Craven Gets Flashed XXIV
On Bleecker street, the Village Tavern bouncers eyed the police officer as he gazed up at the Village Oddities window.
“You boys ain’t gonna cause me any trouble are ya?” said Sgt. Dowd.
Vince and Troy gave each other a look and shook their heads.
“Good. How about we sweeten the deal with a couple of jelly donuts, fresh from the Coffee Pot. It’s in me. Enjoy. As you know, me and Moynahan go back a long way. We’ve been stealing goods off each other for years. Only he ain’t never stole a personal friend of mine before. I’m here to remedy the situation. So if we can all agree to mind our own business this time, I’ll head on up the stairs. And don’t go getting any ideas when I turn my back. I may be getting old, but my hearing’s still good, and I can turn on a mercury dime if I smell trouble. Still the quickest draw on 67th street. And if I don’t throw my back out n the process, you’ll be nothing more than another notch in the coroner’s gurney.”
The boys stopped munching their donuts and gave Sgt. Dowd the stink eye.
“Oh, boy, still doing the stink eye, huh? You fellas need a bigger repertoire. Would a smirk or two kill ya? A frown? Okay, forget the cracks. If you help me, I’ll help you. I know you’re in tight with Moynihan, but maybe you two can give me a hand putting a carousel pony in the paddy wagon.”
Troy and Vince glanced at the police wagon and raised their right eyebrow.
“No, no, boys. No tricks here. I only come for my helper and the pony. I swear. Besides, down here you’re out of my jurisdiction. I couldn’t even give you boys a ticket for spittin’. And from the looks of this sidewalk, you boys have been workin’ quite a bit of overtime. What say we give our guns and brass knuckles a good night’s rest and be pals.”
Troy and Vince each held out a pinky.
“Pinky swears?” said Sgt. Dowd. “Are we still in the third grade? Okay, okay. Stop with the pouty faces. Pinky swears it is.”
Troy licked his lips and pointed to the box of donuts.
“Pinky swear and a box of donuts? If it stops you from making those faces. Fine.”
Sgt. Dowd held out a pinky to each of the bouncers.
“My pinkies better still be attached when we’re done or the deals off. And make it quick before a fellow officer sees me. I’d never live it down. Sharing donuts and pinky swearing with the criminal element is much frowned upon by my commander.”
Hey, Sarge!” said a voice.
“Who said that?”
“Ah, geez. I’ve gone blind! Doggone it, Jenny!”
Meanwhile, inside the tavern . . .
“Hey, Mildred,” said Betty. “How good are your detective skills? If you expect to partner up with me, I’d like to see what you got.”
“Look over your shoulder and tell me your impression of the guy in the brown fedora. The one standing on the other side of the room searching for a familiar face.”
“Okay,” said Mildred. “I’ve got him in my sights. For starters, he’s a bit pudgy, and falls way short of being a six-footer with bedroom eyes that won’t quit till he gets the job done and you’re lying there in a ball of sweat wondering what planet you just orbited.”
“Easy there, Mildred. No fantasizing. Just tell me what you’re seeing on this planet.”
“Judging by his clothes I’d say he can’t be making much of a living. His fedora looks like it's been steam-rolled over a bed of gravel and can't quite make up its mind what it used to look like. And it appears his suit gets stuffed in his underwear drawer each night. Now he’s eye-balling a plate of French fries left on a table that hasn’t been cleared yet. Doggone it, Betty, he’s making a grab for one of the fries. He gives it little sniff. Now a dip in the gravy. Okay. He’s had a taste and he’s liking it. Hold on. Now he’s thinking.
“Doggone it again, Betty. He’s decided to sit at the table. Now he’s putting a soiled napkin on his lap. I guess that counts for something. A little sip of left-over wine. Uh, oh, he just made a yucky face. Not a wine man. Beer’s his drink, I’m guessing. Now he’s going to chase it down with some water. Lipstick on glass turned the other way. Good. He’s not a complete hyena. Down it goes. Uh, oh, up it comes. Must not be water. I’m guessing gin. What sort of woman doesn’t finish her gin? Glad she’s gone. I may have had to slap her.
“Now he’s calling for the waiter. If I’m reading lips correctly, he just asked for iced water and a basket of hot bread. The waiter signals the maître d’. The maître d’ gives Mr. French Fry the once over and signals the manager. The manager is going out the front door. Now he’s coming back in with those two bouncers we saw when we got here. The French fry thief is pleading his case, but the beefy bouncer’s not hearing cases today. He’s lifting Mr. French Fry up by his shirt collar and dragging him across the floor. Doggone it if Mr. French Fry didn’t just grab a shrimp off the tray of that passing waiter. The skinny bouncer rescues the shrimp and gives Mr. French Fry the stink eye. Mr. French Fry makes a pouty face and out the front door they go. How’d I do?”
“Welcome to the fabulous world of Craven Danger,” said Betty. “And the mystery to why I’m on my third pitcher of martinis.”
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