Betty and Grumbles - Part Two of Three - A Craven Danger Mystery.
Soon after his meeting with Max Fritter, Craven Danger stepped out of his office to tell Betty they were going to Coney Island in search of Reuben Stuttered, the singing guitar player.
“What’s he still doing here?” said Craven Danger.
The ventriloquist’s dummy, formerly known as Grumbles, was seated on Betty’s lap.
“He ain’t who ya think he is no more,” said Betty.
“Don’t tell me he’s got a twin brother? ‘Cause I’m runnin’ outta ammo, Betty. A guy’s only got so many insults in his arsenal.”
“Roy Bastion! Ace Detective!” said Bastion. “Pleased ta make your acquaintance, Danger.”
“Roy Bastion?” said Craven. “What happened to Grumbles?”
“We give the guy a rest,” said Bastion. “Betty here says ya could use an extra hand findin’ this singing guitar player.”
“Say, what gives here, Betty?” said Craven.
“Whaddaya mean?” said Betty.
“Bastion’s lips are flappin’, but I can see you talkin’ out the side of your mouth.”
“I don’t know what ya mean, Mr. Danger.” said Betty. “I was only talkin’ ta myself. I got a lot on my mind is all. I swear.”
“All right then,” said Craven. “But you better not be tryin’ to pull the wolf over my eyes.”
“Whatever,” said Craven. “I got my eyes and ears all over this one, Betty.”
“Don’t worry so much, Danger,” said Bastion. “I’m nobody’s puppet. I’m my own man.”
”I hope you know how to use a gun then,” said Craven.
”I bet ya do” said Bastion.
”And just what do you mean by that?”
”Nothin‘, Danger. I‘m just sayin‘“
“Okay, then," said Craven. “I called Sidney a while back. He’s waiting outside. We gotta get ourselves to Coney Island to find Reuben Stuttered.”
Sidney Green was seated behind the wheel of his taxi feeding his dog some grapes.
“I peeled the whole bunch, FDR,” said Sidney. “I know how much you hate the skin.”
FDR lapped the bunch out of Sidney’s hand, then stared up at Sidney.
“Sorry, FDR, but that’s the last of the grapes. How about some prunes?”
FDR turned away and stuck his head out the window.
“Very funny. I get it. You don’t like prunes. But I gotta like ‘em. Doctor’s orders.”
At the sight of Betty, FDR’s tail started wagging.
“Easy, boy!” said Sidney. “It’s only Betty and Craven and a little guy what looks like he’s talkin’ Craven’s ear off."
Once they were seated in the back seat, Betty introduced Bastion to Sidney.
“Good to know ya,” said Sidney. “This here’s FDR.”
FDR took one look at Bastion and made a jump at the puppet.
“Down, boy!” said Sidney. “Sorry, Bastion. You kinda resemble one of FDR’s chewy toys.”
“Don’t worry about it,” said Bastion. “Me and dog’s get along just fine. Isn’t that right, FDR? You sure are one handsome fella.”
“The husky voice coming out of Bastion’s mouth didn’t fool FDR. He knew who was doing the talking. He sat back on his haunches and held out his paw.
Betty maneuvered Bastion’s arm so he could shake hands with the dog.
“Bastion’s happy ta know ya,” said Betty. “Now we’re all friends.”
“Sidney,” said Craven. “Wake me up when this is all over. ’Cause this can’t be happenin’.”
“No?” said Sidney.
“This little runt just told me to stand up straight, that I walk like a monkey. Then he tells me to fix my tie and pull up my socks. Then he’s tellin’ me how ta find the guy what’s missin’”
“He did?" said Sidney.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear it was my wife talkin’."
“No,” said Sidney. “Betty never would of told you to stand up straight, Mr. Danger. Not with your bad back. She likes it that you always look like you’re tryin’ ta spot a dropped dime on the sidewalk.”
“That's enough of that,” said Craven. “Let’s get this circus to Coney Island. And quick, before I come to my senses.”