A Case of the Frights - A Craven Danger Mystery
Mon, 28 Oct 2013
Betty Danger placed her witches hat on the desk and flipped the switch on the intercom.
“I didn’t mean ta scare ya, Mr. Danger,” said Betty. “Honest.“
‘I’ll get over it,” said Craven. “But you gotta warn a guy first. You know darn well witches give me the heebie jeebies.”
Back in 1939, while still trying to figure things out, Craven Danger took in a matinee of The Wizard of Oz. Two hours later he would leave the theater with an unnatural fear of witches and little people. And if he never saw a flying monkey again, it would suit him just fine.
“What’s the idea, anyway?” said Craven.
“Are ya kddin’ me, Mr. Danger? It’s Halloween. It’s the witchin’ season. How about we go trick ‘r treatin’ together?”
“You mean in a costume? Knockin’ on strange people’s doors beggin’ for candy?”
“Ya have a way of makin’ the most fun thing of the year sound like havin’ ya teeth pulled,” said Betty.
When Craven Danger was eight years old, he went trick or treating with his friend Melvin Horowitz. They were dressed as hobos and had knocked on the door of old Mrs. Scaffold.
“Trick ‘r treat!” they yelled.
“Oh, my,” said Mrs. Scaffold. “Look at you two scary hobos. What do you mean by knocking at my door at this hour of the night? You know, if you two were to apply yourselves you wouldn’t have to go around begging scraps off hard-working people like me. You’d get a job and buy your own damned food! Now get out of here before I set the dogs loose!”
And with that she slammed the door.
Craven and Melvin were about to make a run for it when, moments later, the door re-opened and there stood a stranger holding out a tray of candied apples. The stranger had a crooked mustache and was wearing a trench coat and fedora.
“You boys will have to forgive the lady of the house,” said the mustachioed stranger. “She hasn’t been herself in quite sometime. Please, take a candied apple and enjoy. She made them herself.”
The boys each grabbed a candied apple and ran from the house.
“Later that night,” Craven said to Betty, “I bit into the darn apple and got a mouth full of wax. That Mrs. Scaffold was nuts. And she looked awful in that mustache.”
“If that’s all that’s worryin’ ya, Mr. Danger,” said Betty. “I’ll check ya candy bag at the end of the night, just like my mommy did for me. Whaddaya say, Mr. Danger? Let’s go trick ’r treatin’.”
“I don’t know, Betty.”
“Ah, come on, Mr. Danger. We won’t even have to go out. We’ll trick ‘r treat right here in the building. We’ll start with Max Fritter.”
“You mean that ventriloquist and his wise-guy dummy Grumbles?”
Maxwell Fritter ran the Maxwell Fritter Talent Agency across the hall from the Double Danger Detective Agency. Max was a not-very-successful ventriloquist before going into the talent business. And Grumbles, his dummy, was no friend of Craven Danger’s.
“Ah, he’s just pullin’ ya leg a little, is all, Mr. Danger. He don’t mean nothin’ by it.”
“For you, Betty, I’ll do it. But if that little pine box starts with the cracks he’s gonna get roasted on an open fire with the chestnuts.”
When Max Fritter opened his door he was delighted to see Betty.
“Ah,” said Mr. Fritter. “You are such a lovely witch, my dear.
“Thanks, Mr. Fritter,” said Betty. “How’s Grumbles?”
Max had Grumbles, his ventriloquist dummy, sitting on his left arm.
“And what are you supposed to be, Mr. Danger?” said Max.
“What am I supposed to be? Haven’t you ever seen a hobo before?”
“A hobo?” said Grumbles. “You look the same as always. Wrinkled.”
“How’d you like me to wrinkle that knot you call a nose, you little sack a sap!”
“At least my saps where it belongs! What’s your excuse?”
“Oh, Yeah! If you had a leg to stand on I’d give you such a kick!”
“How do you do it, Danger?”
“Manage to stand on your own two feet with little or no backbone!”
“That’s a pretty low blow, coming from a shrimp like you. I’ll show you who’s got no backbone!”
“Hey! Get your mitts off me, Danger! You can’t strangle a puppet, you idiot! I got no wind pipe! I’ll be insulting you the whole time!”
“Yeah! How’d you like to end up a box of toothpicks? Betty, where’s my boy scout knife?”
“Will you two cut it out,” said Betty. “This is supposed to be a fun night. I wanna walk outta here with a sack full a treats, not insults. You two make nice with each other or they’ll be no candy for either of ya.”
“He started it!” said Craven.
“And I’m ending it!” said Betty. “Now, where were we? Oh, yeah. Trick or treat, Mr. Fritter!”
A special not to all you lovely children out there: Please remember to be polite this Halloween night and say thank you when you receive a treat. And don’t make a face when someone tosses something nutritious in your bag. They’re only doing it for your own good. No matter how good it ain’t.
A Happy Halloween to you all!