging station on the east side. “Can I sit here, friend?” I asked motioning to the empty chair.

“It’s a free country,” Mort grumbled. Apparently he hadn’t heard about the new voter ID law.

The bartender floated into view and asked what I wanted.

“A $15 dollar minimum wage,” I replied. “But if you’re all out of that, gimme a shot of booch. Extra fermented.” He poured; I drained. “Another. And leave the mason jar.”

“Man drinking like that’s got one of two troubles,” Mort said, taking the bait. “Money or female?”

“Money troubles,” I told him. “Trying to get my kid into a Chinese language immersion preschool. And, buddy, they ain’t come cheap.” I introduced myself as my go-to alias, Alexander O’Connor Cortez, and laid out a sob story thicker than overnight oats. Before long, Mort was sympathizing, telling me how his wife had been threatening to ruin him. “Women,” I told him, “they are all exactly the same.”

It seemed Mort hadn’t heard of intersectionality, because he cracked open like a cage-free egg. “Say, Alex, maybe we can help each other out.”

Soon after, Mort led me outside to the trunk of his car, where he gave me the ol’ NRA handshake: a gun and an envelope of cash. Once he drove off, I grabbed my bike and headed to present the proof to Birgitta like we’d planned.


Her house sat up in the hills, so my thighs were screaming by the time I pedaled into the driveway. I let myself in and called out “Mrs. Domino?” Crickets.

After a few more steps, I saw the dead body of female-presenting person. I didn’t recognize her, but I sure recognized the police sirens. A set up neat as a cheese plate.

“Hands up, don’t shoot,” I called out as the buzzcuts swarmed me. The cold clink of the handcuffs took me back to my protesting days.


“So why’d ya do it, Chanterelle?” asked the bruiser in blue. “Was it the money?”

“You were schtupping her, weren’t ya?” added his partner. “You and everybody else.”

Amateur hour. “Cool it with the slut shaming, fellas,” I told them. “Besides, with interrogations, like with in-group rap lyrics, I keep my mouth shut. Now where’s my gavel jockey?”

“I’m not sure a lawyer’s gonna help. Not when we got ya standing over Birgitta Domino’s body with the gun and the cash.”

My brain lit up like a wintertime holiday shrub. “That was Birgitta Domino!?”

“Don’t play dumb, Chanterelle. We got a tip you was gonna plug her.”

“Too bad we didn’t get there sooner.”

“Nah, you arrived just in time to be duped.” I rolled my eyes. “You Chokehold Charlies know my gun wasn’t fired. Can’t you see I was framed worse than—”

“Enough references!” A meaty fist slammed the table. “Right now we got a sweet little open-and-shut case with you at the creamy center. But in light of your past work for the department, we’ll give you 24 hours to find some new jelly for our maximum security donut upstate. Or we’re taking you down.”

The deal was as bad as the metaphor. Still I gave my consent, even if it was less than enthusiastic.

I needed to get back to my office fast. Too bad my bike was stuck in evidence lockup. Like Greta Thunberg at a Hummer festival, I had no choice but to walk.


Lost in my thoughts, I didn’t notice the open door. But I noticed the gun and the hand holding it. If deceit had a glass ceiling, she just shattered it.

“Nice to see you again, Mrs. Domino.”

“Oh, Mr. Chanterelle, we both know that’s not my name.”

“Judging by the invasion of privacy, Ms…. Zuckerberg, I presume?”

“The name’s Debit. Lana Debit. I’m Mort Domino’s mistress.”

I didn’t know what stung worse, being played for a sap or hearing a woman self-define as a man’s object. Other times, I’d have reached for the kombucha jar. But with Lana’s pea shooter trained on me, I had to make like a novice in lotus pose and sit tight.

“Here to write out a confession?” I asked her.

“More like the last chapter of your sad story. I call it: Gullible Dick Wanted for Murder Shoots Self in Pathetic Office.”

“A classic,” I said. “But that book’s been pulled from the shelves. For outdated depictions of women.”

“Like who?”

“Like you!

“Please,” Lana smirked. “I’m as modern as Lena Dunham.”

“Sure about that? Check your Twitter account.”

I could see her trying to resist, but once I put the thought in her head, social media addiction did the rest. Lana grabbed for the phone in her purse. Sure, I thought about going for her gun, but no way was I gonna risk nonconsensual contact. Luckily, I didn’t have to. As soon as Lana started scrolling, her eyes grew wider than the wealth gap.

“So many negative comments!” she cried. “And more every second. What’s happening?”

“You’re getting dragged, that’s what.”

“Dragged? But why?”

“Like I said, you’re outdated. The femme fatale trope is a representation of male writers’ fear and distrust of strong women. You’re toxic, Lana. Toxic as Flint’s tap water. And just as criminal.”

Lana dropped the gun. “Stop this, I’m begging you. I’ll confess.”

“The might’ve worked,” I said, holding up my phone. “Before Chrissy Teigen subtweeted you.”

The realization set in hard. “Please,” she whispered. “I’ll do anything. I’ll… apologize on Ellen.”

But it was too late. “Face it, Lana,” I said. “You’ve been canceled.”

And just like, Lana Debit was gone.

I’d have some explaining for the police, but for now, my office was a safe space again. The jar of kombucha had just two shots left. I drank the first for Birgitta. The second, for Lana. No shot remained for a world that didn’t pit women against each other. Shame.

Forget it, GabeIt’s the patriarchy.


Eugene Morgulis is a lawyer and writer quarantining in Los Angeles. His other short fiction has been published by McSweeney’s, Ad Astra, Deep Magic, and others. You can read more of his work at eugenemorgulis.com/writing.

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