Laugh, Clown, Laugh - The Betty Chronicles
Betty Danger stepped off the elevator and noticed the crumpled body of a clown.
“You okay?” said Betty.
“No, I’m not okay!” said the body. “I think someone shot me!”
“Craven?” said Betty.
“Yeah," said Craven. “It’s me."
At the foot of the frosted glass door that read, Double Danger - Private Investigators, Craven Danger turned over on his back to face Betty.
“What happened to your eyebrow?” said Betty.
“What about my eyebrow?” said Craven.
“It ain’t there no more,” said Betty.
“Doggone it!” said Craven. “What sort of sick, demented soul shoots off a man’s eyebrow?”
“A pretty good shot, I’d say,” said Betty. “Or blind as a bat. Either way, you’re lucky ya ain’t bleedin’ all over that swell clown outfit. I’ll bet ya got some kinda good story ta tell me about why your wearin’ a clown suit, huh, Mr. Danger? Don’t tell me! Let me guess. Yer on a case that ya ain’t had the good sense ta discuss with your partner, who happens ta be me. Which is why ya left the apartment so early this morning, and is why yer now tryin’ ta sneak in the office ahead of me, yer partner in crime solvin’. Is that about the size of it, Mr. Danger?”
“Why do you always gotta be crackin’ wise," said Craven. “And stop callin’ me Mr. Danger! We’re married now."
Betty helped Craven to his feet and had to catch him as he tripped over his own feet.
“Nice clown shoes,” said Betty. “It’s a wonder you managed to get in the elevator at all. And I’ll tell ya this one more time, Mr. Danger. At home yer Craven. At work yer Mr. Danger. But today yer gonna be Mr. Mudd if ya don’t start explainin’ ya self.”
“Well, Betty,” said Craven, “it’s like this. I got up extra early so’s I can start to walk off some a this gut you been complaining about. And as you know, my favorite place to walk is Central Park. I figure five AM is as good a time as any, ‘cause the parks gotta be pretty empty that time a day. No bratty kids or cranky dogs gettin’ in my way. So I figure I can lose weight and have the park all to myself. And I was almost right.
“It wasn’t until I reached the reservoir that I notice this clown leaning up against the railing, smoking a cigarette. It kinda threw me. ‘Cause no matter how many times I’ve gone to the circus, I ain’t never seen a smoking clown. Not once. I did see the three-legged man coppin’ a smoke once. But I let it go. Heck, I’d be smoking to if I had to walk around with three legs. I’d be a nervous wreck. But a clown? Never. So I decide to do a little investigating, ‘Cause I’m thinking maybe he ain’t no clown at all. At least not anymore. Maybe he got tossed out on his big red nose for rotten behavior, like smoking in the clown car or somethin‘. So I approach him.
“‘Got a match?’ I say. It was all I could think of. Which is silly, 'cause I don't smoke. ‘Sure, I got a match,’ he says. ‘Where’s ya smoke?’ Well, now I’m in a bind. ‘Cause I’m gonna look kinda dumb if I don’t come up with a smoke. So I say, ‘What do you know, I’m fresh out.’ and he says, 'No problem, mac, have one of mine.’ Now I’m startin’ to sweat 'cause I ain’t never smoked before. He’ll be on to me for sure. So he gives me one of his smokes and he lights me up.
“I tell ya, Betty, I’m still dizzy from the experience. So after he lights me up he says, ‘Nice top coat. I bet you even got a nicer suit underneath.’ Then I go and tell him all about how I just got married and how my wife decided I need a new suit and top coat from Brooks Brothers. 'The ones I had were pretty darn shabby.’ I tell him. ‘She saved up all year,’ I say. ‘How sweet,’ he says. ‘Now put ‘em up!’ Then he pulls out this gun and I start to laugh, ‘cause I figure it’s one a them rubber clown guns they use in the circus. ‘Oh, ya think it’s funny, huh?’ he says. Then he slugs me over the head with the gun and the next thing I know I’m wakin’ up in my underwear. I look over at the railing and see he left behind the clown suit. Well, Betty, I had no choice. Then I come here to open the office and I guess someone took a shot at me. 'Cause the next thing I know I'm fallin' down again. I don’t remember hearin’ a shot, but I do remember passin’ out. And that’s all I know about that.”
“You’ll have to forgive me,” said Betty, “if it takes me a little while ta digest that story. I ain’t heard a tale like that since I was a kid and my daddy would come home with a lump on his and whiskey breath.”
“Cross my heart, Betty,” said Craven. “I ain't been drinkin'. That’s the way it happened.”
“I’ll take ya word for it, Mr. Danger,” said Betty. “But ya gotta admit it’s got whopper write all over it.”
“I admit it smells like last weeks fish,“ said Craven. “But it happened.”
“Hey,” said Betty, “ain't that yer pocket knife doing on the floor?”
“Oh, yeah,” said Craven, “I forgot my key this mornin’ and was tryin’ to jimmy open the lock with it.”
“Okay,” said Betty. “Now I’m beginning to see the bigger picture. See if this don’t make any kinda sense, Mr. Danger. Ya had the knife out. Yer bendin’ over ta poke at the lock, and ya start ta feel dizzy on account a that hit on the head. Yer about ta collapse in a heap, but ya trip over those clown shoes and end up shavin’ off one a yer eyebrows.”
“I think you’re on to something, Betty,” said Craven.
“Whaddaya know,” said Betty. “I just solved my first case with Double Danger - Private Investigators.”
“Hey!" said Craven, “Don’t go makin' it a habit a stealin' the whole show. You better plan on givin’ me some elbow room.”
“Sure, sure,” said Betty. “Now, what are we gonna do about that other eyebrow?”