Craven Gets Flashed
“Ah, geez, my eyes!”
Craven Danger staggered along the edge of the subway platform with his thoughts on finding some balance in his life.
Jenny Wilkins reached out, gripped him by the lapels of his overcoat, and hauled him in.
“I gotcha, Mr. Danger!”
The young lady guided the wobbly private detective to a nearby bench and sat him down.
“Sorry, Mr Danger. You were looking so beautifully pensive standing there that I couldn’t help but take your picture.”
“Beautifully pensive? I do like the sound of that, but a simple ‘how do ya do’ would have left you in better standing. Now my nerves have left town and may never come back. Jumped right out of my skin. Could have sworn I saw them racing along the subway tracks a moment ago being chased by some cat-sized rodent. May have been an hallucination. It’s not my first jumpy moment, you know.”
“You’ll like me better when you get to know me. People are usually charmed, if I do say so myself, and I may be the answer to why you’re not as famous as you should be.”
“Than answer me this. How many blinks does it take to get my sight back? I’m guessing this isn’t the first time you blinded a guy with your flashy charm. And just who the heck are you?”
“My name is Jenny Wilkins. I’m a recent high school graduate and a budding photographer; self-taught. I live above the photo shop across the street from your office. It’s where I work on the weekend. They have me behind the register, but if this world had its head on straight I’d be in the backroom up to my elbows in photo developer. I got that stuff running through my veins. So much so that I saved up all my pennies and bought myself a proper camera. It’s used, and pretty beat up, but that’s the way I like it. It’s got character. I call it the Weegee.”
“After the tabloid photographer. He’s a hero of mine. It’s a Speed Graphic with a lot of extra flashbulbs for capturing those moments when you discover your prey laying flat; a blood-splattered mess.”
“My prey? Listen, young lady. I dig up dirt on dead-beat husbands and adulteress wives. The pickings have been slim in recent months, and when I do need a picture I bring along my Baby Brownie for easy concealment and hope I remembered to put the film in.”
“Baby Brownie? That’s for kids, Mr. Danger. You’re missing out on all the fun. You’re a pro and there are dead bodies piling up all over town. You could be the guy on top of it all. I figure what you need is a blood-and-guts photographer of your own to document all the blood-spewing cases you’ll fall into. One good blood and guts picture in the paper and you’ll be the toast of the town.”
“Or just plain toast if I’m a good judge of my own character. And what is it with you and blood? No. Don’t tell me. I don’t wanna know. But I have a pretty good idea what your game is. I’m guessing you got your hands on a police radio and have been tailing whatever screaming squad car happens by, and as soon as you catch up to whatever the screaming’s about you take out your Weegee and start popping pictures. Then the officer in charge—if you haven’t managed to blind him—gives you the stink eye and a good swift kick, destroys your film and sends you on your bulb-popping way. I suppose your plan is to have a soft-touch like me involve himself in cases that would satisfy a blood-thirsty, tabloid-reading public. Well, thanks, but no thanks. I’m perfectly happy wiling away the hours being delusional about who I am. It’s safer that way. No one but hand-wringing husbands and wives with a bone to pick with each other ever darkens my door. I'm safer that way. And the only time I plan on bleeding is when I’m having one of my shaky-shave mornings after a night at Delaney’s. And after the few minutes I've had with you I’m ready to take on Delaney’s again.”
“You're so beautiful when you rant, Mr. Danger. You gave me goose flesh. It’s like watching Bogart giving it to Mary Astor in the Maltese Falcon. Yes, sir. You got the goods all right. It would be my honor to someday work alongside you.”
“There goes that gorgeous pensive face of yours. You glow with an air of masculine domination. It oughta be chiseled in stone for the world to admire.”
“I feel like I’m being chiseled right now. And the answer is still no. But I’ll tell you what I will do. If it gets you off my back any quicker you can tag along with me on my next yawn inducing snoozer of a case. Believe me, it’ll have you resigning your lifetime membership in the Craven Danger fan club quicker than a Joe Louis left hook. Only it won’t hurt so much.”
“You’re on, Mr. Danger. Here’s my number. I’ll be waiting. You rising star you.”
I really gotta stop looking so beautifully pensive.
Photo courtesy of Wiki pics: