This is the beginning of my very tongue-in-cheek mystery. Remember that I have used all of those metaphors from yesterday's post. And so you don't have to try to remember them, I've made them bold in this post. Happy reading. OH! One more thing . . . Remove your tongue from your cheek before you laugh or try to talk, please.
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And this would be my story . . . . . . .
I was sitting in my ratty little office one stormy afternoon wondering how I was going to pay the rent on the dump. It has been weeks since the phone had rung with any business. Before it was disconnected, the only calls had been bill collectors. Private eyes have a tough job. It’s either feast or famine, and I wasn’t gaining any weight.
On that day, as I sat there chewing on the end of my last stogy, she walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs. I looked her up and down. I figured she had walked into the wrong office, cause a classy dame like that doesn’t look to a broken down PI with no future.
Then she spoke. “Are you Stogy Hogy, the private Eye?” she asked. I didn’t answer right away. I was thinking about how she sounded. Her voice had that tense, grating quality, like a generation thermal paper fax machine that needed a band tightened. It didn’t fit with her looks. She was a long, tall drink of water, dressed to the nines. She had dark hair and smoky eyes which gave away the fact that she’d been crying. Her skin was pale against the dark hair and black suit she wore. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two other sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
I guess I stared too long because she suddenly sat down in a dusty wooden chair with wobbly legs as if she couldn’t stand there any longer waiting for me to answer. I wondered if the chair would collapse with her but before I could go any farther with that thought, she began to speak again.
“I need your help,” she said. “I think my life might be in danger and I don’t know where to turn.”
“OK,“ I said. “Tell me your story.”
“I’m Mary Smith,” she continued. My husband, John, is missing. I need you to find him. But let me start from the beginning.”
Three years ago, John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met. They came from different parts of town, and except for a chance meeting, probably would have lived their lives like those hummingbirds, just zooming from place to place, but never seeing each other.
She was as easy as the TV Guide crossword. Funny that she would tell me that, but I guess she wanted me to know what part of town she was from. When they met, he fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River. She didn’t think he really was serious about her because she wasn’t what a guy takes home to his mother. But he used to tell her that when he was around her, his thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
She thought he was just making passes, but he insisted that he was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up. She told me that it must have been the truth, because sometimes she thought she could hear those bells herself when he looked at her. She knew that over time, she grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room temperature Canadian beef.
He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree. That was good, because she was six-foot-one herself. She would look pretty silly with a short guy, she said. and I wondered if this was directed at me, because I was only five-foot six. Then she laughed. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up. I watched her carefully, wanting to be sure that if she did throw up, I could move out of the way.
She told me that over time she came to love him, too. He was really smart. He spoke with wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it. and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at solar eclipse without one those boxes with a pinhole in it. She knew he was way out of her class, but what the heck, he had a lot to offer.
While she was telling me this story, I had some trouble concentrating on what she was saying. Everything coming out of her mouth was strange. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like whatever. Every now and then, I had to shake my head to get the cobwebs out of it because listening to her made my mind go to sleep. She was certainly a looker, but that is about the end of it.
Eventually Mary and John got married. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth. Oh, brother, now I had another special image in my head. This didn’t help the cobwebs. I really wished she would get to why she was here and let me go back to thinking about how bad things were for me.
Then, she said, everything seemed to come tumbling down around them. Her first husband, a Mr. McBride, showed up. I couldn’t help think it was weird that she called him “Mr.” McBride, but then most of what I knew about this dame was weird anyway.
She had been married to him for 30 years. His presence was inconvenient because she had never divorced him. When he left town, she thought she would never see him again, and she just went on with her life as if he never existed.
Funny, I thought, I didn’t think this dame was old enough to be married that long.
She said that she finally got nerve to talk to John about it. He took it better than she thought he would. When he quit crying and calling her names, they came up with a plan to get rid of him before anyone knew he was in town. Then they would be free to go on with their lives together.
The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work. She would lure him to an island in the middle of the pond at the edge of town. On the island was a deserted mansion where the town recluse had lived for years until he was swept out of the castle during a bad flood. She would tell McBride that she wanted to look at the house for them to live in after they reconciled. John would be waiting on the fifth floor, shoot him and together they would throw his body into the pond.
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But . . . is the plan really that simple? Will they really be able to go on with their lives together? What about McBride? Will he turn the tables on them? (Sound the organ music, TA-TA-DUMMMMMM.) Tune in tomorrow for the continuing mystery of John and Mary.