A Derivative Detective Story: Part One
1.30.2004 by .
[Author's note: Our Heroine disappeared. Rumor on the street has it that she took off for warmer climes and will return in a few weeks when she has properly thawed. All for the better, methinks. She was starting to make sense. In her absence I offer you a totally derivative detective story, cribbed in all likelihood from every Firesign Theatre parody I have ever listened to (cool points for those who know what I'm talking about). Here is Episode One: Attack of the Crones.]
It was a slow day at the office of Johnson and Meyers, Private Detectives. I sat at my desk, smoking a cigar and staring at the gathering storm clouds beyond the office window while my partner, a bloated carcass of a man, six-foot-five with an ashen complexion, slouched in his chair behind his desk across the room. I had him stuffed after an assignment turned fatal, and I've found that our relationship has since improved.
The intercom buzzed. "Well, what is it," I gruffed into the machine.
"A lady here to see you, sir,"said the crackly voice of my secretary. "Shall I send her in?"
"Of course. What are you waiting for?"
The door opened and in walked one glamorous looker. She wore a red herringbone dress that barely concealed the mackerel flopping around in her gray, knock-off Prada handbag. As I stood to offer her my hand and a seat she sized me up. Her eyes lingered on my lower half.
"Well," she spoke, her words seeping from her mouth like fluid dripping from an IV bag in carefully measured increments to be constantly monitored by a nurse or doctor, "I can tell you're happy to see me."
I looked down. Dammit. I hurriedly explained, "Oh, no, that's just a ferret that crawled up my pant leg." I loosened my belt and the creature scrambled out at the waist. It jumped to the floor and scurried under my partner's inert limbs. I made a mental note to call the exterminator. We had an infestation.
"Have a seat," I said, gesturing to the chair in front of my desk, the nicest chair in the office. It had an across-the-lap seatbelt and a cup holder on the armrest. The woman sat down, crossed her legs at the knee, and buckled up. It's the law.
"What may I do for you, Miss--"
"Velma Rhodes," she said, taking her mackerel out of her handbag. It wriggled. She tore its head off. "Missus Velma Rhodes. I need you to kill my husband." She raised the fish to her lips and slurped at the effluvia oozing from its torn flesh; the blood dribbling down her chin matched the color of her dress. I felt myself grow woozy. I was in love.
"Kill your husband," I repeated, trying to pull myself together. My prosthetic arm had begun to detach at the elbow and I struggled to snap it back on without her noticing. No luck.
"Um--can I help you with that?" She leaned over and held my fake arm while I fiddled with the joint. Luckily, I did not flinch at her touch. My fake arm is made of plastic, and thus has no nerve endings. But I could smell her breath, salty and rancid, and I could marvel at the blush that rested on her cheeks like a homeless man resting on a park bench before getting clubbed by the cops. She was beautiful. But there was something not quite right.
"Kill your husband," I announced loudly, leaning back in my chair. I thought about it for a moment. "Kill--your husband," I said again, this time with a Minnesota accent, just to see if it would make a difference. I pride myself in my accents. I used to do this great one of Leonard Bamburg, Assistant to the Secretary of the Transportation under President Eisenhower. People loved it at parties.
"Will you?" she asked, furrowing her lovely brow.
"Kill..." then it dawned on me. "That's murder."
"Don't tell me you have morals," she pouted.
"No, no. I just have to do some extra planning. The last time the dry cleaning bills were something awful. And I had all that leftover Mexican to deal with. My fridge isn't a full-size, you see."
"Yes, of course." She smiled. She was missing her two front teeth, but I found myself loving her even more for it. Over the next hour we discussed the business of offing her spouse. I agreed to meet her in the parking lot of a Big Boy's on the other side of town the next day.
It rained all night and through the morning. A pool of runoff collected at the end of my driveway. I loaded my car with supplies for the trip--a length of lead pipe, a pair of gloves, some dark nylon stockings and an absolutely adorable polka-dotted skirt that I picked up at the Bay, half-price! Also some biscuits.
I drove to the Big Boy's.