By Dave Larson
The name on the door is Cliff Clamor, Celebrity Chef Agent. I didn’t bother to change the name as I hoped budding chefs would bring me food. If you must know, my name is Ken Uckles. I’m a Private Eye and bored. I haven’t had a case in weeks. I needed to make some money so I could hire a secretary. Her name should be Corgi.
My rent is due, but I have a plan to keep the landlord out of my office. If he catches me today, I’ll tell him that a couple of rats died in the wall, and he needs to get the stink out. Of course, he won’t do that, but he’ll find out for how long dead rats stink. Then he’ll come back. My door opened, and Aluminum Al entered.
“Twiddle, it smells of dead rats in here; don’t you bathe.”
I don’t believe his real name is Aluminum. And to think about it, I’m not sure if Al is his last name. His job is to collect cans and take them to the recycling center for money.
“Al, I can’t give you the key to the bathroom. When they walk in on you, the other tenants complain about you eating macaroni and cheese in the sink. I have a question; there’s no microwave in the restroom; how do you heat it”?
“Twiddle, I can show you how if you take off your shoes.”
“Al, please call Ken. I’m not a Twiddle. And I will not take off my shoes. What do you want, and no, I won’t swap underwear with you again.”
“You look like a Twiddle, so that’s what I’m going to call you. I have a job for you. My friend Norman is missing, and I want you to find him.”
“Al, I have expenses like rent, insurance, a car that needs gas. Plus, I can’t pay my secretary Corgi without money.”
“I overlooked her when I came in. Is she cute”?
“Cute is in the eyes of the beholder. And I like to hold her. But without money, I can’t hire her. Now, why are you eating the leaves of my fern? They are plastic and will clog you up.”
“Plastic? It’s no wonder it didn’t object when I asked to eat one of its fronds. Can you find Norman? The gang in my community misses his ukulele playing. We were even going to buy him one.”
“What do you mean your community”?
“Oh, I understand. You’re thinking about moving in with me. I’m sorry, but my box is only for one. This is nothing personal, but you smell funny. Kind of like mango with sage, sandalwood, and some beans.”
“Where is this community”?
“It’s behind the furniture store. They give us new rooms almost every day. I had to stop drawing Muriel on the walls as my box would disappear. But they give me a new one in its place.”
“Is Muriel your girlfriend”?
“Hell no, Muriel smells like spoiled hummus. The Muriel I’m talking about is one of those wall drawings with people, animals, and trees. I’m not good yet; that’s why the furniture people keep throwing it away. But practice makes perfect. I’ll be displayed in that loo in Paris one day.”
“You know a loo is what the English call a toilet.”
“I’m willing to be displayed there also.”
“Al, I can find Norman, but I need money to do so. I can’t work for less than $100 a day.”
“I’ve got money. I had planned on using it for something else, but we all miss Norman.”
“Can you pay me $100 a day”?
“Cheesy chocolate. That’s a lot of money. I only have $700.14, and I need some more to buy a tire.”
“Do you have a car”?
“No, I want to give the gang a tire swing. We don’t have a lot of entertainment at night.”
“How did you make that much money? You said the most you made in a day is $14.14.”
“I’ve been buying wholesale and selling retail. You’d be surprised at the profit margin on used cans.”
“With that kind of money, you could rent a room at a budget motel and pay your secretary. What’s her name”?
“Twiddle, I hope you aren’t planning on stealing her away from me, but she quit. Her name was Ursula. She has curly black hair and a butt you can set a sandwich on. Not one of those Dagwood sandwiches, one of those finger sandwiches. She did these cartwheels, which would flip the sandwich right into her mouth. I had to fire her. Let’s talk about Norman.”
“Okay, I’ll take $100 and search for Norman for one day. I’d prefer cash, thank you.”
“Oh, I don’t have the money. Norman has it. He’ll pay you when you find him. He’s my banker.”
“That means, if I don’t find him, I’ve been working all day for nothing.”
“How’s that different than what you do all day now? I guess it also means you aren’t a capable detective.”
“You made your point. What else can you tell me about Norman? Does he have a surname? What does he look like? How tall is he”?
“His name is Norman the Nomad. He’s white and brown. Let me show you his size. It’s in my pocket.”
“I don’t think Nomad is a real name. What do you mean by white and brown? Be careful with what you bring out of your pocket.”
“I’m confident Nomad is his name. That’s what he calls himself. His arms and face are brown; the rest is white except for the bald spot on his head. It’s red from when he forgets to wear his cap. Oh yeah, he wears a baseball cap from our softball team. The cap is blue with a large N on the front. The N is for Nomad.”
Al took a piece of elastic from his pocket, stretching out between his arms. “This is how I measured Norman one day.”
“Al, that’s a piece of elastic. When you measured Norman, did you stretch it as wide as your hands can go, or did you hold your hands closer”?
“You’re the detective. You tell me.”
“Al, if Corgi were here, I’d have her usher you out.”
“Corgi? Does she have short legs and a pointy nose? And isn’t Corgi the name of some little dog? You usually hire hot secretaries. Or at least you say you do. I’ve never seen one.”
“She’s cute, and her legs go to the floor. And when her pink tongue licks the chocolate sauce off your face, you feel important. Her mother’s name was Cora, and her dad was a Frenchman named Guy. Guy in French is Ghee. Cora and Ghee, Corgi. Do you understand”?
“No. Are you going to find Norman? And why are you called Twiddle”?
“Let me know if I have this right. He is a white man with a tanned face and hands. He has a ball cap with the letter N. He may be tall or short; we aren’t sure. Do you have a picture of him? And my name is not Twiddle.”
“No picture, but I can tell you he looks like me.”
“Al, you are wearing a ball cap with the letter N on the front. Would you let me have that piece of elastic”?
“Okay, but you can’t keep it. I need it for badminton practice.”
“Al, step on this end while I stretch it out.”
“Should I take my socks off first? I like how it tickles.”
“No, just put your foot on this end while I stretch it upward. That’s excellent. You want to know something interesting, Al”?
“What’s that Twiddle”?
“This elastic is the same height as you. Is your real name Norman?”
“Damn, you’re good. You found Norman already. Can I have a discount since you didn’t work the whole day”?
“Al or I guess Norman, no charge today. I want to use your names as being satisfied customers on my Yelp page.”
“Yes, can use my name. Just have Corgi give me a receipt for my taxes.”
* * *
Dave Larson is best known for his research and writing on baseball history in the early 1900s. His work has been published both online and in journals. Recently, he had several comedic stories accepted by ezines.