Betty and Grumbles - Part One of Three - A Craven Danger Mystery
Betty pressed the button on her intercom.
“Mr. Fritter’s here to see you.”
Mr. Fritter was seated in the guest chair next to Betty’s desk. Grumbles, his ventriloquist dummy, was seated on his lap looking up at Betty.
“What’s a sweet dish like you doing in a crummy joint like this?” said Grumbles. “Fine China like you ought to be laid out on a fancy linen tablecloth and feasted on.”
“I don’t know which I wanna do more,” said Betty, “give ya a big fat kiss or a black eye. But keep talkin’. Yer kinda cute.”
Max ran the Maxwell Fritter Talent Agency across the hall from the office of Twin Danger’s - Private Investigators.
One of Max’s clients - Reuben Stuttered, a guitar player and singer - failed to show up for his gig last Saturday night at Sandy’s Seaside Beer Hall on Coney Island. Max was hoping Craven and Betty could help find him.
“Yeah, Mr. Danger?”
“Are you gonna send in Mr. Fritter? You said he wanted to see me.”
“We’re having too much fun out here, Mr. Danger. Why don’t ya come join us? Someone wants ta see ya.”
Craven let out a little groan. He met Grumbles for the first time last week and would rather forget the experience.
”Is that someone about two feet tall with no legs to stand on?” said Craven. ”And a head made of knotty pine?
“Yeah,” said Betty. ”How‘d ya know?”
”I could smell the sap from here. Tell him to come in. I got a woodpecker that’s dyin’ to meet him.”
“Very funny, Danger,” said Grumbles. “Why don’t you come out here and say that to my face! Dummy to dummy!”
“Oh, yeah! You come in here! I just sharpened my whittling knife and could use some shavings for the bird cage.”
“Ya don’t have a bird,” said Betty.
“Then I’ll whittle me a parrot.”
“That’s enough of that, you two,” said Betty. “Mr. Danger, Max needs your help finding one of his clients.”
“Danger couldn’t find his way out of his own pajamas,” said Grumbles.
“That’s enough from you, Grumbles,” said Max Fritter. “We’re not here to trade barbs like school children. We’re here to get the assistance of Mr. Danger and his lovely partner Betty.”
“Well, while you’re in there talkin’ to Danger," said Grumbles. “Can I sit on Betty’s lap?”
“Why on earth would you want to do that?”
“Something wrong with your eyes?”
“Then why would you even ask?”
“It’s okay, Max,” said Betty. “I don’t mind watchin’ him for a little bit.”
“Fine by me,” said Max. “Grumbles doesn’t talk much at first. But give him a few minutes and something’s bound to come out.”
Max Fritter handed Grumbles over to Betty, then headed into Craven Danger’s office.
“So,” said Betty, “how do I get this thing to work?”
Betty put her left hand under Grumble’s shirt and felt around until she found the opening. Once in, she began to maneuver the controls.
“How ya doin’, Grumbles?” said Betty.
“Grumbles?” said the dummy. “Who’s Grumbles?”
“I thought you was?”
“I ain’t no Grumbles. That’s for sure,” said the dummy. "You can call me Roy Bastion! Ace Detective!”
“Ace detective, huh?”
“You ever solve a case?” said Betty.
“All six hundred and thirty seven,” said Bastion. “And I never broke a sweat once.”
“I think I may have a job for ya, Bastion. How’d ya like ta come ta work for Twin Danger’s?”
“As long as you’re on every case, honey. Bastion’s your man!”
Maxwell Fritter didn’t know it yet, but he was about to lose an old friend for a while.