I hate my name. It comes from watching too many Bogart movies as a little kid, and reading too many Chandler books as a young adult. When I was barely into double figures, I took to dressing up in a raincoat and fedora, chewing on those candy cigarette-imitations, whispering, “Now listen here, wiseguy” and “I’m on to you, sonny” out of the corner of my mouth, and crossing my feet over the top of my school desk – no matter how often my teachers would make me take ’em down again.
It was just a phase – every kid has ’em, am I wrong? – but that was when the other little brats gave me this moniker, and it’s stuck ever since. People who meet me think I’m short-tempered, a firecracker just waiting for some poor bastard to light the fuse, but it’s just that damn nickname. I don’t even look like that archetypal detective no more; stopped wearing the raincoat at fifteen when I discovered that leather jackets were cooler and more attractive – objectively – to the opposite sex, had my fedora stolen off my head by Acne Phillips in the playground – I’d only been wearing it a year – and, well, once I contracted type 2 Diabetes that was pretty much it for those damned candy smokes I’d been gorging myself on. I spit every time I so much as see someone smoking these days, kid you not.
How as this name followed me through High School, College and out into the real world? Beats me. I’m just the victim. Any detective ever tell you they ascertained the motive and perpetrator of a murder by asking the victim? Well then, smart-ass.
Anyway. I mighta stopped doing all the clichéd things that noir crime cinema was famous for, but that didn’t stop me inhaling every damn murder mystery and cop caper I could get my bloodhound’s nose on. That nickname will follow me to the end of the Earth – I know it, you know it, those little monsters in the school cafeteria knew it – but it hasn’t shaken my ardent passion for good, honest crimefighting. Hell, maybe it strengthened it. Maybe some part of me fantasised that, when I grew up, those kids I pretended to be shaking down for clues actually would be the guys I’d be getting to shake down. It’s as good a motivation as any, I guess.
Look at me, ramblin’ on like a first-class obstructionist. Oughta be charged with perverting the course of justice – amongst other things. But I’ll get to those a little later. Probably much later, if what my former employers said about my risible work ethic has any merit. I’ve tried a lot of stuff – some of it legal, most of it less so – in trying to rid myself of that dumbass name. You’ll find out about all that jazz at some point. Doubtless you’ll derive some facile entertainment from it. The masses usually do, huh? Get a kick outta missteps like mine. Least it does some good.
Before I go any further, though, I’d better introduce myself properly. I was christened Conlan Carrigan, which isn’t the best name in the world I’ll admit – what were my parents thinking of, with that many ‘C’ and ‘N’ sounds? – but it was still better than hearing the nickname day in, day out. Cool Carrigan. Everybody calls me Cool Carrigan. Oh sure, you don’t think it’s that annoying now.
If you were addressed in that manner every day for twenty years, you might feel different.
Solidarity, brothers & sisters…★