Craven Danger and the Case of the Ouija
“What are you doin’ back here, Betty? Can’t you see I’m trying to work?”
Betty Feltcher dropped the package on Craven Danger’s desk and turned to leave.
“A little something to help you with the Murphy murder case, Mr. Danger. It’ll save you a lot of leg work. You can thank me later over steaks and martinis. You’re welcome in advance. Now, if you don’t mind, I have to get back to my desk and fend off the hounds at the door.”
“Yeah. I got two types, Mr. Danger. The collection hounds and the wolf hounds. Collection hounds I can ward off with a little sweet talk. Wolf hounds is just a different breed of wild animal that ain’t been nursed properly. We got at least one on each floor of this building; always poking their nose in the door and getting drool all over the carpet. I keep a rolled-up newspaper on my desk for those kinds a mutts. So, if you don’t mind, I’ll get back to defending a ladies honor, and keeping the lights on for at least another month. Enjoy your present.”
“Thank you, Betty.”
Gee, that Betty’s swell. I wonder what she got me.
Craven ripped through the brown paper wrapping like a child at Christmas.
Ouija board? Is this some kind of joke? Ouija boards are for digging up dead people. I say let the dead rest in peace. Just like it says on the tombstones.
Detective Craven Danger pressed the button on the intercom.
“Yeah, Mr. Danger?” said Betty.
“Why do I need a Ouija board? Ouija boards are for old ladies looking for dead husbands.”
“Well, since you ain’t got a dead husband yet, Mr. Danger. I thought it might help you find out who killed Charlie Murphy. Maybe get Charlie to point a finger in the right direction.”
“You want me to get a dead guy to talk about his killer? Then I suppose you want me to go down to the police station and tell Sergeant Dowd that I conjured up the spirit of Charlie Murphy, and that his spirit was in such a good mood that he pulled up a chair and we played a few hands of gin rummy while he told me all about how he ended up with twenty-seven bullet holes, then stuffed in a burlap coffee-bean bag and tossed into the Hudson River where he was bumped in the head by the bow of the Queen Mary, then run over by a tug boat, the propeller of which tore off his head?”
“You can play tiddlywinks with him for all I care, Mr. Danger. As long as you get him to talk.”
“And you don’t think that would make me a laughing stock down at the force?”
“Well, that roads already been paved, Mr. Danger. You’re just going down a different road this time. What could it hurt? Amuse yourself for a couple of hours. If Murphy don’t talk, you can always reach out to your dead granny for a game of canasta.”
“Very funny, Betty. Thanks for nothing. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got some real-life clues to consider. Later, Betty.”
That Betty’s always trying to pull my leg. But, hey, who knows? Maybe this thing can pick a winner at Belmont or something. It’s worth a laugh, anyway.”
Craven Danger dropped the wooden planchette onto the Ouija board and placed his fingertips on top.
“Okay, Mr. Ouija. Who’s gonna be the big winner at the Belmont Stakes this Saturday?”
Craven felt a shudder down his spine as the planchette began to glide effortlessly over the board.
When the piece of wood came to a stop Craven was not amused.
“Whaddaya mean, for me to know and you to find out. You some kind of wiseguy?
Craven gave a yelp as the piece once again made its way across the board.
“Let’s see, what’s it coming up with this time?”
If I knew the future I’d be rich and not so dead.
“I’m getting no where with you, Mr. Ouija. But just on the long-shot chance that Betty’s on to something, are you, by any stretch of my over-worked imagination, Charlie Murphy?”
No. For what it’s worth I still got my head attached.
“Then who the heck are you?”
“Freddie Bussman? You mean the guy who used to collect unpaid balances for the electric company? The one that got tossed out the window by the widow Brown from upstairs?”
“That’s me. Hello, deadbeat."
“Yeah? Wow. I saw you fly by my window that morning. Six stories. Quite a drop.”
Yeah. And you still owe 14.37. No checks. Cash only.
“What? Wait a minute, Freddie. Hold on to your hat. Hey, Betty! It’s for you! And bring your sweet talk with ya!”