Authors: Hy Conrad
Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General
The Monk Series
Mr. Monk Gets On Board
Mr. Monk Helps Himself
Mr. Monk Gets Even
Mr. Monk Is a Mess
Mr. Monk on Patrol
Mr. Monk on the Couch
Mr. Monk on the Road
Mr. Monk Is Cleaned Out
Mr. Monk in Trouble
Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop
Mr. Monk Is Miserable
Mr. Monk Goes to Germany
Mr. Monk in Outer Space
Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants
Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu
Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii
Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse
MR. MONK GETS ON BOARD
A NOVEL BY
Based on the USA Network
television series created by
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014
USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia } New Zealand | India | South Africa | China
A Penguin Random House Company
First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Copyright © 2014
© Universal Network Television LLC. Licensed by NBCUniversal Television Consumer Products Group 2014.
Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.
OBSIDIAN and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-
Mr. Monk gets on board: a novel/by Hy Conrad; based on the USA Network television series created by Andy Breckman.
1. Monk, Adrian (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Private investigators—Fiction. 3. Eccentrics and eccentricities—Fiction. 4. Obsessive-compulsive disorder—Fiction. 5. Cruise ships—Fiction. 6. Ocean travel—Fiction. 7. Murder—Investigation—Fiction. I. Breckman, Andy. II. Monk (Television program) III. Title.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
To Jeff, as always. Again.
One of the points of pride in the
writers’ room was that we never threw out a script. In eight full seasons, there was never a
episode that didn’t get final network approval. This is rare, probably some sort of record. No matter how much everyone may say they love a story line, most shows produce a script or two every year that gets thrown into the trash bin.
That being said, there was one
episode that we lost, through no fault of our own.
During season three, someone got the bright idea to put Monk and Sharona on a cruise ship. The USA Network loved it and we turned in a great script. Then came the job of securing a location. Turns out the cruise lines are sensitive about murders on their ships and people falling overboard.
We tried everything to persuade them. We changed the killer’s identity, lowered the number of victims, etc. A close friend of mine—and a huge
fan—was marketing director for Norwegian Cruise Lines. She read the script and told me to get lost. In a last-ditch effort, we contemplated filming on the
, now a floating hotel in Long Beach. But that fell through.
Over the next five years, whenever we got low on plot twists, we would turn longingly to “Mr. Monk Is at Sea” and make a few calls. It became our white whale, the one
that never got made. Episode 126.
If you haven’t guessed by now, this is that story, the long lost episode from the
canon. Although it has been fleshed out with Natalie instead of Sharona, various subplots, and a visit to Mexico to meet old friends, it’s the same crazy, unimproved plot twist that six demented writers came up with back in 2004. Our oeuvre is complete.
In beginning this book, I called up Dan Dratch, the writer of record for “At Sea.” After spending an hour telling me what it’s like working with Charlie Sheen these days, Dan agreed to go into his archives and send me two completely different versions of the old script. Thanks, Dan.
In addition to Dan, contributors to the original include our fearless leader, Andy Breckman; his brilliant brother David, who probably came up with the murder method; Joe Toplyn, who tried his best to keep us within the bounds of reality; and comedy legend Tom Scharpling. I thank them all. Last but far from least, I owe a debt of gratitude to Talia Platz, my editor. The
books are stronger and cleaner due to her invaluable contributions.
I’d also like to give a shout-out to the regulars at the Higgs Beach Dog Park in Key West. They had absolutely nothing to do with the book, but every evening they would greet us warmly, ask “Did you get your words in today?” and proceed to fill the next hour or so with lovely small talk. Much appreciated.
Mr. Monk and the Kissing Clowns
pening a business has been tougher than I thought it would be.
I don’t mean filling out the incorporation papers or passing my California PI exam. Those were difficult but doable. I mean the actual process of acquiring paying clients and getting the rest of the world to take me seriously.
Before I put you to sleep with my whining, I suppose I should explain.
My name is Natalie Teeger, licensed private investigator and owner of Monk and Teeger, Consulting Detectives, LLC. I like the old-fashioned sound of “consulting detectives,” like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, if Watson had ever decided to become Sherlock’s full partner and get incorporated in the state of California. By the way, I am the same Natalie Teeger who used to be Adrian Monk’s assistant.
You would think this would be a promotion, going from babysitting a brilliant investigator to being his boss. But since this big change, our world had stayed surprisingly unchanged. Our only regular client continued to be the San Francisco Police Department. That wouldn’t have been so bad except that the department was cutting back. Paying a private detective to do what your own people should be doing was no longer a priority.
It had been nearly a month since our last payday, a two-day case involving a deadly hit-and-run ice-cream truck, which wasn’t as much fun as it sounds. The financial drought had made me desperate enough to spend a Saturday afternoon with the Noe Valley Small Business Guild, basically a neighborhood support group for loser businesses that shouldn’t exist in the first place.
Right now I was perched uncomfortably on a folding chair in the strip mall storefront that was the headquarters of AmishMingle.com. That’s right. Someone had actually created an Internet dating service for the world’s Amish population, a religious sect that doesn’t even use electricity, much less Wi-Fi.
This is what I’ve been reduced to,
I thought as I sat there.
Sharing tips with an entrepreneur whose last big idea was to reinvent Amish dating.
His only customers so far were first cousins from the same farming community in Ohio.
The brains behind this small-business fiasco was Oliver Petrie. He stood in front of us in his nearly empty store, expounding upon his next brilliant idea. He was supposed to be asking our advice about his business plan, but I was sure he didn’t want to hear mine.
Oliver held up a letter-sized flyer. It was a photo of two clowns in full makeup, male and female presumably, locked in a passionate kiss. Across the bottom was the URL in bold black letters: FUNDATE.COM.
“This is so much better than AmishMingle,” he insisted. “It’s for people who aren’t so serious. Get it? Fun dates? I’m going to flood the city’s mailboxes with this. Real mailboxes, not the e-mail ones that keep filtering out my stuff and calling it spam.”
There were six of us staring at Oliver from our folding chairs. “I’m not sure I’d want this in my mailbox,” said Jody Friedlander, squinting at the photo. Jody owned a pair of nail salons and was looking to expand. “It’s kind of disturbing.”
I had to agree. The photo would have been especially disturbing to my partner, who not only had an aversion to any display of affection, but a top-one-hundred phobia of clowns. If he ever asked me what we’d discussed in the meeting, which he never would, I’d have to make something up.
“Hmm.” Oliver seemed to take Jody’s critique seriously. “Well, that’s why I sent out a test run, to see how people would react. It should be in your mailboxes when you get home. Let me know what your families think.”
“In our home mailboxes?” I asked. “You sent us copies?”
“Yes, all seven of you.” Oliver pointed to the contact sheet on the business guild’s bulletin board. “I trust those are your correct addresses.”
All seven? I squinted across the room, as if this would be some sort of memory aid. “You listed your business partner as a contact,” he reminded me. “I’d love to hear what he thinks.”
Oliver was right. For some perverse reason, I had added Monk’s name to the contact sheet, probably to let everyone know that my little agency was important enough to employ a world-class detective. And now this display of clown love was about to show up in his mail.
A chill went through me as I checked my watch. Two twenty. Andrew, Monk’s mail carrier, made a point of trying to arrive at exactly 2:22 every afternoon. He didn’t always succeed, but it was a game they both liked to play.
“Gotta go,” I said, and jumped up so fast that my folding chair skidded across the floor. Within three minutes I was in my Subaru, speeding down Market Street, barely making every yellow light, hoping that Andrew might be running late with his deliveries.
I had no idea how Monk might react when he opened the envelope and was confronted by a flyer of kissing clowns. Actually, I did, which was what made me race through the yellows. At 2:29, I double-parked directly in front of Monk’s building on Pine Street. I didn’t bother to ring the bell, instead using my keys on both the downstairs door and upstairs on the door to apartment 2-G.
“Adrian?” I stepped into the silence, my ears alert for any faint moans or sobs. It had been only a few months since the big case that had forced Monk to impersonate a dead clown. During that adventure, he’d been kidnapped and almost killed. But that’s a different story.
“Adrian, are you home?”
The living room was empty. So was the small dining room—except for the envelope and the creased flyer sitting open on the square oak table. If anything, the kissing clowns looked even more obscene in the midst of all this cleanliness and order. “Adrian, it’s all right. I’ll get rid of it.” I crumpled the offending flyer and stuffed it into my pocket.
From down the hall came the sound of a flushing toilet. I walked forward and stood by the bathroom door. “Adrian, you can come out now.” But there was no other sound coming from the bathroom. “Don’t do anything rash,” I shouted.
Instead, the bedroom door behind me opened. “Natalie?” And there he was in the doorway, a Swiffer in each hand, like long, dust-catching extensions of his arms. “Is the doorbell broken?”
“No,” I said, feeling confused. “I just thought . . .” I did a double take, from Monk to the closed bathroom door and back to Monk. “Who’s in the bathroom?”
“No one. I don’t let people use my bathroom. Do I look like a hippie?” He opened the hall utility closet and returned the Swiffers to their matching, evenly spaced hooks.
“But I heard a flush.”
Monk threw me a thin smile. “I have the toilet set on automatic. It flushes every ten minutes, night and day, just in case.”
“Just in case what?”
“In case the unthinkable happens.”
I couldn’t think what the unthinkable might be, which was probably what made it unthinkable. I knew, however, that Monk loved his toilet. It was the newest Japanese model and did everything from washing and drying your rear end to playing soothing music. It even came with a remote control and automatic settings.
“I’m sorry about the clown picture,” I said. “One of the idiots at the business guild sent them out. Don’t worry; I disposed of it.”
“Why would he send me a picture of people kissing?”
I was taken aback. “They’re not people, Adrian. They’re clowns.” He seemed a lot calmer than I’d expected.
“I know they’re clowns,” Monk said. “But that doesn’t make it right.”
Now I was taken aback and confused. “But you’re afraid of clowns. They’re one of your top one hundred. I spent endless hours trying to get you to solve a murder involving clowns.”
“Right. Well, I guess it’s over. I wish they weren’t kissing.”
“What are you saying? You no longer have clown fear?” I reached back into my mind for the right word. “Coulrophobia?”
He shrugged. “One day I was accidentally walking by the Jack in the Box on Geary Street near Union Square. I normally go around to Post Street, but the sidewalks on Taylor were blocked due to construction. I try to avoid Geary Street because of, you know, Jack.”
He meant the spokesclown character for the hamburger chain, the guy with the round blue eyes and the red grin and the foam head. “I was all set to close my eyes,” he added, “even though I was walking in the middle of a street. And then I realized I wasn’t afraid. I couldn’t have cared less about that Jack in the Box clown.”
“Wow. Congratulations.” It sounded like great news, although with Monk, you never could tell. “You’ve overcome one of your top hundred. Just like that.”
“Dr. Bell says the clown case probably acted as a kind of immersion therapy. That’s when you slowly immerse yourself in the thing you fear while keeping your mind on other things—in my case, being chained up in a clown lair, trying to survive without food or water.”
Dr. Bell was Monk’s saint of a psychiatrist, a man who deserved to win two Nobel prizes—one for medicine and the other for patience. Maybe a third for peace, since he had succeeded in making my life more peaceful.
“So you no longer have an irrational fear of clowns.”
He nodded. “Now it’s just a rational disdain, like everybody else over ten years of age.”
“Great. You should use immersion therapy on everything.”
“Immersion? No, no, no.” Monk shuddered at the thought. And I’m sure he would have continued to shudder if my phone hadn’t started ringing. I held up a finger—
hold that shudder
—and answered. “Monk and Teeger, Consulting Detectives. How may I direct your call? . . . Oh, hello, Lieutenant. What’s up?”
It was Amy Devlin. Devlin was the number two in San Francisco’s homicide division, right under Captain Leland Stottlemeyer, who happened to be one of Monk’s oldest and only friends in the world.
I listened as Devlin outlined a rather baffling murder that had occurred the previous night in one of the grand mansions that still grace the stretch of Pacific Avenue that rolls past the edge of the Presidio. I didn’t grasp too much of her description, as I was busy throwing Monk a big happy face and pumping my arm in the air. It was a job. Finally. “Interesting,” I murmured. “I’ll see if I can fit it into our schedule.”
I took down the address, promised we would be there two minutes ago, and hung up. “Get your jacket,” I ordered my assistant. “Please,” I added. “We have a homicide.”
Monk went to the hall closet to choose from among six identical jackets, all hung evenly across the bar. I took advantage of the delay to sneak a peek at the three-ring binder centered on the coffee table.
This was Monk’s phobia binder, listing exactly one hundred major phobias—the ones that could reduce this genius to a quivering mass of genius jelly—followed by a list of more than three hundred minor phobias that could just annoy him and make my life a living hell. I flipped a few pages into it, past heights and crowds and milk and death.
Number ninety-nine. That’s where clowns used to be, followed by aardvarks. I had expected aardvarks to have moved its way up to ninety-nine, followed by something bumped up from the minors. Instead I found a brand-new phobia that I wasn’t sure even existed.
Fear of immersion therapy.