The suspect was starting to crack. She’d spill her guts any minute now. Believe me. I’ve been around.
“Let’s go over it one more time, Miss,” I said, arching an eyebrow and glaring at the small girl nervously twirling her golden curls as she fidgeted in the tiny rocking chair.
Yeah, sure, she was cute, but cute doesn’t cut it when you’re in the truth-and-justice business. I put my foot down on the runner and brought her up short.
“Who pulled the trigger on Mr. Potato Head?”
“Why don’t you ask him, Sherlock? “She replied. I lifted my foot and she sailed backward.
“Don’t crack wise with me, Blondie. I have a witness.”
She glanced nervously at her unindicted co-conspirator, a shifty two-year-old who was all of a sudden mesmerized by the sea monkeys on the bookshelf.
I had made the grisly discovery myself. What was left of the eponymous spud had been stuffed in a Hefty bag and hidden in the cabinet under the kitchen sink. I thought I had seen everything, but the sight took the starch out of my pants. His ear was stuck where his nose should’ve been. It looked professional.
“Don’t look at her!” I shouted suddenly. “Just answer the question! You did it, didn’t you? You did it and you paid her off with Gummy Bears to get amnesia! Let me hear you say it!”
The suspect bit her lip. There was nowhere to run. I push the brim of my fedora up and hit the record button. Another case wrapped up like the fish in yesterday‘s newspaper. Sure it’s an ugly business, but somebody’s gotta do it. And that somebody is me.
Ever since I sent away to Kenneth Starr for a Junior G-Man badge and got myself appointed Independent Counsel, Domestic Division, I’ve been exposing corruption at a furious pace.
Two weeks ago, I was just a journalism professor with a bad attitude, but now I’m Mick Dillon, avenger of justice and world-weary shamus, poking my nose into the dark corners of home and hearth. It ain’t always pretty.
Just yesterday, I launched three new probes and brought indictments in the dog biscuit incident and the year-old death of Sam the Goldfish, which at the time was dismissed as a suicide. Yeah, right, a happy pet with a bright future just ups and bites his own head off. I’d been watching his roommate, Dave, for months.
But the Potato Head rubout hit me hard in the gut. I’d known the guy since I was a kid. I couldn’t get the grisly image out of my mind’s eye. My head was throbbing. Damn. I had my fedora on too tight again.
Suddenly, the door burst open and the girls’ lawyer walked in like she owned the joint. Normally, defense attorneys aren’t allowed in the grand jury room, but I had to let the pushy dame in. She was also their mother. Some days you can’t win for losing in this racket.
“Chill out, J. Edgar,” she cried. “Potato Head was begging for it when he stepped in front of the Electrolux. He’d been despondent for weeks. There’s no jury in the land that would convict my client. Besides, I have executive privilege, seeing as I do own half this joint.“
Oh brother. Another “suicide.” What a half-baked alibi.
The curly-haired moll eased out of her chair and smirked as she followed her mouthpiece into the kitchen for a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich. I offered limited immunity to her little cohort if she’d agree to wear a wire to lunch, but she copped an attitude. She sashayed across the room, punching the stop button on my Sony on the way out.
“Your day’s coming, sister,” I muttered.
I popped a diet Yoo-hoo and watched the cold rain fall in sheets across the dark street, washing the day’s sins down into the gutter. Across the way, my neighbor tossed a butt onto the sidewalk. I made a note.
You find out quick who your friends are when you take a gig like this, and you find out who the weasels are, too.
I had my wife nailed dead-to-rights on a rap of moving the cereal to a different cupboard without providing adequate notice but she squirmed out of it by claiming there was “no controlling legal authority” regulating the covert transport of breakfast foods.
A few days later I got a warning: the color of my favorite blue shirt had “accidentally” been bleached. I knew then that I was up against a vast white-ring conspiracy, but I’m not about to back down.
The pressure is definitely on, however. I had to haul my six-year-old in and threaten her with contempt after I got wind she was spreading rumors that I myself had committed several violations of the 1997 Clean Bathroom Act.
Even the dog’s been leaking.
But as we say in the Gumshoe racket, fiddle-de-de, tomorrow’s another day.
I straightened my tie and headed for lunch. Sure, a grueling two-hour investigation had crashed and burned, but I was intrigued by the curvy legal eagle. “That’s some broad,” I thought. “I’d like to see her in chambers later.”