I was challenged by Kathy Boecher to write a story or poem using idioms. I love reading mysteries. Maybe I have learned something after a couple of thousand stories, maybe not. This is a story, not a poem. It may be Thursday, but it is a Wednesday with Wimsey kind of story.
I humbly submit a mystery (to be read with a Humphrey Bogart accent): Who Iced Charlie the Tuna?
Who Iced Charlie the Tuna?
I’m Detective Sergeant Deviled Yeggs. I work homicide out of the three-minute precinct, here in the big city of Tracy. Some of the guys think I’m a hard-boiled detective; other’s just think I’m scrambled, but I am motivated to be the best Dick that Tracy ever saw. You see, the guy who named me ‘Deviled’ was my old man. He’s up the river now, doing ten to twenty for cracking shells.
It was last Monday when my partner, Jim Wednesday and I got the call. Someone had iced Charlie the Tuna. We immediately suspected his former bosses, They had fired Charlie, but they had a watertight sealed alibi. No, Charlie had not been star-kissed, he had been star struck. Yep, he was run over by a Lodestar truck hauling two trailers of ice to Alaska. By the time we had catalogued half the second trailer of evidence, the case had gone cold.
Jim Wednesday said on Thursday that we could write it off as an accident. We could go with suicide, but I wasn’t buying it. This case was three days old and it smelled. It smelled worse than when my wife’s cousin, Boris Caviar, stayed at our place for more than three days.
So, we grilled the driver of the truck for three days. Why would a truck that left California on its way to Alaska run over a tuna in Kansas? How the tuna got to Kansas was a different mystery.
The driver’s name was Lone Wolfe. He was sly as a fox. When we brought him downtown, Wolfe was wearing sheep’s clothing and he’d been left holding the bag. The bag looked like a Gucci, but when you’ve been in this business for as long as I have, you can spot a knock-off from a mile away. It had been a coon’s age since I had seen a perp with a real Gucci bag. We could hear something purring inside the fake Gucci, but Wolfe never let the cat out of the bag.
We put him on the hot seat. He was in hot water. After a while, he started to smell, too. It was all that hair and wool on a slow boil. We tried to use his kind of language, but he said we were barking up the wrong tree. I felt stupid, howling – barking, a rookie mistake. We would never learn who paid him to ice down the fish. We took him off the hot seat and put him on ice to cool off. Maybe then, he’d spill the beans.
The only bit of evidence, other than the ice was a piece of rope. When we followed the rope in one direction, we found a dead end, but the other end of the rope was tied in a knot and the fibers at the end were messed up. We asked the piece of rope if he was the rope that was guilty. He said, “I’m a frayed knot.” We had to let the rope go Scot free.
So, there we were with egg on our face. I looked the same, but Jim Wednesday looked kind of silly. We hadn’t gotten a lead on the case in a month of Sundays.
What we needed now was a snitch. We needed a rat, but we keep the alleys in Tracy pretty clean. That only left one place to look, the Marble Statue Bar and Grill. We asked the bar keep which of the birds in his joint was the Stool Pigeon, but his lips were sealed. I slid ten cents across the counter, and he dimed the female bird in the corner, sitting on the filthiest bar stool in the joint.
It was as plain as the nose on Jim Wednesday’s face, if you could see Jim’s face. Jim had the wool pulled over his eyes. No, if Jim could have gotten the wool free, he could see that the Stool Pigeon knew something. Now all we had to do was put her in the oven, turn up the heat and give her the three hundred and fifty-third degree. Like most pigeons, until the iron was hot, her voice was stuck in her throat, but finally, she laid an egg. She pointed her manicured finger at two shady characters in a corner booth. She’d put the nail on the head.
Jim Wednesday was concerned. The two guys in the corner looked suspicious. He warned me to have my eyes peeled. But I assured him that Deviled Yeggs keeps it all peeled.
Two male suspects: one poultry and the other bovine. When we confronted them, they told a cock and bull story, but I could smell a red herring. This whole case was fishy. They tried to tell me that the butler did it, but I was wise to their tricks.
Finally, a lightbulb came on overhead, not an idea, but a real lightbulb. I was able to see things clearly. This case was no longer fishy to me; I smelled fowl. I turned to the poultry suspect. I said, “I recognize you. The tabloid press said you were the guy that got Charlie fired from his advertising gig. You discredited Charlie. Charlie said he’d get the information that would ruin you. I guess he did, but he never got to deliver it to the police.”
The poultry suspect said, “I have no motive to do Charlie in. You got nothing of me, Copper.” (How he knew I was hard-boiled in a copper pot, I’ll never know.)
I replied, “No, I got the goods on you. Your motive is millions of dollars. We thought it might be an accident, strike one. Then we thought the driver might be a lone wolf, strike two. Then the knot came loose, strike three. You might think three strikes and you’re out, but I know three strikes makes a turkey. I’m thinking of your cousin, the biggest crime boss in town, the Thanksgiving turkey himself, Turkey Lurky. When Charlie’s employer declared bankruptcy and was flushed out to sea, their chief competitor took over the territory. It may not be widely known, but I browse the society pages. You have been seen with the wrong chick too many times. You may go by the name of Cocky Locky, but you are secretly married to Chicken O. de See.”
Sorry, Kathy, this was the kind of twisted stories I wrote in junior/senior high school and invented impromptu at campfires in Scouting. You have given me a chance to fly like a penguin once again.