Coming up on Sunday we have Mother’s Day. These five are for all the mother’s out there.
Mama This One’s For You by Beth Hart
Julia by The Beatles
Dear Mama by 2Pac
Mom by Meghan Trainor
The Mother by Brandi Carlile
I sat in the apartment of Mr. Shyrlick Humes, watching the Great Detective admire himself. How did I know he was the Great Detective? He had business cards printed to prove it. As a reminder to me, he showed me his card every time I came to visit him in his boudoir.
I know the word “boudoir” applies to a woman’s private quarters. Unfortunately Humes insisted on calling his apartment his boudoir. When I objected, he said, “Tut, tut, tut. Now, D. R., one mustn’t abuse the language, you know. The word for my quarters is boudoir.”
Why did he call me D. R.? you ask. That too was a misunderstanding I had given up correcting. I have on my card “Dr. Henry Wotsun”. He mistook the Dr. for D. R.
“My dear fellow,” I would retort, “I think not. I think the OED is quite clear on the definition of the word ‘boudoir’.”
“I have taken up the matter with the Word Committee at OED. They assured me they will make the correction with the next edition. Until then, old chap, you will have to take my word for it, will you not?”
“Of course,” I answered, resigned to the absurdity.
Why did I choose to join Mr. Humes in his “boudoir”? It was a good way to while away the afternoon. I needed entertainment after a long morning of patient after patient wanting their buns tucked, their breasts syliconized, their lips botoxed. One more pouty mouth and I swear. Well, you get the photograph.
So there I was, observing Humes admire himself in the mirror for a good fifteen minutes. It was such amusement to watch him stroke his chin and make faces, then turn to his left side and give his face the eye. Then it was to the right and more eye. Finally it was a full face. He turned to me and asked, “I need your professional opinion on my appearance.” I am a plastic surgeon so I do have a certain expertise in these matters.
“Yes.” I knew that I should tred lightly in supplying an opinion on such a delicate matter as Mr. Humes’ face.
“I am thinking of having my hair dyed. What say you, old fellow?”
I was flabbergasted. “You have such a marvelous head of black hair. Why would you want to do such a villainous act?”
“I want to die my hair blue. What say you, old chap?”
“This is madness.”
“Will you do it?” he pressed.
There was no convincing my friend once he set his mind on a thing. What choice did I have? “Yes, I will.”
Humes grabbed me and hugged me and raised me in the air, then spinning the two us around and around. Finally his enthusiasm exhausted itself and he dropped me of us to the floor.
“I will,” I said, “if you will share with me the reason.”
He looked at me with a deadly seriousness. “I am joining The Blue-Haired Boys.”
“The Blue-Haired Boys? No, Humes, you can’t. I won’t have it.”
“You have no choice.”
He was right. I had no choice.
“Why?” I asked. The Blue-Haired Boys were the most dangerous gang of thugs in London.
“I have been invited to join. I will have you know. And join I shall.”
“But why would you want to join that gang of thugs?” Every crime in the city of London since The Great War could one way or another be traced to the Blue-Haired Boys. That was what the newspapers said. That was what the police said.
“Now, now, now,” Homes said. “Their reputation is simply a matter of bad public relations. Which I shall rectify once I am a member in good standing.”
Finally I agreed to the dying of Humes’ beautiful hair. I gave him the full body treatment. Not one hair on his chinny-chin-chin would be another color. All the while thinking that once you’re true blue, you cannot return to your former tincture.
Several days later I visited Humes in his “boudoir”. Once again, he stood before the mirror. Once again he admired himself quite extensively.
Finally, he said to me in his cheerful way, “Well, D. R., I am off to the races. The game is indeed afoot.”
“What are you up to, Humes?” I was becoming concerned that my friend might be getting into deep water. I am speaking metaphorically here, of course. What I meant was that he might be getting in over his head.
“The Blue-Haired Boys have accepted me as one of them. I am indeed True Blue, as we say in the trade.”
“So what dastardly path are you about to set out upon?”
“I am bound and determined to show the world what nice fellows my new comrades-in-arms are.”
In the past, I had accompanied Mr. Shyrlick Humes on each and every investigation. I was actually the detective, solving the crimes he received credit for. I liked it that way. It kept me in the shadows in the public’s mind and gave me a certain ability to move about unchallenged. But now Humes had decided to do this one alone. His very life could be in danger. With this in mind, I followed my friend.
He walked to the waterfront and to a certain ship whose name shall be nameless. No use accusing a ship when it may very well be innocent. It was the Blue-Haired Boys headquarters. For many months, I suspected it. Now I had proof. Mr. Shyrlick Humes was taking his blue hair there.
I left the shadows and rushed to the nearest telephone. It was in a pub called the Rotten Smelling Egg. It was a smelly place if ever there was one.
Sergeant Roughed answered the line, “Scotland Yard at your service.”
“This is Wotsun,” I said to the Cop Shop. ” Dr. Henry Wotsun. Give me the Top Cop.”
“It is indeed.”
“And you say you want the Top Cop in the Cop Shop?” As you can see the sergeant was not the brightest bulb in the room. No wonder the Blue-Haired Boys had escaped so many times before. But not this time. I had them and I was not about to let them escape. Besides Humes might be in a bit of the way. His very life could be in danger.
“I do indeed want the Top Cop in the Cop Shop. And get on it chop-chop,” I said, amazed at the slowness of the man’s brain.
“Did I hear you correctly, sir? Did you say that you were about to chop the Top Cop in the Cop Shop? That’s illegal, you know, sir. I will have to report you to my superiors.”
“Look, Pop, hop to it. Chop chop. Get the Top Cop in Cop Shop. And don’t slop, please.” My nerves were beginning to fray. What could I do to convince this dodo bird that my call was serious?
“Well, sir, if you insist,” the other end of the line said.
I looked at my watch. It said fifteen minutes till seven. Soon it would be six forty-five and the Blue-Haired Boys would be getting away.
The other end of the phone finally said, “Detective Scheister. May I help you.”
I related my story. Before you know, a battalion of London bobbies had arrived and arrested the world famous criminal, Blue Berry Pi, and his gang of Blue-Haired Boys.
And, of course, Mr. Shyrlick Humes got all the credit. But that is the way I want it. It is the way of we incognitos.
You put it in a mystery, of course, and then hope that somebody stumbles over it. However, and there’s always a however, at least there is most of the time; however, if it is a Hitchcock who has you stumble over the body, it will be “The Trouble With Harry”. The trouble with that Harry is that nobody notices the body. When they do take notice, they are not concerned with finding out who did the deed. Mostly they do not want to trip over a corpse. It is such an inconvenience.
There is no chance that the body of Marvin Winkleheimer will not be tripped over. He falls nine floors and thumps onto the awning over the front door of the Westchester Arms Apartments, then bounces off. Considering that his corpse flops onto middle of the sidewalk, it is bound to be tripped over. And tripped over it is by some little old grandmother walking her dog, Mr. Peepee. She lets out a scream and faints and people rush to attend to her with smelling salts. They see Marvin with his Errol Flynn good looks, lying face up. In his left hand he holds a king of hearts, and he is waiting for the cops to show and ask, “Perhaps this was a suicide, huh?”
“It’s amazing that he committed suicide,” Maude Findlay, one of his neighbors in the Westchester Arms Apartments, says when asked by the uniformed policeman.
“People say he had a lot of girl friends?”
“Floozies is what I’d call them. A different one every night.” There was anger in her voice. “Some in the building call him the King of Hearts.”
“Perhaps,” the cop says, “he’d run out of his Viagra and was having a rough time keeping it up.”
“Well, it’s just too bad he fell off his balcony,” she says. deciding to make nice and check her anger. Her voice goes soft. “It must have really hurt when he stopped.” Going through her motherly mind is the thought that standing there in front of her is a nice boy. He would make a good husband for her divorcee daughter. After all, he is not wearing a wedding ring. “You know you should meet my daughter. The two of you would make a good couple.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he says, writing down everything she tells him for his report later. The officer, whose name is George, is having none of this blind date business. He walks away from Maude’s apartment, shaking his head. He just broke up with his wife and is suing for a divorce and is not about to become involved with another woman. Especially one who’s mother is a witness to a crime scene. A one night stand, yes, but he is in no mood for a new relationship. At least, not yet anyway.
But the cops are starting to have suspicions about Marvin’s demise. Things just aren’t adding up to a suicide. Ole Marv had way too much going for him.
“Could Marvin have been murdered?” George asks his partner Ned, who is also getting a divorce. “Everybody says he was a happy man and a good neighbor. Except for a few indiscretions.”
“I sure would like to have his indiscretions,” Ned says. “Guess we’d better contact homicide.”
“Everybody liked him,” another elderly female neighbor tells the lieutenant, standing in her doorway. “He was such a nice man.” The neighbor’s name is Jessica Fletcher. She is a mystery writer and she is “Murder She Wrote” famous.
“Mmmmm,” says Lieutenant Colombo, finishing his chocolate-coated almond bar. He wads the candy paper up and stuffs it into his pocket and wipes the melted chocolate onto the side of his trench coat, smearing it with brown spots. He is the homicide man assigned to the Marvin-splattered-all-over-the-sidewalk case. “Guess he had his troubles though. Jumping off the side of the building like he did.”
“You just never know.” Mrs. Fletcher is grossed out at the sight of Colombo’s chocolate-stained coat and watching him picking at the almond stuck in his teeth.
“You don’t happen to have a toothpick, do you?”
“Yes. Let me get you one,” she says and rushes off into the kitchen.
She returns to the living room with hand wipes and a box of toothpicks in her hands. He is fingering the papers neatly stacked on her desk. She cringes, and runs over to him, almost stumbling as she does, and grabs his hand.
“Didn’t your mother tell you not to touch other people’s things?” She hands him a hand wipe to clean his hands and the box of toothpicks.
“So,” he says as he wipes his hands off, “this is where a world famous mystery writer solves all of her mysteries?” He drops the wipe onto her desk. “By the way, Mrs. Fletcher, my wife loves your books. She keeps telling me that I might learn something from them. So I went out and bought one.” He pulls a paperback book out of his trench coat pocket. “Would you mind signing it?” She picks up the wipe by its edge and puts it into the garbage can by her desk.
“Why, yes,” Mrs. Fletcher says and thinks, “Anything to get you out of her.” She takes the book from the lieutenant and, of course, it has chocolate stains on its cover. As she looks at the book, her hand meticulously avoids the stain. “Oh, it’s The Corpse Danced at Midnight. That one brings back such pleasant memories. It was my first book. Such a hard one to let go of and give to the world. Who shall I make it out to?” She doesn’t know that Colombo is the world famous television detective, who bumbles his way into solving every case he is assigned to, and he does it in ninety minutes too. How could she know? She does not have a television. She has no time for such foolishness, what with all the writing and the travelling and the murder-solving she does.
“You’d do that for me?” He takes a toothpick out of the box, sits the box onto the desk and starts picking his teeth.
“Of course,” she says, trying to hold back her disgust as she picks up a pen off her desk. “Who shall I make it out to?”
“Well, I am thrilled,” he says, still picking his teeth, studying the apartment room, eyeing the hundreds of books on the shelf behind her desk. “So this is where it all happens. My wife is not going to believe this. She just will not believe this.”
“But who shall I sign the book to?” Her voice rises with impatience.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Detective Colombo says. “You can make it out to my wife.”
“What is her name?” Mrs. Fletcher is frustrated. How can I get rid of this vulgar, vulgar man? I have a deadline and I need to get back to my book and he is so annoying picking his teeth like that and rifling through my papers the way he has. God only knows where those scuffed up brogans have been and they are filthing up my carpet.
“Who?” he asks. He takes the toothpick out of his mouth and it falls to the floor. “Finally. That was one hard nut to crack.” He laughs as she picks up the toothpick with a Kleenex she pulled from a box on her desk. She throws both into her desk can.
“Your wife, what’s her name?”
“Oh, my wife.”
“Yes, what is her name?”
“Mrs. Colombo’s name,” he says, “you want that?”
“Yes, what is her name?” She wants to scream, “You idiot”, but she doesn’t.
Finally he gives up the name. “Just sign it ‘To Mrs. Colombo.’ She’ll get a kick out of it.”
Mrs. Fletcher scrawls her signature onto the page and thrusts the book into the detective’s hand.
He hands it back to her. “’My number one fan please.”
“My God, man, will you please…” she starts to say but holds back. She quickly scribbles the epithet and shoves the book into the lieutenant’s hand. He puts it back into his trench coat pocket.
“Now, if you don’t mind,” she says, pushing him toward the door, “I have a novel to write.”
“I know, you writers have your deadlines.” The policeman, his hands in his pockets, turns to leave.
“That’s right.” She goes to close the door.
He stops and faces her again.
“By the way,” he asks, “you don’t happen to play cards, do you?”
“Yes, I play bridge. Why do you ask?”
“We found this in the dead man’s hand.” Colombo hands her the card found in Marvin’s hand. “It’s a King of Hearts.”
“I can see that, Detective.”
“Call me Lieutenant. You wouldn’t have any idea why a King of Hearts would be in his hand, would you?”
“Not really. We played some together. Even partnered from time to time. He wasn’t very good, you know. But I can’t think why that card would be on him. Unless…”
“I don’t want to arouse any suspicion. But Maude Findlay down the hall, I once overheard her call him the King of Hearts. You don’t think she had anything to do with his death?”
“Can’t say. I doubt it though. She doesn’t seem like she’d be involved with a sordid thing like this. But they never do seem like the sordid type, do they, Mrs. Fletcher? Oh, well. I have to get back to my paperwork at the station house. You know, there’s always a lot of paperwork when these suicide things happen. More than when it’s murder. Never understand that. Call me if you can think of anything else.”
“I will,” she says.
“You promise?” he says. “Don’t go off and poke your tiny nose where it doesn’t belong the way you do in your books.” He pats his pocket. “It could be dangerous.”
“Oh, I won’t, Lieutenant. That’s only for my books.”
“Well, good day.” Colombo turns and walks toward the elevator.
Mrs. Fletcher closes her apartment door. Then she realizes she still has the card in her hand. She turns the doorknob, then stops herself. She drops the card on the table by the door and returns to her desk and her writing.
She writes, “The woman looked at Jessica, Jessica looked at the woman. “’So, you did….’”
The doorbell interrupts her concentration.
“Oh, shit,” she says. ”Did I just say shit?” She giggles. She never says shit. She is much too too fine a person for that word and so are her characters. Even the murderers. They may do nasty things, but they would never talk nasty.
The doorbell rings, insistent this time.
She rises from her desk and goes to the door and opens it. Standing there is the trench-coated bumbler who had just left.
“Lieutenant, don’t you ever give up and leave a person in peace? I didn’t push Marvin off his balcony, so go away. I have a deadline to meet and you’re intruding with that.”
“Excuse me, madam, but I forgot the card,” He reaches over and picks up the card. “And here it is. But did I hear you correctly. Did you say Marvin was pushed? And off his balcony? I don’t think I ever brought up where he was pushed. Or that he was pushed.”
“Oops,” Jessica Fletcher, mystery writer and solver of murders extraordinary, walks over to her sofa and falls down onto it. She is dazed at the information she just revealed to this bumbler of a detective. If she’d only watched “Colombo” on tv, she would have been on her guard.
Lieutenant Colombo follows her into the apartment.
“So you did kill the King of Hearts?”
“Yes, but it was an accident. Such a horrid accident. You see, he had been cheating at bridge. And you don’t do that. You just don’t cheat at bridge.”
“But people cheat at cards all the time?”
“Not at bridge,” Mrs. Fletcher says, her face in her hands. “When I confronted him, he laughed. ‘Don’t take it so seriously,’ he says to me. ‘It’s just a penny ante game.’ That wasn’t the point. It was bridge.”
“You mean, you murdered him over a game of bridge?”
“He cheated and it wasn’t murder, Lieutenant. It was an accident. I was so angry I pushed my umbrella into his stomach. ‘Now hold on,’ he says. But I keep pushing on my umbrella. It was bridge and he needed to apologize. Not just to me. But to all of us who play in the building. So I push more and he keeps objecting. Soon he is through the French windows and out onto the balcony. He laughs and says, ‘You know you should see the look on your face when you talk about bridge. It’s priceless.’ I pushed one last time, thinking this will teach him a lesson. He went over the balcony and that was the last…the last of the King of Hearts.”
Jessica Fletcher looks up at Colombo with tears in her eyes.
“Do you have to handcuff me? I’ll go peacefully.”
“No, ma’am,” Colombo sticks out his arm for her. She wipes the tears from her eyes, takes his arm and stands up. As he escorts her out of the apartment, he says, “This should put you back on the bestseller list, Mrs. Fletcher. But my wife is going to be so disappointed.”
This is a bit of fan fiction, not for profit but simply for the fun of writing it.
Every story has a Beginning, a Middle and an End. Every mystery has an Investigator, a Killer and a Victim. Three points of view. Without one, the story is incomplete.
For a Mystery, the story does not come in that order. The murder is the End of the Story for the Victim, the Middle of the Story for the Killer, and the Beginning of the Story for the Investigator.
Someone somewhere finds a dead body. Half of the Police Department shows up, giving the Scene of the Crime a very thorough once over. It’s the darndest thing. It looks like the Victim had a comb and a large hair brush. But the Victim was bald. Turns out that the corpus delicti was not the owner of the apartment.
So the cops do what cops always do? They go in search of back story. They ask questions. Why was said Victim spreadeagled on the bed and pumped full of chicken feathers? Just whose apartment was this anyway? And that question that always comes up when there’s a dead body: “Did So-and-so have any enemies?
So what do the cops do now? It’s as the Carpenters used to sing, ‘It’s only just begun.” They keep asking questions.
The Victim had friends. They had a mom and a dad. They had co-workers and business associates. They had a wife or a husband. And they are all saying the same darned thing, “Everybody loved him. He was the gentlest of souls.”
It’s enough for the police to say, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Of course, the corpse had enemies. And more than likely it’s going to be someone who had a grudge against So-and-so for years.
Perhaps the deceased man stole the Killer’s homework in the sixth grade. She’s been carrying a grudge for years. That F she received from the male teacher for the missing homework ruined her life. The police won’t know this until they bring in a therapist to tell them. The therapist will discover that the murderer has a deep psychological grudge against men. That incident forced her to never trust a man again.
Recently the Killer worked for an online website that provides research papers to students to turn in as homework. One of those assignments had triggered her unconscious obsession to get even with the victim.
And the Killer will spend the rest of the story trying to send the police on a wild goose chase of misdirection.
That homework theft led the Victim to a lifetime of cheating. Cheating on his taxes. Cheating on his wife. Cheating his business associates and embezzling money from the business. By the time the cops get through, the Victim won’t have a friend in the world. And it’s possible that the Killer will get off scot-free. Unless.
Or the Killer may have been traumatized by the simplest of things. Like not getting that cookie her mother promised. Or not receiving a valentine from her sweetie. Or it could be something much more traumatic.
So what was the Victim doing, sleeping in somebody else’s apartment? He was staying at an AirBnb while his house was being tented for termites. The owner of the apartment was off in Spain, playing footsey with the Victim’s wife. And the murder was a case of mistaken identity. The Killer thought the Victim was the owner of the apartment.
It only goes to show you there may not be any justice by the end of the story. There may only be a crime solved.
The call came in to the Wayne Police Department around two p.m. just after my snooze break.
“Hey, Buff,” the sergeant called out.
“Yeah,” I answered. I was the only detective in the department.
“You’re not going to believe this.”
“What’s to believe?” I asked.
“We have a dead body over at The Magical Mystery Tour.”
“Isn’t that the local nudist camp?”
“That it is. That it is.”
I reached into the drawer, pulled out my Smith & Wesson, jammed it into the holster and strapped it under my arm. I straightened my tie and slipped into my suit coat. I wanted to look nice for the upper class clientele. After all. it was a resort and not a camp.
As I went out the door, the Sergeant suggested, “Maybe you’d better stop by your house and pick up your birthday suit.”
I called out, “I’d rather go au naturel.”
The sergeant laughed and yelled, “Keep me abreast of the situation.”
I passed a strip mall and drove under the big sign above the gate of the resort, Magical Mystery Tour. I stopped and showed my badge. The guard said, “Complex Five.”
I pulled up in front of the designated place and parked. A blond man met me. As far as I could see, he looked like he had nothing to hide. “This way.” The blond led me inside the complex. Several apartments overlooked a swimming pool. On the cement floor beside the water lay a man.
He was face downward, looking where the sun don’t shine. His hiney was mooning me like all get out. It was a full moon, and a red moon at that. Not a pretty scene. I reached over and checked for a pulse. He wasn’t pulsing. I didn’t need a medical examiner to tell me the guy was dead. He was dead.
“Who is he?” I asked blondie.
An elderly woman in her altogether joined the two of us. “Ruff N Ready.”
“Yeah,” the blond said, “he was the Big Enchilada of this place.”
I rolled the dead man over so that he was full frontal. The body didn’t look none too happy. There was a frown on his face and a burrito in his mouth. I’d never thought of a burrito as a murder weapon. Then again I never thought a taco could be one either.
“He owned the Taco Tater.”
“Isn’t that the Home of the Taterama?” I asked. “You know the one that’s so delicious it will make you shout, ‘Lord, hallelujah.'”
“That’s it,” the woman said
I looked back at the big galoot. “Looks like he was the big banana too. Guess he was all dressed up and had nowhere to go.”
A brunette woman walked up beside the woman. “Clothes do make the man.”
When it came to women, this one made nudity into an art form.
So it was a dead body. I had seen them before but this one was unique. He was naked, naked as the day he was born. For my money, that’s pretty darn naked. And he’d gone to that taco factory in the sky.
“What’s that smell?” I inquired.
“Refried beans,” Brunette said.
“Guess he did have a thing for Mexican food.”
“How can you tell?” Brunette again.
“He’s got a burrito stuck in his mouth.” I put on my latex gloves and pulled the thing out.
“You think it’s poison?” Elderly asked.
“We’ll have to dust the burrito for prints.”
So far all I had were the bare facts. But I didn’t see anything that would lead me to the murderer.
“Now who else is here?” I asked nobody in particular.
Ten other Nothing-to-wears stepped out into the light. They were a sight. One thing was for sure, I didn’t think there was a cover-up. If anything, these people looked like they had nothing to hide.
“Did anybody see anything?”
“I did,” a Mr. Cool-Calm-And-Collected stepped forward.
“What did you see?”
“Somebody fired the burrito into his mouth from over there.”
“You know everybody was always trying to get a rise out of him,” Blond said. “Nobody could.”
“Looks like he got a rise out of somebody,” me again.”
“He was a really nice man,” a second brunette spoke up. She had dyed her hair to cover the gray.
“Nice man, my rear end.” The man was middle-aged and wore sunglasses.
“Could you shed a little light on the situation?”
“Always ramming that Taco Tater down everybody’s throat.” His naked emotions were showing.
“Darn good eats if you ask me,” Blond butted in.
“Nobody asked you,” Middle-aged said.
“What do you have against the Taco Tater?” the elderly woman asked.
“Taco Tatter! Taco Tatter! I can’t take it anymore.”
“So it was you,” I said, “that jammed that burrito down his throat?”
“It was a duel. With burritos. I just had better aim.”
I’d heard of dulleing banjos but never duelling burritos.
“But I didn’t think it would kill him.”
Since the man had exposed himself, this put some clothes on the case. Case closed.