A Close Shave - Part 8 - A Craven Danger Mystery
A bowl of Autumn colored mums sat on the white table cloth, surrounded by four place settings set in front of four hungry people.
Craven Danger sat at the head of the table and stared hard at his plate.
“Ma?” said Craven.
“Yes, dear?” said Mrs. Danger.
“Where’d ya get these plates?”
“I got them at a yard sale, dear.”
“What happened ta the good china?” said Craven.
Gone was the Limoges china with the bluebirds and gilded edges. In its place were the comic images of Little Orphan Annie, Sandy, and Daddy Warbucks.
“Well, Craven,” said Mrs. Danger. “Don’t be getting upset. We had to hock a few things to makes ends meet. But now that we have Derek and Thelma doing so well with their fortune telling business, we’ll be able to get everything back in a few days.”
“Thelma?” said Craven. “Who the heck is Thelma?”
Betty took control and explained the situation to Craven.
“Their runnin’ a brothel outta my old basement room!” said Craven.
“Brothel?” said Mrs. Danger. “No, dear. Thelma tells fortunes. Isn’t that right, Flo?”
Aunt Flo blushed a bit and shrugged.
“Well,” said Aunt Flo. “I’d been suspecting that Thelma was reading more than palms, but it’s been so nice not having that man from the bank banging on the door. And it’s even nicer having the electricity back on. You know how much I like my radio programs. And if I missed one more week of The Shadow, I don’t know what I’d do. ‘Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!’ Ooh, it still gives me goose-bumps every time I hear that.”
“That was Craven’s favorite show when he was a boy,” said Mrs. Danger. “Remember, Flo, how he used to wrap himself up in my old black cloak and go about the house avenging crime just like the Shadow? The Shadow was a master hypnotist who also had secret powers to cloud men's minds so they could not see him.
"‘Look into my eyes,’ Craven would say to the dog. ‘Who took that last pork chop? Was it the cat?’ Oh, it was the cutest thing. Then when Craven would solve the crime he’d say to the cat, ‘The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay!’ He’d say it just like the Shadow would. Then he’d put the cat in the empty rabbit cage and slink away to the basement. It was the funniest thing.”
“All right,” said Craven. “I’m gettin’ a little tired from all this walkin’ down memory lane. And it wasn’t the cat who took that last pork chop. It was Grandpa. He gave me a nickel to cover it up and put the screws ta the cat. I always felt bad for that poor cat, too. He spent a lot of time in that old rabbit age. But Grandpa had a lot of nickels, so that was that.”
“Maybe I oughta start carryin’ more nickels,” said Betty. “If that’s what it takes to get your attention.”
“Ah, quit it, will ya, Betty,” said Craven. “Your all the time tellin’ me I don’t pay enough attention. What do I gotta do? Okay. So I’m a bit of a mope, but that don’t mean I don’t see you in a certain way.”
“And what certain way would that be, Mr. Danger?” said Betty.
“Well, first of all,” said Craven. “I could start with that Mr. Danger business. It’s hard ta look at a girl in a certain way when she keeps callin’ ya Mister. Like I was a stranger on a street corner askin’ ya for directions.”
“Well, are ya?” said Betty.
“Am I what?” said Craven.
“Askin’ me for directions?” said Betty. “I know my way around pretty good. Maybe I could help ya find yer way.”
“Lordy,” said Mrs. Danger. “My glasses are fogging up. Maybe we should all eat something. Then after dinner we can introduce you to Thelma. She’ll be stopping in for coffee. And she can explain things herself.”
Craven,” said Aunt Flo. “Why don’t you carve the roast while I pass around the peas.”
Craven stood at the head of the table and took hold of the fork and carving knife.
“Why, Craven,” said Mrs. Danger. “You’re shaking just like Granpa did when he hadn’t had his morning drink. Are you Okay?”
”Oh, I‘m okay, Ma,” said Craven. ”Been a long time since I done the carvin‘ is all.”
Betty Fletcher removed her stockinged foot from the back of Craven Danger’s knee and slipped it back into her shoe
“Betty,” said Mrs. Danger. “Since you’re the guest of honor. We’d like for you to say grace.”
“My pleasure,” said Betty. “Craven, put down that knife and sit for a minute. And everybody hold hands."
Betty gripped Craven's hand in hers and said the blessing.
“Bless us, dear father, for what we are about ta receive. And may there be much more ta come.”
Betty Fletcher again kicked off her shoe.
“Boy,” said Craven. “Is it hot in here? Or is it just me?”
“I’m as cool as a cucumber,” said Betty. “Must be you.”