The Bag of Dishes - A Craven Danger Mystery
Craven Danger spun around on his heels and looked down at the street urchin.
“What do want, kid. I’m in a hurry.”
“Ya clumsy oaf! Ya just bumped in ta me and knocked this bag a my mudders dishes right outta my mitts. Ya owe me two bucks!”
“Ah, come on, kid. That’s the oldest gag in the book. When I was a kid I broke a bag my own mother’s dishes every week for a good two years and I never shook nobody down for more than a quarter a bag. Where’d you come up with a figure like two bucks?”
“A quarter? That was the last century, when you was in the Civil War. Welcome to the twentieth century, ya old coot.”
“What are you? Some kind of wise guy? Did Betty put you up to this? I wouldn’t put it past her. She’s always pullin’ gags on me. Always tryin' to get me red in the face.”
“Then I guess she’s a good judge a suckers. Now about that two bucks.”
“You’ll take a quarter and like it, kid. And I’m only givin’ you that for sentimental reasons. I oughta give you a good swift kick in the seat of your pants and send you on your way.”
“I hate ta say it, mister. But you don’t look like you ya got a good swift anything in ya. Much less a kick. By the time you got your foot anywhere’s near my pants, ya’d probably pass out from exhaustion, ya old bag a wind!”
“Well, now you’re only gettin’ a nickel out of me! And you’ll take it and like it!”
“Don’t make me have ta yell for my pa, mister. He's a cop, ya know, and he won’t like it too much that you broke my mudder’s dishes."
“You can do all the yellin’ you like, kid. You’re not gettin’ any two bucks out of me!”
The boy's father turned the corner and cast a suspicious eye on Craven.
“What’s all the commotion over here? Everything all right, son? Is this man bothering you?”
“Yeah, as a matter of fact, he is, Pa. He broke Ma’s dishes. Then he tried to buy me off with a nickel. And he said if I didn’t like it he’d tie me up and throw me in the East River.”
“He did, did he. Well, maybe a few good whacks with this nightstick will bring him to his senses.”
“Now wait just one doggone minute! I didn’t bump into nobody. And I didn’t break no dishes. This ruffian here was tryin’ to scam me. And, anyway, I’ll bet them dishes ain’t really broken. At least not by me. He just goes around sayin’ so.”
“Well, let me check it out,” said the cop.
The cop raised his nightstick high above his head and brought it down hard on the bag of dishes. Again. And again. And again.
“Now let’s just have a peek inside this here bag,” said the cop. “Yup. Just as I thought. Broken. Every one of ‘em. And If I’m any judge of dishes, I’d say there was a good twenty dollars worth in that bag.”
“Twenty dollars! I’m only Craven Danger, not Rockefeller! Where am I gonna come up with twenty dollars?”
“That’s a pretty swell lookin’ suit your wearin’ there, mister,” said the officer.
“You can’t be serious!” said Craven.
When Craven returned to the office in his underwear, carrying a bag of broken dishes, Betty knew better than to ask any questions. It wasn’t the first time, and she had it on pretty good authority that it wouldn’t be the last.