A Case of the Booze - A Craven Danger Mystery
“Mr. Danger,” came the voice over the intercom. “You have a lady visitor.”
“A visitor?” said Craven. “And she wants to see me? Any idea why?"
”Oh, Im sorry,” said Betty. ”I thought I was talkin’ to Craven Danger, private detective. If you happen to know the whereabouts of that man. I think I may have a case for him sittin’ right in front of me. It would be his first case, though. So, if he‘s afraid to get his mittens wet, I‘ll send her on her merry widow way and go back to my movie magazine story about Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. Gee, those two sure was sweet on each other. Then one day in 1942 she gets on a plane and BAM! Right into a mountain! Ain‘t life a stinker?”
”Oh, stop with the wise cracks," said Craven. ”Is she pretty?”
“She was very pretty,” said Betty. “Though it probably ain't doin’ her no good. Her bein’ dead and all.”
“I’m talkin’ about the merry widow!” said Craven.
“Oh, I wouldn't know," said Betty. "She’s wearin' this long black veil. So, I can’t see nothin’ but shadows. And then every time she touches her wedding ring she starts bawlin’ buckets of rain. That’s how I figure she’s a widow. But it’s one of those quiet bawls where she throws her head back real dramatic like and opens her mouth real wide, like a cobra at a circus side-show, only nothin’ comes out but air. And, now, I’m all outta tissues. So now she’s tootin’ her honker in a war bond. I think that’s a federal offense or somethin’, Mr. Danger. I sure hope the Feds don’t come bustin’ in here.”
”I can hear you,” said the merry widow. ”It‘s a veil, not a suit of armor.”
”Oh, I beg your pardon, I‘m sure,” said Betty.
“Just send her in Betty,” said Craven. “And bring me my bottle of scotch. In case the lady would care for a drink.”
“Nice try, Mr. Danger,” said Betty. “But save it for the day when I’m in my rocker and don’t have no more sense than a mule up a tree. Maybe then you can pull the wool over my thighs.”
“Your eyes,” said Craven.
“Them too,” said Betty. “In the mean time I’ll bring you in a couple of glasses of iced tea. It won’t do to have you all hooched up on your first interview, Mr. Danger.”
”I wouldn‘t mind a glass of sherry, though,” said the merry widow. ”I‘ve had such a trying day!”
”Really?" said Betty." I‘ll tell you what I‘ll do, hon. You just follow me.”
“All right, Betty" said Craven. “You can send her in now.”
I can‘t believe it, thought Craven Danger. Could this be it? My first case? She‘s probably some rich old broad who‘ll pay me double what I‘m worth. I‘m gettin‘ goose flesh just thinkin‘ about it!
“Betty,” said Craven. “I said you can send her in. Hello? Betty? How come you don’t answer me? Are you there, Betty? Betty!”
“Hello, bartender,” said Betty. “We’ll have two double sherry’s, please. Neat. And you keep them comin’ till we start talkin' to you in Russian.
"But I don't know any Russian," said the bartender.
"Neither do we," said Betty. "That's when you know it's time to stop with the sherry's."
"Got it," said the bartender.
"My friend here. . .”
“Miriam,” said the merry widow. “How’d you do?”
“Fine, I’m sure,” said the bartender.
“My friend Miriam here has had a no good day and needs too loosen up some of the sadness flowin' through that poor little heart of hers.”
“Two double sherry’s comin’ up,” said the bartender.
“So,” said Betty. "Tell me all about it, Miriam. And make it good and juicy. ‘Cause this is gonna be Betty Fletcher’s first case!”