Backmatter Part 12: The Goon Squad

High Concept: “The Shadow over Mulholland,” or “The Dunwich Horror” meets L.A. Confidential
Genre: Pulp Mythos Wainscoting Noir

Overview: “I saw more than my share of weird in Italy, during the war. Sicilian strega keeping the Blackshirts at bay with threats of the Evil Eye. Packs of barking, gibbering Things in old doughboy uniforms stalking battlefields to feed on the dead. Old men in wolfskin coats who drew tribute from mountain villages like ancient kings. Men staked down in groves of trees that swayed in a still night.

Too many things. Madness and blood and too many questions.

When I came back home, I signed up to be a cop. Good war record put me in, but the questions got me shipped over to the Old Man. He’d been a leatherneck in the Twenties, tear-assing through in Haiti and China between the wars before he came home to head up the Special Crimes Task Force.

As far as anyone knew, the SCTF was the Goon Squad, the brass knuckle-swinging, kick-in-the-door, shallow-grave-in-the-hills boys who muscled Commies, queers and whoever else the Chief didn’t like that day.

Only Commie I ever met was the old junkie we called in when we needed Linear B translation done on the quiet, and the Old Man got his cards read by a nelly in West Hollywood every Wednesday.

Weird, though. We saw plenty of that. Pachucos kidnapping entire gangs and sacrificing their hearts on stone altars. Numbers runners getting killed according to numerological codes found in the Book of the Master of the Secret House. New Money left-hand tantrikas in the Valley shooting snuff loops for Y’golonac. We brought in who we could, killed who we had to and kept the worst at a little motel outside of town, where the Old Man would put the boots to them until they squealed or the black trucks came to take them away.

I was there for that once. They talked about a Covenant. They talked about a place called Innsmouth and about camps in Death Valley. They called him Sir and saluted.

When the Old Man cracked up, the Goon Squad scattered to the four winds. Some of us went back into the force, some of us left it all behind.

I’m a shamus, mostly. Follow bad husbands and bad wives, track down tax cheats. Every now and then, though, the wrong case comes through my door or one of the Old Man’s encoded letters comes in the post, pointing toward newspaper clippings about the opening of a private party at the Starry Wisdom Club or disappearances of bar girls downtown.

Every now and then, when I can pull a win, I take a trip out to the burned wreckage of that little motel outside of town.

They keep the money coming and take the worst of the bunch away. They never salute, although they do call me Sergeant.

When the black trucks aren’t around, though, I do my best to walk down these mean streets twice as mean as most I meet. I can even pull off untarnished sometimes, if I work at it.

But brother, I haven’t been unafraid for a long time.”

System: Trail of Cthulhu
Illustrator: Richard Corben

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