A Close Shave - Part 7 - A Craven Danger Mystery
“Craven!” said Mollie Danger.
“Hi, ya, Ma!” said Craven.
For the moment, Craven Danger forgot all about Christmas past, lousy home cooked meals, and an even lousier brother. Instead, he embraced his mother and thought about his dad. Ten years dead.
“And you must be Betty,” said Mrs. Danger. “Look at you! You look like you just fell off a movie screen. Imagine, a movie star working for my Craven. And where did you ever get that outfit? And that hat?”
“Hi, ya, Mrs. Danger,” said Betty. “I got 'em at a second-hand store. I was lookin’ for somethin’ special ta wear ta dinner.”
“Well, you certainly found it, dear," said Mrs. Danger.
Betty Fletcher wore a leopard skin pill-box hat with matching jacket, dress, shoes and purse. All finished off with a glorious strand of costume pearls.
“Class,” said Mrs. Danger. “All in capital letters. And just look at you, Craven. I know you didn’t do that on your own. But you look awful dapper in that yellow polka-dot bow tie.”
“Yellow polka dots!” said Craven. “You never told me it had polka dots, Betty! She never let me look, Ma, or I never woulda wore the darn thing!”
“Ah, quit ya belly achin’,” said Betty. “Ya wanna look like a schlub ya whole life?”
“This one’s a keeper, Craven,” said Mrs. Danger.
“A zoo keeper, is more like it," said Betty.
“Oh, aren’t you precious," said Mrs. Danger.
“Oh, she’s precious all right," said Craven. “Like a stone I’d like ta skip over an icy lake."
Betty stuck out her tongue, and piled her jacket, hat and purse into Craven’s arms.
“We’ll be in the living room, Craven," said Mrs. Danger. “You can hang Betty’s things in the hall closet."
“Where’s Aunt Flo?” said Craven.
“She’s in the kitchen, dear," said Mrs. Danger. “She insisted on doing all the cooking tonight. Now hurry it up. I’m dying to know what you’ve been up to.”
Craven hung Betty’s leopard parts in the closet, then went to find his Aunt Flo.
Mrs. Danger hooked her arm around Betty’s waist and led her to the sofa.
“My sister’s a better cook than I am,” said Mrs. Danger. “But that’s like saying Mussolini was a better dictator than Franco. It’s all in the experience. Craven hates my cooking because I made him eat his peas and carrots. But when he’d spend summers with his Aunt Flo and Uncle Mike, she’d put a big slice of pumpkin pie on his dinner plate, piled high with whipped cream. ‘I don’t care what anyone says,’ she would tell him. ‘As far as I’m concerned, the pumpkin is a vegetable. So I’m not doing a darn thing wrong. And whipped cream is nothing but fancy milk.’
“She spoiled that boy rotten.”
“I know whatcha mean, Mrs. Danger” said Betty.
“Every once in a while I wanna take him over my knee and forget I was a lady.”
“Gracious,” said Mrs. Danger. “I’ll bet he’s not getting any whipped cream out of you.”
“You know it,” said Betty. “He wants any dessert outta me, he’s gonna have ta earn it. Only he ain’t exactly been workin‘ at it.”
“Oh,” said Mrs. Danger. “How do you mean?”
“I mean,” said Betty, “for a private detective he ain’t got all his clues in one basket.”
“Then you don’t think he’ll notice that I’ve taken in a boarder?”
“I dunno,” said Betty. “Depends on the border.”
”Her name is Thelma,” said Mrs. Danger. ”She‘s a fortune teller from the Isle of Crete. And she’s open for business right here in our house.”
”Thelma?” said Betty. ”Sounds more like a floozy from the Isle of Coney, if ya ask me.”
”It did sound odd,” said Mrs. Danger. ”But Derek told me she was on the level and he‘d be able to bring in a large clientele and make us a lot of money. And he’s been true to his word. Because from what I could see from the kitchen window, every man in the neighborhood has been in for a reading. I know for sure she’s been real popular with our milkman. Sometimes he comes around here two, three times a day. I’ll bet Thelma’s got more milk than she knows what to do with.”
”I’ll bet," said Betty. “And what‘s Craven‘s brother got ta do with all of this?”
”Oh,” said Mrs. Danger. ”Derek‘s her business agent. I had to rent out Craven’s old basement room to accommodate her. But she has her own entrance out back and we hardly know she’s here. Unless we’re peeking out the window. Which we usually are. Two widow ladies have to have something to talk about.”
“And ya say only men have been in ta see her?” said Betty.
“That’s right,” said Mrs. Danger.
“And this ain’t ringin’ any bells in that sweet little belfry of yours?” said Betty.
“Why, whatever do you mean?” said Mrs. Danger.
“I’ll tell ya later,” said Betty. “But I smell a skunk.”
“Oh, goodness, no,” said Mrs. Danger. “That’s just Aunt Flo’s pot roast. I think dinner’s ready. Why don’t we head on in to the dinning room.”
“Ya think ya could introduce me to this Thelma?” said Betty.
“Certainly, dear,” said Mrs.Danger. “After dinner we’ll have her in for coffee. How would that be?”
“Just swell,” said Betty. “I can’t wait.”