A Close Shave - Part 12 - A Conclusion - A Craven Danger Mystery
Betty, Thelma and the Danger family were led into the courtroom, where a matron ushered them to a front row pew.
“The judge will be with you in a few moments,” said the matron. “Somebody’s gone to wake him up.”
“She seems so nice,” said Aunt Flo. “I hope she’s the one who’s going to put us in chains.”
“No one’s puttin’ anyone in chains,” said Craven. “Besides, they don’t put men and women on the same chain gang. And just because you’re sweet little widows don’t mean ya get ta play den mothers in the bunkhouse. You’ll be bustin’ rock just like the rest of us.”
“Then we aren’t going!” said Mrs. Danger. “You tell that nice young lady to get the driver. We won’t to go home now.”
“It don’t work like that, Ma,” said Craven. “First the judge comes in. Then we make a plea. Innocent, of course. The judge sets bail. Sidney shows up with the bail money, and we go home and finish off that swell pumpkin pie that Betty brought along.”
“Sounds good so far,” said Betty. “But when the judge gets here, let me do all the talkin’”
“Who sez so?” said Craven.
“I say so,” said Betty. “You ain’t no good in front of authority figures. You’ll start talkin’ like ya sucked in the biggest helium balloon at the carnival. It’s embarrassin’. And you a private detective. The judge’ll think you was a little girl who likes ta dress up in a grown men’s clothes, and he’ll arrest ya for impersonatin’ an adult.”
“Of all the insultin’ things you ever said ta me!” said Craven. “That’s the most insultin’!”
“Oh, no,” said Betty. “I think I could do better. So do me a big favor and let me have my way this once.”
“This once,” said Craven. “I ain’t never had my way ever,”
“And ya may never have ya way,” said Betty, “if ya don’t let me have my way right now.”
“There ya go,” said Craven. “Gettin’ me all flustered again!”
“Ah, look,” said Aunt Flo. “Craven’s blushing like a little school girl.”
“Oh, isn’t that precious,” said Mrs. Danger. “You want me to ask the matron if she’s got one of those little paper fans to cool you off, Craven.”
“If anybody needs coolin’ off,” said Craven. “It’s Betty! And I’m gonna do all the talkin’! And that’s that!”
“All rise,” said the court officer. “Judge Matthew Thompson presiding.”
Judge Thompson took his seat behind the bench, turned his eyes upward, then pulled the nightcap off his head.
”Please be seated,” said the officer.
“Well,” said the judge, “I don’t know about you, but I was having my Mae West dream. We were at that part in the movie where she wanted me to come up and see her sometime. And this time I was going. So there better be a murder involved here, or I swear I’m going to kill someone. So, who‘s representing this assemblage of fine looking women?”
“I am, your honor,” said Craven.
“What?” said the judge. “Speak up, sir. I can’t hear you.”
“I said, I am your honor,” said Craven.
“Your squeakin’ like a little girl,” said the judge. “You want to speak before me, you’ve got to speak up, man.”
“Mr. Danger got a little information in his throat,” said Betty.
“Inflammation,” said Craven.
“That’s what I said,” said Betty.
“Ah, never mind,” said Craven.
“I’ll speak for the group, your honor.” said Betty. ”Mr. Danger ain‘t himself tonight.”
“All right then," said the judge. “The arresting officer tells me that there’s been several complaints from neighbors that one Thelma Theodoracopulos has been running a brothel out of her basement apartment at 221 Oak St., the Bronx. And that they brought you all here for your own good. It seems those sweet little neighborhood ladies were ready to burn down the Frankenstein castle. Now, I’m a reasonable man. Would someone want to explain?”
“Your most honorable honor,” said Thelma. “I wish to explain all of this away. It’s okay, sweet Betty Fletcher. I will speak on my own behalf. Your honor, I was born in Romania as a little girl. When I come of certain age, I marry Greek soldier and move to Isle of Crete to raise family on husbands pumpkin farm. But the ways of war are such that one day my husband doesn’t come home. And it was that way for quite some time. So in order to survive I go back to the old Rumanian ways of the fortune teller. I am such the big success in Crete, that I start offering the miscellaneous sensations. It soon became my specialty.”
“Miscellaneous sensations?” said the judge.
“Haircut, shave and exotic foot rub,” said Thelma.
“Sounds sublime,” said the judge.
“All the men loved it many times over,” said Thelma. “So many times over that one morning I am dragged from the comfort of my home and put on a boat to America where I meet this Derek Danger at local tavern. And for the simple kind act of offering him the free miscellaneous sensations in exchange for a much needed meal, I am offered the comfort of his mother’s home as a place to sell my wares, such as they are, four the princely sum of five American dollars. And he asks nothing in return but sixty percent of profits and the continuation of the free miscellaneous sensations.
“And I do no different in Bronx than in old country. And for these many acts of kindness I get the good fortune of standing before you most honorable self. Who seems to be in much need of miscellaneous sensations himself. It is only suggestion. I mean you no offense. So I must plead in the way of the innocent. And if I am innocent, the dear friends who now surround me are like babes in woods. Seemingly lost. But soon will get there.”
“I tell you what Thelma,” said Judge Thompson. “Let me sample your wares in my chambers. For the going rate of five dollars, and in the presence of the matron, of course. And if you’re everything you claim to be, I’ll have an officer drive you home and see that no harm shall come to you or your friends. In the meantime, your friends are free to leave. Case dismissed.”
“Thank you, your honor,” said Craven.
“What?” said the judge. “Who’s squeaking?”
“Oh, nevermind,” said Craven. “I ain’t never been so humiliated!”
“Sure ya have,” said Betty. “I’ll tell ya later. When ya get over this one.”
Betty Fletcher, Craven Danger and the sweet widowed Danger sisters left the courthouse and climbed into Sidney Green’s taxi.
“Step on it, Sidney!” said Craven. "I ain't had my dessert yet."
"Now I'm his dessert," said Betty.
"Oh, good lord," said Mrs. Danger. "Someone get a fan. Craven's all red again."